Food deserts would spring up all over Austin if the various La Michoacanas were to shutter tomorrow. The Houston company is the largest independent Hispanic grocery store chain in the United States with over a hundred outlets scattered about Texas and Oklahoma.

They have a fairly modest presence in Austin but if you look closely, they wisely open up in areas that are under-served by dominant chain HEB. They went hard into San Antonio, opening up thirteen stores in HEB’s backyard. Even Fiesta Mart hasn’t had the balls to try to butt heads with Mr. Butt’s dominance down in the Alamo City. La Michoacana is many things: It’s a carniceria featuring a meat counter packed to the rafters with every cut off every animal you can imagine. It’s a panaderia with all sorts of baked goods both savory and sweet. It’s a paleteria with frozen concoctions bulging out of small freezer cases. It’s a fruteria that can give any green grocer in town a run for its money.

As if this abundance weren’t enough it also hosts one of the best taquerias in town with all the lengua, tripas, puerca, carnitas and barbacoa tacos you could want or need. La Michoacana could open in dozens of cities across the US and immediately be the dominant grocery store in town; in Austin they’re just a face in the crowd, until you become a patron and realize they’re quietly going about being the best small market chain in our city.

I primarily use the store on e.7th as a meat market when I need custom cuts off specific creatures. It helps to know a little Spanish {sweet breads, balls, bellies etc are all easy to look up if you’re walking down the offal path} While it will never replace Fiesta as ruler of my heart, I have a deep love for La Michoacana.

Full disclosure:back in the 90s when I was in the Mexican wrestling business, Santiago, the president of La Michoacana was one of my sponsors.

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