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El Chacalito

Don't leave without some kind of candy covered in chili powder!

A sign of Mexican grocery items in Tacoma.

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So, Oktoberfest isn't official over until the end of this weekend, but it's really quite over for me. I needed to shake-off the sauerkraut and gut busting brats for something that reminded me of vacation. I haven't been on a real vacation in over two years, and at this rate, it's going to be another two years.

Friend and fellow scribe Jenny Fab suggested I go south of the border. Now you get your minds out the gutter. It's all about food and pretending I'm somewhere exotic and not in South Tacoma. Nothing against South Tacoma, there are just other places I would rather be.

Ms. Fab suggested I check out El Chacalito Market at 52nd and South Washington. From the outside it looks like your typical EZ Shop convenience store. It's a little cluttered and worn, but you have to dig a little deeper to uncover the hidden gems. It did remind me greatly of little stores in Mexico where I would pick up bottled water and Pepto Bismol.

For instance the piñatas hanging on the ceiling are attractive and very affordable. This is a great place to find authentic Mexican ingredients like mole and adobo sauces, Cojito and Casera cheese, tortillas and dried chilies galore. Spices are an incredible deal, as long as they are not too out dated.

One interesting little gem I discovered was Murray and Lanman Florida Water Cologne. Once very popular in the Victorian Era, because nobody took baths, this stuff has clearly fallen out of favor over the years. Have you heard of it? As I suspected, it is still quite popular in the Latin American community. So after a bit of research, I found that some use the water in magical and ritual traditions like Santeria and Haitian Voodoo. Now I HAVE to go back and buy some!

I thought there would be more tortillas available, because of all the other specialized food items, but maybe it was a busy morning. Don't leave without some kind of candy covered in chili powder, for realz.  Or Coronado Cajeta Quemada, which is a goat milk caramel spread that looks like it goes well on shortbread cookies, according to the label. Sure. OK.

There are some decently priced, reasonably healthy looking produce, like onions, tomatillos, garlic, jalapenos, limes, etc., and these happen to be the fixings for tomatillo salsa, one of my favorite tortilla chip dippers. Coincidence? I think not.

One can find many interesting items, too numerous to mention, but fun to checkout at this little hole in the wall. It's much cheaper than going to Mexico for a brief "out of country" experience, and you might get some great ideas for your next dinner party.

El Chacalito

5102 S. Washington St. # B, Tacoma

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Comments for "El Chacalito" (4)

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Marisa said on Oct. 06, 2010 at 3:08pm

Definitely check out La Huerta 2 sometime - fresh pork skins/, tamales, marinated meats....yum. Looks like the restaurant part was reviewed in the Volcano but the grocery is pretty sweet too.

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Jenny Fab said on Oct. 06, 2010 at 10:51pm

Yay for the bodega!

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Jax said on Oct. 21, 2010 at 10:38am

Seriously? Goats milk caramel? This should never, ever be misrepresented when offered to someone

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Lisa said on Jul. 11, 2011 at 8:24am

The goats milk caramel is great! I know it sounds weird, but trust me it has a smoother buttery texture with the sam sweet taste of regular caramel. Try it as a dip with apples, yum!

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