The Mercado de San Cosme is one of the most internationally friendly of public markets. It also has a long rich well-documented history and plenty of close calls with true fame. It’s a terrific place for lunch. And as it’s smack between two very trendy neighborhoods, it’s often convenient to all kinds of prowling.
Right on the Ribera de San Cosme, it’s also part of the long and ancient Mexico-Tacuba Causeway. (Just this part of the Calzada Mexico-Tacuba is called Ribera de San Cosme.) The market is one of the true remaining anchors for the street. Famous for its grenache stalls, taquerias, torterías and juice stands, many will swear by this market above practically all others.
San Cosme as a little town dates to the earliest periods of the colonial era. As San Cosme, the town covered both sides of the street until the late 19th century. In fact, it was one of the “Tivolis.” That is, it was one of the leisure garden neighborhoods that resulted from the slow demise of the area’s fruit and produce farmers that had been here since early colonial times. This market opened originally on the other side, in Santa María la Ribera.
In 1902, it was opened as Market No. 6 – now in San Rafael. And legend has it that it opened in November. But as September 27 is the feast day of Saints Cosme and Damián, people agreed to say it had opened in September.
The Mercado de San Cosme has gone through a number of important re-modelings. The best-remembered was in 1963 when the celebrated architect José Villagrán García lent his functionalist acumen to what was by then a major community center. One of his earliest works had been a sewage plant, no longer extant, a littler further up the same Calzada Mexico-Tacuba. So he knew the neighborhood.
Today, it’s one of the most activist markets. With serious outreach to local producers, recent years have seen more health food and more organics. There’s also been a daycare center onsite for a long time.
Sadly, in late 2019 the market suffered a serious fire. Many vendors have been forced to sell their goods out front, and under tarps that stretch around the corner. At this writing, another serious repair and remodeling session is ongoing.