For a genuine glimpse of everyday life in most cities, head to the local food market. While Mexico City is packed with such spots, it’s La Merced Market that offers the most bang for your buck. With a maze of street food stalls selling goods from local produce to pinatas, this traditional spot is the city’s largest market and a major tourist draw.
Located on the eastern edge of the city’s main plaza, La Merced spans more than four city blocks and includes a daunting labyrinth of passageways that can be hard to navigate, even for experienced Spanish-speaking travelers—with this, booking a walking food tour through the market with a guide can be beneficial. In addition, if you’re searching for the best mole, tacos, or guajillos chiles, for example, a tour guide will be able to steer you in the right direction. Plus, you’ll be able to learn about the history of the market, which was established in colonial times.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Wear closed-toe shoes and keep jewelry to a minimum since it’s a crowded space.
- La Merced Market is open daily, from 5am to 7pm, and is free to enter; it is closed on some holidays, such as Good Friday.
- Many walking tours include food samples and offer information on Mexico’s culinary culture.
How to Get There
Located east of Mexico City’s historic center, just north of Sonora Market and the Fray Servando Teresa de Mier, the market and its surrounding neighborhood serve as the city’s commercial hub. La Merced is roughly a 15-minute drive from the airport and is easily accessible and within walking distance from downtown hotels. There is also a subway stop and a bus stop at the market.
When to Get There
La Merced Market is open daily, from 5am to 7pm. Like most food markets, the best time to visit is midweek during the mornings to avoid the crowds and score the freshest produce, meats, and other goods. Market vendors observe national and religious holidays, such as Good Friday, so be mindful of that before making plans to visit.
What to Eat at La Merced Market
The market is divided into different sections based on the types of food being sold, such as meats, fruits and vegetables, and even insects. For adventurous foodies, specialty vendors offer up crispy, fried insects such as crickets, grasshoppers, and ants and their larvae. Other traditional Mexican food to try includes caldo de gallina (hen stew), pancita (another kind of stew made from cow's stomach), pork posole, and plenty of fresh tacos.