Must-Visit Food Markets in Madrid
When it comes to markets around the world, there is no doubt Europe shines. From the Mercat de La Boqueria in Barcelona to Borough Market in London, there is no shortage of culinary hotspots drawing tourists and locals alike. In Madrid, almost everyone knows of Mercado de San Miguel, but may not be familiar with Chueca’s Mercado San Antón. After undergoing five years of renovations, Mercado San Antón opened its doors once again in May 2011. Today, we are pitting the two against one another.
Ambiance: Built in 1916, Mercado de San Miguel boasts undeniable charm. Of course, it has changed over the years but managed to keep its authenticity along the way. Standing in the midst of the market, there is something comforting about watching sherry come from the barrel and workers shuck fresh oysters. Unfortunately, sometimes the crowds can get in the way and have you feeling anxious to leave. On the other hand, Mercado San Antón opted for modernity over more traditional outfitting when it received updates. It is divided into three stories- market buys and a bodega on the first, tasty prepared foods and a bar on the second, and a breezy terrace and full-service restaurant, La Cocina de San Antón, on the top. Here, there is plenty of seating so you will not have to worry about fighting for a spot. Winner: Mercado San Antón
One of the best things about these markets is getting the chance to try a little bit of everything. Thankfully, both boast enough vendors to satisfy hunger pangs. If looking for something a bit different, Mercado San Antón has more variety with Mercado San Antón Italian pizzas and pastas, Greek dishes, and a plethora of raciones prepared back in a kitchen. Additionally, if you are looking to get some grocery shopping done, it sells fresh meats, fish, cheese, hamburgers, produce and more that is easier to bring home than it would be from Mercado de San Miguel. Both hover around the same price point but quality reigns supreme at San Miguel. From hot paella and Fine de Claire oysters to Andalusian olives and fresh croquettes, this market serves the the finest offerings from all across Spain. Winner: Mercado de San Miguel
Service: If you are unsure what you are doing, Mercado San Antón might be a little intimidating as it is more difficult to navigate and staff not too helpful. Being stationed so close to the center, Mercado de San Miguel unavoidably has been labeled a tourist hotspot. With so many people bustling in and out, workers there have mastered how to handle large crowds at any given time. However, they seem to do so with a smile on their face and remarkable efficiency. Winner: Mercado de San Miguel
Vibe: While being near Sol and in the midst of the city makes one feel “a part of it all,” if too crowded, Mercado de San Miguel may not be suitable for hanging out. The three floors of Mercado San Antón allow for plenty of people to enjoy the space without feeling cramped. They have a bar that outlines the entire second floor with plenty of high stools so you have a better chance of finding a seat. On warm days, the terrace is a great option with comfy couches and a bar to grab drinks and relax. Not to mention, there is wi-fi if you want to hunker down and work. Winner: Mercado San Antón
Overall Experience: There is no doubt we are lucky to have two great markets so close to the city center. Both are worth a visit, especially if you have never seen Mercado San Antón. However, at the end of the day, it is Mercado de San Miguel that truly embodies the city’s spirit and fits almost any occasion be it lunch, snack, drinks with friends, or dinner. This market is such a gem of Madrid that when Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles of England visited the city,the spent part of that afternoon there accompanied by the President of Madrid Municipality,Esperanza Aguirre.It is for this reasons, and all the other evaluations in this article that we pronounce the overall Winner: Mercado de San Miguel