BEST LATINO GROCERY (1999)
A fiesta for the eyes and the palate. Stroll through aisles packed with traditional and exotic Latin foods--bricks of guava, black beans, peppers of all shapes and colors, stalks of sugar cane--and it's easy to forget that you're in St. Paul rather than Guadalajara. Tomas and Maria Silva have moved the store three times, to successively bigger quarters, since opening in 1978. And no wonder, given that Spanish-speakers are Minnesota's fastest-growing demographic group; that the West Side is home to the Twin Cities' biggest Hispanic community; and that the Silvas, who emigrated from Mexico long ago, make a point of representing Latin America's entire culinary rainbow. "We probably have a bean for every Latin American," chuckles manager Martina Mendez. Not to mention flan mixes for every preference (Cuban, Venezuelan, Puerto Rican, Argentinian), spices, baking supplies, and, of course, piñatas shaped like every creature you could imagine.