An unimaginable array of chili peppers, herbs and spices is at the heart of every Mexican market
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The spectacular markets of Mexico

  • PRODUCTION THOMAS KOSIKOWSKI, JOHANNES RIFFELMACHER

When we’re in a city, we love losing ourselves in big, crazy, labyrinthine markets: sniffing out new scents, tracking down bizarre specialties, tasting unusual food. We are forever fascinated by what these microcosms have to offer. Click through our photos of Mexico’s best markets and see what you think!

Mexico City

Central de Abastos

 

Mexico City is the second-largest city in the world. We must have gone to 15 different markets, each one crazier and more vibrant than the next. We really liked the local central market, which is the biggest in the world. You could disappear for weeks into the depths of the enormous market halls, hidden between cactus vendors and truckloads of corn.

If you want to get a good deal at the Central de Abastos, the world's biggest market, you have to be there when the sun comes up

If you want to get a good deal at the Central de Abastos, the world's biggest market, you have to be there when the sun comes up

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There's no getting down to business without some breakfast first

There's no getting down to business without some breakfast first

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A couple of tostadas with cheese are just the ticket. They’ll get you going no matter how tired you are!

A couple of tostadas with cheese are just the ticket. They’ll get you going no matter how tired you are!

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Watch out you don't get run over by a diavolo: They often maneuver ridiculously big loads through the narrow aisles at breakneck speed

Watch out you don't get run over by a diavolo: They often maneuver ridiculously big loads through the narrow aisles at breakneck speed

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Don’t worry about running out of onions. There’s always more where they came from

Don’t worry about running out of onions. There’s always more where they came from

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An amazing selection of seafood awaits us at the fish market

An amazing selection of seafood awaits us at the fish market

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Produce, in this case fragrant herbs and lettuce, is delivered and sorted outside

Produce, in this case fragrant herbs and lettuce, is delivered and sorted outside

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These crabs or jaiba, as they are called in Mexico, make a very delicious soup. Throw a bunch of other seafood into the pot for even more flavor!

These crabs or jaiba, as they are called in Mexico, make a very delicious soup. Throw a bunch of other seafood into the pot for even more flavor!

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Not much sustainable fishing goes on here. Where does this fish come from? How was it caught? It's impossible to find out

Not much sustainable fishing goes on here. Where does this fish come from? How was it caught? It's impossible to find out

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Guadalajara

Mercado San Juan de dios,
Mercado Alcalde

 

Guadalajara is our favorite city, but don’t tell anyone. Last year, our favorite market burned to the ground. We needed a replacement! The one we found, Mercado San Juan de los dios, has an incredible variety of food stalls where you can find everything from seafood to goat-meat tacos. Awesome!

In Guadalajara too, people sit together having breakfast before they do their weekly shopping

In Guadalajara too, people sit together having breakfast before they do their weekly shopping

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Breakfast in Mexico is usually a hearty affair. We're having a bowl of soup with albondigas, a kind of meatball, here

Breakfast in Mexico is usually a hearty affair. We're having a bowl of soup with albondigas, a kind of meatball, here

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Offal and pigs’ heads on display – a customary sight in Mexico

Offal and pigs’ heads on display – a customary sight in Mexico

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Perhaps the best thing about the markets is the huge selection of fruits and vegetables, which are often displayed according to color

Perhaps the best thing about the markets is the huge selection of fruits and vegetables, which are often displayed according to color

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There probably isn't a market in Mexico that doesn't sell statuettes of saints, magic potions or religious relics

There probably isn't a market in Mexico that doesn't sell statuettes of saints, magic potions or religious relics

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Ensenada

Mercado Negro

 

This laid-back port city situated 108 km south of the U.S. border was once a hotspot for gambling and other sinful pleasures. Today, it’s known as the “Cinderella of the Pacific” and is popular among Californians as a weekend getaway spot.

The Mercado Negro in Ensenada is best known for its huge, fresh clams. These almeja chocolatas or chocolate clams are the size of your palm

The Mercado Negro in Ensenada is best known for its huge, fresh clams. These almeja chocolatas or chocolate clams are the size of your palm

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Wait, why do these clams have huge elephant-like trunks? We’ve never seen that before! The vendor can't help laughing at our incredulous faces

Wait, why do these clams have huge elephant-like trunks? We’ve never seen that before! The vendor can't help laughing at our incredulous faces

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Even the locals are amazed at the sight of all this seafood…

Even the locals are amazed at the sight of all this seafood…

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Oaxaca

Mercado 20 de Noviembre,
Central de Abastos

 

Oaxaca is what you could call the food mecca of Mexico. Start talking with any Mexican about the moles, salsas and mezcal from Oaxaca and their eyes will begin to shine. With good reason!

What incredible variety! How are you supposed to choose?

What incredible variety! How are you supposed to choose?

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Our tip: Something that caught fire for a couple of seconds

Our tip: Something that caught fire for a couple of seconds

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Chapulines or fried grasshopper is a Oaxaca specialty. And a tasty snack!

Chapulines or fried grasshopper is a Oaxaca specialty. And a tasty snack!

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Several generations are often seen at the market together

Several generations are often seen at the market together

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In between the larger stands, peasants sell the real treasures: small amounts of regional, seasonal and sustainably grown vegetables like those in your mother’s garden

In between the larger stands, peasants sell the real treasures: small amounts of regional, seasonal and sustainably grown vegetables like those in your mother’s garden

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There’s always a stand selling candles of every shape, color and size

There’s always a stand selling candles of every shape, color and size

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An unimaginable array of chili peppers, herbs and spices is at the heart of every Mexican market

An unimaginable array of chili peppers, herbs and spices is at the heart of every Mexican market

© Salt & Silver

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