For people who have traveled to large cities in Mexico, the Puerto Vallarta mercados (“market” in Spanish) are very small in comparison. Because Vallarta isn’t a farming region, there are very few farmers willing and able to sell their produce at any type of central mercado. Almost all local produce is sold out of the back of roaming pickup trucks here and to neighborhood fruit stands. A tianguis is a remnant of the traditional Mexican weekly mercado. The word “tianguis” derives from the Nahuatl word “tianquiztli” which means day market or harvest.
-A- The Vallarta Central Mercado
Every town needs a good tourist trap, a place to buy a wide assortment of doodads with the town name printed on them…. Well, this is the place. Prices are dependent on your bargaining skills. It is a large 2 story building filled to the brim with every imaginable type of Mexican touristiana. The real bonus with this mercado is that there is a food court upstairs with some very authentic, inexpensive restaurants, mostly serving comida corrida, the traditional Mexican lunch. Alongside but separate from this mercado is the Isle Cuale mercado with similar or identical merchandise set up on the neighboring river island.
-B- The Emiliano Zapata Mercado
Very much a neighborhood mercado with butcher shops, small produce stands and a small assortment of keymakers, household item stores and a florist. Around the backside there are several small restaurants hidden from street view that service locals with good, hearty, very inexpensive meals.
A Walk Through the Emiliano Zapata Mercado:
-C- The Diciembre 5 Mercado
This is a neighborhood mercado far from the normal tourist paths. It has a fine set of fish markets and several nice produce markets. There are the usual household item shops, also with a few small restaurants inside.
-D- The Aramara Mercado
A large traditional mercado with many fine, inexpensive food stalls and two very large fish stalls. There are also many household item and repair shops, mostly along the outside of the main mercado building plus produce and butcher shops. This mercado is somewhat unique here in Vallarta in that several of the food stalls serve oriental food. This mercado is definitely the largest real mercado in Puerto Vallarta.
-E- The Remance Sunday Tianguis
Sunday mornings there is a small (2 block long) tianguis in the Remance neighborhood. It is mostly a clothing and household/toy/music mercado with a couple of produce sellers and local food vendors.
-F- The Thursday and Saturday Libramiento Tianguis
Thursday and Saturday mornings there is a small (2-3 block long) tianguis just off of the Libramiento as you come out of the second tunel heading north. It is a large clothing and household/toy/music mercado with a couple of produce sellers and local food vendors.
-G- The Old Town Farmers Market
This is a gringo owned and run mercado consisting of quality crafts and food products produced by people who live in Vallarta. There are several produce sellers with organic vegetables and exotic plant and fruit sellers. There is a gourmet meat market and several food stands, including a very fine Thai food stand. A local coffee roaster also sells his products at this market. It is open on Saturdays during the tourist season from 10 am to 2 pm.http://www.oldtownfm.com/