Doing some shopping (and tasting!) at a local food market is one of my favourite things to do whenever I travel. I always think that the atmosphere and produce sold at these markets tells you a lot about the place you’re visiting. And when it comes to food markets, Madrid (and Spain for that matter) is heaven. Every neighbourhood in the Spanish capital has its own mercado, a local food market where residents come and do their grocery shopping.
In recent years, a number of run-down mercados in central Madrid have had a complete make-over and have seen new additions such as food courts and rooftop bars. Although I do feel that some of these renovated markets have lost a bit of their authenticity, the investments have made them more open, accessible and future-proof. And not just that, they’re now one of the nicest places to try and buy some of the best food that Spain has to offer. Here are five renovated gourmet food markets in Madrid that I believe you can’t miss!
Mercado de San Miguel
The most famous market in Madrid is the Mercado de San Miguel, just behind the Plaza Mayor. Built in 1916 it was renovated and reopened in 2009 to become one of the most popular gourmet tapas markets in town. Yes, it’s touristy and relatively pricey, but with good food and a lively vibe it’s totally worth the experience.
Mercado de San Miguel: Plaza de San Miguel (Centre)
Mercado de San Antón
On the other side of the Gran Vía avenue, in the LGBT-friendly Chueca neighbourhood, is the Mercado de San Antón. After nearly a decade of refurbishments, the market re-opened a couple of years ago and offers 4 levels of pure food joy. Despite the fact that the new building looks more like a giant indoor food court rather than a traditional market, San Antón has a selection of great tapas stalls, alongside organic food vendors. Don’t miss the roof terrace with lovely views of Chueca. They also serve brilliant cocktails here!
Mercado de San Antón: Calle de Augusto Figueroa, 24B (Chueca)
Mercado de San Ildefonso
Not far away is the Mercado de San Ildefonso, Madrid’s newest culinary addition. The original mercado here was demolished in the 70s and a new street food market opened at nearly the exact same spot in 2014. It has since become a favourite with Malasaña hipster locals and visitors alike. It’s the place to be if you’re up for Spanish and international street food with a modern twist.
Mercado de San Ildefonso: Calle de Fuencarral, 57 (Malasaña)
To experience a real mercado that’s still in use as a grocery market head to the Mercado Barceló, a bit further down the road in Malasaña. Recently refurbished (the new modern exterior and interior might feel bit sterile), this is still very much a local market with 3 levels of fish mongers, butchers, fruit and veg stalls as well as a few little bars and cafes. On one end of the market on the second floor they have created a small food court, so it’s the perfect place not only to whet your appetite but also to still it.
Mercado Barceló: Calle Barceló, 6 (Malasaña)
Mercado de Vallehermoso
Finally, in the more uptown neighbourhood of Chamberí you’ll find the off-the-beaten-track Mercado de Vallehermoso. In 2017, a local grassroots movement was allowed to transform a run-down part of the market into a gourmet food experience, reviving not just the market, but the entire neighbourhood. It’s worth checking out!
Mercado de Vallehermoso: Calle de Vallehermoso, 6 (Chamberí)