Mexico City - How to Shop
Mexico City has a lot to offer, and food is not an exception.
The giant American chain Wal-Mart has a very strong presence in Mexico City.
You will surely find a Wal-Mart or Aurrera in your neighborhood, offering a wide range of food (and other) items, from staples to fully cooked and frozen meals, at very decent prices. Aurrera was recently acquired by Wal-Mart.
Superama is a chain of supermarkets that also belongs to Wal-Mart, but it is a more upscale version, featuring many imported items. Prices tend to be higher here, but service and quality of fresh food are very good.
Superama offers a wonderful delivery service at a very reasonable rate, but be sure to use this service after you are completely familiar with the products, brands and sizes, to avoid confusion and frustration when ordering over the phone, fax or internet.
You will find other chain supermarkets like Gigante, Comercial Mexicana, etc.
Rest assured that every product sold at any of these retailers is closely monitored by the Mexican Government, and therefore everything is completely safe to buy and eat, including dairy, meats, vegetables, prepared foods, etc.
However, you should wash and disinfect, peel or cook vegetables and fruits before consumption, no matter where you buy them. Desinfecting drops are readily available in the vegetables section of the supermarkets.
They include huge retailers like Wal-Mart Supercenter, Carrefour, Auchan, and the membership-based Costco and Sam's Club. These chains offer much lower prices than the traditional supermarkets, for two reasons:
1) their mark-up (profit by item sold) is lower than that of supermarket chains and;
2) they sell in bulk packaging (i. e. a dozen rolls of bathroom tissue, 1-kilogram jars of mayonnaise).
You may not find as many brands and varieties of products as you would in a supermarket, because they tend to carry products and brands that are in highest demand and highest inventory turnover. You need to become a member and pay a yearly membership.
Mercados sobre ruedas, tianguis (Traditional markets and traveling markets)
The traveling markets (mercados sobre ruedas = markets on wheels), visit different neighborhoods a certain day of the week, offering an array of fresh food items, including fruits, vegetables, meats and poultry.
These establishments are not as tightly monitored by the sanitary authorities. However, some of these markets have prevailed in spite of the strong competition posed by retail chains, due to the freshness of their products and their presence among residential neighborhoods has been constant throughout the years.
We advise you to attend these markets only if recommended to do so by a steady client, since you buy at your own risk.
There are other traditional markets, that do not "travel", but are rather established around residential areas (for years). They are usually more reliable and have made a clientele within the community. But still, go there only if recommended to do so by someone you know well.
Central de Abastos (Fulfillment Center)
Located in the heart of Mexico City, it is said to be largest food and flower market in the world.
This is where most of the food items from around the country (and beyond) are gathered and distributed to retailers and markets around Mexico City.
Go there if you are an adventurer with a lot of spare time, and a very picky eater. You will be able to choose from the cheapest and freshest vegetables, fruits, fish, meats, dairy, poultry, and spices.
The malls will make for a complete shopping -and entertainment- experience, in that you will be able to find almost everything, from gourmet coffee, to casual and designer clothes, and fine furniture. Not to mention the cinemas and the nice restaurants. The sole act of browsing through the stores in a major mall is a complete day's outing, and store personnel are so nice and helpful, that you will, at first, feel sorry to leave with your hands empty. When you buy a heavy/large item, chances are they will offer to help you take it to your car.
Here a basic selection of malls, and you will soon decide which one is your favorite:
Anillo Periferico Sur 4690
Tel: + 52 (55) 5545 1000
email: [email protected]
West-Center (Polanco area)
- Pabellon Polanco
Ave. Ejército Nacional 980
- Centro Santa Fe (known simply as "Santa Fe")
Av. Vasco de Quiroga No. 3800
Col. Antigua Mina de la Totolapa (Santa Fe)
- Plaza Satelite
Blvd. M. Avila Camacho No. 2251
Tel: + 52 (55) 5374 0545/+ 52 (55) 5374 0108
There are other malls, some slightly smaller, but all usually have something interesting to offer.
It is important that you get acquainted with the main department store chains in Mexico City, as we will be mentioning them very often throughout the various subcategories of the shopping section:
Tel: + 52 (55) 5262 9999
website: www.liverpool.com.mx (customer service)
- Palacio de Hierro
Tel: + 52 (55) 5229 3154
website: www.palaciodehierro.com.mx (customer service)
For typical Mexican stuff, you will find many beauties. From wooden furniture, handicrafts, art pieces, and typical clothing, to delicious food items.
- You will, sooner or later, hear that the best prices and varieties/assortments for almost everything and anything can be found in Mexico City downtown (historic center). This could be true, but Paguro recommends that if you decide to tackle the adventure of some downtown shopping, go there accompanied by someone experienced in shopping there and leave the children at home. Do not wear flashy jewelry -better yet, do not wear jewelry- and carry only the amount of cash you think you might need in a pocket. Ladies, no tight clothes and no leather purses/handbags. Do expect some big city havoc and noise, but enjoy this unique experience!