Friday, October 12, 2012

On the Hunt for Mexican Ingredients in Berlin

While we were excited to see our favorite German, Mr. Thomas, back in Berlin, we were a bit stumped on exactly what we should do with him. He has visited us in Berlin a few times now (& we visited him in Cologne) and while the city continues to amaze, we want each visit to be spectacular.

Luckily, Thomas came with built-in interest. After a year living with my burrito-loving family and just off another year in Mexico City, he was as crazy for Mexican food as most of us expats. It was decided. We were going to climb our mount Everest. We were going to attempt the impossible. We were going to find real Mexican ingredients in Berlin. Hopefully the hunt wouldn't kill us.

Our rag tag team of crusaders gathered and contemplated the map. We had heard of three possible locations, but website details were sketchy and it was probable that one (or more) was shut down. We were ready for our mission.

Stop 1: Pfefferhaus

Dircksenstraße 94

This was our sure thing, so we started here. Just off of Alex, I knew that in our worst-case-scenerio we could at least try some hot sauce (thanks uncorneredmarket for the heads up!) An impressive selection of hot sauces, bbq sauces, and accompanying burn-your-tongue paraphernalia greeted us.

And we did indeed try some hot sauces. The friendly shopkeepers showed an unusually high level of customer service for Berlin and we tried several sauces to perk up our taste buds. We had our eye on a cleverly marketed CaJohn hot sauce series that kept it simple with a picture of the pepper and a whole lotta heat. After tasting several different sauces, we bought the habenero and a few other things and went on our way.

What is a hunt for Mexican food without a little refreshment? We stopped at the Getraenkmarkt for some wegbiers (to go beers) and a little something special - Mezcal. A distilled alcoholic beverage made from the maguey plant (a form of agave), this drink is native to Mexico. There is a saying attributed to Oaxaca regarding the drink:

"Para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien también"
(for everything bad, mezcal, and for everything good, as well.)

Stop 2:Aqui Espana

Kantstr. 34

This store provided our greatest success. Although much more geared towards Spanish ingredients, this place had corn tortillas, tomatillas, and other such deliciousness. The tortillas were frozen, but a decent price at 30 for about 4 euro. If you weren't preparing for an instant feast when you go home, I would recommend buying the masa harina to make your own corn tortillas. (Or learn to make your own flour tortillas from duetsche, bitte!)

 Stop 3: Latino Amerikan - CLOSED

Bundesallee 117

In some ways, this place seemed the most promising. But alas! We arrived to find somewhere called Diako. NOT MEXICAN. Thomas had high hopes for this place and was understandably disappointed.

Bathrom break! Note to emergency bathroom breakers: Steglitz mall has an open bathroom which Ian called, er-hem, "the best shitter in town!" Just check out that elevator - fancy.

Now we were ready to go home and make a feast fit for real Mexicans. Or at least us. But at this point we were starving. Emergency currywurst. Life or death people!

Finally! We were ready to feast. With ingredients from our journey and a few smuggled goods from Thomas's rucksack, we were ready to eat

The ingredients (from top center clockwise): Flora de Jamaica to make hibiscus flavored water (from Mexico), pickled cactus (Pfefferhaus), Mezcal (Getranke Markt), real corn tortillas (Aqui Espana), lime (Kaisers), Mexican chili salsa (Mexico), tomatillo (Aqui Espana) , CaJohn habanero hot sauce (Pfefferhaus).

Refried beans & delectable carne on the stovetop.

The final product...
in the process of being eaten. Guys - I totally planned on taking nice pics. But imagine hours of foreplay pursuing ingredients for your feast. We cooked and devoured.

One thing I found interesting, Thomas said we should just put the meat and beans on the plate with our accompanying accessories and them scoop what we want onto our tortilla. I am used to making each little perfect taco, ready to eat. This was an easy way to serve, and delicious.

The next day we ate Mexican food again. Gorgeous.

If only a restaurant will solve your woes, we recommend Santa Maria in Kreuzeberg. Ask for the habenero salsa!


Anonymous said...


we made corn soft taco bar for friends who came for dinner last week and had a similar spread... but of course, we were so busy chowing down that no good pictures were taken either. Oh well.

Workingberlinmum said...

Yum, that looks good. Thanks for the heads up on the ingredients. Will check those places out!

Alex, Speaking Denglish said...

This might be worth the trip to Berlin alone for me.

Unknown said...

The hunt for Mexican food is a difficult and honorable journey in Germany.

Thanks for being a fountain of awesome recipes deutsch-bitte!

C N Heidelberg said...

Yum, that looks amazing! :)
Not being in Berlin we turn to the internet for our ingredients. ( )
PS. I am a little confused though as to where "Spanish ingredients" could be from if not from Spain. ;)

multikulinaria said...

Your treasure hunt turned out well. For your next expedition I have two more suggestions...

For spices (chilli variations) Pot & Pepper might be worthwile a trip, too.

For latin american stuff and food check out quitoberlin

Unknown said...

Thanks for the comment love all!

Thanks for the note C N Heidelberg - I am not much of an online orderer, but if I get really desperate I know where to go.

Thanks for the recommendation multikulinaria! We are obviously always up for a good ingredient hunt.

MissGinsu said...

Thank you SOOO much for doing the research on this. I'm going to Aqui Espania tomorrow!

Unknown said...

Happy to help MissGinsu! Mexican-food deprived expats in Germany need all the help we can get. Hope your trip was a success and please let us know if you find any stores or restaurants that you are particularly in love with.

southeast said...

Well, now it's getting hell easier to get tortillas (and FRESH ones) in Berlin. A tortilleria called "CINTLI Tortillas Berlin" just opened in Schöneweide. Check out their facebook page for any news.

thomas said...

Also worth noting, a better mexican place has opened in the last year or so (2015-2016) NETA at Rosenthalerplatz in Mitte, also has a location on Schönhauser Allee near Eberswalderplatz. They give Santa Maria a run for their money on all counts. Their margaritas are fantastic as well.

Unknown said...

It is certainly getting much easier to get good Spanish food in Berlin. NETA is serviceable. Chaparro is our current favorite with a killer happy hour. More favs:

We're Back in Berlin Ja!

We're Back in Berlin Ja!
ebe & ian at Yak-toberfest 2008