In honor of Zaragoza Hispanic Heritage Month – Washington Square News

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Zaragoza Mexican Deli and Grocery offers convenience in the form of authentic homemade Mexican cuisine, snacks and ingredients.

One of the golden rules of eating in New York City is if you want traditional Latin American food at an affordable price, head to the Bronx, Queens, or Brooklyn – thank gentrification for that. But as with all rules, exceptions can be made.

Zaragoza Mexican Deli and Grocery is the exception to this rule.

Across Avenue A from 14th Street Target, there is a small bodega between two shops: Zaragoza Mexican Deli or just Zaragoza. The tiny store is easy to miss, but behind its humble exterior hides a slice of Mexico in Lower Manhattan.

Bags of dried peppers, bottles of Tajín and other ingredients for Mexican dishes line the walls of the store. A couple of tables are set up in the back, across from a wooden counter, where you’ll find an elderly gentleman unpacking boxes of popular Mexican snacks or serving a variety of Mexican dishes to guests.

“Hello señorita“, He says and greets me as I walk through the narrow door. I usually come to the store for shopping when I’m cooking Mexican food. Today I came to the store looking for mulato and pasilla peppers for dinner: Mole poblano, a rich and velvety sauce made from chocolate and a variety of dried peppers from the state of Puebla. “Hello,” he says and smiles through his mask.

I was fortunate to find out about this hidden gem from my friend Carlotta Guacci, who spent her summers in Mexico with her family in Guadalajara. Guacci, a CAS senior, stumbled upon Zaragoza last fall.

“I saw the sign for the store for Mexican goods and I was expecting some shelves of Mexican branded goods,” said Guacci. “Instead, I found an older man and his wife who were handing a man a plate of tamales.”

Zaragoza shelves are stacked with traditional Mexican foods and brands. (Personnel photo by Manasa Gudavalli)

Guacci decided to sit down and eat some tamales, a Mexican dish made of corn-based dough filled with meat or cheese that is steamed in a corn bowl. The warm and rich taste of the tamales soothed her, reminding her of the scents and flavors she had grown up with.

Like many college students, Guacci sometimes finds it difficult to connect with her legacy while at NYU. She joined the Mexican Student Union during her sophomore year, but still struggled to find a community given the city’s vast reach. While there is a Mexican population in the city, most Mexicans live in neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn that are at least one subway ride from campus.

However, stores like Zaragoza Mexican Deli offer a glimpse into Mexican culture for Manhattan residents who cannot travel to the outskirts.

The store was Founded by Pompeyo and Maria Martinez, who immigrated to the USA from Zaragoza de la Luz, a town in Puebla and namesake of the store. And while Guacci’s family is not from Puebla, visiting the store has still found ways to connect with their legacy. Last fall, Guacci visited the store during Day of the Dead, a popular Mexican holiday celebrated just after Halloween, to purchase Pan Muertos and Sugar Skulls, two traditional holiday dishes.

“The owners have always been very kind to me,” said Guacci. “We speak Spanish together and they play banda or folk songs, which makes me feel even more welcome in their room.”

Guacci has returned several times and even brought friends to sit down and enjoy the food and the atmosphere of the shop – myself included.

A sign outside the restaurant advertises a mix of traditional Mexican food and some well-known favorites. (Personnel photo by Manasa Gudavalli)

“Zaragoza doesn’t feel like a gimmick, it’s just a family-owned place,” said Guacci.

Although I’ve never visited Mexico myself, I share Guacci’s appreciation for the business, which offers convenience through food and warm service.

Contact Gabby Lozano at [email protected]


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