In recent years, gourmet and stylish markets like Mercado Roma, Mercado del Carmen, Mercado Independencia and Mercado Moliere have become trendy in Mexico City. Although they offer good quality gastronomic options, they are far from being traditional Mexican markets, where people eat seated between fresh fruits and vegetables stands and with people shouting every half second “¿qué va a llevar marchantita?” (that is something like: “what are you going to buy, Madame?”).
This does not mean that more traditional markets are better than the new ones, they are simply different, as are their flavors, prices and the overall experience. If you want to go to a real traditional Mexican market and have a delicious meal, here are my top 5 recommendations with the best options to satisfy your stomach.
1. Mercado de San Juan
The Fuente de Sodas Rufina, in Mexico City long before the new trendy markets arrived, is considered the gourmet market par excellence of the city. Here you can find top quality products, in addition to some that can’t be found anywhere else.
This place is famous for its exotic food stands. What do I mean by exotic? I mean something like lion hamburgers (yes, lion, the king of the jungle), or buffalo or kangaroo; wild boar or crocodile tacos and fried scorpions as a snack. All of these dishes can be accompanied by a good glass of wine.
Ernesto Pugibet #21, Centro.
2. Mercado de Medellín
This market is located in the middle of the Roma and Condesa hip neighborhoods. It’s a good option for eating and buying food products from other Latin American countries, especially from Colombia and Cuba. Here you can have seafood and grilled steaks. For dessert, you shouldn’t miss the very famous “Palmeiro” Cuban ice-creams, whose unusual flavors conquer everybody’s palates.
Medellín #234, Roma
3. Mercado de antojitos de Coyoacán
You can’t say you’ve been in Coyoacán if you don’t come to this market and grab a quesadilla or posole. This is one of the most famous spots to eat Mexican antojitos —snacks—, so people from all over the city come here for quesadillas, tostadas, flautas, sopes, pambazos and posole. As it is a very visited place, prices are a bit higher than in other markets, but for all the delicious food you can have here, it’s worth the extra expense.
Higuera #10, Coyoacán.
4. Mercado de San Pedro de los Pinos
If you are a seafood lover, you should go to this market. Seafood is its specialty, and best of all, is that eating a delicious and abundant meal will cost you less than half in any other fish and seafood restaurant in the city.
“Mariscos Altamar” is the most famous stand to eat all kind of sea delicacies, but any other spot inside this market will satisfy your cravings and make you happy.
Calle 7 and Avenida 2, San Pedro de los Pinos.
5. Mercado de Portales
This huge market is like a little city that has been expanding for several blocks. Here you can find all kinds of products for your home, for work, to dress, for pets, to eat — for anything that might cross your mind.
In addition to selling food products for cooking, there are stands that offer delights that few can resist: barbacoa, pancita, tacos, quesadillas, seafood and even sushi. It is worth it to come here to eat anytime, but it’s better to visit on weekdays. On Saturdays and Sundays, it gets very busy and is difficult to even walk through the streets and corridors of the market.
Santa Cruz and Juan Escutia, Portales.