There is a big municipal market on the south side of town, and it is interesting to see how it has grown. I first visited it when it was quite new and wrote a post about it HERE. At that time where was a lot of empty space and not enough shops to even begin to fill it up. I went back again recently and found many more shops, and also quite a few restaurants in the food court. It was middle of the day and definitely not overrun with customers but there were some people shopping and others eating in the food court.
Click on any of the photos below to see a larger version.
When you walk through the doors, in front of you are many produce markets along the center aisle. They all seem quite similar and I wonder how they all stay in business. It seems like most people would check the first few markets, and the ones farther down the aisle wouldn’t get much business.
To the left are two new seafood markets, and there is another farther down on the left aisle. The fish looked fresh and the prices good. They were higher than buying directly from the fishermen in Pedregal, but lower than prices I’ve seen in the supermarkets. Last week I bought some amberjack from the guy on the left. It came in prepackaged bags, boneless fillets, frozen, for $4.70/lb and it was delicious. This week I bought tuna from the stop on the right, $3.50/lb, boneless fillets, and it was also excellent. That is their price list in the photo. (Atun = tuna). I remember what it cost in the US so we rarely bought it. It’s a real treat to have this great seafood anytime we want.
This is the fish market farther down with their price list. Fish heads, eewww!! Those are pargo, or red snapper, and you can make great soup. When I buy a whole fish I always ask for the head and bones for soup. My fish favorite soup is made with yuca and grated plantains.
On the opposite outside aisle I found this market with all sorts of lunch meats, cold cuts, and sausage / hot dogs. In Panama they have many varieties of things that look like hot dogs or sausages.
To the right of the front door across from the seafood shops is this meat market with beef and pork. That’s his price list for beef. The left side is price per pound and the right is price per kilo. I bought some pork ribs from him. They are usually sold with the slab of ribs covered with the part that is a sheet of meat with fat, not the healthiest thing around but it sure is good! Unfortunately this meat was so salty I couldn’t eat it. Now I know to ask if a meat has been salted. We soaked it in water a while though and added it to split pea soup, and it was great in that.
There was also a chicken market on the right outside aisle. The prices looked good and the chicken looked fresh. Pechuga is breast, muslo is thigh, and alas is wings.
This is the price list from one of the produce markets. I don’t see much that is $1/pound. The only $1 are a pineapple or a bunch of culantro (a popular herb). Oh, I also see name (a root vegetable) and peppers for $1/pound.
Now lets go back to the food court area…
Many of the produce vendors are people who used to be on the streets downtown. I think downtown is probably more convenient for many people and evidence for that is the multitude of vendors still on the streets, especially near the bus terminal. I can see stopping to pick up something for dinner as you go to catch your bus home. But, hopefully there will be enough business to keep the municipal market vendors in business, and I’m sure it helps to have the meat and fish shops, and the food court. It is also well air conditioned which is probably better for the produce than sitting out in the heat all day. So we’ll see how it goes.