Shopping in Morelia: Mercado Nicolás Bravo

Maercado Nicolas Bravo, Morelia, Mexico

So far one of the best things about living in Morelia’s historic centre is being able to do all my daily grocery shopping on foot. I haven’t been able to do that in more than a year, since we were in Europe, and I’ve really missed it.

Mercado Nicolás Bravo

Two big mercados are located within an 8-block radius of our apartment, but the one I’ve been going to is Mercado Nicolás Bravo (aka Mercado del Santo Niño, after a nearby church of the same name). Nicolás Bravo is much bigger than the little mercado in Chapala, though it’s still a user-friendly size. (I get overwhelemed by massive markets.) It’s large, clean, and bright with three floors.

The basement is a maze of produce and dry-goods vendors, some quite large with three or four employees and others more modest, with just a single vendor and a few types of vegetables. The main floor has a little of everything…meats, poultry, cheese, rice and beans, small general stores, produce, and a wonderful juice place that’s been run by the same family since the market opened. The third floor has mainly small, family-run restaurants known as comidas económicas.

Mercado Nicolás Bravo, Morelia, Mexico

For a big shop, I bring an empty backpack and a couple of largeish shopping bags. Usually I can fill up for about 150 to 200 pesos ($11 to $15 US), less if I’m not buying meat. All that will last us for three or four days.

The market opens and closes early. I always get a fresh jugo verde (green juice) when I arrive, but if I’m not there by 1 pm or so, the juice place will be closed for the day, a total bummer. Some vendors are open as late as 3:30, but the best part of the day at Nicolás Bravo is definitely before noon.

I’ve been to this market a dozen or so times now and, after some trial-and-error, have settled on my favorite vendors. In Mexico you have to be vigilant about the “gringo discount,” i.e. over-charging, anytime you’re dealing with independent vendors. Some vendors are honest, but others aren’t, and travelers are easy targets the world over, so it’s important to pay close attention to weights and prices. Heck, last week a friend told me she busted a vendor at the West End farmer’s market in Vancouver BC under-weighing stuff, so there you go.

Anyway, this was my chicken lady, until I did some price comparisons at the local grocery store and discovered her prices for boneless, skinless breasts (for me, anyway) are about about 30% higher. Hmmm. Her chicken seems fresh and I like her personally, but still, vendor pricing shouldn’t be higher than a big grocery. Maybe I’ll arrange for a Mexican secret shopper to make some test purchases for me.

Maercado Nicolas Bravo, Morelia, Mexico

This is my fish guy who sells me talapia for ceviche.

Maercado Nicolas Bravo, Morelia, Mexico

The lady in the blue smock is my vegetable lady. She is a delight. She lets me know what each item will cost ahead of time, keeps her digital scale where customers can read it, and then gives me a written receipt. I always go here first, and only patronize other produce vendors if I need avocados or mangoes or something else she doesn’t stock. Her produce is always super fresh. And she even tries to converse with me in Spanish, which requires the patience of a saint.

Good thing John Paul II is there to help her out.

Mercado Nicolas Bravo, Morelia, Mexico

The market opens and closes early. I always get a fresh jugo verde (green juice) when I arrive, but if I'm not there by 1pm or so, the juice place will be closed for the day, a major bummer. Some vendors are open as late as 3:30, but at Nicolás Bravo the best part of the day is definitely before noon.  I've been there a dozen or so times now and, after some trial-and-error, have settled on my favorite vendors. In Mexico, as well as other market countries, you have to be vigilant about the "gringo discount," i.e. over-charging, and this market is no exception. Some people are honest, others aren't, and you must always pay close attention. Even then,

More information

Address: Calle Nicolás Bravo (just south of Calle La Corregidora), Centro Histórico, 58000 Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico

Phone:+52 443 317 0510

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cathryn Haynes January 31, 2014 at 10:15 am

Keep these coming! Thanks!

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2 Clélie January 31, 2014 at 10:28 am

What fruit or veg have you discovered in Mexico that is new to you and you would recommend?

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3 Renee January 31, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Chile Manzanos apparently! (See next comment.)

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4 Arthur January 31, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Buy some Chile Manzanos also known as chile peron. It looks like a big habanero but its meatier and less spicy. Use it where you would use fresh jalapeños. It´s the preferred chile in many parts of Michoacan. I can see them in your picture between the tomatoes and the girls arm.

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5 Renee January 31, 2014 at 7:46 pm

Thanks Arthur! Will do. 🙂

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6 Patti January 31, 2014 at 11:56 pm

I love shopping like that! Well, except for the chicken heads and feet. I have to shop HUGE for our inn every week when we are in high season, so shopping is a major chore for me. I’d much rather shop in an open market, daily, just for us. And to get fresh juice as a bonus!
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7 Living Outside of the Box February 5, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Be careful with those Chili Manzanos…I’ve tried those at a restaurant before, assuming they were red/orange peppers. HOLY HOTNESS!!!!!! (and I have a pretty high tolerance for HOT!)
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