Mexico Life
You'll find pulque by the liter at La Frida, one of the attractions at the Martínez de la Torre market. You'll find pulque by the liter at La Frida, one of the attractions at the Martínez de la Torre market.

Mercado Martínez de la Torre one of the best food markets in Mexico City

With around 600 stalls, the market is the cultural and economic center of Colonia Guerrero

There’s a comforting middle-class, almost suburban feel at Mexico City’s Mercado Martínez de la Torre in Colonia Guerrero.

On any given afternoon, the market’s surrounding holes-in-the-wall cantinas are populated mostly by men in the laid-back stepdad look of plaid shirts tucked into comfortable jeans with cell phone holsters and tennis shoe/hiking boot hybrids.

Traffic blasts by on Eje 1 Norte, and a few blocks off the market can get a little sketchy, but it’s all full bellies and family smiles between Zarco and Calle Soto.

With around 600 stalls, Martínez de La Torre Market is the cultural and economic center of Colonia Guerrero and one of the best food markets in the city, often overlooked by non-locals.

The symphony of scissors snipping chickens into vendible pieces and the smell of piles of ripe guava make their way into the market’s exceptionally wide walkways – a gawking tourist’s dream. The quality of meats and sausages is way above par, and there are mountains of excellent moles to choose from.

The bustling counter at famed Tacos y Aguas La Corcholata.
The bustling counter at famed Tacos y Aguas La Corcholata.

You can safely get lost wandering the abundance of delicious flavors, but we’ve picked out some particular culinary gems at Mercado Martínez de la Torre.

Taquería Lola La Trailera & La Corcholata

Why settle for just one name, when you can have two? Named for actress friends of the taquería’s owner, “Lola the Truck Driver,” played by Rosa Gloria Chagoyán, and “The Bottle Cap,” played by Carmen Salinas, La Corcholata is the most publicized eatery in the market and run as such – super attentive staff with pressed uniforms and name tags.

The buttoned-up look is a little out of place in Guerrero, but it runs like a well-greased plancha. Their cecina tacos are not to be missed. But the local favorites are the beef or chicken tacos with French fries, to fully absorb the salsa verde, and a perfectly sweet and frothy horchata to balance the salt and heat.

Taquería “El Mejor” Barbacoa de Horno

You don’t have to wait until the weekend for barbacoa at Mercado Martínez de la Torre, and their name is accurate – El Mejor is truly the best barbacoa in the market.

The mutton case at Taqueria “El Mejor” Barbacoa de Horno.
The mutton case at Taqueria “El Mejor” Barbacoa de Horno.

The slow oven-roasted mutton is brought in daily from Mexico City’s agrarian outpost, Milpa Alta – the city’s southernmost borough known for its sheep, both in the oven and on the pasture.

Ignacio Ramírez has manned the butcher block at El Mejor since 2000, and his barbacoa comes off the knife appropriately tender and stringy with the deep buttery, only slightly pungent, flavor of a properly roasted mutton.

A Coke, barbacoa taquito and a bowl of consommé for only 50 pesos is a wonderful pick-me-up any day of the week.

Carnitas La Güera

Over 60 years in, and La Güera’s crispy carnitas pork bits are still one of the best reasons to come to the market.

Take home a giant, half-a-pig-sized chicharrón or just sidle up to the counter for a quick taco. La Güera won’t let you down on the pork front.

Delicious, greasy, whole fried sierra at Ocotlán.
Delicious, greasy, whole fried sierra at Ocotlán.

Ocotlán

Just outside the market entrance on Zarco is the tiny fried fish stand, Ocotlán. The fish – Mexican sierra – are in the mackerel family, and come breaded, whole. They’re about the size of a toothpaste tube, like a giant greasy sardine, and wrapped in paper to go. Or enjoy them hot, on the spot with a bit of mayo and hot sauce.

Eskimoz y Raspados Sonia

The blenders buzz non-stop at Sonia, the ideal last stop for the sweet tooth on the Martínez de la Torre tour. Their nostalgic milkshakes and shaved ices will warm your heart and cool your core on a hot day. Or go nuts with a fruit frappe rainbow of your design.

Pulquería la Frida

If you’re looking for a drink of the alcoholic variety, head across Mosqueta/Eje 1 to La Frida for a pulque – the drinking person’s milkshake. The viscous, fermented agave sap beverage provides a distinctive tingly buzz. Pulquería la Frida is a tiny, single room in bright pink, yellow, and green, providing a no-nonsense pulque experience – loud music, pulque, and beer – because who wants nonsense?

While the banner promotes over a dozen sweet and savory flavors, they’re likely to have only a couple in stock. Try celery or oatmeal flavored for something delicious and mellow. Or go native with the natural flavor, and ask for some baking soda to shake into it (for the extra bubbles) if you’re really looking to impress.

Watch traffic whizz by out of the open doors and enjoy your pulque in a cracked glass, for that truly authentic feel.

• Mercado Martínez de la Torre is on Eje 1/Mosqueta, between Calle Soto and Zarco. Some stalls open as early as 7:00am, with most open until 6:00pm.

This is the 11th in a series on the bazaars, flea markets and markets of Mexico City:

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