Mercado San Miguel Mercado San Miguel

Madrid's gourmet markets Featured

If you're tired of tapas or it's too hot to eat a full meal, a visit to one of Madrid's outstanding food markets is a perfect introduction to the city's gastonomic scene

It can get tiring to always have to eat in restaurants when you are exploring a city. Madrid has an answer, with its smashing line-up of gourmet food markets, each with very distinct characteristics but all of them enabling you to move from stall to stall sampling fresh market produce, sometimes even made into Michelin-star tapas.

San Miguel

San-Miguel-FRUTOS-SECOS-2San Miguel

The Mercado de San Miguel is the last remaining iron market hall in Madrid. It stands regally facing both the Plaza del Conde de Miranda and the Cava de San Miguel. Coming across the market from the outside is a pleasure in itself. Built in 1916, it has recently been given a new lick of paint and an injection of fresh energy with the aim of convening about thirty of the finest shopkeepers, professionals, experts and enthusiasts in their respective specialities.

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At this market, product is key. It is a meeting place for curious consumers, professionals and gourmands alike. Locals do go there to do their weekly veg shop but it is hard to pass through without propping oneself up at one of the absolutely throbbing bars for a bite: paella, pinchos, ur-chins, oysters, razor clams, gazpacho to go? The list is endless. And there is also a very fine take-away mojito stall to help with the summery swelter as well as plenty of wine stalls. It is in fact a good place to go for a little light-hearted lesson on Spanish wine as the market-stall holders here are all about sharing their knowledge.

Related: Going organic in Madrid

San Ildefonso

San-Ildefonso-15San Ildefonso

Mercado San Ildefonso likes to be defined as a street-food market. What’s more, it claims to have been the very first in Spain and to have been inspired on its way by modern-day London and New York versions, as much as by traditional 19th-century markets. The idea is to blend fun, leisure and socialising with high-class gastronomy in 18 gastro bars. This place is absolutely not for doing the grocery run; the stalls here are designed for on-site eating, drinking and general joviality.

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The location is buzzing and cosmopolitan. There is a definite bohemian vibe to Mercado San Ilde-fonso, and as night-time falls the place comes into its own, as many locals pass through for their first drink-plus-tapa round of the night. Many tend to gather here after work too. It’s not a stressful market though; there is space to relax and plan the rest of your evening. Don’t leave without seeing the beautiful roof terrace.

Related: Madrid's best late-night bars

Mercado Platea

Mercado-PlateaMercado Platea

If you really want to challenge your concept of the market experience, head to Mercado Platea. It is a completely unique set-up and you’re sure to have not been anywhere similar. The 6,000 square-metre space on two floors space was formerly a cinema, and its conversion into a gourmet market retained an atmosphere inspired by Hollywood’s golden era. Think glamour, spectacle and gas-tronomy. Some of the chefs here are even of Michelin status, such as the 2-Michelin starred chef at restaurant Arriba. Highly recommended on the upper level is Prét-à-porter restaurant by Ramón Freixa where the Macarrones de herencia (‘Legendary macaroni) followed by Pastel de la abuela (Grandma’s cake) for dessert go down a treat. Aside from Spanish food from all over the country, there are Mexican, Italian, Peruvian and Japanese ‘stalls.’ If you just fancy dessert, though, head to Mama Framboise.

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You should swing by Platea’s cocktail bar, El Palco, on the second floor before leaving and, should the mood take you, be aware that there is also a club where you can dance the night away, in movida madrileña style. Equally, if you stay on the ground level you might be lucky enough to time your visit with one of the spontaneous mini concerts that take place. Mercado Platea might have market in the title but, really, this is a theatre of dining experiences with a 1950s feel.

1 San Miguel
2 San Ildefonso
3 Mercado Platea