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Cremería La Ordeña—A Special Market for Mexican Specialties

Cremería La Ordeña—A Special Market for Mexican Specialties
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  • Cremería La Ordeña—A Special Market for Mexican Specialties

    Post #1 - January 29th, 2014, 2:35 pm
    Post #1 - January 29th, 2014, 2:35 pm Post #1 - January 29th, 2014, 2:35 pm
    Chicago has no shortage of Mexican markets but there's a certain sameness about them. Cremería La Ordeña, a small shop on the corner of 60th & Pulaski, stands out from the rest. I'm not aware of another store—of any size—with a range of Mexican specialties to match. I've been shopping at La Ordeña for about a year and a half but haven't got around to posting until now.

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    The shop is small but densely packed, and great fun to explore. You're almost certain to find something you've never seen before. The people who work there could hardly be nicer or more helpful, always offering samples and (usually) explaining how to use the ingredients. They call themselves a cremerîa, and there are plenty of dairy products on offer, but that's only a small part of what makes this store special. The fresh cheeses and cultured milks are worth exploring.

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    Meats aren't a particular strength but be sure to check out chicharrón prensado, chorizos and carne seca. Skip the Fud products.

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    Don't miss the six-legged meats. Chapulines (grasshoppers) are usually in the cheese case and jumiles (a type of stinkbug often used for salsa) are in a tub in the freezer.

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    Dried goods are well represented, including beautiful giant corn for pozole and varieties of Mexican beans not often seen in Chicago (frijol ayocote, frijol comba). Does anyone know about frijoles chinos and why these beans are so expensive? And has anyone used guajes secos? I've often seen the fresh pods for sale (I even made salsa once) but never the dried seeds.

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    Some other less common items include giant dried shrimp, fava bean flour and super-clear gelatin powder intended for the astonishing art of making Mexican gelatin flowers. Note that some of these sightings and photographs are over a year old so certain items may no longer be carried. But there's always something new.

    I rarely visit without picking up some of their moles (five or six types are available). There are few ways to make a great dinner with less work. Try the green mole with oven-roasted cauliflower and carrots, or one of the reds with pork shoulder steaks.

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    Rarely have I seen such beautiful dried chilies. Not a bad one in a bag.

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    They carry many varieties, including chiles pasados—a less common, but delicious, dried green chile.

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    It's worth poking around in the freezer for fruits like ciruelas.

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    For a second I thought these might be grasshopper tamales, but no, these are filled with a variety of fruit.

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    It's always worth looking around the cash register for high quality crystallized fruits.

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    You never know what else might turn up there. These coconut-stuffed limes made only a brief appearance.

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    Other sweets include gorditas dulces and the cajeta to drizzle on them.

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    La Ordeña is certainly the finest Mexican market I've found in the city and I'd put it on the short list of essential food stores of any type in the Chicago area. Those with any interest in Mexican cooking need to know about this place. It's a real treasure.

    A few months ago, Mike Sula wrote a profile of La Ordeña in the Reader. In news that should be exciting for northsiders, La Ordeña will soon open a second store at 3810 W Lawrence.

    Cremería La Ordeña [ Cremeria La Ordena ]
    5958 S Pulaski Rd
    Chicago
    773-284-8300
    La Ordeña on Facebook
  • Post #2 - January 29th, 2014, 2:54 pm
    Post #2 - January 29th, 2014, 2:54 pm Post #2 - January 29th, 2014, 2:54 pm
    I stopped in there with G Wiv a while back after lunch at Chaparrita--really fun store with some very delicious items. Also some very gracious folks pushing samples if I recall correctly (remembered mostly because I was SO full and felt bad saying no :)!!!) Due for a stop back in!
    Last edited by boudreaulicious on January 30th, 2014, 4:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #3 - January 29th, 2014, 6:52 pm
    Post #3 - January 29th, 2014, 6:52 pm Post #3 - January 29th, 2014, 6:52 pm
    Wow, what a treasure! Thanks for posting on this, Peter. I only wish it were a little closer--but this definitely looks like a destination market.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #4 - January 29th, 2014, 7:10 pm
    Post #4 - January 29th, 2014, 7:10 pm Post #4 - January 29th, 2014, 7:10 pm
    I feel very fortunate that you took the time to share this with us - looks like a real gem, and while out of the way for me, not so much that it won't come in handy. Thanks Peter!
  • Post #5 - January 30th, 2014, 2:51 pm
    Post #5 - January 30th, 2014, 2:51 pm Post #5 - January 30th, 2014, 2:51 pm
    Boudreaulicious wrote:I stopped in there with G Wiv a while back after lunch at Chaparrita--really fun store with some very delicious items.

    I recall at Cremería Santa Maria on 26th you (and especially happy_stomach) seemed to enjoy the fiberglass cow. You might have missed the cow at La Ordeña but you'll be happy to hear they have one too.

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    From what I understand, the cow once stayed in the store but it took up too much room. Left outside, the taggers defaced it so now it stands in its corral in the bed of a pickup truck. She only rarely puts in an appearance on Pulaski though. I hope when La Ordeña opens in Albany Park, the cow will be paraded around the neighborhood to advertise the new store. I like Santa Maria but I like La Ordeña a lot more.

    Gypsy Boy wrote:Wow, what a treasure! Thanks for posting on this, Peter. I only wish it were a little closer--but this definitely looks like a destination market.

    BR wrote:I feel very fortunate that you took the time to share this with us - looks like a real gem, and while out of the way for me, not so much that it won't come in handy.

    You're very welcome, hope you can get there soon. Remember, it's only another three and a half miles to a different country (Burbank).

    It's kind of a dangerous store (at least it is for me). You'll probably bring home some intriguing items you don't really know what to do with. I still have to figure out how to use those guajes secas . . .
  • Post #6 - January 30th, 2014, 3:30 pm
    Post #6 - January 30th, 2014, 3:30 pm Post #6 - January 30th, 2014, 3:30 pm
    reneG; those tubs of dulce de leche were NOT made from goat's milk, if i'm remembering correctly. i'm always looking for goat caramel, as it's time consuming to make. i hope i'm wrong…. i really enjoyed their crystallized fruits- not something to eat every day, but a real treat.
  • Post #7 - January 30th, 2014, 4:26 pm
    Post #7 - January 30th, 2014, 4:26 pm Post #7 - January 30th, 2014, 4:26 pm
    Rene G wrote:
    BR wrote:I feel very fortunate that you took the time to share this with us - looks like a real gem, and while out of the way for me, not so much that it won't come in handy.

    You're very welcome, hope you can get there soon. Remember, it's only another three and a half miles to a different country (Burbank).

    It's kind of a dangerous store (at least it is for me). You'll probably bring home some intriguing items you don't really know what to do with. I still have to figure out how to use those guajes secas . . .

    Ha! Now I just need to find a way to hit up all of these far away places in succession . . . at least I know I must get there.
  • Post #8 - January 30th, 2014, 4:47 pm
    Post #8 - January 30th, 2014, 4:47 pm Post #8 - January 30th, 2014, 4:47 pm
    Rene G wrote:
    Boudreaulicious wrote:I recall at Cremería Santa Maria on 26th you (and especially happy_stomach) seemed to enjoy the fiberglass cow. You might have missed the cow at La Ordeña but you'll be happy to hear they have one too.


    Your memory is unbelievable!!! You are more accurate in knowing what I was thinking than I am!!!! It was Santa Maria, not La Ordena that we visited. So are you saying they are related? And that there will soon be a 3rd (? or more) store in Albany Park?

    And, yes, the cow was very sweet but it was the store (and the folks working in it) that would bring me back. I will definitely try to make a trip down to Ordena soon, for comparison purposes only, of course :mrgreen:

    Thanks for all of your investigative efforts Rene G!!
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #9 - January 30th, 2014, 8:59 pm
    Post #9 - January 30th, 2014, 8:59 pm Post #9 - January 30th, 2014, 8:59 pm
    Driven past this place countless times, and always wanted to stop in--especially for the moles, which are advertised on the awning. Thanks for actually doing so!
  • Post #10 - January 31st, 2014, 1:05 pm
    Post #10 - January 31st, 2014, 1:05 pm Post #10 - January 31st, 2014, 1:05 pm
    justjoan wrote:reneG; those tubs of dulce de leche were NOT made from goat's milk, if i'm remembering correctly. i'm always looking for goat caramel, as it's time consuming to make. i hope i'm wrong….

    When we visited, I'm pretty sure they said the single type of cajeta/dulce de leche was from cow's milk. But Mike Sula (link above in post #1) wrote: "There's also three flavors of cajeta, the sweet, viscous goat and cow's milk caramel, including a mildly alcoholic-tasting version with walnuts, and another cooked a little longer to impart a subtle burnt flavor." So it seems their stock of caramelized milk changes. It certainly wouldn't hurt to check back with them. Even if they don't have it they might be willing to order some true cajeta (de leche de cabra).

    boudreaulicious wrote:
    Rene G wrote:I recall at Cremería Santa Maria on 26th you (and especially happy_stomach) seemed to enjoy the fiberglass cow. You might have missed the cow at La Ordeña but you'll be happy to hear they have one too.

    Your memory is unbelievable!!! You are more accurate in knowing what I was thinking than I am!!!! It was Santa Maria, not La Ordena that we visited. So are you saying they are related? And that there will soon be a 3rd (? or more) store in Albany Park?

    And, yes, the cow was very sweet but it was the store (and the folks working in it) that would bring me back. I will definitely try to make a trip down to Ordena soon, for comparison purposes only, of course :mrgreen:

    I'm a fan of the bovine mascots so I tend to remember photos of people riding them. I knew you'd been to Santa Maria but thought maybe you'd made it to La Ordeña as well. I'm pretty sure the two businesses are unrelated. I think Santa Maria has only the one store on 26th (a branch in Melrose Park closed a few years ago). La Ordeña currently has only the store on Pulaski but the new one on Lawrence looks like it will open soon. If you like Santa Maria (as I do) you'll probably love La Ordeña.

    mtgl wrote:Driven past this place countless times, and always wanted to stop in--especially for the moles, which are advertised on the awning. Thanks for actually doing so!

    The moles are worth stopping for. They are happy to let you taste them all and you should take them up on their offer. Some of the reds are fairly similar, though all are good. I usually end up with the green and one of the reds. The stuff lasts a long time without refrigeration.
  • Post #11 - February 18th, 2014, 2:06 pm
    Post #11 - February 18th, 2014, 2:06 pm Post #11 - February 18th, 2014, 2:06 pm
    I just scarfed down some amazing chorizo con huevos made with the La Ordeña cured/partially dried chorizo that you get from the counter top. OH MAN, that is some really amazing chorizo! It is less fatty bound, so fries up nicely in a patty or link form, rather than finely minced like the typical stuff.

    The mole's from La Ordeña are equally as good, a bit on the sweet side, but balanced with some really nice heat and strong toasty dried pepper flavors. The mole is very fresh and very good!
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #12 - March 5th, 2014, 1:28 pm
    Post #12 - March 5th, 2014, 1:28 pm Post #12 - March 5th, 2014, 1:28 pm
    Rene G wrote:In news that should be exciting for northsiders, La Ordeña will soon open a second store at 3810 W Lawrence.

    The new store should be open soon (if it isn’t already). I stopped in last Sunday and it seemed about half stocked. The shop is narrow but quite deep, with significantly more space than the original location.

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    Rene G wrote:From what I understand, the cow once stayed in the store but it took up too much room. Left outside, the taggers defaced it so now it stands in its corral in the bed of a pickup truck. She only rarely puts in an appearance on Pulaski though. I hope when La Ordeña opens in Albany Park, the cow will be paraded around the neighborhood to advertise the new store.

    Image

    The cow was parked on Lawrence last Sunday. They smiled when I pointed out there was enough room to bring her inside.

    Cremería La Ordeña #2 [ Cremeria La Ordena ]
    3810 W Lawrence Av
    Chicago
    La Ordeña on Facebook
  • Post #13 - March 5th, 2014, 4:33 pm
    Post #13 - March 5th, 2014, 4:33 pm Post #13 - March 5th, 2014, 4:33 pm
    Peter, thanks for this great report and the update on their second store. Regarding frijol chino, I've seen that name elsewhere for mung beans. Does that sound possible?
  • Post #14 - March 7th, 2014, 6:22 pm
    Post #14 - March 7th, 2014, 6:22 pm Post #14 - March 7th, 2014, 6:22 pm
    Amata wrote:Peter, thanks for this great report and the update on their second store. Regarding frijol chino, I've seen that name elsewhere for mung beans. Does that sound possible?

    You and Antonius should love La Ordeña. It will be interesting to see how much more stock the new store has than the original. Already I noticed large clay comales and a serious stone metate that I never saw on Pulaski.

    I'd be surprised if frijol chino = mung bean (at La Ordeña, that is). Mung beans are always at least slightly greenish (aren't they?) but these are tan and a little larger than the mung beans I'm used to. I'll see if I can find a better picture than the one above (sixth photo in post #1) but I don't have easy access to my photos at the moment. They look more like soy beans but the $8/pound price doesn't make sense. Most of their prices are a bit higher than elsewhere (if you can find the same item) but not outrageous. If I can't get more information next visit, maybe I'll buy a scoopful and cook them.
  • Post #15 - March 10th, 2014, 1:08 pm
    Post #15 - March 10th, 2014, 1:08 pm Post #15 - March 10th, 2014, 1:08 pm
    Rene G wrote:
    Rene G wrote:In news that should be exciting for northsiders, La Ordeña will soon open a second store at 3810 W Lawrence.

    The new store should be open soon (if it isn’t already). I stopped in last Sunday and it seemed about half stocked. The shop is narrow but quite deep, with significantly more space than the original location.

    Image

    Image

    Rene G wrote:From what I understand, the cow once stayed in the store but it took up too much room. Left outside, the taggers defaced it so now it stands in its corral in the bed of a pickup truck. She only rarely puts in an appearance on Pulaski though. I hope when La Ordeña opens in Albany Park, the cow will be paraded around the neighborhood to advertise the new store.

    Image

    The cow was parked on Lawrence last Sunday. They smiled when I pointed out there was enough room to bring her inside.

    Cremería La Ordeña #2 [ Cremeria La Ordena ]
    3810 W Lawrence Av
    Chicago
    La Ordeña on Facebook



    Cannot wait - just down the street from me, and on the way home from work.
  • Post #16 - March 10th, 2014, 5:11 pm
    Post #16 - March 10th, 2014, 5:11 pm Post #16 - March 10th, 2014, 5:11 pm
    BR wrote:Cannot wait - just down the street from me, and on the way home from work.

    I stopped at the Lawrence Ave Cremeria this morning and was blown away. Lost track of time and was 15-minutes late meeting a friend for lunch.

    My thoughts swirled with what to cook, what to cook, what to cook with pretty much every ingredient in the spacious well stocked immaculate store.

    Knowledgeable friendly staff, perfect English spoken, glance at something for more than a heartbeat and they offer a taste.

    Cremería La Ordeña Lawrence Ave, Count me a Fan!


    .
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #17 - March 10th, 2014, 6:25 pm
    Post #17 - March 10th, 2014, 6:25 pm Post #17 - March 10th, 2014, 6:25 pm
    The Cremería La Ordeña cow passed me northbound on Pulaski at Irving Park this Sunday morning, reminding me that I need to check this place out. More on-topic, Mike Sula has a great write-up in the Reader:
    http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/ar ... of-chicago
  • Post #18 - March 10th, 2014, 6:31 pm
    Post #18 - March 10th, 2014, 6:31 pm Post #18 - March 10th, 2014, 6:31 pm
    Thanks for the reports guys! Being a huge fan of the original location, I'm very excited that this is coming in right by where I live!
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #19 - March 21st, 2014, 1:53 pm
    Post #19 - March 21st, 2014, 1:53 pm Post #19 - March 21st, 2014, 1:53 pm
    G Wiv wrote:Knowledgeable friendly staff, perfect English spoken, glance at something for more than a heartbeat and they offer a taste.


    Stopped by Cremería La Ordeña Lawrence Ave location today, Gary's quote above is exactly my experience as well.

    I picked up a few different types of moles, queso Oaxaca, strawberry yogurt fresh made.

    If these moles turn out to the level I hope they do, I'll be a VERY regular customer.
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #20 - April 1st, 2014, 5:51 pm
    Post #20 - April 1st, 2014, 5:51 pm Post #20 - April 1st, 2014, 5:51 pm
    Rene G wrote:I rarely visit without picking up some of their moles (five or six types are available). There are few ways to make a great dinner with less work. Try the green mole with oven-roasted cauliflower and carrots, or one of the reds with pork shoulder steaks.


    Lucky me, my pals ol' PIGMON and trixie-pea muled this mole picoson out to Boston on a recent visit. Lovely stuff for a quick moppin' soppin' dinner !

    13570411763_40166e2965_z.jpg mole picoson
  • Post #21 - April 2nd, 2014, 7:53 am
    Post #21 - April 2nd, 2014, 7:53 am Post #21 - April 2nd, 2014, 7:53 am
    I was in Saturday morning and had a somewhat more...complicated...experience than other posters. Make no mistake: I think it's a great place, but it's certainly not without its flaws. First, neither of the two young women there were even remotely fluent in English. I don't hold that against them, but simply note that in case it's an issue for other shoppers. More troubling, the woman who came over to wait on me was so inexperienced or just plain unaware that she tried twice to give me the wrong cheese. She understood what I wanted, she just had no clue where the cheeses were in the case and, of greater concern, she didn't bother to come out front and check the labels. Then, when I asked her a question about one of the chorizos, her answer made clear that she simply didn't understand the question. Both women were very nice and tried to be helpful, and I think it's unlikely anyone would ever have a problem, but I do suggest that you pay attention when being served.

    In any event, as Gary noted above, there's plenty of choices to ponder. I ended up with requeson and queso xincho, (frozen) tamales de elote, dried chiles (pasada--a rare find), green mole (we're still working on the moles I brought back from Oaxaca a few months ago), and pan de elote (top-notch). It's simply too far for us to be a destination, but should I find myself in the vicinity, I'll definitely make the time to stop.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #22 - July 4th, 2014, 9:37 pm
    Post #22 - July 4th, 2014, 9:37 pm Post #22 - July 4th, 2014, 9:37 pm
    We've been to the Lawrence location a few times. It's about a 10 minute walk from home and a great addition to the neighborhood.

    My daughter and I stopped in this morning to pick-up some Oaxacan string cheese. She's 2 and likes exploring the store. After paying for the cheese and tortillas we purchased she did not want to get back in her stroller. I'm usually pretty good at shutting down public tantrums but she was in rare "terrible 2" form this morning. The very nice lady that checked us out saved the day by distracting Audrey with a few complimentary gummy bears. Small gestures mean a lot to moms of toddlers.

    We like this place and hope it does well.

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