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Zaragoza Deli & Grocery: An East Village Home for Mexican Family Recipes

Zaragoza Deli & Grocery: An East Village Home for Mexican Family Recipes

NEW YORK – Although the modest Avenue A storefront looks like a regular bodega, Zaragoza Deli & Grocery is anything but typical.

In addition to snacks and soft drinks, you’ll also find Mexican delicacies handmade by Maria Martinez, affectionately called “Mama” by her customers.

In the narrow space next to the register, she chops up cilantro and onion for fresh guacamole, cooked to order.

“We clean every bean. Everything is done from scratch,” says her son Ruben Martinez.

She even bakes her own tortilla chips.

“They’re much crispier,” Ruben said. “You will see the difference.”

Maria opened the company with her husband Pompeyo in the year 2000 and named it after Zaragoza de la Luz, the small Mexican village where they grew up.

“They met in my parents’ village, and then — somehow — life brought them back together in New York City,” Ruben said.

Before finding their permanent home in the East Village, they had built the business from the back of their Ford Taurus, selling imported Mexican products from town to town. Today they work with their son and sell items such as dried peppers, hot sauces and packaged frozen treats from Mexico in addition to their home-cooked food.

“That was my dream, to open a small business here,” Pompeyo said.

Pompeyo – also known as “Papa” – attributes more than two decades in business to the relationships formed in Zaragoza.

“I try the best with my customers,” he said. “I try to respect everyone.”

Regulars return for burritos or enchiladas, while neighbors drop by to check in.

“I think we’ve been here for so long, you meet a lot of customers and just talk,” said Ruben.

For Ruben, the most meaningful part of the job is the chance to kiss his parents every morning.

“That’s a blessing,” he said.

Zaragoza Deli & Grocery
215 Avenue A
New York, NY 10009
(212) 780-9204