Vallarta Supermarkets is a chain of 44 stores in southern and central California, specializing in Mexican and Latin American food products.
Since I was planning on making tamales, I decided to do all of my shopping at my local Vallarta market. Key ingredients that I needed were Maseca (corn flour), dried corn husks and pork lard. These were easy and plentiful to find at this ethnic market though not what you might readily see at your average grocery store.
I also needed to purchase poblano chiles, jalapenos, white onions and tomatillos. These items were also plentiful and beautiful in the produce section. Other interesting items of note in produce were cactus, chayote squash, a variety of chile peppers both fresh and dried, tropical fruit including mangos and papaya, and banana leaves, fresh chesnuts and taro root.
Vallarta has a butcher section that includes some of your standard fare but also includes a beef heart, liver and kidney mix, a mutton mix, smoked pork chops, fresh chicken gizzards and beef lips! There is a seafood section and many canned and packaged goods that are equally interesting and not what you find at your local supermarket. Hence the reason to seek out ethnic markets, both big and small in your local area. They are fascinating worlds of not only foodie wonder, but of another culture. I cannot get enough!