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Bite: Eat and Shop
An Argentinian bar-boutique to fill your stomach and home


La Merceria is proof you shouldn’t judge a store by its window. From the outside it looks like a quaint boutique with a carefully selected assortment of home décor items. But walk through the doors and you’ll find a café serving great coffee and homemade empanadas among the throw pillows, cards, and mason jar drinking glasses for sale. Owned by Marcelo Chinni and his wife, Sandra Rojas-Chinni, La Merceria is a bright and inviting Argentinian café and home accessories store.

It’s where I would go to find a unique hostess or birthday gift since all the items curated by Sandra would be something I’d like to receive. Am I dropping hints? Maybe. It’s also where I would go for a satisfying lunch. The pasqualinas are loosely called an Argentine sandwich — but it’s more like a giant sandwich in thick pastry that’s cut into easy-to-eat wedges. The spinach and ricotta pasqualina ($4.96) is made of densely packed spinach and a layer of hardboiled egg slices, wrapped in pastry. Other pasqualinas include ham and cheese, primavera, and tuna. It’s a deal of a lunch at only a few dollars.

Marcello’s mother makes the traditional Argentine pasqualinas and the empanadas. Palm-sized empanadas ($3.14) are doughy pockets stuffed with chicken, beef, ham and cheese, or spinach and ricotta. Add a bit of the house-made chimichurri sauce — also sold by the jar — and you’ll be making regular pit stops for coffee and empanadas.

You’ll find your typical selection of coffee shop sweets and pastries available as you browse the homewares selection but don’t miss the alfajores. The Argentine cookies sandwiched with dulce de leche are light, airy sweets.

With Marcello’s Argentinian roots and Sandra’s Columbian background, La Merceria has managed to combine flavours from both countries. The coffee is Columbian and roasted in Canada. The store has a single-origin roast from the mountains of Santader that brews a smooth cup of coffee.

Sandra tells me “merceria” means a general store or neighbourhood supply shop. With coffee, food, and home accessories; La Merceria lives up to its name.

Follow La Merceria on Twitter: @LaMerceria


Pay Chen is a TV and radio host, writer, and producer who puts a lot of things in her mouth. If you have a favourite spot in the city to share, follow her on Twitter at @PayChen.

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