Where to Get Mexican Food Ingredients in Portugal

Written by:
Last updated on June 14, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 8 minutes

If there’s one thing that many people crave when they move to Portugal, it’s good Mexican food. And there’s the thing: it’s hard to get good Mexican food not just in Portugal but in all of Europe. Some people saying that it’s hard to get good Mexican food outside of Mexico or the southern US states. While there are Mexican restaurants in most European cities, Mexican food is much more of an occasional choice rather than the norm as it is in the US.

Now for some good news. There are more and more good-quality Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants opening up in Portugal all the time. The vast majority of these can be found in Lisbon and Porto, perhaps unsurprisingly as they’re the two biggest cities here, but you can now find Mexican food all over Portugal.

If you’re not in an area that has a good Mexican restaurant, you’re going to have to learn to make it yourself. Don’t worry: it’s possible to get good-quality Mexican ingredients thanks to a number of news stores that have opened up in Portugal.

Old El Paso

In Europe, Old El Paso commands half the market share of Mexican food brands in grocery stores. Many Mexican food aficionados will turn their nose up at this brand and, yes, it isn’t necessarily the best or the most authentic, but it is the brand that you’re most likely to come across in a Portuguese supermarket. Old El Paso products can be found at supermarkets like Auchan, Continente, and Pingo Doce.

If you’ve forgotten to purchase something from your favourite authentic Mexican store, this will more than do in a pinch. However, there are other online stores that foodies tend to prefer.

Casa Mexicana

Casa Mexicana stands as a beacon for authentic Mexican flavours. Established as a response to the growing demand for genuine Mexican ingredients, this 100% Mexican-owned company has swiftly become Portugal’s premier importer of Mexican food. Their commitment isn’t just to provide quality products but also to educate on the preparation of simple Mexican recipes, ensuring that the essence of Mexican cuisine is truly appreciated.

Beyond their importing endeavours, the Serpentine Group, under which Casa Mexicana operates, has exciting ventures such as the Casa Mexicana Shop in Porto and a store in Lisbon.

As they continue to innovate and expand, one thing remains clear: at Casa Mexicana, you’re always welcomed with the warmth of “Mi casa es su casa!”

Tip: get 10% off when you sign up for their newsletter.

Martha Tomé

Martha Tomé, hailing from the vibrant city of Guadalajara, the birthplace of mariachi and tequila, has brought the rich tapestry of Mexican culinary traditions to the heart of Lisbon. Since moving to Lisbon in 2012 after marrying her Portuguese husband, she found herself yearning for the familiar tastes and traditions of her homeland.

In 2014, driven by nostalgia for the Dia de Muertos celebrations, Martha began crafting Pan de Muerto, a traditional bread associated with the Day of the Dead. The overwhelming approval from the local Mexican community spurred her on, leading to the introduction of Tamales, meat al pastor, Cochinita, and a plethora of other authentic dishes. Each dish was a journey, often requiring improvisation and a deep dive into her memory to recreate the exact flavours. This culinary adventure culminated in the establishment of Abarrotes Mexicanos, a haven for quality Mexican ingredients in Portugal.

Martha runs an online store where you can buy essentials — everything from dried chillis, to tacos, tortilla chips, and salsas. She ships within Portugal or you can collect your order in Lisbon.

Glood

Glood is a chain of Portuguese stores which stock products from all over the world, including the US and Mexico. Their Mexican product range includes corn tortillas, hot sauces, churros mix, dried chillis, and spices.

As well as Glood’s online store, Good has physical locations in and around Lisbon and Porto.

The Chilli Experience

Nestled in the heart of Central Portugal, The Chilli Experience offers a unique journey into the world of chillies, ranging from the pleasantly mild to the wildly fiery. Their farm, spread across a sprawling hectare of agricultural land, transforms into a wild meadow during the spring and summer months. This natural haven attracts a diverse array of insect life, playing a pivotal role in pollinating the plants and naturally keeping aphid populations in check.

Committed to sustainable and organic farming practices, The Chilli Experience relies on water sourced from their own well and steers clear of pesticides and insecticides, ensuring that their chillies are as pure and natural as the land they grow on. For those looking to cultivate their own fiery delights, a variety of chilli plants are available for purchase between April and June. And for those who crave the fresh kick of a chilli, the farm promises freshly picked produce during the fruiting season. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for announcements.

They also stock a range of Mexican and Tex-Mex products including corn tortillas, mole sauce, corn husks, dried beans, chillis, and chilli powders.

Pop Tortillas

Based in the picturesque town of Sintra, POP! Tortillas stands out as a purveyor of authentic corn tortillas made exclusively with nixtamalized and certified Mexican flour.

Eschewing the use of transgenics and preservatives, their tortillas, available in both blue and white varieties, are a testament to purity and tradition. These tortillas come in sizes of 12 or 14 cm in diameter and are also available as totopos – pre-cooked and pre-cut triangles ready to be fried.

For those keen on crafting their own culinary delights, POP! also offers nixtamalized dough, perfect for whipping up quesadillas, soups, huaraches, and more. Complementing their commitment to quality is their dedication to accessibility, with weekly deliveries ensuring that the Greater Lisbon area can savour the genuine taste of Mexico.

Chiles mexicanos en Portugal

Adelita and her husband have introduced the vibrant flavours of Mexico to the soils of Portugal with their venture, “Chiles mexicanos en Portugal”.

Passionately cultivating a range of peppers, they specialise in the spicy kick of jalapeños and the rich depth of chile poblanos. But their agricultural artistry doesn’t end there; they also grow tomatillos, known for their tangy zest, and nopales, a type of cactus that’s a staple in many Mexican dishes.

Ensuring that the entire country gets a taste of their authentic produce, they offer shipments throughout Portugal when their crops are in season. Through their efforts, they’re bridging the culinary gap between Mexico and Portugal, one pepper at a time.

Jalapeños Tu Gitana

Carlos Omar and Isabel, a spirited Mexican-Spanish duo, are the heart and soul behind “Jalapeños Tu Gitana”, an online store located in Spain. This dynamic couple, brimming with enthusiasm and a deep love for what they do, have embarked on a mission to infuse the Spanish Mediterranean with the vibrant flavours of Mexico. Their dedication is evident in their commitment to sustainable farming, ensuring that every product they cultivate is grown responsibly and with utmost respect for the environment.

Substitutes

Fortunately, Portugal’s selection of produce ensures that many staples are readily available. Cilantro, limes, and a variety of fresh peppers can be found year-round, making the culinary journey smoother. But sometimes you will have to make a substitution here and there.

Ana Frias, a Mexican writer residing in Setúbal, Portugal, offers invaluable insights for those looking to recreate authentic Mexican dishes in a land where some ingredients might be elusive.

For those specific Mexican peppers that might be missing from the local markets, Ana suggests some ingenious substitutions:

  • Pimento Padrão: A suitable replacement for jalapeños or anaheim pepper.
  • Pimento Picante: Can stand in for jalapeños or anaheim serrano pepper.
  • Piri Piri: Perfect for those seeking the heat of serranos or to mix with other peppers for an added zing.

When it comes to pantry essentials, Ana has a list of go-to places and alternatives:

  • Pickled Jalapeños: Available at Auchan or Continente.
  • Tortilla Chips: Aldi, Auchan, and Continente have got you covered.
  • Flour Tortillas: While homemade reigns supreme, Aldi offers a commendable store-bought version.
  • Pinto Beans: Local Frutarias often stock them in buckets, bearing a slight red hue but with a familiar taste. However, Ana advises steering clear of the pre-packaged versions at grocery stores due to their texture.
  • Hard Shell Tacos: While not traditionally Mexican, for those occasional “American taco” cravings, Pingo, Auchan, and Continente are the places to visit.
  • Lard: Vegetable oil is Ana’s preference, but traditionalists can opt for Banha de Porco Preto, available in most grocery store refrigerators.
  • Mexican Crema: Creme Freiché or Greek yogurt are excellent substitutes. Aldi’s Natas Acidas is another option.
  • Queso fresco: The name suggests the search for a fresh cheese, and Portugal has a plethora of local cheeses that can fit the bill.

In essence, while some adaptations might be necessary, the essence of Mexican cuisine can very much be captured in Portugal with a bit of creativity and guidance.

The small print: Portugalist may generate a commission from mentioned products or services. This is at no additional cost to you and it does not affect our editorial standards in any way. All content, including comments, should be treated as informational and not advice of any kind, including legal or financial advice. The author makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors or omissions or damages arising from its display or use. Links to external websites do not constitute an endorsement. [Disclaimer Policy]
Written by

James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.

Spotted a mistake? Suggest a correction

There are 6 comments on this article. Join the conversation and add your own thoughts, reviews, and stories of life in Portugal. However, please remember to be civil.

Comments

  1. Thank you so much for putting together an article like this! As an American living in Europe, i have found it really hard to find good mexican food & groceries like back in the U.S. I found Old El Paso to be a pretty good standby, but I’ve struggled to find things like tomatillos, hatch chilis, and good hot sauce. It’s a shame that eating mexican food out isn’t as convenient, but it’s nice to know where to get ingredients to make these myself. Thanks!

    Reply
      • Great news! Thank you James for compiling this great resource. I thought I was the only one searching out Mexican food ingredients in Portugal. Looks like Casa Mexicana ships to Madeira and at a reasonable cost. Well worth it!
        Remembering the spice trade as one of the things that built Portugal’s global empire, I’m learning to re-imagine so many basic recipes and specialty cuisine using the unique flavors available.
        Thanks again for helping me get adapted to the culture and traditions of the Portuguese.

        Reply

Leave a Comment