Marissa’s — Mercado Mexicano in Minneapolis

Just when I was starting to miss Mexico — its colorful markets, sweet tropical fruit, chiles of all colors and sizes — I found Marissa’s in Minneapolis, Minnesota. What a vibrant, honest to goodness Mexican grocery store, as good as any tienda south of the border. I felt right at home cruising the aisles of produce, with selections of nopal, pineapples, tomatillos, cilantro, chiles, even the elusive epazote.

Beautiful murals cover the walls depicting agrarian scenes from the homeland, scenes that every Mexican must picture when they are so far from home, scenes that no longer exist in much of today’s modern Mexico, but still found in the interior of the country. For the murals alone, Marissa’s is worth a visit.

This is surely the best Mexican grocery store I have ever found outside of Mexico. Large, well organized, with a very extensive inventory, there is not much this store does not carry for a cocina mexicana. Every essential ingredient called for in your Mexican cookbook, plus a few non-essential goodies, like neon-colored gelatins and conchas, a favorite pan dulce, are in abundance. But maybe these are essential to cure homesickness for any mexicano far from home. Just walking the aisles took me back to my little Mexican town for a short while.

My experience with Mexican cooks has given me an appreciation for their great love of  traditional food of Mexico. The average home cook is not experimenting with Italian or French recipes. The mothers and grandmothers of the household are cooking pots of beans, buying freshly made tortillas, making fresh and cooked salsas every day — feeding their families the dishes they grew up on, the same food their mothers and grandmothers made. And if these cooks are living far from home, stores such as Marissa’s, found in every town in the U.S. where there is a sizeable Mexican population, are providing all the special ingredients for these timeless dishes, some of which have been made since Pre-Columbian times.

At Marissa’s you will find corn husks and masa for tamales, dried chile ancho and guajillo for salsas, nopal for salads, epazote to season beans. I went in looking for cajeta to make Chocoflan, and there it was. This was a busy store, testament to the many, many kitchens in this town serving up authentic Mexican food.

And like all the little tiendas in Mexico, Marissa’s also carries other essentials, such as loofahs, tortilla presses, pinatas, earthenware pots, and traditional candles.

Besides the grocery store, there is also an attached deli with an extensive, authentic Mexican menu and a bakery with pan dulce of all kinds. We had a great lunch prepared by a young cook from the city of Puebla, and took home sweet breads for dessert. If I can beg or borrow more computer time while I’m visiting, I want to tell you about our lunch. If you find yourself in Minneapolis, don’t miss breakfast or lunch at Marissa’s. This place is the real deal.

Marissa’s Grocery Store, Deli and Bakery; 2750 Nicollet, (612) 871-3628; hours Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 12 a.m.

10 thoughts on “Marissa’s — Mercado Mexicano in Minneapolis

  1. Pingback: Nopal licuado — cactus in a glass « Cooking in Mexico

  2. Pingback: Comida Mexicana is alive and well in Minneapolis « Cooking in Mexico

  3. Lorin Johnson

    Kathleen,
    Wonderful photos. Love the murals. I couldn’t even find fresh epizote in any of the tiendas in San Pancho last time, but a gringo gave me a handful from his garden.
    Hope you aren’t freezing or getting any tornados.

  4. anneke

    As usual, loved this post and your great photos. And I loved your comment about most Mexican home cooks continuing the traditional cooking of their mothers and grandmothers. So true!!!! Thank you.

    As an aside, every time we drive the California coastal route up to Santa Cruz (which we just did this past week), it never fails to affect me when I see all the Mexican workers bent over picking in the fields, six days a week, come cold, rain or shine. If it wasn’t for them we would not be able to afford the food we buy. I don’t know anyone else that would do that sort of work nowadays – no matter what people say. God bless them all. Have a great time in Minneapolis!

    P.S.: Am going to go and hunt myself up a Virgin of Guadalupe candle in the next day or so!!!

    1. I agree with you 100%. Mexican and Central American immigrants do the poorly paid work no one else in this country will do. Because of their low wages, our food, hotel, house work, yard work, restaurant costs — all are kept lower than they would be if wages for these jobs were higher. They deserve decent wages and the right to work in this country legally.

  5. Hi Kathleen,
    Very nice store, I wish we had something like that here in Orlando. In the meantime, last night I ordered some “essentials” for the beaner living abroad from MexGrocer.com which I am pretty sure I found through your site, “muchas gracias”. Hope you are having a nice vacation and thanks for sharing some of it with us. I especially enjoyed the candles of the Virgen de Guadalupe, I am very devoted to her and always keep one of those candles by my kitchen window.

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