Top five Spanish markets for foodies
Spain is a country with lots of flavour. One of the best ways to enjoy so is by exploring its food markets around their cities: traditional places where visitors can find fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and fishes or even enjoy prepared food such as tapas or sandwiches with a glass of wine.
Some of the most famous markets include the Boquería in Barcelona, San Miguel in Madrid or the Mercat Central in Valencia.
We would like to approach five Spanish markets in which tradition rules: markets where neighbours do their daily shopping, places where tradition remains and where local gastronomic secrets may be discovered. So ¡vamos!
#1 MERCAT CENTRAL IN VALENCIA
Valencia’s main market is one of the most beautiful and recognizable buildings in the city, and is worth visiting just to marvel at the architecture, which sits in the middle of the city’s Ciutat Vella, or old town. Its iron, glass, and ceramic domes are a good example of early 20th century Valencian architecture. It was opened in 1928, and today has around 1,200 stalls, making it one of Europe’s largest markets. It specializes in fresh food, from meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables, to more local offerings, like olives and cheeses.
Today you can find a lot of stalls with more international offer, so it’s the perfect place to find anything you need to cook.
Also, if you have never feel the experience of enjoying a bocadillo or tapas surrounded by the harmonious bustle of a market, you should try it in Chef Ricard Camarena’s Central Bar. The bar is located in the heart of the Mercat Central. So let yourself be enveloped by its smells, sounds, colours and flavours.
#2 MERCADO DE SAN MIGUEL IN MADRID
Probably Madrid’s most famous market, Mercado de San Miguel is located right in the city centre, just off the Plaza Mayor. Built in 1916, the wrought iron and glass structure was renovated and reopened as a gourmet food market in 2009. This is the place to come for freshly prepared food; try Spanish classics like jamón Ibérico (cured Iberian ham), plump, juicy olives, and vermouth—Madrileños favourite aperitif.
In addition, in certain occasions small concerts or events are held inside, so you can disguise the best of Spanish cuisine in a unique atmosphere!
As a curiosity, there is only one stall remains of what was in the previous stage of the market, specifically, a greengrocer.
#3 MERCADO DE LA BOQUERIA IN BARCELONA
The San José Market, better known as “La Boquería” is the most famous market in Barcelona. It has become a top tourist attraction over the years because of its central location on Las Ramblas, so prepare to jostle with selfie-takers and tour groups as you browse the stalls. It is worth a visit, however, for its bustling atmosphere and tempting food stalls, offering a wide array of freshly prepared dishes.
The colourful market is a labyrinth of more than 2,500 square meters along which are located more than 300 stalls offering all kinds of products. Eggs, meat, sausage, sweets, fruit juices … It is difficult to imagine any product that can not be found in La Boqueria.
Some of the stalls offer delicious menus prepared with the freshest products.
The exciting mix of colours and flavours and its lively atmosphere, make it an indispensable place for locals and tourists.
#4 MERCADO DE LA RIBERA IN BILBAO
At 100,000 square feet (10,000m2), Bilbao’s Mercado de la Ribera is the largest indoor market in Europe. Its 1930s Art Deco flourishes make it a beautiful place to explore. Pick up some of the freshest Basque meats, fish, and cheeses, or try some of the market’s produce in La Ribera Bilbao restaurant, which also plays host to live jazz on an evening.
You have plenty of options: the market has three floors and there you can find the best and freshest products of the sea and lands within the Basque Country: meats, fishes, fruits, fresh vegetables, mushrooms, cheeses, wines, flowers, pies, seeds, tinned or pickled food etc. Some of the chefs of one of the best cuisines all over the world -the Basque cuisine- do most of their shopping here.
#5 MERCADO DE ABASTOS IN SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA
The second most visited attraction in Santiago de Compostela after the cathedral, Mercado de Abastos is a great place to explore the city’s incredible seafood. From scallops and prawns, to lobsters and the local specialty of goose barnacles, there is a wide array of fish and seafood on offer. The market bar will cook up your purchases so you can enjoy the freshest food in the bustling atmosphere.
The market is run as a cooperative and some market gardeners still go there to sell the harvest they collect daily from their gardens; so fresh products are more than guaranteed. This traditional market has been updated thanks to the use of online shopping services, vacuum packing to keep your goods fresh till you get home and you can even hire your own personal shopper to get advice.