Mexi-Can Market parades its mantra in its name. "We don't want to be a Latino market, serving just Latino customers," the owner tells me. "We want to have these products for people who know them, but also introduce them to other Canadians. We're part Mexican, part Canadian. So Mexi-Can."
Mexi-Can Market opened on College a couple blocks east of Lansdowne about three weeks ago. A family business, son Pavel Valdez leads me around the little store, explaining what led the family to open up shop.
"We saw a lot of Latino people in the area, but nowhere to buy truly authentic products," he says. "And the grocery store--all they have is Old El Paso, an American company!"
"So we thought, 'No, we need to bring things straight from Mexico.'"
And Mexi-Can Market has done just that, bringing everything from bags of Takis tortilla chips ($1.49), to Jarritos soft drinks ($1.50) and lots of sauces, canned beans, spices, soups, candy and more. Even the bottles of Coke are brought in from Mexico.
"It sounds funny," Valdez says, "but the Coke tastes different when it's from there. It's better."
Another interesting item: Chicharron, $2.49 a bag. "It's fried pork belly, like pork rinds," Valdez says. "But trust me; it's really, really good.
When the weather warms up a little, Valdez plans to host a neighbourhood barbeque every Saturday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. "We'll have ribs, potatoes, everything Latino style. Just a way to involve the community."
Mexi-Can Market has also become somewhat of a community video store, offering the most popular Latino movies to rent or buy. But the big draw, I can only assume, will be its freshly made churros ($1.50), sourced from Pancho's Bakery in Kensington (the owner of which is a good friend of the Valdez family) and fried fresh on the spot.
Of course, I couldn't resist, and opted to have mine filled with caramel on Valdez's suggestion. It was wonderful--crunchy, fresh and delicious, rolled in sugar and simply oozing with caramel. Not for the wavering caramel-enthusiast, that's for sure, but definitely an indulgent treat. That's one way to get me to throw "Mexican Market" into my grocery shopping schedule.
Photos by Dennis Marciniak