La Mexicana, at 638 Broadway, is one of at least two Mexican-American grocers in the city. As such, it’s not really a one-of-a-kind retailer, but, as a representative of Midtown, it does sell numerous one-of-a-kind items. If you haven’t been to Oaxaca, no need to board a jet: just check out La Mexicana’s shelves, which include beautifully crafted straw bags, tortilla baskets, blankets, shawls and clay pots and a wide range of CDs playing salsa, banda and other south of the border musical styles.
The family business, which is owned by Aldegundo and Laura Juarez, sells queso Oaxaca, a large ball of white cheese similar to mozzarella. For a change of taste, check out the fruit sodas, aloe verde drinks, and coconut waters, some of which are relatively low calorie, when the weather gets warm. Raw cane sugar is sold in packets, large cans of hominy are excellent for soup, and Abuelita is chocolate in a can, that’s dissolved in milk in Mexico for the traditional breakfast drink. Small plastic bags of spices include flax seeds, $1.99 each, which are a healthy addition to fruit and yogurt, and cacao beans. On occasion, homemade goodies, such as coconut sweets and rice putting, are for sale.