The Market: Andrés Latin Market
Location: 1249 Morena Boulevard, Morena, San Diego
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 10am-8pm: Sunday, 10am-4pm
Specialities: Central American, Caribbean, and South American Imports
This family-owned market and adjacent restaurant have been a San Diego destination since they opened in 1983, providing hard to find Latin American and Carribean goods and homestyle dishes for over 30 years. The small shop doesn't look like much from the outside, but it it you will find a treasure trove of dry goods, frozen foods, and condiments that you simply won't find at traditional grocery stores. The friendly shopkepper who was manning the store when we visited was from Peru, and she was a wealth of information, explaining how ingredients were used and what more obscure products were. It is well worth taking the time to explore row-by-row, as the shelves are bursting with a staggering variety of products from Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Costa Rica, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Spain, Colombia and Venezuela. Below we highlight a few of our favorite finds.
Guava Paste and Crackers
Guava paste is sliced thing and eaten atop mild cheese on crackers for a simple snack in Colombia and Puerto Rico. Farmers cheese, cream cheese, or even mozzarella work well in lieu of the traditional cheese found in Latin America.
Canned Lychee Shells
Fill the shells with cream cheese, and dessert is done. Nothing beats simplicity.
Pigeon Peas and rice are an essential dish in the Caribbean and parts of south America, and strangely, the nutty legumes can be hard to find. Here we found them dried, canned, and in a dry, pre-mixed rice and pigeon pea combination.
Condiments and Starters
From sofrito to chimichuri to hot pepper sauce, there is a wonderland of bottled saute sauces and read-to-eat hot sauces lining the back wall of the store.
Delicious, spicy chorizo sausage in so many different varieties in the coolers and freezers along the back wall.
Frozen Empanada and Arepas Dough
The dough is half the battle when making empanadas or arepas, so take a shortcut and buy your dough in the frozen section here. Feeling even lazier than that? They also sell frozen empanadas that are take and bake.
This shop sells both fresh plantains as well as pre-smashed and first-fried tostones in the freezer section. (I am not ashamed of my euphoria over this hack.)
Yerba mate, a highly caffinated, tea-like beverage made from the leaves and stems of a tree native to the subtropical rainforests of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina, has become very popular lately, though, as it turns out, most of us have been drinking it wrong. The leaves easily burn, so brewing it like you would coffee instantly ruins them. The process of brewing this beverage is more like a delicate steeping. This shop has an entire aisle dedicated to yerba mate, as well as an entire collection of traditional glasses and straws (outfitted with strainers so you can sip without getting a mouthful of leaves).
Sweets and Beverages
The sweets aisle is stuffed with imported duche de leche, guava candy, and chocolates that will keep anyone with a sweet tooth busy for a while. The front wall has sweets of another kind, with a rainbow of marvelously named beverages, like CocoRico, Champagne Kola, Pineapple Jupina, Bony Bici, Cuarana Brazilia, and Purple Corn Drink.
If you have time, go to the restaurant next door for all manner of fried snacks, roast meats, and rice and beans. Just be sure to ask for the garlic pork sauce to slather on whatever you order.