Inside Mercado de la Merced

It's our opinion that one of the best ways to see a city is to go where the locals go to shop. Whether it's a traditional grocery store or a farmers' market, you'll find products that you can't get in the United States while getting a taste of what local life is like. In Mexico City's Mercado de la Merced, experiencing shopping like a local is taken to a whole new level. Mercado de la Merced is located just east of the historic city center of Mexico City. And, in a city of more than 300 markets, it is the largest. It is where the 21+ million people of Greater Mexico City can come to buy supplies for their home or business, from bulk to-go containers to hundreds of varieties of dried chilies to denim. It's all here, packed under the roof of one of the largest markets in the world. And on the weekend morning when we visit, it was packed.

 One of the many sellers of heirloom Mexican corn.

One of the many sellers of heirloom Mexican corn.

 Nopales for sale.

Nopales for sale.

 Huitlacoche, a fungus that grows on corn and is considered a delicacy.

Huitlacoche, a fungus that grows on corn and is considered a delicacy.

We went to the market on a very busy Sunday with a guide from Club Tengo Hambre, a small food-tourism company that runs tours in Mexico City and other Mexican and Southern US cities. Our guide wove us in-and-out of the narrow halls of La Merced and at any given point, I had no idea where we were in the market. Like a grocery store, the market is organized by type, and the main hall is dedicated to fruit and vegetables, flanked by hundreds of food stalls in the outer sections of the markets. It's a labyrinth in the greatest sense of the word, and there are people consistently moving through the web of the market. There are hundreds of vendors, but also people moving and buying product. You have to watch your back for the constant foot traffic of people carrying crates of produce or pushing a hand truck stacked high of boxes. It's a tourist destination, sure, but a also a market where the city's population can buy ingredients and supplies. 

 Quesadillas with huitlacoche.

Quesadillas with huitlacoche.

 Tamale with mole.

Tamale with mole.

 Michelada from a stall just outside the market.

Michelada from a stall just outside the market.

 Frutas.

Frutas.

We were mostly on the hunt for tacos, but there were vendors that sold soups, burgers, and beers, as well as every Mexican snack imaginable, from tortas, to quesadillas, to tostadas. By the end of the tour, we were so full that we were begging to split dishes, but everything was delicious (and visually stunning).  Pictures hardly do the size of this space justice, but it's definitely a place that should be stop on all visits to Mexico City.

 Churros.

Churros.

mercado_chilies.jpg
 Many types of mole.

Many types of mole.

 Campechano taco with fries!

Campechano taco with fries!

 Bulk candy, of course.

Bulk candy, of course.

Brianna is the Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Hook & Blade Mag. She is based out of New York City where she enjoys exploring the city, trying new foods, and people watching. She works as an Email Marketing Manager at General Assembly, and tries to travel as much as she can.