Historic Market Square

Papel picados, draped in between buildings, overflow Historic Market Square in San Antonio with vividly bold colors. Papel picados are a Mexican decoration made by cutting designs into colored tissue paper.

 

SAN ANTONIO — Have you ever wanted to travel to Mexico?

Historic Market Square in San Antonio is a little taste of Mexico. The smell of street food and the sound of live Spanish music fill Market Square. Overhead, papel picados draped in between buildings, overflow Market Square with vividly bold colors. Papel picados are a Mexican decoration made by cutting designs into colored tissue paper. Market Square is where the culture of San Antonio comes alive.

People walked through Market Square elbow-to-elbow. I was there on a Saturday morning and it was packed. I felt like I was at a fiesta (party). A majority of the visitors and business owners were Spanish and English speakers. Market Square is home to more than 100 locally-owned businesses. I found my conversational Spanish skills useful. I take a lot of pride in my broken Spanish, or what my family calls “Spanglish.” I’m a first generation citizen – my father was born in Mexico. I grew up traveling back and forth to Mexico for holidays. Authentically, I found imported goods from Mexico being sold at Market Square.

The king of Spain gifted the plaza, where Market Square sits, to the original settlers in 1730. Immigration attributed to the rapidly growing city of San Antonio. San Antonio was the largest city in Texas by 1900. Immigrant women who sold homemade Spanish food in Market Square were nicknamed the “Chili Queens,” as a reference to “you are what you eat.” These women were the “taco trucks” of the mid 1800s. The Chili Queens commonly sold meat, flavored in spices, with rice and beans.

Food in any Spanish speaking home is more than just nourishment, it’s a family custom and tradition. If you want real authentic Mexican food, Market Square is a great place to go with the family, on a date, with a friend, or just to self-explore. I went with my fiancé, who had never had churros before, and he fell in love with the fried-dough pastry covered in sugar and cinnamon. Churros are a traditional street food in Spain, Portugal and Mexico. Biting into the warm, fluffy, sugary pastry was nostalgic. My dad use to buy me churros as a child every time we went into a major city in Mexico. Sharing a part of my culture with my fiancé was bittersweet.

The Historic Market Square is located in San Antonio at 514 W. Commerce. For more information, visit https://www.marketsquaresa.com/.