rworange continues her quest to try all the Mexican markets between Richmond and Pinole. This time, she visits El Mercadito San Juan, a small, nothing-seeming, empty place that stocks mighty impressive goodies. They excel at aquas frescas and fresh juices. There’s more juice than water, and the fruit is fresh from the produce bins. Fresh papaya juice ($1.50) is deep orange-red and tastes beautiful.

They also make their own queso fresco, a light and lovely cheese with texture almost like goat cheese. It’s cheap, too. They’ve also got great house-made hot sauces, especially a salsa fresca full of tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and lots of lime. Guacamole is thin and has a nice spicy tingle. Both of these are available to take home for $2 a pint. There are also take-home pints of black mole.

They sell good tamales, too–a little dry, but with a nice touch of lard in the masa. These aren’t at the very top of rworange’s tamale list, but they’re pretty high.

There’s also decent dry chorizo, and various Brazilian items. Avoid, though, their bland fresh chorizo.

Mercadito San Juan [East Bay]
12899 San Pablo Ave., Richmond

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Chorizo crawl–El Mercadito San Juan (Richmond) –fresh juices, house-made salsas & queso fresco

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