The other day we went to check out Mercado Roma – a groovy new (ish – we were never really that trendy) food concept place in Col Roma Norte in Mexico City. Enrique was delighted to see that the building is an old music venue where he used to go to watch his friend’s dad’s band play live music. The original tile floors are there, and up the stairs there are photos of the musicians who used to play but other than that, it’s been completely gutted and re done. The top floor is a delightful roof garden bar/casual dining area complete with a fussball table, draft beer and Munich beer garden style picnic tables. The middle floor is a “fine dining” restaurant. The ground and mezzanine floors is where it gets interesting.
These floors of Mercado Roma have been designed to give the visitor an authentic market experience: There are a jumble of stalls from which you can purchase food ingredients (flour, fish, cheese, tea, vegetables, bottled sauces, etc), prepared food to take away, and prepared food to consume on the premises whilst sat on little stools that are all crowded in together. It’s not a place to linger and eat in comfort, it’s a place to consume a quick bite and head off. In that way, it’s just like any other market in town. It’s a bit jostley with other diners, shoppers, and prams competing for space in the very narrow aisles. So, it’s not built for comfort, it’s built for speed. The difference between Mercado Roma and any other market is that the tacos are not just regular tacos, they are wagyu beef tacos and that sets the scene for what is on offer.
On the ground floor of Mercado Roma the stands are represented by well know chefs, restaurants, bakeries, chocolatiers, cheese makers and the like so it is all rather up market (Upmercado Roma?) and provides these businesses the valuable opportunity to engage with a new set of customers in a different location. I was delighted to see, for example, that two places local to me in Coyoacan (Ruta de la Seda and La Barraca Valenciana) are both represented there which is great news for them and for eaters who may not make it down to Coyoacan very often. Also there is Thurel & Thomas which make really nice macarons in interesting “Mexican” flavours as well as more traditional French ones. I have only ever had these when brought to me by Enrique from Monterrey where they are based. The bread side is represented by Panaderia Da Silva, down from Polanco. Their bread is perfectly fine and their pastries are delicious. There are many more things to see, do and buy and the market is packed with (well heeled) people so it’s a lively, buzzy atmosphere. Not a lot of bread though, so that was a bit disappointing.
For food, Enrique and I went to Arbanus, a Lebanese stall that looked pretty good.
We were in fact delighted…but more on that later.
The one thing I did not like was that a tiny elderly lady who was selling baskets in the street came into the market to sell her things – as she would in any market in the city. She was escorted off the premises by a security guard. That’s pretty disgusting, to be honest. It’s a public space, she has a right to be there and try to sell her goods as she would anywhere. So, boo to you Mercado Roma on this point. The upshot is that all the street vendors are simply stacked up outside the market where they block the pavement and the entrance. Just let them come in for goodness’ sake.