Crafts are the mid-point between mass production and art, but with an implicit aesthetic and cultural message. Crafts in Mexico expose a surrealist legacy of cosmovision, the result of the blending of cultures and customs after the arrival of the Spanish. Each region seems to protect a secret about the meaning of life, one that dazzles with its brilliant colors or hypnotic patterns.
Crafts are a great example of Mexican richness, not just culturally speaking but also due to the great imagination that characterizes the country; and this is because, independently of their sociocultural context, it is almost impossible to not identify with a particular craft.
Below is a list of places in Mexico City where they sell hundreds of crafts. First are the most traditional and inexpensive locations, and then the more elaborate and expensive ones.
1 – La Ciudadela
A fixed market next to the Plaza la Ciudadela. When the 1968 Olympics were about to take place, the government invited artisans from across the country to sell their crafts there; afterwards the place became a staple and today is among the most traditional markets in the country. You can find everything from accessories to bed posts and rustic furniture.
Balderas and Plaza de la Ciudadela, col. Centro, del. Cuauhtémoc
2 – Mercado de Sonora, Mercado de Los Brujos or Mercado de los Animales
Established at the beginning of the 1950s, here you can find all sorts eclectic crafts: baskets, dolls, clothes and many animals, but it is also known for its herbalist and witchcraft tradition. Also, in recent years, the number of objects related to the Santa Muerte and San Judas Tadeo has grown exponentially. It’s the sort of place you visit to acquire general knowledge; it is, quite possibly, the most surrealist market in the country.
Fray Servando Teresa de Mier 419, col. Merced Balbuena
This market has an ample variety of traditional crafts, additionally, however, it has an added bonus: it includes popular crafts, engrained in the colorful Mexican tradition, with new proposals and reinterpretations. This is a very pretty, ample and well lit market.
Carrillo Puerto 25, col. Villa Coyoacán
A three floor building where you can find all sorts of crafts —from all over the country, all made by artisans in Mexico. On the first floor you’ll find smaller products like religious pieces, dolls or clothes, and on the other two floors larger objects such as charro hats and talavera (a type of maiolica pottery, which is distinguished by its milky-white glaze).
Plaza Garibaldi, Eje central esq. Allende, col. Centro
5 – Mercado de Artesanías San Juan
It began in the 1950s and today, despite its discreet facade, will surprise you with the amount of crafts it features. Additionally, through a permanent exhibition the place tells its own story through its photographic documentation.
Dolores y Ayuntamiento, col. Centro
6 – Centro Artesanal Buenavista
With more than ten thousand providers throughout the country, the prices are incredibly accessible and their variety seemingly endless. This is the go-to place for Mexican craft sellers from the world over; their clientele ranges from Mexicans who live in foreign countries to, for example, Europeans who have their own shops.
Aldama 187, col. Guerrero
On the pricier side:
Spreading over a number of establishments, Fondo Nacional para el Fomento de las Artesanías groups together the many artisans the organization supports. On display you’ll find a detailed selection of some of the most prominent artisans in the country.
Av. Juárez 89, col. Centro
Paseo de la Reforma 116, col. Centro
Av. Patriotismo 691, col. Mixcoac
8 – Parakata
“Parakata” means “butterfly” in Purepecha. It is the most important gallery devoted to crafts from the state of Michoacan, it specializes in copper goods.
Isabel la Católica no 30. Col. Centro
9 – Tienda del Museo de Artes Populares
In addition to enjoying the museum, which exhibits crafts created since pre-Columbian times, their store has a great rep because of the variety and quality of their pieces. You’ll find everything from jewelry, papier mâché, metalwork, textiles and ceramics. A hybrid of art and crafts with the best curatorship.
10 – Bazaar del Sábado
Since the 1960s, this has been one of the spaces known for their “fine crafts”. Here you’ll find millenary artisanal traditions, but adjusted to their creators: dozens of stores with the very best crafts and a personal artistic hint.
11 – Tonalli, Pre-Columbian Crafts
This is a store that extends and promotes the tradition of pre-Columbian crafts, ranging from masks, sculptures, whistles and urns. All of their pieces are of an admirable quality.
Av. Reforma 28, Plaza Yacatecutli, col. Juárez
Mexico City is vibrant, vast and very important. Not just in terms of the space it occupies and the stone and brick from it’s made from, but Mexico City greeted more than 30 million visitors last year. That’s more than it’s entire metro-population (though not by much). Let’s look at why they came.
Last year, at about this time, The New York Times had named the city the number one travel destination for 2016. Tourism searches on Google showed Mexico City as not just a Latin American Favorite, but in the top five tourist searches in the world. And of course, people have been asking for the last several years if it wasn’t the Next Paris, or the Next New York or the Next SOMETHING.
The City government set itself to the task of figuring out just why people love coming here. These are the top 15 reasons they came up with, and ultimately they’re the reasons that Mexico City is Latin America’s favorite, and maybe your favorite too!
1) 185 museums, nine archaeological sites and four World Heritage sites? The cultural scene is enormous, rich and varied. There’s something for every kind of cultural traveler.
2) Fairs, festivals, conventions, meetings and extravaganzas cover music, food, movies, books, and trade in every kind of human activity, down to the annual clown convention.
3) Blockbuster events? Last year saw a Formula 1 race, an NFL game or two, the Tour de France, and a free Roger Waters concert in the city center.
4) Chosen for the sixth world C40 Mayors Summit in November of 2016, Mexico City is widely perceived as a world leader in combatting climate change.
5) The Metrobús system, originally based on one running in Bogota, Colombia, is now the biggest in Latin America. Stretching some 125 kms today, in 2017 no less than 90 Alexander Dennis Enviro500 double-decker buses will begin plying the length of Paseo de la Reforma, as Metrobus Line 7 officially opens.
6. The tourist program Sonrisas por tu ciudad, literally “Smiles for your city,” organized by the Secretary for Tourism, has benefited more than 200,000 people.
7. Mexico City’s Central de Abasto (pictured below), after more than 30 years sells 30,000 tons of merchandise (mostly food) and sells to about 30,000 people every day. It’s the largest shopping area in the world.
8. Mexico City was the first Latin American city to join the Rainbow Cities Network, which coordinates city-level actions to protect LGBTI citizens and residents.
9. Mexico City was chosen as the World Capital of Design for 2018, by the World Design Organization.
10. The Centro Histórico is the largest historical city center in Latin America, with 1,500 buildings designated as having historical, cultural, artistic or architectural value. That’s more than most tour guides can handle, but it’s also home the continent’s biggest Metropolitan Cathedral.
11. Mexico City’s first ever Day of the Dead parade was celebrated by more than 250,000 marchers, band members, onlookers and, yes, zombies.
12. The city’s El Médico en tu Casa program puts a “Doctor in Your Home.” It’s already recognized in America, Asia, and Europe, for bringing health services closer to people who can’t easily visit hospitals or clinics.
13. Mexico City also began the first Specialized Center for the Management of Diabetes anywhere in Latin America.
14. The Ecobici system (pictured below) is the biggest public bike system in Latin America, with 452 cycle stations and about 35 million trips made by 200,ooo riders every year.
15. And finally, the good old underground Metro network is the biggest in Latin America, too. With 12 lines 226 km in total length, about 5 million people ride it every day.
Source: CDMX government, with information from International CDMX and the 4th Governmental Report CDMX, 2016.
Casa Madero may have been the first winery in the Americas, founded way back in 1597, and way up in Coahuila. But Mexico’s predominant “beer culture” has always given wine producers something of a long shadow to grow up in. Aguascalientes, Querétaro, Guanajuato, Zacatecas and Chihuahua all produce respectable wines, but it’s been the environs of Ensenada (the Guadalupe Valley, the Santo Tomas Valley, and the Ojos Negros Valley) that have really busted the Mexican wine scene out onto international lists of “respectability.” Some parts Coahuila (the Valley Of Parras, and Cuatro Ciénagas in particular) still hold their own – but most wine enthusiasts agree, Baja’s got the wine to beat.
Mexico exports wine around the world. According to the Mexican Wine Council, about 400 brands of wine are currently being produced in the country, and these increasingly appear on the international lists as being wines to watch (and to taste). But those lists aren’t everything. Even the most sophisticated drinkers know today that plenty is coming each year from Mexican wineries that’s worth taking note of.
Yes, you can still find plenty of good Mexican vintages mixed in with the international offerings on the shelves at Liverpool. But the wine shops below are pretty active at pushing good wines, from Mexico, onto more Mexican tables.
Vinoteca has three locations in and around the city and carries a wide range of Mexican wines, and still more around the country. They do a fair internet trade in wines too, but stopping in lets you pick the brains of their knowledgeable staff.
La Contra, also with shops all over the country, is one of the city’s leading advocates for the Mexican wine industry. With a capital location in Roma, it’s an easy and relaxed place to pick up recommendations, or indeed, to sample some of the best bottles coming in.
Address: Álvaro Obregón 130, local # 10, Colonia Roma Norte
Telephone: 5564 0966
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Á de Acento offers a very well-regarded restaurant, but the gourmet shop offers plenty that’s pure Mexican and well worth a bottle or two. In fact, prices are very reasonable, but there’s also usually something special hidden away in the shelves that inquiring customers will be very pleased to find.
Another in the list of combo restaurant and gourmet shops, Amaya has made a big splash with their list of “vinos raros.” Far from weird, many of them are fabulous. They’re also generally available in the shop, no reservation necessary and many of the best are, in fact, domestically produced!
Don’t expect friendly service. La Europea is still trying to figure out in which decade they’re doing business. But for all the wood-boxed bacalao these people sling during the holidays, they’ve always got a ton of good wine, too. With a good number of branches in and around the city, calling them one of the best wine shops in Mexico might be a stretch, but they do a lot of business, and for that, they always offer a ton of good Mexican wines too.
Si Mon is run by the chefs at Broka Bistrot, practically next door. And the emphasis is on local, good, and even inspiring wines. One of the best things about shopping at a wine bar is after all, that there is usually a bottle open. And for that, including Si Mon in a list of the best wine shops is practically a given.
Main Photo Above: Aborigen Valle Seco, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon, Courtesy of La Contra