Cultural Cuisine — A Tasting Tour of Pierce County Markets

The deli at Los Guerreros is second to none. Load up on fresh salsa, guacamole, fresh chicharron and more.

In Tacoma and the surrounding area, namely Lakewood, there are several markets offering up all types of goodies from around the world. And let’s be honest, no matter how different our backgrounds are, food is the one thing that can cross cultural barriers like nobody’s business.

Are you curious about Russian rassolnik? Maybe you would like to try your hand at making Peruvian pollo a la brasa? Ever tried Middle Eastern manakeesh? Or Korean kalguksu?

Fortunately for foodies, the Tacoma and Lakewood areas boast several markets for you to explore, and we’ve put together a list for you. Bon appétit!

H-Mart

This Asian superstore contains all kinds of food from pretty much every country in Asia. You’ve got your Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Thai — and the list goes on. H-Mart has got it all.

If you love kimchi, H-Mart offers one of the widest selections in the region.
If you love kimchi, H-Mart offers one of the widest selections in the region.

When you first walk inside, you may feel a little overwhelmed because it is basically an Asian market the size of a Fred Meyer grocery store — there are entire aisles dedicated solely to oils, spices, seaweed and rice. But don’t fret. Grab a shopping cart and walk each aisle slowly to familiarize yourself with the different sections, then walk through once more to shop.

Along with the vegetables and fruits we’re accustomed to seeing at grocery stores like Safeway, there’s also Taiwanese bok choy, Chinese broccoli, and a bunch of other enticingly fresh items to explore in the extensive produce department. If you visit the store on a Saturday, there are usually sample stations set up offering up some yummy Asian edibles, as well as prepared foods such as shredded squid or whole crab in soy sauce. You’ll definitely come across at least a hundred items that will make you scratch your head, but that’s the whole point isn’t it? Pick up a few items and take your palate on an adventure. Bonus: If you like kimchi, you’ve hit the motherlode.

H-Mart
8720 S Tacoma Way
Lakewood, WA 98499
253-314-5062
www.hmart.com

The deli at Los Guerreros is second to none. Load up on fresh salsa, guacamole, fresh chicharron and more.
The deli at Los Guerreros is second to none. Load up on fresh salsa, guacamole, fresh chicharron and more.

Los Guerreros

As an overall grocery store, Los Guerreros is not a standout Mexican market. However, it made this list solely on the strength of its deli. Where else can you get fresh, authentic guacamole, salsa and nopal (cactus) salad by the pound? For that matter, what about the fresh pork chicharron and the rarely-ever-seen beef chicharron — which is almost the size of an Austin Mini Cooper? Los Guerreros offers more prepared food items than any other Mexican market we’ve come across, making it the ideal spot to pick up dinner on your way home after work or to grab brunch items for a Sunday morning at your casa. From tamales to salads to desserts to tacos to the aforementioned chicharrones, Los Guerreros’ deli is well worth a visit.

Los Guerreros
10515 S Tacoma Way
Lakewood, WA 98499
253-581-7311

El Mercado Latino

We love El Mercado Latino so much. Unlike most markets branded as “Latino,” El Mercado doesn’t solely carry Mexican food stuffs. Here you’ll find Cuban delicacies such as turrón (a nougat-type dessert), paella mix, and killer Kirby-brand black beans (for Cubans, it’s got to be Kirby).

Looking for more than Mexican food? Head to El Mercado Latino for a wide selection of other South American favorites.
Looking for more than Mexican food? Head to El Mercado Latino for a wide selection of other South American favorites.

In the frozen section, you’ll find Columbian goodies such as cornmeal empanadas stuffed with meat and potato and pan de bono (cheese bread). Plus, El Mercado also carries Peruvian red hot pepper sauce and mild yellow pepper sauce as well as a marinade for the infamous Peruvian grilled chicken, pollo a la brasa. And Argentinian stuff, and, just oh so much more.

Of course, the market also offers a plethora of Mexican goodies, including a smorgasbord of different types of dried chiles. If you really want to take your taste buds on a tour, explore the market one country at a time. Bonus: Taqueria El Sabroso next door offers tasty tacos and other Mexican fare for a casual and inexpensive meal.

El Mercado Latino
10816 Pacific Hwy SW
Lakewood, WA 98499
253-584-0326

A stop into Marvel Market is never complete without picking up some of the market's renowned Behold—the yummy peroshky.
A stop into Marvel Market is never complete without picking up some of the market’s renowned Behold—the yummy peroshky.

Marvel Food and Deli

This place advertises itself as a European market, but it mainly carries products from countries like Russia, Germany, Hungary, Poland and the Ukraine. While Marvel Food and Deli’s selection is quite extensive and features an entire section dedicated to Russian candy and beer, the deli is the true standout here. Pick up favorites such as Russian potato salad or beet salad by the pound. Plus, choose from a variety of prepared hot foods such as stuffed cabbage, plov (Russian rice dish), and cheese-filled crepes. And, our personal favorite, the peroshky — round, soft bread stuffed with a variety of fillings, such as beef and potato. How do you say “delicious” in Russian?

Marvel Food and Deli
301 133rd St S
Tacoma, WA 98444
253-537-1008
www.marvelfoodanddeli.com

Daniah’s International Market and Deli

Falafel is just one of the many Middle Eastern delicacies you'll find on the menu at Daniah's on 6th Ave.
Falafel is just one of the many Middle Eastern delicacies you’ll find on the menu at Daniah’s on 6th Ave.

Here you’ll find foods and spices from around the Middle East, specifically countries such as Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Pakistan and India, as well as made-to-order food from the deli menu. If you’ve got a hankering for olives, Daniah’s has all kinds, including green olives with chili paste. You’ll also find grape leaves, baklava, halva (a wonderful, tahini-based dessert), and even falafel mix. Kitchen offerings include gyros, kabobs, shawarma (grilled chicken breast), dolma (stuffed grape leaves), and even Turkish coffee — aka rocket fuel — all at very reasonable prices.

Daniah’s International Market and Deli
6603 6th Ave
Tacoma, WA 98406
253-566-0393

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email