The biggest supermarket chains are HEB and Soriana, and to a lesser extent Wal-Mart. Supermarkets are modern and clean with a familiar layout. Most are open 7:00 to 22:00, seven days a week.
Soriana is a Mexican chain stocking all the essentials and can work out slightly cheaper than the other two. In HEB and Wal-Mart you’ll be able to find familiar brands as well as products labels in English. Organic produce is now widely available; however, in many cases they are still considerably more expensive than the traditional products.
Monterrey is also home to Costco and Sam’s Club. If you have membership at either from home, you can use it here. However, facturas (invoices that you need to use for IVA reimbursement) will be e-mailed to you only if your membership originated in Mexico.
There are plenty of grocery stores in Monterrey. HEB, a Texas-based grocery chain, offers a great variety of familiar products. HEB has its own brand, Hill Country Fair, and is continually introducing more products. Imported products are labeled both in English and Spanish. However, the labels in Spanish don’t reflect the nutritional label fully (e.g. sodium and sugar content are often omitted).
Other stores in Monterrey/San Pedro include: Soriana (there is even a 24-hr Soriana store on Humberto Lobo), Costco, Sam’s, WalMart, and Superama(as of fall 2011).
FINDING THE FOODS YOU WANT
You may not be able to find a certain kind of food that you previously enjoyed, but generally speaking almost everything is available in Mexico or there is a passable substitute. You may have to hunt in different grocery stores, ethnic shops, and markets. Since the free trade agreement, there are many more imported items here to enjoy. There are some import stores here in Monterrey where you can virtually find anything that you are looking for; or at least request they get it in their next shipment. The drawback is the price, and it is usually not a small difference. For example, a box of U.S cereal may be priced at $6.00 dollars here in Monterrey, but you would be able to find it in the US for half that price. Of course, the proximity to the U.S. border makes online shopping a breeze. However, there are restrictions on what you can order (please see Mail section).
Some of the first frustrations encountered upon arrival take place in the kitchen. Finding food brands that you and your family enjoy, working with a temperamental oven, and needing to treat fruits and vegetables all make for frequent trips to restaurants as the easy way out.
USING THE OVEN
The ovens in Mexico are not known for their precision. You may have the oven set to the proper temperature on the dial, while inside its 50-100 degrees too high or too low. The easiest solution to this is to buy an oven thermometer in both Celsius and Fahrenheit. It is the only way you’ll know for sure. Preheat your oven for about 20 minutes longer than you would at home. This will help to stabilize the internal temperature. Don’t be surprised if your oven doesn’t have a broiler. Many do not. Since most ovens are gas and some are without an auto-ignite feature, you need to use extra caution when lighting the oven. If you have tried to light the oven and it didn’t catch, open the oven door, open a nearby window and let the gas dissipate for 10 minutes before trying again. We don’t want any singed eyebrows!
LOCAL FOOD BRANDS TO TRY
Many U.S. brands are available here in Mexico without going to the import stores – Campbell’s Soup, Coke, Purina Dog Chow, Tostitos, Little Debbie, etc. Everyone has different tastes, but following are some local brands that may be satisfactory substitutes for you familiar brands:
Buttermilk Jocoque, it comes in cottage cheese type containers at most supermarkets
Canned goods Herdez and La Costena are reliable
Cheese Chambourcy, Los Volcanes and Noche Buena are good brands. The following is a
guide to making cheese substitutions with local cheese types:
- Cabrales – Similar to Roquefort
- Chester – Similar to Gouda with a little softer texture
- Chihuahua – Texture of Cheddar, but taste varies greatly by brand. The original from Chihuahua is very good
- Gruyere – In Mexico it’s Swiss Cheese; not a soft cheese
- Holandes – Similar to Gouda
- Manchego – Texture of Mozzarella, but more flavor, very similar to Monterrey Jack – which is the most popular cheese used in cooking
- Requeson – The Mexican version of Ricotta
- Oaxaca – Can be a good substitute for Mozzarella
- Port Salut – Similar to Meunster, but a stronger flavor
Cornstarch Maizena and comes in a yellow envelope or box with cookies and a tea cup on the
front. That’s because it’s used in a local hot drink.
Creams Crema de batir is heavy cream in a carton used for whipping. Cremaacida is sour
cream. Crema is thick cream for use in Mexican cooking.
Milk Aside from the refrigerated milk from HEB, Lala, etc. many brands are packaged in
rectangular cartons that do not have to be refrigerated until after opening. These
ultra-pasteurized milk cartons usually last in the cupboard for a few months. You
can easily find soy, almond, and rice milk.
Pasta Test supermarket brands to find your personal preference. Many Mexican brands
are geared only for use in soups and are too pasty in texture. It may be better to go
to a local pasta shop or import store to purchase it. Whole wheat pasta imported
from the States is readily available in HEB.
Puff Pastry For those special dishes, you can find puff pastry ready for baking in most
supermarket bakery sections (refrigerated of course). It is known as mil hojas and
comes simply wrapped in plastic – not in commercial packaging.
Sugar Confectioner’s sugar is called azucar glass. Brown sugar is called azucarmorena
clara for the light variety, and azucarmascabado obscure for the dark brown. Granulated sugar here has larger crystals that U.S. sugar, causing problems in some baked goods. Try U.S. brands or those marketed as “Extra Fine Granulated.” Some confectioner’s sugar has “unpowdered” gritty sugar in them. For cake decorating buy confectioner’s sugar imported from the U.S.
Teas Mexico is known for its vast selection of herbal teas. Te de Manzanilla is
Chamomile, Hierbabuena is a mint tea and there are many more – try them all!
MEAT AND FISH GLOSSARY
|Fish & Seafood
Pescado y Mariscos
|Beef||Carne de res||Clams||Almejas|
|Ground beef||Carne molida||Cod||Bacalao|
|Suckling pig||Cochinillo||Mackerel||Caballa / Makerela|
|Pork fillet||Lomo de cerdo||Crayfish||Langostino|
|Pig’s feet||Patas de cerdo||Bass||Mero|
|Leg of lamb||Pierna de cordero||Oysters||Ostiones / Ostras|
|Oxtail||Cola de buey||Perch||Perca|
|Bacon||Tocino / Panceta||Haddock||Róbalo|
FOOD IMPORTS STORES IN THE DEL VALLE AREA
Aladino’s San Pedro #400 Nte, Colonia del Valle
Imported international foods, cleaning products, paper products, Baker’s brand
chocolate, spices, salad dressings, personal care products, drinks.
Carrots Rio Colorado #226, Colonia del Valle, betweenTamazunchale and Moctezuma Plaza Santa Elena. Phone: (81)8335-1417 English speaking. Good assortment of organic food and products. When available, they have fresh greens, etc. Also carry lactose free products.
Arte y Chocolate Rio Mississippi #265 Ote, Colonia del Valle Phone: (81) 8356-4662 Handmade
chocolates, bulk chocolate, cake decorating equipment, candy making classes.
El Oriental Bosque del Canada #108-1, Colonia Bosque del Valle Phone: (81) 8335-
1224/8335-0483 Grape leaves, some coffee, Arabic breads and crackers, prepared
Eastern food , frozen and to go.
El Jeque Restaurant Tamazunchale #418, colonia del Valle Phone: (81) 8335-2730/8335-3242
Small deli selection of middle-Eastern ingredients, Arabic restaurant.
Liverpool Palacio de Hierro, Galerias Mall – 3rd Floor, and Valle Oriente Mall off Lazaro Cardenes. They carry imported foods, wines, candies, gift items, and deli. Liverpool also carries a good selection of kitchenware.
Mana Vegetariano Vasconcelos #143 Ote, Colonia del Valle. Vegetarian restaurant and small store.
Whole grain flours, dried beans, brown rice, dried fruit, fresh yogurt, dried pastas, tofu, some fresh baked items.
Riex Deli Humberto Lobl, across from Gigante supermarket at Vasconcelos, near Jeronimo Siller Gourmet shop, fresh bread, frozen meats, fish, nuts, pastas, dried fruit plates
and deli platters made to order.
Vinoteca Calzada del Valle #1 Ote, Colonia del Valle Phone: (81) 8335-3344/8335-3200
There are 2 locations on Calzadadel Valle Small gourmet selection, large selection of wine and liquors, gift packs.
Ordaz Vasconcelos #639 Pte, Colonia del Valle Phone: (81) 8338-2174/8338-1172/8336-4065 Freshfruits and vegetables. Home deliveryavailable.
Panaderia& Guayalejo #100 Sur, Esquina Calzada del Valle Phone: (81) 8378-4403
Pasteleria Not an import store, however, they specialize in braided bread and cakes
Sears San Agustin Mall, 2nd Floor.Sears has a Pepperidge Farms section
Waldo’s Market Rio Mississippi, located half a block before light at Tamazunchale. (Similar to a Dollar Store)
Todos Empanadas Is in a small strip shopping complex the corner of Vasconcelos and Lomas del
Valle Phone: (81) 1257-4236 2nd location HEB shopping complexon Gomez
Morin Phone: (81) 8378-0929 Excellent empanadas with a variety of fillings to
choose from. Great for parties. Call ahead and order if you need a large number as
they run out quickly on Mondays and weekends
Monterrey is home to many modern, sophisticated mall and shopping plazas. From high end designer items to cheap hand-made artisan products, there is something for everyone. Malls and plazas are located throughout the city and you will be able to find the most nationally-renowned shops, elegant boutiques, familiar brands, and original artesania.
Usually, all commercial malls have a movie complex and food courts. You can easily find shops with folkloric art, silver, wood, blown glass, pottery items, and embroidered materials, and clay lamps to name a few. There is also an outstanding variety and abundance of leather products, particularly cowboy boots.
Numerous strip malls, like Plaza Tanarah, Calzada 401, Gomez Morin 404, Plaza Duendes, Plaza 02 Vasconcelos, offer a great variety of products and services. many of us frequently visit these malls to grab a bite to eat, drink a good coffee, or to meet friends in a casual environment.
The Paseo San Pedro and Plaza Fiesta San Agustín malls with some of the best stores in town. Paseo San Pedro is the newest mall in San Pedro. It includes a movie theater, a NH hotel, a Palacio de Hierro store, and a food court.
Plaza Fiesta San Agustín mall, established in 1988, features a wide assortment of department stores (Sears, Dorians, Sanborns), specialized shops for clothing, footwear, and accessories, along with furniture, home appliances, electronic products and many other different goods. BestBuy store opened in late 2011 and there are plans to bring other large chains to this mall.
Galerias Valle Oriente is the place to shop ‘till you drop. This is one of the newest and
most modern malls in Monterrey. It has one large department store – Liverpool, and a
total of over 100 stores spread over two floors. It even features a Catholic chapel!
During weekends this mall can become very crowded as it’s a popular choice for
Galerias Monterrey is located in San Jeronimo, off Gonzalitos. Galerias is a commercial complex where you can find different boutiques and buy a wealth of articles and services, all in our place. There is Liverpool department store, a food court, and a ton of stores with music, fashion, and state-of-the-art technology.
Plaza Mexico is a very tradition shopping center located in the heart of the city. Its
architectural design resembles a classing building from the early 20th century. It is
divided into two levels, which house more than a hundred and restaurants. One of the Plaza Mexico’s main peculiarities is that it has always given great important to patriotic symbols and Mexican culture. For this reason, huge celebration take place there during the most significant dates in the Mexican calendar.