Rio Piedras Market – A “Real” Local Experience

CLOSED! There has been a fire and the mercado is currently under renovation and is closed. We will try to get information when they will be opening again.

Fruit and Vegetables at the Rio Piedras Market

For the real Puerto Rican local market experience, head to Rio Piedras. There, you will find a large indoor Mercado de Rio Piedras (Rio Piedras Market) and blocks of outdoor sidewalk shopping where the locals go to shop! It is alive with the sights, sounds and colors of things for sale and people enjoying themselves.

Located on Paseo de Jose de Diego, the Mercado itself is a large air-conditioned building housing a multitude of vendors. Inside, you will find many people selling fresh fruit and vegetable, plus loads of other things like meat, fish, herbs and natural products, Puerto Rican souvenirs and even lottery tickets. This was one of the places featured in Andrew Zimmern’s PR Bizarre Food episode.

In the middle area of the building, there are probably more than 30 fruit/veggie vendors to chose from. This was my reason for visiting and I was not disappointed! Some places have their prices posted, some don’t. Some stuff is sold by the pound, some stuff is priced per piece (c/u). I knew what I was looking for and at, but if you don’t speak Spanish or don’t know what the fruits are, do not worry. Fruit at the Rio Piedras MarketThere is always someone whom you can ask about what each thing is, if it’s ripe or not, etc. To get prepared, take a look at our article about tropical fruit available in Puerto Rico.

Just out of chance, the vendor we decided to buy from turned out to speak English. We bought a mamey sapote (not inexpensive, but perfectly ripe and delicious), some nisperos and mangos. Yummy! At another booth, we found a piece of sugar cane, which I had always wanted to plant, so I was a happy girl!

There is a cafeteria area that serves up local fare of all varieties — from the basic fried goodies, to full meals of home made Criollo cuisine. And prices were very reasonable. There are plenty of tables and chairs available. Along the perimeter of the large market, you will find the stores — like a travel agent, music store, a barber/beauty salon, even a laundromat. You know — the day to day things for the locals who live in the area. As we walked around near the back, we heard dominoes being shuffled. There are domino tables available for the men to play while the women shop!

Jibaro mural at the Rio Piedras Market

In the middle of the market, there is a lovely mural depicting a Jíbaro (poor farmer) with this crops. It is as if this beautiful humble Jíbaro oversees all the fruit/veggie vendors. The older locals come and sit around, relax in in AC and catch up with all their friends and neighbors.

Even if you don’t want to try some of the tropical fruit and veggies available, the beauty of the colorful fruit and vegetables, the artwork and daily life scenery make such great pictures!

The Mercado is open Monday through Saturday 9am to 6pm, and Sunday mornings. It is an "off the beaten track" experience — loads of people meeting at the local market, talking, shopping, playing dominoes, lots of good food — now this is the real Puerto Rico!

Vegetables at the Rio Piedras Market

Outside of the market there are a number of blocks of local stores. Mostly lower-priced items, but you can pick up some great bargains on shoes, casual clothes and assorted stuff. Almost every store had racks of sale items outside — like a giant sidewalk sale. I have read that this area is closed to traffic, but the day we went, the street we were on was open to traffic. It wasn’t an issue, since the side walks were wide, but it would have been nicer to have the streets closed off.

There are a few small parking lots within a few blocks of the Mercado. Parking costs 75¢ to $1 per hour.

Use this map to locate places mentioned in this article. You can click on a placemark to view the GPS coordinates for that place. assumes no responsibility regarding your safety when participating in the activities described in this article. Please use common sense! If your mother or that little voice in your head tells you that you are about to do something stupid … then don't do it! Read more about Safety →

Comments & Discussion Leave a Comment »

There are 17 comments on this article. Add to the Discussion »

this is very crazy for me becaues i am goin there this summer lol so happy.

Comment by samantha17 on 19 Nov 2010

would like to know if you could ship fruits to me in north carolina

Comment by aida fajardo on 02 May 2013

Sorry, we don't ship fruit or plants.

Comment by Gwenn on 06 May 2013

Thank you for posting this review! I found it to be very helpful. I thought you might find it interesting that the photo of the mural you posted is based on a famous painting (El Pan Nuestro) by Puerto Rican artist, Ramon Frade. Enjoy!

Comment by Courtney on 11 Jul 2013

You forgot to include (unless you did on purpose) the "Botanicas" were you can buy all the stuff related to "Santeria", like the different color beads necklaces, candles, saint figurines and prints, incense, and other paraphernalia of this afro-caribbean religion.

Comment by Hernan on 07 Jan 2015

Thanks for the info. I didn't notice them at this market (I usually am just searching for different fruits!).

Comment by Gwenn on 08 Jan 2015

Love, love your page. Is very educational. Thanks for the GPS addresses....very helpful.

Comment by mariaisabel on 08 Jan 2015

Hi, great site but where is this Botanicas? Thanks M.

Comment by mary on 02 Feb 2015

I assume it is on the side of the market. If you go, you will notice on both sides different little stores. Check there. If you can't find them, there is one near the Mercado in Santurce (on the side street behind it).

Comment by Gwenn on 02 Feb 2015

Do you grow strawberries in Puerto Rico?

Comment by Doug on 26 Mar 2015

It can be done, but it is not easy. So there are no large scale strawberry farms in PR.

Comment by Gwenn on 27 Mar 2015

Good afternoon. I am looking for "ajenjo dulce", plant or seed. How can I get information of who can have this in The Plaza Del Mercado"? Thank you very much, I'm jot asking for shipping like the other person here. Thank you very much!

Comment by Blanca on 19 Apr 2015

I don't know if anyone has it, you would have to check. But if what you are looking for is Artemisia annua (an herb),, I did a google search for seeds and you can buy them online for a couple bucks.

Comment by Gwenn on 19 Apr 2015

I tried going here two week ago when visiting San Juan and the place had burnt down. It looks as though they are re-building as there was a lot of construction going on. It is closed for now though.

Comment by Leroy on 16 Jul 2015

Thanks- I just found the news article about the fire. I will check it out.

Comment by Gwenn on 22 Jul 2015

if Plaza del Mercado de rio piedras is closed, is there another place you would suggest? I am going to Puerto Rico in 2 weeks, and love to try tropical fruits thanks

Comment by cathy on 23 Jul 2015

Actual markets....not too many. But there are a few road side stands and other weekend markets around. There is the mercado in Santurce. Many of the towns have small mercado. But don't expect too many unusual fruit varieties. If you are headed westward, the one in San Sebastian will have some interesting things in August.

Comment by Gwenn on 24 Jul 2015

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