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UMF #5: Mercado Marimar with Leonardo Zalapa

On Saturday, November 10th, Urban Market Forage made its 5th foray to visit a local market. This time it was Mercado Marimar on S. Park Street. It may be a relatively small space, but it provides a big boon to lovers of Mexican cuisine.

Owner Maria Garcia has been in this location since 2000, but in the Mexican food business for much longer. She is one of Madison’s pioneers in the Latino market community. She arrived in the U.S. by herself at age 17 and has run many successful businesses since. Marimar is Maria’s name combined with that of her partner, Martín.

Our guide, Leonardo Zalapa, was charming and knowledgeable. He shared his favorite ingredients and recipes. The shelves are crammed with imported items. There is a butcher, a produce section and a tiny bulk section for staples like dried beans. If you go on the weekend, you will not escape the whining and groaning of the tortilla machine, which, by the time we were standing in front of it, was on siesta. We were able to see the masa dough inside and see (and taste!) the delicious results.

The small kitchen turns out delicious tacos, tamales, carnitas, pozole, etc. 6 of us stayed for an incredibly tasty carnitas lunch, served with a huge stack of fresh tortillas, limes, onion and cilantro. Red and green salsas, crema, and an avocado sauce dot every table. Maria also treated us to nopales salad on the house.

Lovely staff, wonderful food. A true Madison gem!