Mexico City’s vibrant street markets offer visitors a taste of local life. // © 2011 Mexico Tourism Board
Mexico City’s long-standing street markets include everything from the high-end artisan goods of Coyoacan’s well-heeled colonial streets to La Merced’s seemingly infinite flower and fruit stalls, as well as the gourmet foods of San Juan. There’s something for just about everyone and plenty of surprises. After visiting any of the markets below, your clients may just want extra room in their luggage.
A Mercado for Every Interest
Bazaar Sabado is a beloved Mexico City tradition. Located at Plaza San Jacinto in San Angel, the Saturday Bazaar showcases some of Mexico’s finest traditional handicrafts. Visitors will discover elaborate crafts, jewelry, cut crystal, ceramics, decorative objects and art in a pleasant and safe neighborhood. Shopping at this outdoor market can also be a sensory delight, with marimba music and the aromas of authentic Mexican foods from surrounding restaurants.
A covered daily market on the corner of Balderas and Bucareli near downtown, Ciudad Artesanal (also called Mercado de la Ciudadela) offers the craftwork of Mexico City’s artists, including painted dishware, luchadores masks, rugs, pottery, clothing, leather goods, handmade silver, jewelry and wall art, at surprisingly reasonable prices. Shoppers are encouraged to bargain, but warn clients to ask permission from the vendors before taking any pictures.
Mercado Coyoacan is in a colonial section of Mexico City that is beautifully maintained. Visitors to this daily market should be sure to find Tostados Coyoacan, a stand in the center topped by a giant yellow banner, or La Regional, located toward the back of the market, for fine cheeses.
Mercado Jamaica — named after the hibiscus flower — is the choice for flower lovers. This centrally located market sells produce but is famous for being one of the largest vendors of cut-flowers and ornamental plants. After a visit here, clients may end up filling their hotel room with blossoms.
Mercado Lagunilla is a traditional public market in Mexico City, located about 10 blocks north of the city’s main plaza, in a neighborhood called La Lagunilla. This market is always crowded and lively. The neighborhood has a dangerous reputation, but the market area is considered to be safe if one is observant. This market is one of the largest in the city and its clothing, furniture and food items are mostly geared to lower-income customers. The best day to visit is on Sunday, when the number of vendors increases for the weekly market, which sells mostly second-hand items. One section of this market, located on Comonfort Street, focuses on antiques, and has become popular with wealthy Mexicans, tourists and even celebrities. Shoppers are expected to haggle here and discounts can be up to 30 percent.
The Mercado Sonora might disturb some visitors since it specializes in live animals (including some illegal species). However, there are also fascinating sections devoted to herbal medicines and the occult — including objects having to do with a type of Mexican voodoo called Santeria.
Mercado San Juan, open daily until 4 p.m., is a great market for foodies. The market features high-end delicacies, with fresh produce and an extensive array of imported and domestic cheeses, wines and vegetables. The market also has fresh fish and meat — including exotic items such as ostrich, alligator, manta ray, snails and more. Bottles of aged tequila can also be found.
La Merced, one of the city’s oldest and largest traditional markets, is held at the La Merced Monastery. From food to housewares, this market offers a variety of goods and also serves some incredible authentic native foods on Saturdays — visitors should check out the quesadillas de flores de calabaza made with squash blossoms, the Mexican herb epazote, melted Oaxacan cheese and blue corn tortillas.