This is specifically the venue which made me fall in love with this city. The first time we came, accompanied by our friends, I didn't want to leave. At the time, there was a Selena craze after her tragic murder, and little girls of all ages were trying to sound just like her. We saw one of them performing in the Mercado, and she was amazing! We also had an unforgettable lunch outdoors, under the umbrellas. Chuck bought his first sombrero. In the late afternoon, they had musicians playing on the street with some of the crowd dancing to the beat of the cumbias...it was delightful.
This time around, we were freer to roam, and stop at every little thing, as I often do. The day was sunny, and we went into every bodega (store) that lined the promenade. To its side, there is another hidden treasure, and when you go through the doors, you'll see a huge hall with small shops offering some very beautiful native arts & crafts. Shopping here has a definite cultural angle and it's hard to focus, because there is so much coming at you, but if you go in one direction and make a circle, then you can start moving toward the center stalls.
El Mercado is the the largest Mexican marketplace outside of Mexico; it is a Mexican style plaza replete with fabulous restaurants, decadent pastry shops, specialty shops and craft galleries. If you love pottery, as I do, then this is a must-see. Especially the indoor area. My eyes were not large enough to take in all the different styles of pottery and ceramics fashioned by Mexican artisans. I did get a terra cotta vase, with a green gecko cleverly painted on its top side. Chuck found me an identical one on the other side of the plaza, and we also managed to pick up a matching candle holder. They made it to NY in one piece!
Papier maché objects line the tables; lots of jewelry with turquoise stones; leather keychains, wallets, belts which they will engrave for you free of charge, or for a very nominal $1.00. Sombreros, Mexican style blusas (blouses)which have elasticized sleeves that you can lower to the shoulders. Flamenco style skirts galore. What else?? Tiled picture frames; wooden carvings, and oh! brightly colored paper maché vegetables and fruit! You can buy them in single large pieces or bound together by a string so you can hang it up as decor if you like.
They hold a festival here on a yearly basis which is free and open to the public. Attendance apparently is a hair short of half a million people. You can bet you'll hear all the Tejano music you yearn for! I think it's held in late July.
I found this to be thoroughly enjoyable; families come with their children both during the day and at night. The market bustles with activity.