This once traditional farmer’s market has turned into a culinary Mecca of Spanish cuisine, attracting tourists and celebrities from all over the world.
Nestled in between the Plaza Mayor and Calle Mayor is a beautiful indoor market called El Mercado de San Miguel. The market, which originally began as an open air market in 1835, has undergone numerous transformations over the past 200 years to become the elegant and posh gourmet market that it is today. This once traditional farmer’s market has turned into a culinary Mecca of Spanish cuisine, attracting tourists and celebrities from all over the world. Not that it should come as a surprise, but San Miguel is, in fact, a market where one can buy a wide array of gourmet fruits, meats, cheeses, and vegetables. But more often than not, patrons will browse the artisan shops and snack on some traditional Spanish tapas along the way. You can enjoy everything from freshly made sushi and traditional tapas to some of the more exotic Spanish delicacies like Angulas (sautéed baby eels).Contrary to what others might say, I would not consider the market a complete tourist trap. It is overflowing with tourists, but that is due to the perfect combination of being well situated in the historical (and touristic) part of the city with lots of vendors selling beautiful food and booze. It can be pricey – a couple of drinks and tapas can quickly exceed €20, but part of what you are paying for is the experience. At the very least, it’s worth stopping in to take a few photos. Head over earlier in the morning (doors open at 10:00 am) or between 4:00 to 6:00 pm for smaller crowds. For the faint of heart or those like me who prefer not being inundated with crowds, there are other similar markets scattered throughout the city. Two of my personal favorites: Mercado de San Antón and Mercado de San Ildefonso.