Gabriel Berumen, owner of Las Palmas Supermercado in Brookline, says one reason his customers come from far and wide -- some from an hour away -- is simply for brand-name Mexican products they can't find elsewhere.
"We have products that come direct from Mexico," he explains. "They ship them to Chicago, then we bring them here." He paces the crowded aisles, pointing out unique items: "This, Nevada, for making bread," he says, pointing to a yeast mixture. "This, Café Legal, coffee." An entire aisle is devoted to dried beans of every sort. The store also stocks products from Central and South American countries: Brazilian yerba mate by the kilo, for example.
Then, of course, there's what's made in-store: Las Palmas is also a carniceria, a butcher shop. Berumen and company make their own chorizo, and provide the traditional cut of steak for fajitas.
Berumen, who moved to Pittsburgh from Indiana and opened the shop nearly three years ago, says there are still a few Mexican products he wishes he could get to Pittsburgh but can't. "There are things like certain kinds of chips," he explains. "They can't get past the border; you can't get them anywhere in the United States."
While larger stores are upping their game with regard to Mexican food, he's not afraid of the competition.
"Giant Eagle, Walmart, they just buy some Mexican products," he says. "We like to actually deal with our customers. I know my customers and what they want. That's the difference."
700 Brookline Blvd., Brookline. 412-344-1131. Open daily 9 a.m.-10 p.m.