The past is still present at Mercado Xochimilco, a bustling, sprawling market that lines Mexico City's canals. Take a ride on one of the colorful trajinera boats, but don't skip a walk through the narrow aisles.
Representative fare includes acociles—tiny crayfish with lime and chili—and chileatole: a hot green drink made with masa and spiced with epazote and fresh chili. The Oaxacan cheese quesadillas at Puesto No. 200 are not to be missed.
Situated slightly south of central Mexico City, the Xochimilco neighborhood can be reached on public transportation. Take the Metro Line 2 (blue line) to Tasqueña, switch there (with a separate ticket) to the Tren Ligero (light rail), and ride to the last station on the line.
This appeared in the May 2014 issue.
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Sundays on the Canal Call for Cool Sweet Treats
There's no shortage of savory and sweet treats to tempt you when you float along the canal on a trajinera (gondola-like boat) in Xochimilco. There's fresh fruit doused in lime juice and dashed with chile powder, fresh-roasted nuts, crisp candy apples, and juicy corn on the cob.
There are also nieves, shaved ice served in a range of exotic flavors, from mamey to guanabana (soursop) and unusual tastes for shaved ice, like cheese and Nescafe. If you want to have your nieve like a local, ask for a good splash of hot sauce to top it off.
There's no better way to spend a sunny Sunday in Mexico City than by joining local families in a beloved chilango tradition: riding along the canals of Xochimilco in a trajinera (boat).
Xochimilco, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is located in the southern part of the city, and it's famed for its Technicolor boats that have floated back and forth on the canals since at least the mid-19th-century. Originally, the boats were decorated with fresh flowers and juniper branches; today, they have elaborate painted frames.
Though you can take a trajinera ride any day, Sunday is best if you want to have the true experience of Xochimilco like a local. Families flock to the canal for a boat ride. As you float back and forth, you'll pass other boats loaded with food (corn on the cob, chayote flecked with chile), drinks (beer, Micheladas), souvenirs (woven blankets, handmade toys), and mariachis. If you want any of their wares or services, the boat simply pulls up alongside the one you've rented and the transaction is made. It's a lovely, picturesque way to spend an afternoon.
Mexico City is dotted with UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but we want to tell you about Xochimilco, (Say zoccy milko) one of the last remaining remnants from when Mexico City was an island. This district of canals is a popular place for locals to hang out and party on weekends and, naturally, the way to see the canals of Xochimilco is by boat. These canals turn into an all out party mexican style, a fun relaxing afternoon with beer and mariachi far away from the 20 million souls in the city. Traveller Tip - If you are a 'tourist' you fall into the "Donation Category" - so take extra care with pricing when negotiating with your boatie. There's a few opportunist mariachis and food vendors too!