By Cristina Alonso
Updated: January 20, 2017
Hemis / Alamy

Markets in Mexico are fascinating mazes where you can get a real taste of the local culture. As you walk among the stalls, fill your senses with the bright colors of fresh fruit, the smell of spices and the sounds of vendors calling out. After a couple of rounds, you’ll realize something: markets are the original food courts, and they’re an amazing way to try authentic local snacks and specialties without having to fork out too much cash. Sample antojitos such as tacos, quesadillas and tostadas, and ask stall vendors to let you try pieces of fresh fruit or just-baked bread. When you visit a mercado, make sure you remember a couple of key facts. First, learn to bargain (sorry, but as it happens in many other places, local vendors usually try to overcharge tourists a little bit), and second, remember to check what you can bring on board in case you’re planning to bring some food as a souvenir.

Mercado de San Cosme

Located in the city’s San Rafael neighborhood, this sprawling market is populated by local vendors selling everything from produce, traditional candies and flowers to meats and spices. If you’re there at lunchtime, head to the middle of the building and try a hearty torta, or to Quekas San Cosme for their very popular quesadillas.

Mercado de San Juan

Foodies and gourmands are fans of this market because of its fantastic gourmet offerings: rare meats (iguana or rabbit, anyone?), excellent seafood, fresh produce, Asian vegetables and Spanish cold cuts. Don’t miss the fantastic baguettes at La Jersey, packed with meats and cheese and served with a little glass of red wine.

Mercado de Jamaica

This flower-centric market is a paradise of beautiful colors and smells: roses, tulips, violets and orchids are just a few of the hundreds of species you can find here. Get some flowers for your mom or order your bridal bouquet, and then head to Los Huaraches de Vicky for a snack.

Mercado de Coyoacán

After marveling at great local produce like huauzontle, chilies, corn and huitlacoche, and specialties such as chapulines (fried grasshoppers), head to the El Charro for a plate of carnitas, or to the super popular Tostadas Coyoacán stall, where crunchy fried tortillas are topped with beef foot, octopus or tinga de pollo.

Mercado de Medellín

Aside from classic antojitos, produce, fish and dairy products, this market has a touch of Latin flavor: it’s especially known for having tons of specialties from Central and South America, and in fact, this area of Colonia Roma is called “Little Havana” by some. Stock up on Colombian coffee, Venezuelan arepas or even Cuban beer. 

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