Traditional markets are the best places to eat in Mexico. These magical places garner unique flavors, scents and ingredients that are representative of the country’s many regions.
There’s just something special about them. Maybe it’s the open structure, that allows for the smells to flow freely. Or, perhaps, the visual saturation that comes from the seemingly endless piles of colorful vegetables. They lack the intimacy of a luxurious restaurant, but compensate with the fuzzy feeling that you get when you eat at home.
We chose 5 traditional markets in Mexico where you can have the best meals of your trip. Do not sleep on them!
1. Mercado San Juan (Mexico City)
It is not the largest nor the most important in Mexico City, but the San Juan market is certainly special. Instead of sopes and quesadillas, the stands there serve baguettes and tapas with fine inlays with Spanish red wine.
The most exotic kinds of meat arrive from all over to San Juan, from wild boar to lion, deer, buffalo, crocodile, ostrich and iguana, among many others. No doubt, a great place to try something new.
2. Mercado Lucas de Galvez (Merida)
This should be your first stop in Merida. As you approach the food stands, you will sense the aromas of Yucatecan food blending into the air.
It’s hard to pick something. Vaporcitos (tamales), panuchos, turkey tacos, piglet sandwiches, relleno negro, stuffed cheese… it’s like a buffet of joy and flavor!
3. Mercado San Juan de Dios (Guadalajara)
Considered the largest roofed market in Latin America, San Juan de Dios is that place, where all the best things in Guadalajara and the whole state of Jalisco meet, everything from crafts to food.
At the food section, you can do a pretty decent tour around the flavors of the region: birria (goat stew), pozole (pork and maize stew), tortas ahogadas (meat sandwiches), carne en su jugo (beef stew), jericallas (pudding style dessert), it’s all here, in its most fresh and delicious version.
4. Mercado Melchor Ocampo (Puebla)
All kinds of aromas collide festively at the best market to eat in Puebla. Since the 1950s, Melchor Ocampo market has been the meeting point for the city’s foodies.
It’s hard to resist the mole (sweet and spicy chicken), the chalupas (flat tacos) and the chiles en nogada (stuffed peppers) that are served there with that classic, homemade feel of most traditional markets in Mexico. Watch out for the cemitas, the local kind of torta (sandwich) that overflows with delicious cheese from Oaxaca.
5. Mercado 20 de Noviembre (Oaxaca)
What if you could have the best of Oaxaca’s regional cuisine in just one place? You can, at 20 de Noviembre market, located at the heart of the city’s downtown area. On any given day, you’ll find it full of hungry and satisfied patrons coming in and going out, respectively.
Suggesting a dish may be pointless, really anything that you order will draw a smile on your face for the rest of that day: tamales, tlayudas, grasshopper tacos, or anyone of the seven varieties of local moles.
Begin planning your journey through the flavors of Mexico and write down these 5 traditional markets where you can have the very best meals of your trip.