Mercado de la Merced offers a notable variety of products. // © 2017 Thelmadatter
Feature image (above): For antiques, head to La Lagunilla Market. // © 2017 Alejandro Linares Garcia
Mexico City is a bountiful paradise for all, whether clients are architecture lovers, culture junkies, art enthusiasts or gourmands.
A great place for travelers to sample Mexico City’s intoxicatingly vibrant culture — as well as their personal interests — is at one of the city’s ever-bustling markets. A meandering visit to at least one of these markets should be a part of any Mexico City itinerary.
La Lagunilla Market
Antique hunters and vintage lovers will find a visit to La Lagunilla Market very fruitful. This massive flea market in the city’s La Lagunilla neighborhood boasts rows of stalls selling collectibles, antiques and vintage pieces. Much like other flea markets, you’ll find old trinkets and records, vintage toys and suitcases, rare books, exquisite china and handsome antique furniture. However, many vendors also sell brand-new merchandise, such as knockoff shoes, colorful fabrics, heritage paintings and "calaveras" (decorative skulls). While it is infamous for pickpocketing (tell clients to keep their valuables secure), La Lagunilla Market still draws many tourists.
Those who love fun, kitschy mementos and knickknacks might enjoy a stop at this market in artsy Coyoacan. As with many markets in Mexico City, Mercado Coyoacan is a great place to visit for noshing on fresh produce. But it’s even better if you’re shopping for cheap souvenirs to give to friends and family back home. Usual finds such as ceramics, multicolored figurines, silver jewelry and wrestling masks are abundant here, though fabrics, bags, books and wooden toys are also available. Be sure to grab a few alebrijes (Mexican folk-art sculptures), and don’t hesitate to haggle. There are some tattoo and piercing spots as well, if clients are feeling particularly bold.
Mercado de Artesanias La Ciudadela
Shoppers who love artisanal products will definitely adore a good two-hour visit to Mercado Ciudadela. Home to more than 350 small vendors who sell exquisite and colorful products, this market in the Ciudadela neighborhood is the place to wander if looking for quality Mexican handicrafts at affordable prices. Non-aggressive vendors here sell everything from typical tchotchkes — such as ceramics, hammocks, sombreros and jewelry — to more hard-to-find goods, including rugs, leather bags, baskets, curtains, vibrant textiles and wall hangings. Bargaining here makes a difference, of course, but also keep in mind that vendors nearest the entrances usually charge more.
Mercado de la Merced
As far as markets in Mexico City are concerned, Mercado de la Merced is one of the oldest and largest. Originally a wholesale market, it is also the venue for the most diverse mishmash of products. East of the city’s historic center, the market features vendors selling a true variety, from street food, herbal remedies and Mexican sweets to flowers, wedding decorations and even cheap clothes. Sample mole and feast on tacos, cow-stomach stew and fried insects. When clients have had their fill, tell them to head out to Merced’s open-air market to shop for candied fruit and offbeat souvenirs to take home.
Mercado de San Juan
The best stop for gourmands and adventurous eaters, this thriving market in Mexico City’s historic core is a mouthwatering hodgepodge of food stalls. Over 150 years old,
Mercado de San Juan has come a long way from its modest early years. Today, its vendors sell comforting traditional dishes and typical food products as well as more exotic and innovative fares. Among its fruit, vegetable, spice and cheese stalls are coffee shops and gourmet eateries that tout exotic meats such as crocodile, wild boar, stingray, scorpion, beetle and armadillo. A visit to this popular market will certainly be an unforgettable, out-of-the-box culinary experience.