Hispanic Heritage Month: 6 Latino Food Entrepreneurs to Support at the Farmers Market

Daisy Prado, CUESA Staff
September 14, 2018

With Hispanic Heritage Month kicking off this weekend (September 15-October 16), we compiled a list of some of the tastiest Latino foods available at CUESA’s farmers markets. From tacos to pupusas to empanadas, visit our markets to support local, Latino-owned businesses and celebrate the diversity of cuisine that immigrants bring from different Latin American countries. 

Latino-Owned Food Businesses

Cholita Linda
Cholita Linda has been serving Latin American street and comfort food since 2008. Vanessa Chavez started Cholita Linda at the Jack London Square Farmers Market in Oakland, offering freshly made Baja fish and carnitas tacos and agua frescas. She now owns two wildly popular brick-and-mortar of the same name, in Oakland’s Temescal District and most recently in Alameda, but people can still enjoy her tacos at Oakland’s waterfront farmers market on Sundays.
Must-try at the market: The Baja fish tacos! Batter-fried to perfection with salsa roja, cabbage slaw, white Baja sauce, and lime juice. Wash them down with a strawberry agua fresca.
Where to find them: Jack London Square Farmers Market on Sunday

izalco catering

Izalco Catering

If you are looking for authentic Salvadoran food, Jose Vega and his son Marcelo make gourmet pupusas, with varieties ranging from traditional to vegetarian and vegan options. A pupusa is a traditional Salvadoran dish of a thick masa tortilla stuffed with a savory filling such as bean and cheese or a pork mix. The original recipe for Izalco Catering’s pupusas comes from Jose’s grandmother, who owned a pupuseria in El Salvador.
Must-try at the market: If you have never tried pupusas, first try the traditional one with beans and cheese. If this isn’t your first rodeo, give the Southwestern pupusa a try: it’s Jose’s original recipe with chipotle chicken!
Where to find them: Mission Community Market on Thursdays

La Oaxaqueña
La Oaxaqueña offers regional Mexican cooking from the southern state of Oaxaca, with made-from-scratch tamales in mole poblano, pupusas, and other traditional specialties like pozole. Their philosophy is that “food is our first medicine,” and the mother-daughter duo Rosa and Carolina cook with the recipes of their ancestors to serve the community and find their roots through food.
Must-try at the market: The tamales, of course. Tamales are always delicious, but not all tamales are cooked with authentic, made-from-scratch mole poblano.
Where to find them: Jack London Square Farmers Market on Sundays

Mi Comedor
Mi Comedor is a participant of La Cocina’s incubator program and a recent addition to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Owner Olivia Mecalco makes antojitos inspired by her grandmother’s cooking and her memories of Mexico City, including sopes, huaraches, pambazos, tacos, tortas, and other street food favorites.
Must-try at the market: The vegetarian quesadilla: sautéed onions, squash, and squash blossoms, topped with a Mexican crema and a spicy, homemade salsa roja. All this goodness stuffed into tortillas that Olivia makes from scratch!
Where to find them: Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Tuesdays

Mi Morena
A participant in La Cocina, Guadalupe Moreno started Mi Morena, a tacos de guisado business, to offer San Francisco diners traditional tacos with quality ingredients and handmade tortillas, including chicken, beef, pork, and vegetarian options. “De guisado” refers to the homemade stewed fillings, and her dishes are rooted in the cuisine of her home of Mexico City.
Must-try at the market: Any of the tacos de guisados with handmade-to-order tortillas. Go for a combo plate of three, so that you can try an assortment.
Where to find them: Mission Community Market on Thursdays

Nucha Empanadas
Nilda Bottazzi, nicknamed “Nucha,” grew up making traditional Argentine empanadas, baked and stuffed with simple ingredients. She later taught her son, Ruben, how to make the family recipe. Nucha’s empanadas, mini-tarts, and quiches are made from scratch with dough using butter (no beef fat) and are stuffed with a variety of fillings.
Must-try at the market: The spicy beef empanadas, which are stuffed with organic ground beef, onions, red and green bell peppers, and chile peppers.
Where to find them: Mission Community Market on Thursdays

Additional Latino-Inspired Food Businesses

Donna’s Tamales
Donna’s Tamales is inspired by California’s fresh ingredients and Latin influences. Their corn masa is ground fresh daily and mixed with California olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. All recipes were Donna’s own, and products are made by hand the day before they are sold at the farmers market.
Must-try at the market: Look for flavorful twists on the tamale, like smoke cheddar and black bean.
Where to find them: Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Tuesdays

Karen Taylor Waikiki started Primavera in 1991 after years of working as the chef at a Mexican restaurant in Sonoma. All of Primavera’s products are made by hand in their commercial kitchen in Sonoma, and the recipes are developed with Primavera’s staff, all of whom are Latino immigrants hailing from different parts of Mexico. Corn masa (the main ingredient in tortillas and tamales) is made both fresh from dried corn and from pre-ground corn flour. Fresh masa is made by soaking dried white corn with lime (the mineral) and then milling it in a 15-horsepower stone grinder.
Must-try at the market: Primavera’s famous chilaquiles is a cult brunch favorite. Arrive early to avoid the lines.
Where to find them: Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Saturdays

Tacolicious started in 2009 at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market as an outgrowth of owner Joe Hargrave’s former restaurant, Laiola. The taco stand was inspired largely by a trip to Mexico City. There, Joe ate all over, but particularly at a little place called Califa, a taco-centric sit-down restaurant with sparkling fresh salsas and bright ingredients. 
Must-try at the market: Guajillo-braised beef, carnitas, and Baja-style fish tacos are market favorites, but don’t miss the rotating specials.
Where to find them: Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Thursdays

Photos of Mi Morena, Izalco Catering, and Nucha Empanadas by Tory Putnam/CUESA. Photo of La Oaxaqueña by La Oaxaqueña. Photo of Cholita Linda by Cholita Linda. All other photos by CUESA.

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