Food Shopping in Cuenca

The cost savings when purchasing food can be great when you know where to shop. As in cities of similar size, Cuenca is blest to have several options for shopping. These include the city markets (mercados), the chain stores, the local mom and pop shops (tiendas), and the street vendors.

There are five large mercados scattered around Cuenca. The largest of these i s the Feria Libre, an overwhelming market in size and number of products for sale. One of Cuenca’s popular tour operators gives us a tour of this market. He offers a commercial opening but continue watching to see the scope of this  popular market.


The other four mercados offer similar merchandise but on a smaller scale (see last week’s post at This is the mercado where I usually shop as it is the closest for me (a 25-minute walk).

Large local chain stores in Cuenca serve all the residents. One of the popular stores is the SuperMaxi, a large American-style grocery store popular with ex-pats. For five years, this chain has been building a MegaMaxi at a cost of 36 million dollars. It is due to open in 2023 and will be similar to a Walmart. Which brings us to another super store: Coral. This chain has six stores in Cuenca, from small to large; it is owned by Walmart. There are a few more large chain-type stores.

The local tiendas are the most numerous grocery outlets in the city. Many of these are too small to even enter. They have a counter across the doorway where you ask for what you want. The advantage of these tiendas is convenience for last minute shopping, and a place where you can purchase small quantities (such as a cup of flour). They are not to be overlooked.

The choice of shopping outlets is yours. You may choose for convenience, price, or location. Like many Ecuadorians, you may also need to shop at several of these in order to find all the products you want. Shopping in Cuenca is an adventure. Next week, I will discuss the costs and comparisons  of shopping for groceries.

Fact: Ecuadorians juice some fruits instead of eating them
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Author: Warren R. Johnson

I am a US citizen travelling in Europe. I have retired from two long-lasting careers: an ordained minister with an exclusive ministry in sacred music (organist-choirmaster), and a book dealer (2 stores and Internet selling). Another shorter career was as a data manager in medical research. Today, I am pursuing a writing career.

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