The Mazatlan Central Market (Centro Mercado) is typical of central markets throughout Mexico, Central America, and South America. These are generally two or three story buildings with shops and stalls operated by individual vendors. Just about everything is sold in these buildings, many of which date to the nineteenth century. Originally, they served as a central place to offer fresh fruits and vegetables, butcher fresh meat, and market household items. To feed the vendors and shoppers, some stalls were dedicated to cooking food. As tourism grew, they also began to offer souvenir items, and the small family-run food stalls became actual restaurants and popular dining spots. The Centro Mercado (officially the Mercado Pino Suarez) in Mazatlan is typical, and many of the families operating stalls here have been doing so for generations.
The Mazatlan Central Market was built in 1899 in the French colonial style by the Eiffel engineers—the same engineers that erected the Eiffel Tower in Paris. At the time, the French Art Nouveau style was quite popular. Much of the original structure of the Centro Mercado in Mazatlan retains its French flair. Because the structure is part of the Mexican patrimony, there are regulations in place to preserve the original architectural elements – a very fortunate thing after the January 2010 fire that destroyed a portion of the building.
The Mazatlan Central Market is located in the Centro Historico district, just north of the city’s beautiful cathedral. If you’re shopping here, you will find a labyrinth of stalls that sell fresh shrimp (the camarones that appear on restaurant plates across the city), leather sandals and belts, handbags, fresh fruits and vegetables, Day of the Dead Catrina dolls and other souvenirs, pots and pans, and just about anything else you’re looking for. This is a great place for food shopping if you staying in vacation rentals, and a great place to eat if you want the same excellent home-cooking served in fine restaurants at a fraction of the price. The restaurants are on the second floor, as are the pay bathrooms. It’s open seven days a week, from 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. except on Sundays when it closes at two in the afternoon. Catch any bus that says “Centro” and you will be dropped at or near the market.