Mexican restaurants across the country are faced with a sudden jump in the price of limes, an essential ingredient, which has led owners and managers to alter recipes or simply go without. Frida’s Mexican Restaurant in Lawrenceville, recently paid $125 for the last case of limes. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)
LAWRENCEVILLE — Mexican restaurants across the country are being squeezed by a sudden jump in the price of limes, an essential ingredient, which has led owners and managers to alter recipes or simply go without.
Abel Gonzalez, kitchen manager and executive chef at Frida’s Mexican Restaurant in Lawrenceville, paid $125 for the last case of limes he bought.
“They used to be $25, $28, $35, at the most,” he said.
The price has gotten so high Frida’s now only provides limes as garnishes on drinks for customers who request them.
“We keep them just for the people who ask for them,” he said. “People like them with some drinks, like a cosmopolitan or a margarita, of course. The Mexican drought beer, that goes very well with a piece of lime.”
Frida’s also uses limes in its homestyle guacamole — Gonzalez said the flavor just wouldn’t be the same substituting lemon juice — as well as for its chicken soup and ceviche.
Gonzalez, who’s worked in the restaurant industry for 20 years, said he has never seen anything like this happen.
John Berry, who runs La Fonda, a prominent Mexican restaurant in San Antonio, said the price he pays for a case of limes has jumped to nearly $100 from $14 last year.
“Real simple,” Berry said. “We don’t buy them. We substitute lemons.”
Rene Rivera, manager at Agavero Cantina in Lilburn, shelled out $115 for a case of limes recently, the highest price he’s ever paid. Both Rivera and Gonzalez said the prices started to rise about a month ago.
A combination of factors has prompted the spike in lime prices. Most limes consumed in the United States come from the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Colima and Guerrero, which have been hit by an unusual combination of cold weather and flooding, lime wholesalers said.
Shipments have also been disrupted by violence attributed to drug gangs, they added.
“Mexico received some heavy rains that destroyed a large amount of the lime crop, so with limited supplies we are seeing lime prices skyrocket,” said Bryan Black, director of communications for the Texas Department of Agriculture.
The high prices are not expected to end any time soon, according to wholesalers.
Reuters contributed to this article.