If it’s Tuesday it must be the Condesa: Mexico City's best street market
“It’s as good as the Marché Aligre!”, exclaimed my Parisian friend Carolyn, closing her eyes enraptured. As we passed the fruit section the subtle aroma of fresh mango wafted through the clear spring air. Food maven of the New York Times, Mark Bittman, agreed, quoting this story in his blog.
The Condesa tianguis or “Mercado sobre Ruedas” appears every Tuesday morning in the streets surrounding the famous Edificio Condesa (aka “Peyton Place” due to the notorious scandals of its artsy residents). There are other attractive daily markets throughout the city, but none beat this one for its picturesque quality. The fruits and vegetables, many of them exotically tropical, are gleaming and radiant, piled high in neat displays or creatively sliced and splayed open like origami. Chilies, yellow, red and all shades of green are lovingly stacked like candies in a Belgian sweets shop.
Myriad scents perfume the air, inviting you to buy with your nose as well as your eyes. “Try some papaya!” encourages a vendor as you pass, “PAPAYA!!!” he pleads, in disbelief that anyone could possibly pass up such a treat. Another hunky purveyor of melons, his biceps as large as his products, implores me to buy: “Dulce y sabroso…” he proposes.
You can also find what might be described as fancy convenience food. Fresh soup mixes, ready for your sopa de flor de calabaza or sopa de hongos are sold by the kilo—just sauté, add water or broth and cook. I often buy the diced peas, carrots and potatoes – perfect for anything from grandma’s chicken soup to Indian curry.
Meat, chicken and fish here is fresh and clean. Be sure to take advantage of the skills of these vendors. You can have a chicken breast sliced up for a Chinese stir-fry, fish filleted and cut up to order, or get kebabs skewered, ready for grilling. And of course more esoteric offerings, like oxtail, liver, heart and kidneys are available.
One of my favorite stalls is that of Doña Victoria down at the Juan de la Barrera end of Calle Pachuca. Her hair in traditional braids, dressed in layered aprons, she sell product from the country likequelites beans, tortillas and even chickens (sometimes tough old birds, but good for coq au vin). Her large beans called ayocotesare divine - they taste like chestnuts.
Other culinary gems to look for are a roving vendor of fresh lentils, another itinerant lady who sells crepes, ready to be filled, out of a basket. Bright green chorizo from Toluca is found down at the Juan de Barrera end, as is the best chicharrón I've ever tasted.
And you can even have your zipper fixed at 'Hospital de Ropa' see this post.
The market gets going after 9 am and winds down by 4 pm. Best time to go is before the comida rush which starts around 2 pm. Nothing makes me want to kiss the Mexican ground I walk on more than this beautiful street market. Support this and/or your local traditional market. And bring your own bag!
The Tuesday Market
Calle Pachuca, from Juan de la Barrera to Veracruz, extending to Agustin Melgar, Condesa
Framboisy February 28, 2012
It is my favorite market too. Thanks for your good tips.
Mary March 7, 2012
I like how Dona Victoria looks like the woman on the left in the Rivera painting at top.
Ankeberlin March 27, 2012
I like this market too! Today I took my time there. Thank you for this nice article.