Inspired by the shops of 19th-century Mexico, Melissa Guerra's Tienda de Cocina, or kitchen shop, is outfitted with hand-carved wood shelves, handmade tiles, and other folk art objects. Latin American tools and ingredients like molcajetes, hand-blown glassware, and dried chiles are featured here, alongside the kinds of cookware, cutlery, and kitchen gadgets you might find at any modern cooking store. And for those who can't make it to the San Antonio, Texas, storefront, there's also an online shop.
In addition to being a shop owner, Melissa Guerra is a cookbook author, James Beard Award nominee, television chef, and historian of Texan and Mexican cuisine. Originally located in McAllen, her store now occupies a prominent spot at the Pearl Brewery complex's Full Goods Building near the Culinary Institute of America and Pearl Farmers Market site.
The physical and online shops carry specialty kitchenware like corn grinders, tamale steamers, and tortilla griddles, as well as beautiful Mexican pottery, serving dishes, and hand-blown glassware. There's also a good selection of items from Le Creuset, Emile Henry, Cuisinart, Nordic Ware, and other manufacturers. The food section features essential ingredients like dried chiles, jamaica flowers, tamarind, and corn husks, and prepared foods like Mexican hot chocolate and local Texas preserves. Latin American folk art objects, silver jewelry, and textiles add to the shop's colorful, cultural offerings.
Guerra has said she wants her shop to be a place for learning, not just shopping, and employees are eager to give advice and share knowledge. The Web site also features recipes and a place to ask Melissa questions.
(Images: Emily Ho)