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The "Too Hot Tamales" Top 10 Places in L.A. for Deliciously Interesting and Exotic Ingredients

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Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger are two of America's most beloved chefs. The duo have been business partners for over 20 years, beginning with the opening of City Cafe on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles in 1981. Currently they are hands-on owner-operators of the popular and critically acclaimed Border Grill restaurants in Santa Monica and Las Vegas, serving upscale, modern Mexican food in a hip, urban cantina setting. The pair also own and operate Ciudad restaurant in Downtown Los Angeles, featuring the bold and seductive flavors of the Latin world.

Natural teachers, the partners are prolific in many media outlets. They are authors of five cookbooks, including Cooking with Too Hot Tamales, Mesa Mexicana, and City Cuisine. They are television veterans, appearing on 396 episodes of the popular Too Hot Tamales and Tamales World Tour programs on Food Network. Since 1996, they have had several homes on the radio dial in Los Angeles, including KCRW, KFWB, and KFI. In addition, Border Grill and Ciudad dishes “starred” in the 2001 Samuel Goldwyn feature film, Tortilla Soup. Mary Sue and Susan are also the creators of the Border Girls brand of fresh prepared foods at Whole Foods Market, as well as a line of signature peppermills and salt mills manufactured by Vic Firth Gourmet.

Mary Sue and Susan are also active members of the community, playing leading roles in many culinary associations and charities, notably Share Our Strength, the Scleroderma Research Foundation, the Chefs Collaborative, and Women Chefs and Restaurateurs.

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1. Peking Poultry
717 N. Broadway, Los Angeles, 213-680-2588

Fabulously fresh chicken, chicken feet, squab, ducks and geese, live fish in tanks, and nice quail eggs.

2. Mitsuwa Marketplace
3760 S Centinela Ave., Los Angeles, 310-398-2113, mitsuwa.com

Very fresh Tamaki Haiga rice, sliced meats for shabu shabu, fresh wasabi and fresh sashimi grade fish, seaweeds, rice crackers, Japanese pickles, and sake.

3. Bharat Bazaar
11510 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, 310-398-6766

Delicious vegetarian take out, ALL Indian ingredients, very fresh basmati rice, daals, tamarind, fresh young coconut, spices like black mustard, fresh curry neem leaves, and bhel puri mix for chutneys.

4. Aqui Es Oaxaca
11614 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-313-4813

Oaxacan string cheese, meats including tasajo and cecina, mole pastes, asiento, chapulines, fresh chiles de agua, Oaxacan ice creams, and herbs like poleo, hierba de conejo, and chepil.

5. Mercado Buenos Aires
7542 Sepulveda Blvd., Van Nuys, 818-786-0522

Yerba mate, provolone and other cheeses, grass fed beef, dulce de leche, blood sausage, and salami.

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6. Han Kook Supermarket
124 N. Western Ave., Los Angeles, 323-469-8934

Amazing kim chi, pig's feet and heads, and gorgeous fresh chestnuts.

7. Papa Cristo's C & K Importing
2771 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-737-2970, www.papacristo.com

Wonderful feta and myzithra, Greek olive oils, honey, olives, dry oregano, and snack on lamb while you're shopping.

8. La Española Meats
25020 Doble Ave., Harbor City, 310-539-0455, www.laespanolameat.com

Smoked, spicy, and sweet paprikas, saffron, Spanish chorizos, olive oil, and piquillo peppers.

9. IKEA
www.ikea.com

Elderflower cordial syrup, glogg, whole meal crackers and crispbread, Kalles tubes of salmon paste, lingonberries, and gingersnaps.

10. Wine House
2311 Cotner Ave., Los Angeles, 310- 479-3731, www.winehouse.com

Great selection of wine, great service.