Spain has always had the tradition of neighborhood markets, where people were going to buy products for cooking. It is practically impossible for a neighborhood, in any city in Spain, not to have at least one, however small.
On the other hand, the Spaniards like to go out drinking, to have a snack or tapas and also to eat or dine. But for a long time, the two things did not go together. That until one day a group of businessmen decided to reform the decadent market of San Miguel in Madrid, but with the intention of transforming it into a modern market, of leisure, so that the people could go to eat and drink without the formality of a restaurant. Thus, with the success of San Miguel, other sites emerged, some taking advantage of the tradition of a neighborhood market already established, others creating new spaces to go out with friends in a more relaxed way. After that trend, the old neighborhood markets became, a couple of years ago, in gastronomic spaces where you can buy everything from the most basic product to take home, to the most refined delicatessen – or even eat and dine.
I recommend you to know 7 of these markets in Spain, since they are beautiful and relaxed places where you can enjoy very good food, architecture and history. Bon Appetit!
1-Market of San Miguel, Madrid:
Fully in downtown, near the Puerta del Sol and the Plaza Mayor, there is the San Miguel Market. In the past it was an outdoor fish market and had its first project with cover in 1835, made by Joaquin Henri. But its modernist style, with iron and glass, that has reached us, is a later project of the architect Alfonso Dubé, carried out between the years 1913 and 1916. Abandoned in the eighties, it was revitalized in 2009. With 33 posts, it was the pioneer in having bars, courses, fairs, shops, presentations and gastronomic events. Their drinks, tapas and snacks, attract not only Madrid people but also tourists. It is considered of cultural interest and open every day of the week. To know more about it, click here.
2-Market of San Antón, Madrid:
This modern market, opened in 2011, is located in Chueca, bohemian neighborhood of Madrid, very fashionable in recent times. It is true that it occupies a space that was formerly a modernist market, but after many reforms, what has remained of it is very little. Today, it occupies a building that has 3 floors (and a basement with a supermarket). On the first floor are gourmet products of high quality, as well as some places to eat. The second floor has many food stands and snack bars, where you can find everything: seafood, hamburgers, sweets, fish, tapas, Japanese food_ up to a corner specializing in dishes cooked with duck. There is also a space for events and exhibitions. On the third and last floor there is a beautiful terrace of 400 square meters, with beautiful views of the neighborhood. There you can have a drink or also take advantage of the restaurant to eat slowly: there is a closed section for non-smokers and another open área for smokers.
3-Market of San Idefonso, Madrid:
The concept of the San Ildefonso Market, of industrial aesthetics, is based on the Street Food Markets. This is where people can drink and eat traditional street food, but also try fusion food and from other parts of the world. With 3 floors and 2 terraces (great in summer), it is located in Calle Fuencarral, one of the most known streets of Madrid. It was built very close to the old food market, which had the same name and unfortunately ended up demolished in 1970. Its 17 stalls and bars serve croquettes, skewers, hamburgers, meats, cheeses, tapas, wines, beer. The public is usually young, especially at night, as people go there to eat and drink before getting into the clubs of Malasaña, Tribunal and Chueca.
4-Market of La Paz, Madrid:
Located in Salamanca district, the luxury district of Madrid, the market of La Paz has a more traditional, but charming style. Small in size, the atmosphere is pleasantly relaxing, even because there are few tables and chairs to chop. In fact, the market is focused on selling the best Spanish products: wines, cheeses, sausages, breads, oils, sweets, fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, seafood. There are also some service shops. Modernist in style (little seen by successive reforms), it had its original project by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, the same as the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It was inaugurated in 1882, but it has become the first market in the world that will distribute its fresh products through the Amazon site within two hours.
There are guided tours that are organized every afternoon from Monday to Friday inside the market so people can learn the history and stories of this unique market.
Platea is not necessarily a market in the strict sense of the word: several years ago it was a … cinema! Located opposite the Plaza de Colón, it occupies a space of 6000 square meters. It opened in 2014, with a great gourmet offering, which includes almost 20 places. Being there is phenomenal: you can go down the stairs and eat at one of the stalls where one day was the pit of the orchestra. On the ground level of the street (the courtyard) is the area of tapas and bars, where it is possible to snack while something is happening on stage (where the old screen of the cinema used to be). Upstairs there are 2 areas: in one of them there is a club with a cocktail bar and in the other a restaurant. It is not a mistake to say that in Plataea the fun is guaranteed, since something is always happening. The best definition for space is gastronomy with entertainment.
6-Market La Boqueria, Barcelona:
The original name of this market is Mercat de San Josep, but people know it popularly as La Boqueria. It was born in 1840, outdoors, in the heart of Las Ramblas, the most popular walk in Barcelona. But in 1914 it underwent reforms that transformed it: it was covered with a metallic structure and glass, in the modernist style of the time. It has more than 300 stalls, called there ´paradas, where you can buy products from the region, snack and, of course, eat. Its stores, located in 2,500 square meters, are charming, with many colors and nice scents coming from fresh fruits and vegetables. It is always full of tourists, mainly because of its location. In addition to supplying the premises and restaurants of the city, there are stalls serving one of the best seafood and fish in Spain. Finding a chair at mealtime on one of its balconies is almost impossible. But if you try, you will be rewarded with a feast of gods.
7-Central Market of Valencia, Valencia:
Designed in 1914 and inaugurated in 1928, the Central Market of Valencia_ or Mercat Central of Valencia, in Valencian_ has an eclectic modernist style, with two floors and is all made of iron, wood, ceramics and polychrome tiles. Its glass roof in the shape of a vault and 30 meters high is an attraction in itself. Its more than 1,200 stalls attract people not only to buy the typical products of the area but also for tapas and eating. It is located in the historical center of the city, almost opposite the Lonja de la Seda, one of the most emblematic buildings in Valencia. With an area of almost 8,200 square meters, it is the largest center of Europe dedicated to fresh produce. As it is also near the sea, its seafood and fish are sensational, as well as the famous Valencian paella that you have to try “in loco”.
To know more about the schedules, how to get there and what you can find, I leave you with the links below: