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Sep 16, 2012 08:12 AM

Culinary tools store/market in Mexico City - Near Centro??

I will be visiting Mex. City for several days, staying at an apt. near Bellas Artes. I would like to shop for culinary tools: comal and many other types of implements (not raw ingredients) used to prepare Mexican food. Also large serving platters, party ware,typical paper flags etc. Can any local cooks give me stores or mercados in centro historico (names and locations to give cab driver) or not too far from there. I will have to cab it as I hope to buy more than I can carry on the Metro.

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  1. Your best bet...where you will find *all* of the things you mention--is the Mercado la Merced. Huge and complicated and not really easy to navigate, it offers ALL the things you want, in one part of the market or another.


      1. I've wandered through the Mercado Merced - its huge, with a lot of variety.. don't expect a big "Mexican Williams Sonoma" sign here - there's lot of actual ingredients, and other stuff..and its a cab or Metro drive away.

        I also enjoyed walking around Cuidadela - a market close to Bellas Artes.

        I've found in my couple of visits that you aren't going to find massively unique cookware - a comal is on par with a nice Lodge cast iron griddle. I picked up a couple of nice molinillo's (chocolate frothers), and didn't have the heart to carry home a large, heavy molacajete (sp?) for mixing up guacamole. There is more serving ware around, just make sure its food safe. Large Mexican department stores pretty much carry the same sort of stuff as large American department stores, so don't bother.

        I also enjoyed the market by the old Buena Vista train station (Mercado Buena Vista). Its fixed price, but I got some nice Talavera pottery - not cheap, but nice pieces. Its pretty huge..

        Neither is too too far from Bellas Artes - the Cuidadela is really close, but you might cab it to Buena Vista. Definitely need transport to Merced..

        One tip - you aren't far from the Calle Lopez - GREAT food street if you are willing to eat adventurously. I had tacos from a lot of parts of the pig that were delicious. Nearby, there's ladies serving mexican shrimp cocktail from a trailer that was delicious - El Caguamo, as well as a couple of guys carving tacos el pastor in a stand up stall that I loved (maybe El Huequito). Google a bit - you should be able to find some of the more well known street stalls. I loved the Elotes - corn, cooked with Epazote, some other spices, eaten from a cup.. mmmm. I don't speak spanish, but got by okay with pointing and simple words.

        That being said, you are in Centro.. don't carry a ton of cash, an exposed Iphone, and don't wander out in the dark unless you have some local friends. There are a lot of cons and worse in the area.

        2 Replies
        1. re: grant.cook

          Grant.cook, there is new transportation in Mexico City that makes the trip to Mercado la Merced very easy. All kinds of cookware is available there. No, it's not Williams-Sonoma, but Pepian will find everything from restaurant supplies--need a stove built to your specs?--to a clay comal or an escobetilla. Pepian isn't looking for tourist claptrap, he/she wants to use the purchases in the kitchen.

          Pepian, if you'd be interested in transportation to and a tour around la Merced, let me know. I live in the DF.


          1. re: cristina

            Is this string of purchases limited by 1) what you can fit in a car or more importantly 2) what you can either pack and ship or fit into your luggage for a flight to a U.S. city? A custom built stove might not fit into the overhead..

            I was just posting that culturally unique cookware and then there is functionally unique cookware. A wok is unique.. a comal not so much. I can cook mussels nicely in a cataplana, but the french oven works just fine as well. When judging how much one can stuff in the suitcase, I thought serving ware was more unique for the house than the cookware itself. That being said, I'd pick up a good clay comal if I saw one.. I've got a soft spot for clay cookware.

        2. Many thanks for all the good information! I had read about El Huequito on the blog GoodFoodInMexicocity or other places, not sure, and wondered where it was.Now I do. Thanks!Sadly I have one or at most two days to hit mercados but I will def. do that.

          A question: are all the mercados open every day (during the week, wouldn't go to a mercado on the week-end, not terribly fond of mobs of people). Does each market have special mid-week market day when it is busiest?

          I am limited to what I can fit in a suitcase so it can't be much. I am hitting Dolores Hidalgo and staying in San Miguel de Allende 3 days and C. de Mex. 4. I am taking a friend to see Vasquez Talavera in Dolores. Last time I was there I had my van I had driven which I loaded up with tiles, un vajilla, 3 bathroom sinks even a tile wall mural, lots of great talavera there. Luckily the house is finished now and I won't need much talavera, now wanting is another story.I've dedicated one suitcase for Mex. City and one for Dolores Hidalgo/SanMiguel.

          Do you know of a supermercado around Bellas Artes (seems werid to ask that as all I know is the main drag where all the historico stuff is) as I want to bring home some boxed sauces (now you know I cheat sometimes and don't make all my Mexican dishes from scratch every time). I know they are sacrilege but when I feel like something Mexican and am tired, they will do in a pinch.

          1. Re my search for boxed sauces (head down in shame) motto is: almost any Mexican food is better than no Mexican food. The last boxes I have of "Dona Chonita by La Costena" brand pasilla, chipotle, etc, I bought in Tapachula...all that was available. Any others better to recommend?

            11 Replies
            1. re: Pepian

              As far as I know, there is no supermarket anywhere near Bellas Artes. That sort of thing is not allowed in the Centro Histórico.

              If you're interested in prepared moles and pipianes, you can buy a wonderful selection of them in bulk pastes or powders at the Mercado de la Merced. This preparations are a MILLION TIMES better than Doña Chonita and just as easy to prepare at home. The vendors will package them for you to take home, and of course they are legal to cross the border.

              Yes, all the mercados in Mexico City are open every day during the week. And no, as far as I know there is no 'busiest day' for market shopping--not even the weekends, so if that is your option, it will work.


              1. re: cristina

                Isn't there some kind of cooking store in the new/refurbished complex that houses Azul Historico? I think ti's tools more than food but I haven't been.

                1. re: Earl Grey

                  There is indeed--it is called Culinaria Mexicana. They do have some interesting kitchen tools, but lately the stock has been fairly low. If Pepian wants to have a look, it's very near Bellas Artes, at Isabel la Católica #30.


                  1. re: cristina

                    I was going to suggest Culinaria Mexicana myself. The owners were recently in Oaxaca so they might be stocked up with some new and interesting goods. I'd say it's definitely worth a look. Also in the same building is Que Bo by José Ramón Castillo, one of Mexico's top chocolatiers.

                    1. re: Soul Vole

                      Ahhhh...QueBo! A dream of a chocolate shop...

                      And you're right about Culinaria Mexicana, I haven't been there since the owners came back from Oaxaca. The item I purchased that I MOST like from the store is the white rock disk for holding heat in a basket of tortillas. We use it almost daily.


                      1. re: cristina

                        How does QueBo! compare to Tout Chocolat on Amsterdam (used to visit it a Plaza Loreto), in terms of selection, quality and price?

                        1. re: foodeye

                          The chocolates are completely different, much more diverse, more 'finished', and infinitely better at QueBo. I live about three blocks from Tout Chocolat and used to go there. José Ramón Castillo of QueBo is unique.


                          1. re: cristina

                            Agreed -- more finished, more refined, more artistic. Probably a bit pricier, couldn't say for sure or how much.

                            Unlike the original in Polanco this new Que Bo has tables and chairs, inviting you to sit, have a cup of coffee, and sample the chocolates at your leisure. However the one in Polanco does have a larger selection.

                            Back when I got the elgourmet channel I used to really enjoy watching JRC do his thing. I found this video of him making bombones de mole:

                            1. re: Soul Vole

                              At Mesamérica, José Ramón made bombones al pastor, with centers including a sort of al pastor aspic, to be served slightly melted over roast pork. Makes my mouth water to remember seeing the prep and presentation. Mmm...

                              First photo is the plated dish. Second photo foreground is JRC, backdrop is the bombones alone.


              2. re: Pepian

                If you don't want the challenge of Mercado Merced, in/near the centro is Mercado San Juan, which should have everything you want, and then some. As noted, it may not be boxed and labeled, but many items will be transportable and are shelf stable, like dried chiles, beans and mole powders.

                For a grocery store, there is a Superama in the Condesa district, if you are going there anyway for sightseeing, eating and/or drinking (and you should).

                1. re: foodeye

                  There's also a supermarket in "The Chicken District" on or near Calle Vizcainas at Arandas, near San Juan Mercado, but I haven't been in it. I checked Google Maps, and it says it's the ISSSTE Supermercado at Aranda 10, Centro. This is not an attractive area, visually, but very nearby are many foodie attractions.