We should all operate outside of our comfort zone every once in a while.
I’m not much of meat eater. And while I do eat meat, I absolutely do not like to think about where it comes from.
So, a trip to Mercado San Juan, an exotic gastronomic meat market, with my friend was extremely ambitious for me. We had heard about the legendary Mercado San Juan, but neither of us had ever been and we really wanted to go. Countless food bloggers rave about the market and foreign foodies visit DF just to view the assortment of hard-to-find, highly coveted items.
Mercado San Juan is more than 120 years old. Built atop the land that the Aztecs used as a market for trading and located very close to the historic district of Mexico City, this market is actually not one but two medium-sized markets. While close in proximity to one another, the markets are roughly four or so city blocks apart, separated by a modest Chedraui, a large chain grocery store.
We ended up spending almost six hours at the two markets. There was much to discover. Below, I’ve included some of the highlights. In another visit I promise to cover other vendors with different offerings.
For now, I’ll share cheese, coffee, fish and vegetable favorites.
A day or two before we visited the market, Societe Perrier posted an article on the mercado. After reading the article, I immediately wrote and asked where we should go when visiting the market for the first time. The answer: La Jersey, a cheese shop. A bit more research revealed that La Jersey was extremely popular on the internet with other food bloggers as well. La Jersey specializes in imported cheese, has knowledgable cheese mongers and offers generous samples of cheese with wine.
All cheese lovers like this.
Per Perrier, we sought out the booth and spent two hours sampling cheese and drinking wine. I can’t remember the last time I’ve eaten so many delicious cheeses or enjoyed such generous samples. The cheesemonger was very knowledgable and paired cheeses very well. We ate so much wonderful cheese and stayed for so long, that we were unable to eat lunch afterwards. The lack of delicious cheese in DF made our long visit to La Jersey worth it. We were thrilled to discover some of our favorite cheeses and try some new ones too! La Jersey also had delicious prosciutto and sausages as well. Big thank you to Societe Perrier for the recommendation!
When we visited Mercado San Juan, it was cold and raining. We took a break from the rain and sat at a bright orange coffee counter located toward the front of the market. Turns out, the counter we visited was a Mexican coffee brand from Veracruz called, “Triana”.
The cafe was decorated with photos of famous chefs from all over the world. These chefs had visited the market and included the coffee shop on their cooking segments. The guy behind the counter was friendly and helpful. He poured us two cups of his personal favorites and we enjoyed them both. The counter was clean and cheery–a welcome departure from the rain. As we sat there, other customers stopped by: chefs from embassies, a pair of Japanese tourists and a few other Americans. For some reason, they did not sell coffee beans at the store, which was a bummer because the coffee was delicious and it would be a nice present for myself or someone else. Still, I highly recommend the coffee counter for a shopping break.
Perhaps the best thing about sitting at the coffee counter and chatting with the barista, was quizzing him about his favorite vendors. While chatting, he introduced us to his favorite fishmonger, who happened to walk past.
We later visited the fishmonger at his stand where he made us ceviche from scratch (had we known there was going to be so much eating, we never would have considered lunch!). The ceviche was delicious.
Apparently, it’s a favorite of Televisa executives and they often special order it. Pescaderia Eladio’s had beautiful red snapper, shrimp and a very tasty hot sauce. The booth is on the front corner of the market, if you decide to visit, booth 83. We’re having a party next month and all of the fish will be coming from Eladio’s.
And, last but not least, I met a wonderful woman named Flor. I noticed her booth because of the beautiful straw bags hanging from the top. After selecting a bag, I took a look at her vegetables.
They were nothing short of perfection.
She explained that she has a farm outside of the city and that she grows organic vegetables. Her vegetables are carried at a popular organic grocery store, the Green Corner, and she also manages a small stand at Mercado San Juan. She insisted that we try everything before we purchased it. Her confidence in her products was incredible. I thought her prices were fair and her products were high quality. I purchased a lot of fruits and vegetables from Flor, and one of her colorful straw bags for Manuela. If you decide to visit Flor, you can find her at booth 194.
Despite my personal reluctance to touch or eat any of the many meats on display, I was impressed by the quality. Every vendor we met was willing to stop what they were doing and discuss their products. From suggested cooking tips to sharing details about the farms the animals came from, I found every vendor informative and friendly. The people of this market take pride in the products they sell and love what they do. No one cared whether or not we purchased anything from them or not. They were happy to chat, proud to be asked about their products and to happy educate us. Initially, we had planned to spend two hours at the market, but ended up leaving after six. We spent the bulk of our time sampling small bites and chatting with vendors. Unexpectedly, our visit quickly became a gastronomic adventure worth repeating.
If you go, let me know.