The big advantage of shopping in the capital is that you can get goods from all over the country and, if you are flying out of here, you don’t have to lug them around Mexico, though they will usually be more expensive than at the source. An odd hangover from Aztec times is the practice of devoting a whole street to one particular trade, which occurs to some extent throughout the city. There are blocks where you can buy nothing but stationery, while other areas are packed exclusively with shoe shops and still others only sell musical instruments. Every area of the city has its own market selling food and essentials, and many others set up stalls for just one day a week along a suburban street. Replica Mexican football shirts can be found in the tianguis (street markets) on San Juan Letrán between Bellas Artes and Salto del Agua, or those in the streets north and east of the Zócalo.
The city’s largest market, on the corner of Izazaga San Pablo and Eje 1 Otea, is La Merced, a collection of huge modern buildings which still can’t contain the vast number of traders who want to set up here. Almost anything you could conceive of finding in a Mexican market (and much more) is sold here, though fruit, vegetables and other foods dominate. Even if you’re not buying you could easily spend half a day browsing metre-diameter columns of nopal leaves as high as a man, stacks of dried chiles and all manner of hardware from juice presses to volcanic-stone mortars known as molcajetes. The Metro takes you right into the heart of things.