All the men wear yellow waders. The aisles are narrow, damp & dark, and stacked solid of sea creatures. The yells are loud and frequent… ‘Orale, orale, que va llevar?’ The smell is either inviting or offensive.
Welcome to the famed Fish Market or, “Mercado de Mariscos” in Ensenada.
I am enjoying a fish taco at one of the numerous seafood shacks adjacent to the Mercado as I hear the fish mongers approach customers in their measured and well-delivered cadence. From my vantage point, I see bands of white, dark purple and red; each color coinciding with the mounds of jumbo shrimp, baby octopus and red snapper, respectively. I also spot multicolored splashes of “mixto”, or simply “mixture”, a prepared medley of raw seafood and vegetables to be used in ceviche.
A local and outsider draw since the 1950’s, this place, also going by the name “Mercado Negro”, supplies some of the freshest seafood in this part of Baja. You can see the daily catch coming off the nearby boats and workers quickly icing it down for the various vendors here. And though this bare bones, open-air market is not huge, the variety sold here is extensive and quite sought after from area restaurateurs, to the home cook or the passing tourist. You can choose from the scored cabrilla fish, shark steaks or pack home a nice chunk of smoked marlin. The selection is quite diverse.
An added element to this whole market, is the fact that you can make a purchase here and quickly scoot on over to any of the surrounding seafood shacks and your selection will be prepared to your liking. Whether you want something fried, grilled or prepared “a la Veracruzana”, it’s up to you.
For me, just sitting here enjoying one of the best fish tacos ever, straight off the menu, and paying witness to the surrounding activity doesn’t get any better. Sure, there are some who may feel squeamish and apprehensive about literally “seeing” their meal carted from market, to kitchen, to table, but really, can it get any fresher?
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Avenida López Mateos