The New 'Mercado'

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by Christian Good

Few words invoke such vivid images and nostalgic memories in the minds of millions of Mexicans -and South and Central Americans to be fair- than the word mercado. In the simplest, most literal of terms a mercado is market, but to reduce the meaning of these effervescent and dynamic agoras to an elementary place where currency is exchanged for goods, does them no justice.

There's not a single person in Mexico who cannot recall an instance when their abuela had to go over to the mercado to get fresh produce, exotic flowers or some other trinket; often just an excuse to pay visit to these almost mythical places. And why wouldn't they (or anybody) want to use any pretext to wander about the rows of merchants? The sights, fragrances and sounds of mercados are alluring, if not hypnotizing, to first time visitors as well as seasoned shoppers.

For centuries, mercados have served their purpose as cooperatives that cater to the local market, while providing a social hub where not only money but ideas are exchanged. Not usually described as glamorous, rather gritty, a new kind of mercado is emerging in Mexico. One where locales bursting with fruits and vegetables have been replaced with designer boutiques and gourmet restaurants.

Located in the trendy San Angel neighborhood of Mexico City, the Mercado del Carmen is the perfect example of this new wave of cultural sanctuaries.

Complete with small boutiques and stands raging from eyewear to beauty, and a food court that would make an appearance in any foodie's dream, Mercado del Carmen illustrates the rapidly changing consumer and their need for a one stop destination where artisans and hipsters rub shoulders under one glorious roof.

Here we present to you our favorite locales from Mercado del Carmen:

1.- Stackpole Boutique

In this precious little boutique, vintage and new share the same racks. Carrying everything from jewelry, to makeup, to bridal gowns; Stackpole is sure to have that special something for the loved women in your life.

2.- Fratelli

Fratelli prides itself in offering some of the most unique and trendy eye glasses in the city. Both sun and prescription glasses call Fratelli home, but only those that stand at the edge of fashion.

3.- Loredana

The best all natural skin care products can be found in this chic store. Using only the best plant extracts, and keeping harsh chemicals away, Loredana products are a great addition to anyone's beauty routine.

4.- Caja de Mar

Using traditional Mexican ingredients, this sea food restaurant elevates their dishes by exploring simple, yet contrasting flavors. Stop by to try any of their mouthwatering offerings and incredible sauces.

5.- La Botica del Te

Focusing on body, mind and spirit, La Botica del Te is a premier tea shop in Mexico City. Here, you'll be able to find all varieties of herbs and fruits ready to create soothing elixirs.

6.- El 36

Stylish men, rejoice. With the objective of debunking claims that men's fashion accessories are boring, El 36 has some of the most unique bow ties, belts, wallets and all those pieces that complete an outfit. If fashion is not your cup of tea, the also carry mescal.

7.- El Manolo y Venancio

Spanish cuisine is taking the world by storm and Manolo y Venancio are bringing that storm to Mexico. Exquisite spanish dishes elevated to perfection will have you coming for more and more.

8.- Thoughts and Friends

Thoughts and Friends is every cool girl's dream when it comes to accesories and funky interior design items. Working with Mexican designers and relying on costumers input, this ever changing store will make you want to buy things you didn't even know you needed.

9.- Distrito Foods

What's better than delicious homemade salsas? Probably nothing, that's why the mother-son team behind Distrito Foods have customers coming back for their products. And they have something for everyone, from sweet jams to scorching hot chile sauces.

10.- Moira's

Don't let the size of this little bakery fool you, their pastries and other offerings are so good they rival Paris. When you visit, make sure to try their delicious lemon squares or their 'oh-so-cute' cakes in a jar

11.- La Vintageria

Like every store, La Vintageria has four walls. Unlike every store, La Vintageria dedicates each wall to a different artist. Check out their unbelievable collection of artifacts turned to lamps, handmade jewelry, funky home decor and so much more.

12.- Helados Gibran

If you scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream; Helados Gibran gives us a reason to scream to the top of our lungs. Your taste buds will be in heaven with these artisanal ice cream made from the best fruits, sometimes vegetables, and the best times with alcohol.