The food in the markets in Chapala and Ajijic are very typical of the food Mexicans buy. They have tacos that are made on grills right in front of you. The sauces are also made in front of you. Most of the food in the markets is fresh food. There are also some stands that sell hotdogs and hamburgers. The hotdogs that are sold on hotdog stands here usually have bacon strips wrapped around them, which is very tasty. There is a very popular sandwich here called a torta, which is usually made with ham, or pierna.
You can buy food in the markets for a fraction of the price that it would cost in the restaurants. A taco costs around 10 pesos (around 55 cents) and a sandwich costs around 20 pesos (US $1). However, you have to be very careful and build up your intestinal flora because a lot of people do tend to pick up infections. Obviously, those people who have lived here for quite a while tend to be immune to bugs but just like anything, if you get exposed to a bacteria that your body is not used to, you would probably get sick for a while. So it is important to take a look and see what the hygiene is like. Everybody has different levels of hygiene and some will even argue that without those bacteria the food will not taste as good.
People often opt to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at the open air markets or at the tianguis, which are open in Ajijic on Mondays. You will find fruits and vegetables in the tianguis that are cheaper than those from Walmart and Super Lake. It is cheaper to buy fresh produce in the Chapala open-air market than the Ajijic open-air market. It is a bit more expensive in Ajijic because they charge vendors more and in Ajijic and the clientele tend to have more money so they tend to pay more.
There is a Walmart right between Ajijic and Chapala. It looks just like any Walmart in the US. Some of the products that they have are local brands. The number of things that are not available here in comparison to those in the US is dwindling. When I was a kid and I would come down to Mexico for a vacation every 2 years, there were so many things that you couldn’t get but now, there is less and less. There are stores that specialize in importing things from the US. One of those is called Super Lake, which is located in Ajijic. There you can find US brands. For example, there are national brand Oreo cookies and there are Oreo cookies from the US. There is a difference between these two. Some people prefer buying the US brands at Super Lake.
Overall, shopping for food in the Chapala and Ajijic areas is definitely a lot cheaper compared to shopping for food in Chicago, where I am from. Tacos here cost around 10 (around 55 cents) to 20 pesos ($1), while at the taco stand in Chicago called La Pasadita it costs around $3. The quality of food here is very comparable to the quality of food in the US but you will find the difference in the price. Things that are produced or grown locally are cheaper by about 1/3 of the price in the US.
I particularly grew up on low fat milk and that has been a problem for me to get here. I have to go to Costco to buy my low fat milk. That costs twice as much as the local brand but it is still on par to what a gallon of milk would cost in the US.
(Mexican hot dog wrapped in bacon, pictured.)