A a good local food experience is always the way to go to get to learn about a culture. Wondering the street markets is an excellent way to discover the Mexican cuisine.
This market is actually famous because people say this is where Frida Kahlo came to shop. Pretty cool, uh? Its “tostadas” (a crispy tortilla with typical Mexican ingredients on top such as guacamole, pico de gallo…) are what people come here for, for the most part. You can find fresh seafood as well, along with street vendors outside the market, which are really worth a visit. It’s true that prices at Mercado Coyoacán are a bit up there, because of its reputation, so eyeing these street traders can actually save you some money and let you interact with locals in a more direct way!
La Central de Abastos
Well known by everyone, this is the biggest wholesale market in the world. I know, impressive. It’s open from 6a.m. to 8pm and shelters more than two thousand businesses in its three-kilometre area. You still have to pay in cash (so vintage!) and one of the best things about La Central is that you’ll find here the freshest seasonal fruits, vegetables, beans and locally produced ingredients. All the goodies you can buy here are placed in high pyramids, so they look more attractive to visitors. Flowers and plants are also sold here, which make the surroundings look like a giant garden!
Mercado De La Merced
It’s the oldest in town and locals say this is where Spanish and Mexicans used to trade back in time, centuries ago. You’ll see seven different areas inside the market, depending on what you want to buy. You can find from mountains of all kinds of fruits, beans, vegetables, meat, candy… to really local foodstuff like chicharrones (fried pork skin) and huitlacoche (the corn Mexicans commonly use in their dishes). Other stalls sell cooking tools, flowers, plants… Visiting this kind of place with such a history behind and buying some typical fresh ingredients for your meals makes you feel like a part of the local culture, right?
Mercado San Cosme
Open since 1902, this market is a cultural heritage in Mexico City. It’s located in San Rafael neighborhood and it’s great to visit if you’re looking for some excellent quesadillas, locally made with the typical recipe. The place to go inside the market for this food experience is Quekas San Cosme, which is pretty famous around the area. Some of their tortas are also very tasty for having a nice lunch. Stuff like traditional candy, flowers and all kinds of plants and clothes are also sold in San Cosme.
One of the best-known indoor markets in Mexico City, you can find here both typical Mexican and international ingredients and dishes to taste. If you want some local flavours, such as tacos (obviously!), tostadas, tortas (maxi size sandwiches generally filled with some kind of meat and salsa), quesadillas or even some random seafood, some stalls at the entrance of the market will be a delight for you! If you dare with food from other nationalities, you have to try Cuban ice cream in Mercado Medellín! It’s something delicious that has made this place very popular!
Related: What to do for fun in Mexico City?
Of course there are many more markets in Mexico, they’re actually a traditional heritage of the local people. All markets around the world are the perfect special place to immerse in how a country lives in an everyday basis while traveling sustainably and supporting smaller economies. And you kill two birds with one stone because you’ll be getting some amazing local food experiences as well! Talk to the locals when enjoying an experience like this. You’ll be surprised of how amazing and kind people are, even if you don’t completely understand each other. We are all humans in the end, we have a natural connection and it’s awesome to be able to share it with other people in our trips, people who can show us around the city in the most local way.
Main picture by Jonathan Niederhoffer.