A Mexican fiesta is a great alternative to a summer barbecue. Shop these festive spots for the real deal.
CASA MEXICANA. Among Deep Ellum’s club-kid clothing stores and live-music venues sits Casa Mexicana, one of the best places to buy Talavera pottery for your patio. Talavera is named for the Spanish city from which it came, but the name is now associated with any type of brightly painted Mexican clay. Casa Mexicana also specializes in handmade Mexican folk art imported from every region in Mexico. Craftsmen in Oaxacan villages transform copal trees into brightly painted wood sculptures, including cats, pigs, and, our favorite, mermaids. On one wall hang hundreds of wood and tin crosses, as well as mirrors adorned with milagros, small tin figures of hands, feet, and hearts. For your coffee table, Casa Mexicana stocks books on Mexican culture, crafts, and design. Tue-Sat, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun, noon-5 p.m. 2616 Elm St. 214-747-7227. www.casamexicanafolkart.com.
JERRY’S SUPERMARKET. Bring a friend and turn your visit to this grocery-store chain into a cultural adventure. Start with the snack aisle, where you’ll find packs of Abanico’s, a brand of subtly sweet waffle cookies—the perfect addition to an after-dinner bowl of cinnamon ice cream. Next, pick up a few bottles of Barritos, a Mexican soft drink that comes in a variety of flavors. A bucketful of these guys on ice looks colorful and fun, and it’s an inexpensive yet decorative detail. Finally, snatch up a dozen tall candles in clear glass. Nothing builds a romantic atmosphere quicker than beautiful, glowing candles—and at 99 cents a pop, they’re a terrific deal. Daily, 7 a.m.-11 p.m. 2323 N. Henderson Ave. 214-821-5822.
LA MARIPOSA. This 26-year-old boutique in the Knox-Henderson area is as lovely as its name, "the butterfly." Year-round, La Mariposa stocks cascarones, confetti-filled eggs that children crack over each other’s heads during a time of celebration. They also have piñatas from Juarez in fun shapes such as donkeys, bulls, and bride-and-groom sets. If you’re having trouble making a decision, ask Raema Toney or Candy Hearne for advice. These ladies can give you tips on how to transform your living room or backyard into a festive, lively party scene. They may also suggest small keepsakes for your guests, such as Frida Kahlo matchboxes adorned with glitter and crystal beads. Once you’ve made your selection, everything is placed in a brown paper bag adorned with handmade, crepe paper flowers from Mexico City. Mon-Sat, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Sun, 1-5 p.m. 2813 N. Henderson Ave. 214-826-0069.
LA POPULAR. Our food editor, Nancy Nichols, agrees: La Popular’s tamales are some of the best in town. Jesse Moreno and his wife Amelia have been churning out every kind of tamale under the sun since 1984. Love potatoes? They have potato tamales. How about chicken and jalapeños? They can whip a batch of those, too. Vegetarian? No problem. We also recommend picking up some menudo, a yummy chile-based broth with tripe, which Mexicans claim can cure any hangover. Wed-Fri, 8 a.m.-7p.m.; Sat & Sun, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. 4904 Columbia Ave. 214-824-7617.
MEXICAN GALLERY. Like Casa Mexicana, this West End store carries a lot of folk art, but no one can touch Mexican Gallery’s selection of Frida Kahlo reproductions. The shop sells small and large reproductions, and the rich patinas add to their authentic feel—each of them looks as though it’s been hanging in a smoke-filled Mexican hacienda for decades. Even if there is no fiesta in your future, you may want to venture downtown just to browse. Mon-Thu, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri & Sat, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun, noon-6 p.m. West End MarketPlace, 603 Munger Ave., Ste. 213, 214-468-9131.
We asked Ciudad chef Joanne Bondy to give us her recipe for a michelada, a traditional Mexican cocktail.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
• Frosted beer glass
• Kosher salt
• 2 limes
• One beer (any Mexican beer, such as Dos Equis or Tecate, will do)
WHAT TO DO:
• Lace the rim of the glass with a wedge of lime
• Dip the rim in salt
• Fill the glass with ice
• Squeeze both limes and pour juice in glass
• Pour beer over ice and lime juice
• Stir and enjoy!