Mercado González in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023. Mercado González is a 70,000-square-foot Mexican food hall that draws influence from mercados in Mexico, such as Mercado de Coyoacan, one of the most iconic markets in Mexico City, and Mercado de Artesanias de Oaxaca. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Mercado González — a roughly 70,000-square-foot food hall and market that draws inspiration from the labyrinthine bazaars of Mexico — will officially open to the public on Friday, November 17. Visitors can expect vibrant murals, artisan tiles, Mexican grocery store closets, live music, handmade crafts and, of course, a dizzying array of food, from lengua verde to cinnamon-dusted churros.
Conceived by the Northgate Markets family empire, Mercado González is named in honor of Don Miguel González and Doña Teresa Reynoso de González, the husband-and-wife duo that founded Northgate Markets in 1980. The emporium, located on Harbor Boulevard in Costa Mesa, will feature more than 20 food stalls.
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Highlights at Mercado González include the first U.S. outpost of El Moro, a 1935 Mexican churreria that also offers seven types of hot chocolate. Then there’s the slow-cooked pork at Carnitas Don Miguel, the goat cakes at Familia Albarran, the chicken and pork tamales at La Tamaleria, and the tacos at Tacos Los Guichos.
Not-to-be-missed dishes are the Sinaloa-style sushi at El Sinaloense, which features seafood marinated or cooked with Sinaloan flavors like chili powder and lime juice, and the biriya from La Gonzalez Tortilleria.
The visuals at Mercado González provide as much appeal as the fare itself, with murals adorning the interior and exterior by Guadalajara artist Claudio Limon. Other feasts for the eyes include a “quesos artesanales” display in the cheesemonger with piles of cheese. A chicharrones stand boasts sheets of shockingly crispy dried pork skin that pair perfectly with homemade guacamole. And in the butcher shop you can see rows of sausages, chorizos and other meats.
Despite its vastness, Mercado González, designed by architecture firm Shook Kelley, offers moments of intimacy thanks to its village-like layout, where shoppers can walk through the diverse sections of the dining hall without feeling like they’re in a boundless space.
On one side, guests will find a fully stocked Mexican supermarket with baskets of dried beans, from the common pinto to rarer heirloom varieties, to an array of imported cold cuts and tasty snacks like Rancheritos and Canel caramels. On the other side, you can head to the destination-worthy Maizano and Entres Nos (both equipped with ample patio space), from Jorge Salim and Javier Hernández Pons, the restaurateurs who founded LA Cha Cha Chá and Los Angeles’ Loreto. (Maizano will open to the public on Wednesday, November 22). And the multitude of food stalls decorated in vibrant colors with a variety of flavors spread out in between.
“We are thrilled to bring Mercado González to Costa Mesa,” Northgate Market Co-President Oscar González said in a written statement. “Our store is designed to be a culinary destination where customers can enjoy the flavors of Mexico at our culinary food stands, or puestos, as we call them in Spanish.”
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The Gonzalez family’s new effort will also offer community kitchens to budding entrepreneurs. In addition to showcasing their food, the market will help guide them toward obtaining food safety certifications, learn the ins and outs of inventory costs, and support overall growth.
Opening day is Friday 17th November. Hours will run from 6am to 11pm seven days a week.
Find it: 2300 Harbor Blvd. (at Wilson Street), Costa Mesa