Goya products are abundant, as well as elusive ingredients, like fresh banana leaves for making those succulent tamales. You can also find delicious Salvadoran and Venezuelan specialty baked goods, made fresh daily. Plus, Pan Americano is clean, centrally located and nicely stocked with other wares, like flags, magazines and music from most Latin American countries. And if Latin American cuisine is where you're palate takes you, be sure to check out the Pan Americano restaurant at Seventh Street and Camelback.
But since cooking isn't our favorite thing, we're thrilled with the skills of the cooks at the take-away food court. The bakery churns out rainbows of pan dulce, postres, cakes, bread, rolls and cookies. The "Oasis" sells salads, fruit waters and salsas (wonderful shrimp cocktail, ceviche, pico de gallo, tropical frescas). And the busy restaurant next to it swarms with people scrambling for Styrofoam containers of first-class Mexican favorite dishes, immensely cheap at just $2 to $5 for a full meal.
You can take your pick at a long, enticing buffet line set up in front of the flaming gas grills where quick chefs cook everything from scratch: chile Colorado tacos, toothsome tortas, fat sandwiches and enormous burritos.
And for the ultimate, the Ranch prepares family and party packages serving six to 18. There's a choice of roasted chicken or carnitas, paired with rice, beans, salsas, macarron, tortillas, chips, ceballos, cilantro and Coca-Cola. Just know that this isn't gringo Mexican -- meats are drier, spices are hotter, every part of an animal often is used.
There's no question -- this takeout takes us away.
And we can never say no to dessert, fry bread topped with our choice of golden honey, powdered sugar, chocolate and butter. Fattening, but who cares? It's our party, and we'll fry if we want to.
Volcanic rock molcajetes (grinding bowls), imported moles, hard-to-find cheeses and illegal fruits all are part of what makes the Phoenix Greyhound Park Park 'n Swap a fun day at the races. If it's from Mexico, you are very likely to find it here. Especially on the twice-weekly "Mercado" days.
Every Wednesday night and Sunday morning, vendors line the dog track parking lot at Washington Street in Phoenix to fight for your dollar and provide you with the best, most obscure and most unique items. If you're adventurous and willing to go to almost any lengths for good and hard-to-find ingredients, you'll likely find them, along with other cool stuff, like leather belts from Mexico and pirate CDs. Just be warned: There's a lot to look through, so wear comfortable shoes and bring a nice, big bag for all those purchases you'll find yourself making.