Long has there been a complaint in the German capitol,
Where is the Mexican food?!
Germans didn't know they were missing it, but the influx of expats certainly noticed its absence. After years of lackluster salsas and too-sweet hot sauces, it was only a matter of time before the expats of Berlin hunted down their own prey for make-shift Cinco de Mayo parties or a late-night taco fix.
Skip the generally terrible salsas to make your own from fresh produce in summer. Turkish dürüm wraps are an adequate substitute for flour tortillas and fresh cilantro can be found at their markets. The tex-mex favorite of black beans are elusive but can occasionally be found at Asian markets. And everyone's favorite, the avocado, can be purchased year-round at most grocery stores. However, beware the green-skinned variety from Israel. They rarely match the Hass perfection most North Americans prefer.
But what about corn tortillas, cactus or peppers? These staples of Mexican cooking are impossible to... locate unless you go to a specialty shop. Luckily, these three stores offer essential and hard-to-find Mexican ingredients in Berlin.
01 of 03
Address: Dircksenstr. (S-Bahnbogen) 94, 10178 (Mitte)
Hours: Monday to Saturday 11:00-20:00
This shop lies beneath the rumbling of the U2 line between Jannowitzbrücke and Alexanderplatz, awkwardly sandwiched between Asian markets and clothing stores.
Billed as a hot sauce shop, it actually has all manner of spicy accessories. This is a great place for gifts with fiery merchandise like habanero seed packs and chili soda to set your taste buds ablaze.
For the connoisseur, this is also a sauce paradise. BBQ sauces, dips, and seriously spicy hot sauce. They even have salsa verde! Shop around the small store and enjoy the many samplers. Hallelujah! My tongue has finally been singed amidst the sea of mild flavors in Germany.
If you have a question, the friendly shopkeepers have clearly missed the rule that Berlin customer service is terrible. They are happy to chat in German and English about their favorite sauces, new arrivals and provide special ordering. We bought a... selection of hot sauces to raise the spice level in our household and a jar of pickled Nopales (cactus paddles) to up the authentic factor on our tacos.
02 of 03
Address: Kantstraße 34, 10625 Berlin (Charlottenburg)
Hours: Monday to Saturday 10:00-20:00
With the word "España" in the title, we had a hunch this store might cater only to the Spanish crowd. However, our fears were proven wrong as we discovered Mexican treasures tucked into a crowded corner.
The unicorn of Mexican ingredients in Berlin, the corn tortilla, can be purchased here in bulk. While small packets are available fresh, there are large packages for sale in the freezer. Not as good as fresh, this is a suitable substitute in Berlin. For the truly dedicated there is masa harina to make your own corn tortillas and even a tortillas press and holder.
Along with this Mexican food miracle, the store has tomatillas, dishware, pastries and a plethora of Spanish goods.
03 of 03
Address: Voigtstraße 39, 10247 Berlin (Friedrichshain)
Phone: 030/01522 9668241
Hours: 11:00 to 20:00
The new kid on the block, the tiny storefront of Chili & Paprika is impressing the locals. Its copious goods spill out of the store on a sunny day in an enticing array of red, white and green.
Here too you can find corn tortillas (both frozen and fresh) plus a tortilla press. Prices are reasonable and the helpful owner is happy to help you pick out the best Mexican candies, drinks and other goods from Latin America.