This article discusses the flavors, smells, and aromas of Mercado Hidalgo in Tijuana!
Note to self: In unfamiliar places, follow the advice of waiters. Their words are often better targeted than those of bus drivers.
Case in point: Day trip excursion to Tijuana, Mexico.
After crossing the US – Mexico border for the first time on foot, we got lost trying to get to the ‘Centro’ (Downtown).
Informational websites describe the process of walking to Downtown Tijuana while turning down the dozens of taxi drivers, very easy. There is only one rule to observe: ‘Follow the people.’
But they forgot to mention the area around the border is desolated if you cross early in the morning or that there are several land crossings, some better positioned than others.
Ok, there were signs. However, I didn’t feel like walking on elevated interchanges without pedestrian lanes.
The only feasible (and cheap) solution was to jump on a bus going to the ‘Centro.’
“Where you guys want to be dropped?” asked the bus driver while turning his head toward us. My husband and I looked at each other. We had no idea where we were or where we wanted to go. Hmm, Downtown is kinda big (take a look at a map).
The driver asked the same question again since he was not going to make his entire route to drop the 5 people (including us) on the bus.
“What is the name of the street where all visitors go?” I asked in hopes of getting oriented.
“Avenida Revolucion,” he answered. “Drop us there,” I replied.
In a matter of minutes, we made it to our intended stop. The driver had parting advice for us. “Walk in that direction and you are going to find restaurants and stores. Keep going north to visit the girls.” He wasn’t referring to underage females but to ladies making a living by giving pleasure to visitors.
Drops of wisdom to start the day (this is a sarcastic sentence).
Logic dictates this is not something you recommend to a man accompanied by his wife.
Anyway, hours and tons of laughs later, we were walking towards the Zona Rio in search of the Mercado Hidalgo.
The waiter at the restaurant where we had breakfast suggested a visit to the fish market before moving on to the other side of town. This was the advice I was willing to follow. We never found the fish market but spotted the Mercado Hidalgo on a city map.
Markets are at the top of my list every time I visit a new place. Entrance is free of charge, they are lively and provide a cultural experience hard to surpass.
Even gritty, shady, boring cities can be elevated to a superior level if it posses quality markets. Mercado Hidalgo seems to be one of those places where the essence of Tijuana (and many other parts of Mexico) is concentrated. The excellence and variety of its offerings make it a must-visit for all those in search of fragrant aromas, delicious flavors, and vivid color. Oh, and there is a bonus, the people you meet.
This is a market not so frequented by visitors who prefer to stay in downtown (or following the recommendation of the bus driver). However, it is a hidden gem that deserves a visit.
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Enjoy the photos!
The exact address of the market is 22010 Guadalupe Victoria 9210, Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana. You can walk to the market from Downtown, the Cultural Center, or Plaza Rio. If you do not feel comfortable doing this, you can take a taxi or Uber from your location.
If you are driving, the market has its own parking lot (a small fee is charged). Or, you can park for free on the nearby streets.
I believe I have not to mention this is a shopping paradise. This especially true for food lovers. I recommend bringing enough money since you may encounter more than what you were thinking about buying.
If you have doubts about what can be passed to the United States, ask vendors. They usually have a list of what can be passed and whatnot. Every time we went to Baja, we grocery shop before crossing back home and have never had a problem.
There is a lot to eat in and around the market. Visit hungry or with some space on your stomach. Some of the most legendary taco stands in Tijuana are located close to the market. Do not miss Tacos Fitos, Tacos El Franc, and Mariscos Ruben. Mariscos El Paisa and El Negro Durazo are good too.
More of Baja
What is your favorite part of Mercado Hidalgo?