In this guide, we’ll explore some of the best markets in Mexico city, where you can find authentic food, handmade crafts, thrifts, and many other exciting things that you can either feast upon on the spot or bring home with you as a souvenir.
Mexico City is the largest city in North America, with more than 21 million inhabitants. It’s the home of over 300 markets and more than 1,400 traditional bazaars called tiangueses, and this is only in the capital city. Thanks to its large population, markets in Mexico City are incredibly diverse and vibrant, and because of the enormous circulation of both merchants and products, you can find some of the best products in the country.
Every country in the world has been affected by the spread of chain stores and big brand names. But the traditional markets are still a big part of Mexican culture, and they are crucial for the livelihood of small-scale producers, from farmers to artisans. As a traveler, you can get some valuable insight into the city’s culture and traditions by observing how markets operate, how they handle food, and how the economy is driven by the food, handcrafted items, and other lovely products they offer. But if it’s your first time visiting Mexico City, the sheer amount of local markets to visit might be overwhelming for you.
Mexican Markets: Mercados and Tianguis
There is only one word in the English language that denotes a place where various goods are sold, and that word is market. However, Mexican Spanish begs to differ.
In Mexican Spanish, the word el mercado refers to general indoor markets, whereas the word el tianguis refers to outdoor markets. Markets have a really big role in Mexican culture, as evidenced by how diverse markets in Mexico can be. There are other differences between mercados and tianguis than their ceiling situation. Let’s see what they are!
Mercados are more like the regular markets you might be accustomed to. There is a building dedicated to the market, and the shops inside operate every day of the week. But even though they’re indoor markets, they’re far from shopping malls.
By design, Mexican mercados are more like tianguieses that have been enclosed in a fixed location. The sellers are still individuals who rent the market stalls to sell their products and earn a living. You can find all kinds of products in these places— food items, books, antiques, second-hand clothes, handcrafts, and much more.
There are also mercados públicos (public markets), or mercados municipales (municipal markets). These government-operated markets are mainly located indoors and feature many stalls that the local vendors can rent and use to sell their products.
El tianguis has a history dating back to the Aztecs. In Classical Nahuatl, the language of the Aztec Empire, tianguis or tainquiztli means “marketplace”.
Today, this word exclusively refers to an open-air market or a bazaar. Traditionally, tianguis were held on certain market days of the week. The tradition still continues, but some tianguises are only held annually or seasonally, such as the Christmas tianguis or the Day of the Dead (Día de Los Muertos) tianguis. In a tianguis, locals are used to opening their stalls on a certain day of the week to sell their goods.
Best Markets in Mexico City
Both tianguis and mercados are alluring for travelers, with their eye-catching displays of spices, herbs, flowers, meats, and fresh vegetables, the throngs of visitors, and the vibrant ambiance. If it’s your first time visiting Mexican bazaars, the sounds, smells, and the hustle and bustle of the crowd might be mind-boggling at first. But as you get absorbed by the lively atmosphere of the tianguis, you won’t be able to help but leave the place with pouches filled to the brim with goods.
You can never predict what you’ll find at a tianguis. From stalls selling household items, kitchen utensils, flowers, clothing, and underwear to candies, fresh fruit and vegetables, mushrooms, fresh meat, and fish – there’s something for everyone. If you’re feeling like munching on something yummy right on the spot, you can find some delicious street foods such as flautas, tortillas, gorditas, tacos or tamales, and bread. The friendly smiles of the local vendors will make them even more delicious, especially after hours of browsing and shopping.
So, which markets in Mexico City are worth allocating some time to? To help you choose, we’ve compiled a list of markets that you should definitely see while you’re in Mexico City.
by Ted McGrath
If you walk through the streets of Condesa and go through the intersection of Michoacán and Tamaulipas streets, you will find a construction site that isn’t actually what it seems.
What makes Michoacán Market unique is not only its appearance but the fact you’ll only find food there. This has been the case ever since the market opened in 1941. It’s a small building (less than 400 square meters) amply stocked with meat, chicken, fruit, vegetables, cream, cheese, cakes, and street food. And its value is indispensable because it has become the number one place to buy all the necessary food products for the families in the area.
At this market, you’ll find different products at different times of the year. For example, the wild mushroom season is extraordinary! As the rainfall increases, different types of delicious fungi arrive in the market. You’ll find white mushrooms at the beginning of the season, then yellow mushrooms during the months of July and August. If you’re lucky, you can even snag a rarely available mushroom called bird’s leg, which is in season for a very short time in August.
Another treat for the foodies is the products from the milpas — a farming system used in Mesoamerica. With the first rainfalls of the year, products with unique flavors pop up — purslane, amaranth, small green beans, wild tomatillos, elotes, and pumpkin flowers. All these ingredients are part of the nutritious traditional Mexican cuisine, but, sadly, their popularity has been decreasing lately. That’s why supporting these local producers is very important for keeping the tradition and the authentic Mexican dishes that feature these ingredients alive. When buying these typically-Mexican ingredients, you can also ask for the recipes. The vendors will be more than happy to share them.
Address: Esquina con Tamaulipas, Av. Vicente Suárez, Colonia Condesa, 06140 Mexico City
Working Hours: 8:00am – 7:00pm
Tuesday Tianguis in Condesa
Finding good food in Mexico city is never a problem if you know where to look. For example, on Tuesdays, you should definitely head to the west Condesa to find this little — by Mexico City standards — bazaar set in Pachuca street, between Calle Agustín Melgar and Calle Juan Escutia that are closed to traffic for the tianguis.
Condesa is not exactly the cheapest place in Mexico City, so if you’re on a strict budget, you might be more content just browsing here while saving your shopping for the other markets in the city. Still, if you’re shopping for vegetables and fruits that are in season, you can get a good bang for your buck. The sheer amount of fresh vegetables and meat is enough to make you dizzy. The tianguis in Condesa looks like a little farmer’s market, but a huge variety of other goods is also sold in this bazaar, from clothes to toys.
When you go to the tianguis in Condesa, look for the elderly indigenous women because they usually sell products they have grown themselves. Other stall vendors are most likely to be getting their products from a middleman and commercial businesses.
Address: Pachuca 13, Colonia Condesa, Cuauhtémoc, 06140 Mexico City
Working hours: Tuesday 10:00am – 5:00pm
The first thing you’ll notice about Mercado Roma is that it looks very fancy. Well, the market indeed lures more upper-scale consumers to the area, which has led concerned residents to protest against the gentrification in the area. But the neighborhood has already turned into a “hipster metropole” with its artsy coffee shops and restaurants, and Mercado Roma is a hot tourist destination. If you’re in the mood for a more refined shopping experience, Mercado Roma is the place to go. Instead of small shops on wheels, here you’ll find individual businesses with their own brands and everything.
Like on any other mercado or tianguis, you can find many different things, but the shops specifically sell food products instead of clothes and other trinkets. The food is on the nicer and fancier side compared to the authentic tortilla nannies in a traditional tianguis. You can sip on some fresh ginger lemonade or gobble up lamb sandwiches called barracoa, with some churros for dessert.
Mercado Roma is an experience of its own, but its niche is its artisan products rather than fresh fruits and veggies. You can find goods here that are of premium quality, such as artisan sauces, wines and cheeses, and exported products.
Address: C. Querétaro 225, Roma Nte., Cuauhtémoc, 06700, Mexico City
Working hours: Monday – Wednesday 10:00am – 10:30pm
Thursday 10:00am – 12:30am
Friday – Saturday 10:00am – 1:00am
Sunday 10:00am – 7:30pm
by Nahui Ocelot
La Lagunilla is one of the biggest tianguis in Mexico City, and it’s the quintessential site for finding antiquities. There’s a fixed Mercado Lagunilla a couple of blocks south of the La Lagunilla tianguis. Still, on Sundays, the place transforms when hundreds of vendors come in and open their stalls.
La Lagunilla resembles a flea market, and it’s very vibrant. Its beginnings as a street market date back more than 400 years, and to this day, it’s still a wonderful place to spend Sundays in the city, where you can have lots of fun with very little cash.
If you’re used to a more upscale way of shopping, the jumble sale stalls may seem full of knick-knacks of little value, but we assure you that you can also find little treasures on La Lagunilla. And if you dig deep enough, you’re guaranteed to find the perfect trinket to bring home as a souvenir.
You can literally find everything — from lamps, hats, coats, military clothing, rhinestones, and handmade jewelry to furniture (you can even repair your furniture), vinyl records, used books, or pre-Hispanic objects. There are also enormous warehouses on Calle Allende full of antique furniture and unique pieces that you can ask to have restored on the spot. And in the case of large purchases, sellers usually offer transportation arrangements, so it’ll be easy for you to bring that glorious jukebox from the 1960s you bought for your home.
Address: A few streets outside the metro Lagunilla
Working Hours: Sunday 9:00am – 6:00pm
by Ted McGrath
Some places have such an alluring vibe that just by entering, you crave to look at everything. El Mercado Coyocán is one of those places. It offers a virtual smorgasbord of crafts, delicious street food, antiques, and even costumes.
The market began operating in 1956 and was part of a project carried out by Adolfo Ruiz Cortines, the president at the time. The idea was to create wide spaces with high ceilings and natural light, where all the conditions would be favorable for the perishables sold there. Today, El Mercado Coyocán is a popular place where tourists scour beautiful crafts, and southern locals use it as a meeting spot.
Let’s start with the street food. You can have a carnita from El Charro Carnitas, which is known by the whole market, and you’ll understand why when you get one. Or you can get yourself a quesadilla from Queseadillas Lucha, a well-known stall in the market that has been open since 1968. The amount of freshly made stews to fill tortillas made on the spot is endless. You can give Tostadas de Coyoacán a try because when you see the dozens of fresh ingredients you can add to this tasty toast, you’ll work up an appetite.
Or, if you feel like getting a snack, you can head for the Tapas Españolas Anparali or La Casa De Mamá for some tapas and a good selection of drinks that’ll make you forget you’re in a market. There are many more must-visit restaurants in the Mercado Coyocán, so we strongly recommend you hit it on an empty stomach.
The other type of treasure el Mercado Coyocán has to offer is handicrafts. When you stumble upon these stalls, you’ll be hit by the bohemian soul of Coyoacán. You will see people selling tablecloths, blouses, covers, and shawls right from the entrance. If you walk to the other end, you will find crockery, huaraches, more clothes, bracelets, and anything you can imagine decorating your house with, including piñatas. And, be careful; if they catch you taking photos, they’ll charge you!
Address: Ignacio Allende s/n, Del Carmen, Coyoacán, 04100 Mexico City
Working Hours: 8:00am – 8:00pm
In the heart of the Rome district, you’ll find Mercado Medellín, a window to the Latin American world with all its history. The market was established more than a hundred years ago as a tianguis, and since then, Mercado Medellín has been filling the Roma Sur neighborhood with bright colors and exotic flavors. Located in an area known as Little Havana, this establishment offers not only national products of the highest quality but also specializes in the sale of goods and food from several Latin American countries, mainly Colombia and Cuba.
The market building opened its doors in 1964, with the efforts of the Mexican government to regulate the tianguises. It was initially managed by Jewish entrepreneurs. After a powerful earthquake in 1985, the market’s roof collapsed, and the original owners abandoned the place, after which it quickly filled with Latin American merchants. Thus, Cuban, Brazilian, Colombian, Venezuelan, Peruvian, Spanish, and even Japanese food stalls fill this unique space with exquisite flavors.
Because it’s a market frequented by immigrants from all over Latin America who go there to look for the ingredients to prepare their traditional dishes, this market offers products and foods that are difficult to find in other places in the city and even in the country. This makes Mercado Medellin a unique and valuable marketplace, a perfect destination for those who want to delve into the gastronomic culture of Mexico and Latin America.
Address: Mercado Medellín, Cuauhtémoc, 06760 Mexico City
Working Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm
Mercado de Jamaica
Located southeast of the Historic Center of Mexico City, the Mercado de Jamaica is one of the places you just can’t miss, as it’s known for a wide variety of plants, flowers, pots, and flower arrangements.
Built in the 1950s to modernize the markets on the east side of the city, this venue has more than 1,000 flower and plant stalls and is considered one of the tourist attractions in the city. It’s the place to buy flowers and ornamental plants of all kinds, from Mexican to foreign species, or just to wander around, taking in the vibrant colors and alluring smells. The vendors bring flowers and plants from all over the country, from the states of Puebla Veracruz, Chiapas, Oaxaca, Mexico, and Michoacán, to sell them, both retail and wholesale.
But is there something more colorful and fun than flowers? Get this: Mercado de Jamaica also has a section dedicated to piñatas in all sorts of vivid colors and bold designs, mostly made of cardboard and covered with crepe paper, but there are also more traditional ones with clay pot in the center.
Mercado de Jamaica was originally located on the eastern edge of the Aztec city, Mexico-Tenochtitlán, a key chinampa area for transporting goods to the primary market of Tlatelolco. However, during the colonial period, the chinampa areas dried up, so decades later, the Mercado de Jamaica and the Mercado de Sonora were established in the southeast of the city center as a symbol of modernity. Thus, Mercado de Jamaica was inaugurated on September 23, 1957. Every year on this day, there is a celebration with cultural activities, presentations with popular music, and raffles of gifts for tenants and visitors.
Address: Guillermo Prieto 45, Jamaica, Venustiano Carranza, 15800 Mexico City
Working Hours: Open 24 hours
by Luis Ahumada
Peculiar, original, magical, exotic — this famous market is located in the city’s center and has been open to the public since 1957. Strolling through its bustling corridors is truly a unique and unforgettable experience.
The market is divided into two sections:
Section 107 is full of thematic aisles selling handicrafts such as the famous Poblano ceramics, plates, bowls, guanajuato jugs, and traditional toys made of wood, cloth, or clay. You will also see live animals such as reptiles, fish, tropical birds, farm animals — the trade of which is always controlled by the authorities — and many medicinal plants.
Section 108 is even more fascinating. It’s the home of sorcerers, shamans, and fortune-tellers who read cards and are experts on the subject of avoiding the evil eye. Its premises are full of candles, healing, and aromatic plants, among other products related to superstition. Section 108 is one of the traditional places to buy items related to the Day of the Dead – the famous festival celebrated in Mexico on November 2.
Address: Fray Servando Teresa de Mier 419, Merced Balbuena, Venustiano Carranza, 15800 Mexico City
Working Hours: 8:00am – 6:00pm
Mercado de San Juan
by Jon Erickson
If you’re more of a carnivore than a vegetarian, Mercado de San Juan will definitely excite you with its eclectic meat selection. Armadillo, iguanas, skunks, and deer are sold here, along with not-as-exotic small cattle like goats and pigs. Tepezcuintle (or lowland paca) meat arrives from Honduras and wild boar meat from Texas; there’s also ostrich, buffalo, Florida crocodile… everything you can imagine and more — even lion meat.
But what San Juan is really renowned for is its fish shops. When you stroll around these stalls, you can see eels, stingrays, and stone crab claws. There are also barnacles – a mollusk that grows on rocks; cobia, a fish often used in Cantonese dishes; Norway lobsters, Danish prawns, and much, much more.
You can also find some Pre-Hispanic food here and ask for recipes while shopping for these unusual ingredients.
If all of this is too exotic for your appetite and you’d rather eat plant-based food instead, you can visit the fruits and vegetable section, which is equally vibrant. You can find fruits in all sorts of colors and shapes and of the best quality, and you’ll see some vegetables you’ve never seen and will need some time to enunciate correctly.
Mercado de San Juan is a place you can go from Spain to Japan in a couple of steps. If you like oriental food, this market is a must-visit. If you don’t, we’re almost certain you’ll find something exciting in this quirky, high-spirited market.
Address: 2ᵃ Calle de Ernesto Pugibet 21, Colonia Centro, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06000 Mexico City
Working Hours: 7:00am – 6:00pm
La Ciudadela is an artisans market that brings together a wide variety of Mexican crafts. In 1965, the first handicrafts market was held in this location, under the name La Feria de la Ciudadela (or the Ciudadela Fair), to attract and promote the crafts for the 1986 Olympic Games and 1970 World Cup in Mexico. After the events were over, in 3 years, the fair turned into this temple of Mexican crafts.
La Ciudadela has been hosting vendors who sell crafts from different regions of the country for over 50 years. Three hundred fifty-five vendors in the market represent Mexican crafts with handmade furniture, jewelry, ceramics, trays, olinalá boxes, or even local instruments. The government also supports the market, and the vendors are subject to official regulations to prove their products are genuine handcrafts. The vendors’ artworks create a festival of colors that unfolds at every step in this artisan market.
Address: Calz. Sta. Cruz, San Simón, Benito Juárez, 03660 Mexico City
Working Hours: 8:00am – 6:00pm
Mercado de Los Portales
Mercado de Los Portales takes its name after the doors of the old colonial brick factory that occupied the area a long time ago. There isn’t much left from those times, apart from the name of this traditional market. Mercado de Los Portales has traditional stalls selling vegetables, meats, sweets, and personal items, but it’s known for its food outlets that sell a smorgasbord of different dishes, like barbecued meats, seafood, and sushi.
Mercado de Los Portales is perhaps one of the ideal places to start a tour of Mexico City. Located south of the capital, this market is very tidy and clean while still keeping that colorful eccentricity characteristic of Mexican markets.
Locals flock to this shopping center mostly because of its attractive food stalls that sell everything from the traditional barbecue for breakfast to the ever-present tacos, tostadas, gorditas, and quesadillas. The fruit sellers excel at presenting their offers in the best light possible; from shelled pineapples to papaya pyramids, each stall showcases the vendors’ creativity.
In Mercado de Los Portales, you can find the costume of your dreams, flowers in all colors of the rainbow, unusual ingredients, condiments, and spices, every shape of piñata, vintage designer furniture, clothing, and accessories along with sinks, ovens, and other major household necessities. If you decide to visit, you’ll find stuff you didn’t know you wanted or needed.
Address: Balderas S/N, Colonia Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06040 Cuauhtémoc, Mexico City
Working Hours: 10:00am – 7:00pm
Mercado de Xochimilco
The Xochimilco Centro market, located in the south of Mexico City, is one of the most authentic markets in the city. The place is made up of micro-universes that tell stories with their products.
Mercado de Xochimilco has so many wonders: natural products, common foods that are part of the Mexican culinary identity, such as corn, chili, beans, and rarities such as acocil (river shrimp) or frog-leg tamales. Come on an empty stomach to feast on glorious food while supporting local farmers and cooks. And here’s a tip: don’t miss out on the mushroom or chard tamales.
The stores are divided by guilds that seem like small islands where you can find a lot of everything: costumes, handicrafts, kitchen utensils, garnachas…
The vegetables are surprisingly fresh. Walking through the central corridor of this market full of food stalls is a unique cultural and gastronomic experience. Many of the vendors are also the growers who carry the fruits of their harvests from the nearby regions and chinampas.
Along with fresh produce right out of the soil, Mercado de Xochimilco is also famous for its plants and flowers. You can find many species that are not easy to spot, such as papyrus or bird’s eye chili.
If you’re visiting Mercado de Xochimilco, prepare to be amazed by the variety of things you’ll find there. And if you want to try out some of the best street food, just follow your nose.
Address: Av. Nuevo León s/n, Santa Crucita, Xochimilco, 16070, Mexico City
Working Hours: 8:00am – 8:00pm
Mercado de la Merced
by Dan Corbett
The market and neighborhood of La Merced are situated at the eastern end of Mexico City, which was originally settled after the arrival of the Spanish.
Merced is one of the oldest areas in Mexico City, and it’s full of history. The place was a commercial hub even before the Spanish arrived, and the market was established in 1860 inside of an old monastery, the Monastery of Merced. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was the main wholesale and retail market in Mexico City until the Central de Abastos, Mexico City’s main wholesale market, was built in the south of the city.
Because of the volume of trade taking place in the market, the old monastery couldn’t satisfy the massive demand from the vendors and customers. In the 1950s, the building was demolished, and the new market was redesigned in 1957 by the architect Enrique del Moral. Today it’s still the largest traditional retail market in the city, with more than four thousand stores.
The modern market, as it looks like now, has a central spot where perishable foods such as fruits, vegetables, chili peppers, fish, beef, pork, and chicken are sold. The stalls are displayed in a large area with a shell vault ceiling that lets the light in and helps with ventilation.
You can see long corridors full of pieces of basketry, saddlery, jars, and handicrafts. Other areas are dedicated to popular toys, typical Mexican sweets, flowers, ornamental plants, and even products for mystical activities such as witchcraft and Santeria.
Address: Circunvalación s/n, La Merced, Zona Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 15810, México City
Working Hours: 6:00am – 6:00pm
Mercado Abelardo L. Rodríguez
The murals of the Abelardo Rodríguez market are an essential part of the artistic expression of post-revolutionary Mexico. This market was built on the land that was part of the old Colegio de San Gregorio, near central Mexico City, whose purpose was to educate the indigenous people by the order of Jesuits.
After the departure of the Jesuits, the place served in the name of art. It functioned as a workshop for Don Manuel Tolsá for a while, a Spanish architect and sculptor. In 1803, the statue of Carlos IV, better known as the Little Horse, was melted here, which is exhibited today on Calle de Tacuba 5 in the historic center of Mexico City, only a 20-minute walk away from the market building.
In 1933, during the government of President Abelardo L. Rodríguez, there was a reorganization of this area of Mexico City. The government decided to use it to build a market that would also function as a civic center. Apart from being a market, the place has a nursery, a public theater, and a library.
When the complex was opened, the students of the famous Mexican painter Frida Khalo’s husband Diego Rivera painted several murals on its walls, portraying the exploitation of workers, peasants, and townspeople. The murals focus on the working class and life in the markets.
Just seeing the murals on the walls of Mercado Abelardo L. Rodríguez is an excellent cultural tour in itself, but being a Mexican market, it still doesn’t disappoint in terms of the variety of goods sold there. There are many stalls dedicated to fresh fruits and veggies, and other knick-knacks. But the main attraction of this market is the artworks full of history displayed behind its modest stalls.
Address: Mercado Abelardo L Rodriguez, Girón, 06020 Mexico City
Working Hours: 70:00am – 6:00pm
A Few Things to Know Before You Hit the Mexican Markets
With more than twenty million inhabitants, Mexico City can seem unfathomable, and if you add all the different bustling markets to that, it makes for such a unique experience that it can be difficult to decide what to start exploring first. But, truthfully, there’s so much to discover in every market we’ve listed and so many places that’ll fill your bags with delicious foods and one-of-a-kind souvenirs.
Mexico City is not exempted from the spread of mass-produced goods and industrialized techniques in agriculture. But some local producers are still maintaining conventional methods, which is what makes these markets worth exploring. Tianguises and mercados are still alive in the city, giving the small-scale producers a chance to continue the tradition. When you go to a market in Mexico City, try to find the local producers for a truly authentic experience. And when you’re buying from such a vendor, our recommendation is to refrain from bargaining because the local producers are already pressed by the hard economic conditions.
Mexico City has one of the most vibrant and exciting market scene globally, but the scale of the places might be overwhelming and sometimes even dangerous. If you have such hesitations, don’t deny yourself this unique experience and join one of our guided food market tours.
Last Updated on June 12, 2022