Homage to Fiesta Mart - Texas - Serious Eats


For those who don’t know, Fiesta started in a northside barrio in Houston in the early 70s, around the same time as Diana Kennedy’s first book awakened many, including many Texans, to the glories of Mexican cuisine.

Two Anglos opened it thinking the neighborhood would appreciate a store catering to their tastes. Anglos flocked from all over Houston to get masa, corn husks, fresh and dried chilies, tortilla presses and molcajetes. It was a huge success. Most stores located in Houston, still. Bought by an international group that specializes in ‘ethnic’ markets last year. They are improving stores physically. I wouldn’t be surprised if they try to grow the brand.


Anybody that hasn’t been to Fiesta should go to the one on Bellaire and Hillcroft, especially if you have a toothache.

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I was there recently for the first time in a couple of years, looking for sherry vinegar (no such luck). There have been some changes under the new ownership. There was only one food vendor out front, a roasted corn wagon, that wasn’t in operation. In the past there have been 2 or 3. I didn’t take notice of the in-store places to eat. The ‘International’ aisles have been re-arranged. Probably by far the ‘international’ customers at that store are Mexican and Central American and it seems the foods have been arranged by types, rather than nationalities. There are a few non-Latin nationalities toward the back, but not nearly as much as there used to be. I’ve always noticed the Fiesta stores are geared toward their neighborhoods - the stores I’ve been in on the far west side - Bellaire @ 6 and Mason Rd in Katy - have a lot more South American products than I’ve ever seen on Hillcroft. The S. Main @ Kirby Store and S. Main @ S. Post Stores have very diverse offerings.

The Rico Sabor Cubano bus out by the street is gone, replaced by a similar vehicle dubbed Carrito Cubano which appears to have a smaller menu and, like its predecessor, a staff that isn’t very proficient in English. But pictures online of their Lechon Asado makes me think I’m going to be stopping off there at some point for uno platillo.

Last time I was in a Fiesta (now 99 Ranch) I looked and looked for spaghetti noodles. Finally asked someone and was pointed to the Italy isle. Made me giggle.

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