On our last day in Barcelona my husband and I visited the city’s famous La Boqueria market. We had previously been avoiding the craziness that is La Rambla, but when we finally made it to the market we were sorry we hadn’t gone sooner. Impressed and overwhelmed with all of the choice and chaos (oh the 1 euro fruit juices!), we vowed that we wouldn’t make the same mistake of waiting so long again in Madrid.
The city’s beautiful wrought iron and glass Mercado de San Miguel is one of the oldest in Madrid, dating back to 1916. Located just steps from Plaza Mayor, it fuses the concept of a traditional shopping market with that of a social meeting place, buzzing long into the night. Inside you’ll find more than 30 gourmet specialty food stalls (each an expert in their craft), meticulously organized by type of fare – meats, cheeses, produce, seafood, nuts, baked goods and ready-to-eat tapas – all surrounding bar seating in the center. With so many options, San Miguel is a great place to assemble an easy and inexpensive meal. The hardest part is deciding just what to get.
For me, it was love at first sight. We couldn’t get enough of the market and faithfully visited every day with the punctuality of a love-struck suitor, pining for our next encounter (and chance to try more delicious fare). San Miguel also served as the inhibitor of the daily 2 p.m. pre-siesta sangria habit we quickly developed (my favorite spot was The Sherry Corner at #21 on the north side). This routine is perhaps to blame for not taking as many photos as I would have liked. So if you’re visiting Madrid, my advice to you is to carve out time to go to the Mercado de San Miguel early and often.