About Us

Our story began in New York City back in 2017, when Co-Founder, Alex Villarino saw the need for truly authentic Latin American products in other regions of the US other than NYC or Los Angeles. Three years later, we made the heartfelt decision to return to Oahu, Megahn Chun's birthplace. We longed for a place to start our family and find a strong sense of connection.

At Mercado de La Raza, we firmly believe in the extraordinary power of food to bring people together, regardless of their cultural backgrounds. It's a beautiful way to share our stories and build bridges between communities. Above all, we are dedicated to bringing the incredible flavors of our childhood, the richness of our heritage, and the diverse cultures we cherish to our new home: Oahu. Mercado de la Raza is a vibrant fusion of three core concepts: a gathering place for the Latino community, a Wholesale collaborator for local enterprises, and a specialized Latino grocery store. We want to create a platform that not only celebrates Latin culture but also empowers Latino entrepreneurs.

A Specialized Latino grocery store

Driven by our desire for community and the dream of owning our own business, we discovered Mercado de la Raza, the island's only Latin American store. Mercado de la Raza has roots that run deep. Believe it or not, it's been a community staple since way back in 1995.  After countless months of conversations, we took the leap and acquired the business, with the hope of infusing it with a fresh perspective and revitalizing energy while still preserving the space it holds for the Latin American community.

Step into our store and immerse yourself in a world of culinary wonders. We offer an extensive selection of products sourced from the majority of countries and territories in Latin America, including Puerto Rico, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Jamaica, and many more. From delightful candies and chocolates to specialty teas, handmade tortillas, cooking tools, and convenient frozen meals, we have it all. The best part about running the grocery store? It's the chance we get to meet our community and lend a hand on your shopping trips. Can't spot what you need on our shelves? No biggie! Just let us know and we'll happily order it. 

Mercado de La Raza is located right by several Oahu destinations like Waikiki, Diamond Head, and Ala Moana Regional Park. We are a local favorite for the students of University of Hawaii at Manoa and Chaminade University of Honolulu. We are just minutes from Ala Moana Shopping Center. Whether you’re a local or visiting Oahu on vacation, we hope to see you soon! 

A Wholesale Distributor

If you're a restaurant owner in Hawaii, we know how important it is to find the right wholesale food distributor. And that's where Mercado de la Raza comes in! Notably, Mercado de la Raza is a proud Latin-owned business with a strong heritage that's reflected in our product offerings. We're a family-operated team that's committed to providing reliable, consistent food distribution services, especially those sometimes hard to find items like special dry chiles from Mexico such as guajillo or pasilla, pastes like aji amarillo, rocoto and huancaina, and even meats and dairy products such as queso blando, queso fresco or queso oaxaca. We understand the importance of preserving cultural traditions through food, and strive to share these rich flavors with you. Sounds good? Let's connect!

An active supporter of the Latino community

In March of 2023, we created Marchantes Latin@s. "Marchante" is the word used by Mexican vendors in Mercados Sobre Ruedas (Farmer's Markets) to refer to each other and their customers. Mercado de la Raza is committed to supporting Latin entrepreneurs and their ventures in Hawaii. We host pop-ups monthly at our store featuring delicious products Made in Hawaii by Latin hands. We’ve worked with beloved local businesses such as Aloha Alfajores, Raiz tortillas, Santiago’s Panaderia, Wow Factory Desserts — and many more.

If you are a Latino business owner and have an idea you want to bring to life, contact us, or even better: come in-person and talk to us. Whether you're seeking recommendations, looking to network with fellow Latinos, or even planning a visit to Latin America and need some insider tips, we're here for you. We’re always happy to meet new people. We don't just want to provide assistance; we want to build relationships. Let's connect, collaborate, and celebrate our shared heritage.

Our hearts are bursting with dreams and ideas for Mercado de la Raza and we genuinely hope you'll join us on this incredible journey as we work tirelessly to bring those dreams to life. Come and explore our carefully curated collection of Latin products and allow yourself to be transported to your roots, indulging in the tantalizing "sabores" and captivating "aromas" that will awaken your senses.

¡Te esperamos!

Meet the rest of the team

  • Natalia López

    Born and raised in the Caribbean living in the Pacific since 2011, and working as a sales clerk at Mercado de la Raza (MDLR) since early 2023. I am from Puerto Rico, enjoy to travel and learn new languages. In a way that is what brought me to the island of Oahu and now it is home.

    What I enjoy the most of living in Hawaii is the similarities in the climate to the one of my island and the warmth of its people. I am passionate about food, cooking and learning new skills to create sweet and savory dishes, really taking advantage of the versatility of each ingredient, and especially finding substitutes for ingredients difficult to source in the distance to be able keep alive the tradition of the dishes from Puerto Rico. 

    Working at MDLR I learn about different products from Latin America and the Caribbean that enrich my cooking and my life, given that I am celiac and many of these are naturally gluten free. This way I create a connection with the latin community that visit us daily. I love sharing my culinary knowledge, ask me about our products whenever!

  • Maya Castellon

    Hola! My name is Maya, and I’m twenty one years old. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California until I moved to Oahu in 2021 to attend university.

    I chose the University of Hawai’i because I believed it was the optimal place to study sustainability and environmental science but I grew to love so much more.

    What I love about living in Hawai’i is the the fresh air and although lots of people complain about the humidity personally I like feeling I can practically drink the air. 

    What I also love about Hawai’i is the ability to experience different cultures that are typically minority where I come from. Being Hispanic and Latine in California is a walk in the park when it comes to connecting with my culture and having shared experiences with those around me. However, in moving here I’ve found it challenging to find until I found MDLR.

    Working at MDLR has provided me the tools and opportunities to not only reconnect with my culture but share it with those unfamiliar. Although I still find very few Salvadoreños and Nicaragüenses to compare childhood foods and traditions with, I have learned so much about other countries specialties in contrast to things I grew up with. This includes Spanish! Unfortunately I was not raised speaking Spanish. Although it was very common in my household and a majority of the adults who raised me did speak Spanish I suppose I never caught the bilingual bug.

    I have had a lot of learning in the nine months of working at the Mercado and I will always try my best to provide our guests with what they need. I always welcome the practice so if you happen to visit the store and see me don’t hesitate to put me to the test! Hope to see you soon!

  • Sammie

    Hola! Me llamo Sammie and I am from Houston, TX. My family is originally from Michoacán, Mexico and I grew up in Puebla.

    I found Mercado de La Raza when I first moved to Hawaii and I immediately fell in love with the store. It reminded me of home, and I knew I wanted to be a part of its incredible team.

    I am excited to be a part of a community that not only embraces and shares my own culture, but also teaches me the rich diversity of others.