Best Mexican Grocery Store 2023 | Los Altos Ranch Market | La Vida | Phoenix
Timur Guseynov

Stepping into Los Altos Ranch Market is like opening the door to your favorite abuela's kitchen during the holidays. The scent of freshly baked conchas, empanadas and orejas beckon you to break every New Year's resolution. At $0.99 per sugary concoction, cheating on your diet will literally only cost a few pretty pennies. If you're in the mood for something more substantial, Los Altos' hot food section is the stuff dreams are made of — carnitas, enchiladas, rice, beans and most importantly, freshly made tortillas that are still warm when you get them. But there's so much more to explore than the ready-made food. Reasonably priced assorted meats and a staggeringly large selection of fresh produce also make Los Altos a go-to destination. Just make sure you snag a large agua fresca before you leave.

At Mexican Arts Imports, you'll find textiles, jewelry, Talavera, Lupita dolls and everything in between. But the real star of the store is its collection of Día de Los Muertos goods. In the back of the store, large paintings that range from traditional to Chicano to modern feature calacas-clad subjects like Marilyn Monroe and Mexican beauties. Turn the corner and you'll bump into 2-foot-tall Day of the Dead statues complete with ghostly smiles and brightly colored clothing. For those looking for tchotchke-size items, Mexican Arts Imports has a staggering selection of clay figurines, painted pots and even mini ceramic Day of the Dead cats and dogs (our personal favorite). The only downside to a store visit is that it's impossible to walk away without seeing 100 things you can't live without.

No birthday celebration is complete without three things: cake, presents and beating the almighty hell out of a paper-mâché piñata. While you can always embrace your inner Martha Stewart and slap a passable piñata together with some tissue paper and glue, the easier option is to pop by one of Dulceria la Bonita's three Phoenix locations. At Dulceria, there is a piñata to suit every taste. Looking for Mario Brothers? They have it. Pokémon? They have it. A giant Coors beer bottle? You guessed it — they have it. There's even a large selection of traditional spherical-shaped options. Apart from the unparalleled selection, Dulceria is also the place to go for affordably priced Mexican and American candy to stuff into your newly purchased piñata.

Lauren Cusimano

A wild smorgasbord of sights, sounds and smells: That's the Mercado de los Cielos. The boutique marketplace inside Desert Sky Mall in the West Valley houses more than 200 vendors providing everything you can think of. It's where you can get a meal or a cold beverage. Need a haircut or a manicure? Is your phone screen broken? Do you need to buy a baby gift, an engagement ring, a safety vest for working outside, a Virgin of Guadalupe or some stylish new kicks? It's all at Mercado de los Cielos. Our advice is to allow plenty of time there when you visit; it's easy to lose track of time amid all that shopping.

The impact Palabras Bilingual Bookstore has made on Phoenix's cultural landscape in its 13-year existence can't be overstated. From its beginnings in a Grand Avenue storefront to its current home at the Nurture House literary hub, Rosaura "Chawa" Magaña's business has always been more than just a great little bookstore. Besides a healthy selection of titles in a wide variety of genres, Palabras has been a haven and a meeting point for the Latino and artistic communities. It hosts events ranging from BIPOC open mic sessions and Tea and Typing Nights to bilingual children's storytime and monthly new moon pajama parties. Want to support one of Phoenix's most essential businesses? Next time you're in the mood for a new book, check out Palabras before opening the Amazon app.

You may be looking for something specific when you walk into Mercado Mexico, a Mexican import shop in the town of Guadalupe. Perhaps you want some brightly colored tableware for dinners on your backyard patio, or a flaming heart wall decoration for your artistic friend's housewarming. But if we may give advice: Be open to the many treasures that may strike your fancy, and make sure to check out every aisle of the sprawling space. That's how we've ended up leaving with handpainted Christmas ornaments, big bottles of Mexican vanilla extract, terracotta planters for our houseplants, and oh-so-many other objects. Packed with a dizzying array of goods straight from south of the border, Mercado Mexico is truly a place to find everything you didn't know you needed.

Felicia Campbell

There are plenty of choices when it comes to late-night Mexican food around the Valley; an endless parade of 'Bertos dots the landscape just waiting for midnight eaters. But if you want something a little tastier, we recommend a visit to La Frontera #1, a permanently stationed food truck in Central Phoenix. The menu is full of simple, traditional Mexican fare. Make sure you grab napkins with your al pastor burrito; the meat's savory oils tend to drip down your arm. Tostadas are piled high with toppings, and the vampiros come heavily laden with meat — don't overestimate how many you'll need or you'll have a ton of food left over. The truck is open until 1:45 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and until 12:45 a.m. the rest of the week. La Frontera #3, a food truck in the same parking lot with a focus on seafood shares the same hours, and the same payment policy: Purchases are cash-only.

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