The Best Flea Market

By Richard Mahler

Author of "New Mexico's Best"

"Sooner or later, everybody in Santa Fe shows up at 'The Flea.'" This declaration by the late abstract Santa Fe painter, African art dealer and bon vivant Don Fabricant stands the test of time.

Sprawled across several acres owned by the Tesuque Pueblo, about 6 miles north of Santa Fe on U.S. 84/285, Tesuque Pueblo Flea Market is an eclectic institution where one can buy anything from used, plastic ice-cube trays to antique Tibetan religious artifacts, with plenty of chile ristras, fresh pinon nuts and silver-turquoise jewelry thrown in for good measure. There's a surprisingly good collection of antiquarian books, Latin American textiles, folk art, Persian carpets, precious gems and even house plants.

"The Flea" is the closest thing to a Moroccan bazaar you are likely to find in North America. And as in Morocco, the buyer is expected to bargain, haggle and beware.

"The Flea is not about making money," opined Fabricant, who supplemented his irregular artist's income by trading goods at The Flea. "It's about socializing and observing humanity in its infinite variety."

If You Go: Tesuque Pueblo Flea Market is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from (roughly) mid-March through November. No admission for customers. 505-995-8626.

Richard Mahler is author of "New Mexico's Best" and several other books. A journalist and photographer as well, he specializes in travel writing, among other subjects. He has contributed to National Public Radio since 1973 and to the Los Angeles Times since 1979. He has written thousands of articles for more than 100 magazines and newspapers, including The New Mexican, New Mexico magazine, and Santa Fean magazine. A longtime resident of New Mexico, he lives in Santa Fe.

For a full listing of Richard Mahler's books, and to place orders for them, visit

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