Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Tortillas: Hot off the press at Lily's Mexican Market

Fresh, warm tortillas are a luxury that you can now enjoy any time that you can drive to Dobbin Road.

Lily's Mexican Market is doubling in size, expanding next door into the space that Second Hand Books vacated to move down the shopping center. Lily's is adding a takeout counter to go with the existing butcher, and, in the last week or so, they installed a tortilla machine. The long metal machine presses dough and kicks out soft, warm tortillas, which cost about $1.50 for a bag of about 30. (Update: Now, you can buy takeout tacos that are out of this world. And you can drink horchata.)

Less than $2 for tortillas that are soft with a light smell like corn-on-the-cob grilled on a barbecue. They're a treat and an authentic flavor that you just can't get from factory-made food, and they are strong -- stretching, not splitting, around the filling. Wrap up any taco makings. Try the fajita meat from Lily's butcher. Try the cactus pads in the produce section for easy cactus tacos. Or borrow Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless from the HoCo Library and explore Mexican food like I recommended in February.

The expansion improves a store that already offered a selection of Mexican and Salvadoran goods. With Caezar International for Middle Eastern's food, this is the class of local markets. Fajita meat and three kinds of chorizo at the butcher. Mild, soft cheeses. Jars of cactus or spicy, yellow aji peppers. Fresh cactus, avocados and other produce. Bags of corn meal. Mexican sodas and candy. The extended selection of Goya beans and sauces. I had an orange empanada Sunday morning from the bakery display case, and it was delicious -- a soft pastry with a filling like the best orange marmalade.

Now, Lily's is the standard for any ethnic market around. Great selection. Professional employees. You can get someone on the phone to answer questions in English or Spanish. The butcher was pleased to explain the difference between Mexican and El Salvadoran sausages. You could go to Lily's for basic ingredients, or you could treat it like takeout and buy tortillas, meat, salsa, cheese and some vegetables to chop.

You can even go if the only cooking that you do is reheating. Try the tamales in the freezer section. They're corn meal tamales wrapped in corn husks. They'll stay in your freezer. To make them, you just let them defrost in the fridge, then steam them for 8-10 minutes. Mrs. HowChow savors her memories of tamales at the the farmers market near the UCLA hospital. These aren't as perfect as her memories, but they're delicious served with salsa.
If you like Lily's, then go explore other ethnic shopping in a post about Middle Eastern, Indian, etc. markets.
If you want more Mexican shopping, then consider the Panam Supermarket in Laurel. Panam has full produce and butcher sections, offering a greater selection than Lily's. If you want another Mexican adventure, check out "The Taco Truck" (Pupuseria Lorenita's).

(Update: I had an old address here. Lily's is at 6490 Dobbin -- in the same shopping center as the DMV.)

Lily's Mexican Market
6490 Dobbin Road
Columbia, MD 21045

NEAR: The DMV off Dobbins Road just south of Rte 175. Look for the intersection with a Blockbuster. The shopping center with the DMV, Lily's and Sushi King restaurant is across Dobbins from the Blockbuster.


K8teebug said...

This is great news!

K8teebug said...

p.s. Thanks also for the Mexican Everyday nod! That is one of my favorite cookbooks!

Anonymous said...

We went looking for Lily's and it seems to be gone, in addition, no one answers the phone. :(

HowChow said...

Anonymous -- Send me an email at howchowblog at gmail. I went past Lily's this week, and it was open and thriving. Maybe my directions are confusing you. I'm going to post in a while about their takeout counter. Great tacos.

Anonymous said...

Their address is 6490 Dobbin Road. They moved from the address you have listed in your post over a year ago.

HowChow said...

Thanks for the catch! I fixed that in four posts. Sorry for sending you to the wrong place. I hope that you liked Lily's when you found it.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why I waited so long to try Lily's, but I'm so glad I finally did! Their tortillas are the best store-bought tortillas I've had in Maryland. Also, they have a fantastic selection of dried peppers, way better than Panam, and they actually had fresh Poblano peppers! The sales staff was also incredibly nice and helpful! Lily's is my new go-to for Mexican groceries, even if it means dealing with the awful Rte 175 traffic - those tortillas are worth it!! Thanks Howchow - what a great find!!

bboyneko said...

i just came back from Lily's and tried tacos de carne asada, arroz amarillo and wow.

You might want to warn your readers that english is not exactly spoken there, and most of the menu is totally in spanish. I am fluent in spanish so it was no problem for me. But yeah, be prepared to point and sketch what you want to eat if you don't know spanish :)

Soo said...

Went to Lily's Mexican Market but there was no horchata :( However, did pick up masa for my next set of tamales. Haven't tried their tacos but I'm addicted to the al pastor tacos at R&R. Wonder if R&R will just make a bucket of their al pastor to go....

icolithic said...

Definitely the place to go for Mexican groceries. The sweet breads are nice and their Tamales (when they have em) are some of the best around (in MD, TX, NM and Mexico).