Best Place to Buy Mexican Tchotchkes 2015 | Mercado Mexico | La Vida | Phoenix

Best Place to Buy Mexican Tchotchkes

Mercado Mexico

The space may be a little dusty and a bit warm on a summer day, but inside this 30-plus-year-old shop is one of the Valley's best selection of traditional talavera pottery to fill the grandest of tables, clay pots for every kind of traditional Mexican cookery, and volcanic stone molcajetes and metates. The shopping doesn't have to stop there. Outfit yourself with straw hats or browse the extensive selection of pottery and steel sculptures found in the large patio.

Best Place to Buy Day of the Dead Treasures

Purple Lizard Boutique

Looking for the elusive Day of the Dead sugar skull? Or how about authentic embroidered Mexican clothing to dress up as a calavera? This jam-packed store has everything Day of the Dead-related, from calavera-adorned greeting cards to earrings, sugar skulls, and ceramic skulls, as well as colorful decorative calavera catrina dolls, elegantly and beautifully dressed. Spend an hour or two browsing this well-stocked boutique and see what other colorful treasure you can find.

Imagine this: cheese, chorizo, and cactus. We know what you're thinking. Who would dare to put cactus in something you eat, right? Well, a lot of people, actually. It's more commonly called nopales and is a staple in Mexican food, especially that of central Mexico. If you look carefully, you can find it on the menus of many Mexican restaurants around the city, but our favorite use has to be in the queso fundido at Asi Es La Vida. It acts almost as a green chile in the cheesy dip and it mingles well with the spicy chorizo and hearty mushrooms. Grab a chip, take a dip, and prepare to be a convert. And we promise there won't be a spine in sight.

Readers Choice: Barrio Cafe

The agave spirit revolution is coming, as the smoky mezcal variant rightfully becomes more and more familiar to tequila drinkers, leaving room for plenty more curiosity for what's next. "What is next?" is a question best fielded by Travis Nass at the Last Drop Bar at the Hermosa Inn, in Paradise Valley. Here, Nass explores categories of agave spirits previously unknown to anyone even fairly well-versed with the territory, with spirits like sotol, distilled from baked, mature Desert Spoon plants in Chihuahua — essentially, a single-varietal spirit. Try his El Ultimo, which mixes sotol with green chartreuse and Chareau, an aloe vera liqueur.

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