My wife was the one who asked me to check this place out, and in all honesty I was resistant to the notion. But it was an unusual day, I was heading home down highway 29, and it was there, at the southwest corner of Lawrenceville Highway and Indian Trail, just opposite the Tacqueria Los Hermanos. So I stopped.

Before I took a look there I checked in at a restaurant named RJ’s, which is French creole, a fusion of Caribbean and French cuisine. I had no time to eat but it looks too interesting to ignore forever.  I picked up a take out menu and headed into the market instead.

Lilburn International Farmer’s Market isn’t a farmer’s market in the traditional sense. It’s more an oversized grocery, a ethnic market on steroids. In this respect it’s no different from the Gwinnett International Farmer’s Market or DeKalb or Super H Mart, for that matter. It’s maybe a quarter of the size of Buford Highway Farmer’s Market or Super H Mart, but it has a decent collection of vegetables.  There is a competent and useful collection of peppers.  About the only complaint I could have was the cilantro that day didn’t have leaves all in a tight bunch, but was a little leggy. They had habanero, jalapeno, red jalapeno, long hot peppers, poblanos, etc.

But it was the meat collection that most impressed. You could see the butchers behind glass working and I didn’t have any doubts I could get one of them if I needed to. Meats were good looking, sealed in plastic, and at the price you expect when international markets price meat – meaning low low low. Ribeyes were 4.99 a pound. New York Strip was 1.99 to 3.99 a pound – hard to believe that was New York Strip. I bought a nice looking Sirloin for 1.99 a pound. Prices were so low I was pinching myself and asking, “Is that really the right cut of meat?” The sirloin, which I bought to try, certainly looked the part.

I checked some of the other aisles. The beans aisle was merely half an aisle as opposed to a whole aisle, but had most of the essentials. There was one rare find and that one was worth noting: they sell quinoa, and the quinoa is between 2.09 and 2.40 for a package that is slightly less than a pound. That makes it the least expensive source of this pseudocereal so far.

Inexpensive quinoa can be found at the Lilburn market.

Inexpensive quinoa can be found at the Lilburn market.

When I was checking out, the grocery carts I saw were full of meats and greens. The amounts were so large that people must have been doing a week’s or a month’s worth of shopping. This is a trend my coworker, Veronica, identified for me some time ago, this shift to international markets for low priced meats and ethnic butchers taking over for families looking to cut their meat prices.

Verdict? The price of meats alone makes this place worth a drive from Snellville. It’s easy to get to. You can head west down Ronald Reagan and then south down Highway 29 (will end up on your right, as you pass the 29-Indian Trail intersection), or you can head down Five Forks and turn right at Killian Hills, and continue just past the Highway 29  intersection and turn left.

When I found this place on the Internet it was called La Jalisco Carniceria. On the front of the building it called itself La Jalisco Ranch Market. It’s in a modest strip mall about two blocks south of the Highpoint-US 78 intersection, on the north side of 78, and it is the only butcher open at hours I can get to during the week (open until 10pm). I called ahead and asked if they had lamb. After some moments the lady answering me said, “They had some lamb.” What the heck, you only live once.

Lamb is perhaps my favorite meat these days. Lamb can be cooked any way that beef steak can be cooked, and a typical price for lamb (ca $5.00 /lb) is about half the price of a good cut of beef steak.  There is lamb available on my way home, generally from the Publix on Pleasant Hill, just east of the I-85 intersection, but they have had fewer and fewer lamb steaks and these days are restricted to lamb chops. I stopped at that Publix, and bought a couple Kashi frozen entrees: I like their Ranchero Bean entree and I bought the Black Bean Mango to try. I find the Kashi frozen dishes are great sides for a meal like this. They had a sale on Australian wines so I bought two bottles of red wine. I’ve tried both white and red as reductions with lamb and red is markedly superior in flavor.

So I get to La Jalisco and I’m pleased when I enter. It’s a neat grocery store, with a vast array of peppers, vegetables, canned goods, dried beans, and spices. Virtually all the signs are in Spanish, and the clientele was pretty much 100% Spanish. So, I go to the meat counter and ask for lamb. Once the butcher understood me, he went into the back and pulled out a sheep. Yep, pretty much a whole frozen sheep.

After some words and some pointing I made it known that I wanted steaks off the leg of lamb. I ended up with 4 of them, about twice as thick as I asked for. However, the price was really good (2.99 a pound, roughly half that of Publix), and I was entirely pleased with my purchase.