Grocery chain Northgate is going hard on a marketplace format common in Mexico with upwards of 20 colorful stalls and food options called Mercado Gonzalez, which will include famed El Moro churro stand from Mexico City, carnitas from Carnitas Don Miguel, tortas by Chiva Torta, and tacos by Tacos Los Guichos, available from breakfast through dinner.
Located in the grocer’s new Costa Mesa location, the food hall and marketplace will take after notable markets like Mercado Juarez in Monterrey, Mercado de Abastos in Guadalajara, and Mercado de Aretesanias in Oaxaca, among others. With an opening scheduled early next month, the market will also house the previously announced fine dining restaurant Maizano and cocktail bar Entre Nos from Javier Hernandez Pons and Jorge Salim, two of the partners behind LA Cha Cha Chá and Loreto.
Like the markets in Mexico, the beating heart of Mercado Gonzalez will be a butcher shop, tortilleria, cheese specialist, produce stands, specialty foods, and other artisan goods that one would find in Mexico. The concept itself is a smart reworking of the typical American supermarket layout but with the intuitiveness and walkability of a Mexican mercado. The first Northgate market opened in 1980 in Anaheim as Northgate González Market; ownership is now into the third generation spread across 13 siblings.
In addition to Mercado Gonzalez’s food stalls, there will be a community kitchen to support local entrepreneurs and aspiring chefs to learn the business and develop a following. Other features include indoor and outdoor seating to enjoy food and drink on the premises, aguas frescas, beer, wine, tequilas, mezcal, pastries, and desserts. Live music will be another element to add enjoyment.
The entire experience looks to be a solid slam dunk given the popularity of food halls in Southern California and the region’s substantial Latinx community. But really, the whole venture seems like a smart way of repackaging the grocery store and food hall experience into something that reflects the traditional feel of Mexican mercados. One can only hope that Northgate and other Mexican supermarkets will adopt this format into other SoCal cities. Mercado Gonzalez is opening at 2300 Harbor Boulevard, Costa Mesa, CA.