Having read several positive reviews about the produce at La Guardia as well as tasting it first-hand at El Bajareque, the next logical step was to pay La Guardia a personal visit. Nothing could have prepared us for what we found.
Shopping for produce at La Guardia is, to say the least, a bittersweet experience. Upon entering, you immediately feel as if you've stepped into a mercado somewhere in Latin America. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. People of all colors, sizes, and ages, roam the open aisles, dragging cardboard boxes into which they load their finds.
As we meandered through the aisles ourselves, we gazed in awe at how the produce was exposed without being bothered by inclement weather or pesky insects. Oddly enough, the fruits and vegetables seemed immune to the needs of Miami insects. Perhaps the owners of La Guardia have made a pact with the devil. Or la chupacabra.
But then we noticed certain, let's say, problems. A box of lemons was so spoiled that some of them were sporting trendy little mold afros. We thought that some limes had stowed away in the lemon bin, until we realized that green was not the natural color of the guilty fruit. There were other fruits and vegetables in varying stages of decay, but nothing was as bad as those lemons.
You'd think that encountering such fruit would be enough to turn us away, but after years of shopping at thrift stores, garage sales, and flea markets, we've developed a hunter-gatherer approach to shopping. So, off we went in search of the wonderful bounty we had previously tasted.
And we found it. There were beautiful bright yellow bananas ($0.40/lb.) with nary a dark spot, and bags full of green or red peppers ($1) that just cried out to be eaten raw. There were also vibrant red onions ($0.79/lb) that seemed as if they too wanted to join the party. All of these options looked much better than anything you would find at your local supermarket, and the prices were definitely an improvement over chain supermarkets.
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After finding these goodies we then stumbled upon the Holy Grail. Aw, rats! These were spoiled too. Face to face with quite possibly the largest carrots ($1 per ginormous bag) we had ever laid eyes on, we winced in displeasure at finding that maybe half of the bags showed evidence of spoiling. Although, to be completely honest, we must admit that we were still quite happy at having been able to meet these aging specimens of beauty before their ultimate demise.
During our cursory inspection of La Guardia's dry goods mini market, we found items from all over Central America, many that are not carried in major supermarkets including Sedano's. There were great imported goods such as salchichas Carmela or Coco Lopez brand coconut milk.
Overall there are definitely some finds to be had at La Guardia. Just make sure to carry some Purell. It's open Tuesday through Sunday from 7:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. and closed on Mondays.
La Guardia Produce and Mini Market
3327 NW Second Avenue, Miami