The Madrid Food Market Manual

There are few better ways to experience the best of Spanish food culture than by exploring Madrid’s many food markets.

Start by taking a stroll through Mercado de San Miguel. First opened in 1916, then refurbished and reopened in 2009, this historic property sells lots of fresh produce, meats and seafood. You can find things that have been available for many years, although these days there’s a renewed focus on upmarket products. Make sure you grab a quick bite from one of the market’s tapas bars, which make use of the ingredients that you’ll find around the stalls.

Next, head to Mercado de la Paz, which is Madrid’s oldest market. It has been open for business since 1879, and serves as a hub for the Salamanca barrio. Many vendors have changed their focus to gourmet products as the neighbourhood has become more affluent. Some though have retained their humble roots, and still trade in staples like fish, cheese and charcuterie. You can enjoy market-fresh meals at Casa Dani, where the white bean stew and Spanish omelettes come highly recommended.

If you want to walk into a maze of food that’ll take you hours to find your way through, then dive straight into the alleyways of Mercado de Maravillas. Known for being the largest municipal market in Europe, locals say that if you can’t find a specific type of food within its walls, then it doesn’t exist. Although this may not strictly be true, it gives you an idea of the range on offer. You can shop for everything from lamb from the region of Burgos, to bottles of Inca Kola imported from Peru.

If you work up an appetite while roaming Maravillas, stop in for some callos a la madrileña (Madrid-style tripe with chillies) at El Kiosko. There’s no better place in Madrid to sample the city’s signature dish.