Mercado de San Miguel
When you are visiting foreign lands, visiting the markets there would not only give you a glimpse of what the region eats and shops for, but even give you the chance to see from close quarters the people of the region and discover local food that perhaps you didn’t even know existed. And who knows, you may even get some good bargains, in case you are in the mood to buy some groceries and don the chef’s hat. If you are in Madrid, don’t miss a visit to Mercado de San Miguel.
History of the market
Being one of Madrid’s most beautiful and oldest markets, Mercado de San Miguel enclosed within the glass walls dating back to early 20th-century is an inviting place for sure. It draws its name from a 13th Century church, which was located here. A fire at the Plaza Mayor located nearby damaged this church significantly in 1790. Though efforts were made for the church’s restoration, Joseph Bonaparte – brother of Napoleon I, ordered it to be demolished after the building was deemed unsafe by Juan de Villanueva – the royal architect.
A fish market was operational in the open area created due to the market’s demotion. Though plans were drawn to build a covered market in 1835, it was much later in 1913 when the construction started. In May 1916, the newly built market with wooden roof, iron frame and granite floors was opened.
This iron market hall faced tough competition from supermarkets and was grappling with dwindling visitors when it was acquired in 2003 by a bunch of people (who came together to create the El Gastrónomo de San Miguel) with an aim to restore the market and make it fit for the 21st Century.
The market got a new lease of life in 2009 when it reopened with 33 vendors selling fish, fresh produce, meat, pasta, and even cookbooks in a pleasant atmosphere. It also played host to several bars, cafés and mini-restaurants.
The market schedule
Today, this market remains open from Monday to Sunday though the timings differ. You can find the market alive between 10:00 a.m and 12:00 a.m on Monday to Wednesday and Sunday. In case you are planning your visit here from Thursday to Saturday, you should drop by from 10:00 a.m to 2:00 a.m. Since the market has a special Christmas schedule, make sure to check it at http://www.mercadodesanmiguel.es/en/opening-hours/ if you are coming here during the Christmas holidays.
Guide to market
With 33 stalls that sell everything from wine, cocktails, coffee, beer and gastronomic specialties to fish, meat, cheese and dairy, cosmetics etc, this market gives you a peek into the colorful tapestry of Spanish gastronomy and culture. At the counter-bars here, you can place order for tapas, or even get to eat something more substantial like different varieties of paellas and rice along with coffee, beer, champagne and wine at the cafés and mini-restaurants. From time to time, this market plays host to fairs, culinary courses and workshops, launches etc, acting as a center for Spanish culinary culture. With its long opening hours, you can visit it during day or at night to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere from close quarters and even get some specialty fares at bargain prices.
Here is a brief overview of the stalls and what you can expect to get:
• Beer and Wines: Sip on a caña (small beer) at the Beer House, order a bottle of San Miguel Fresca at Heineken Cart, or grab a glass of rioja from the wine kiosks of El 19 de San Miguel (which also organizes wine tastings every 3 months) or Pinkleton & Wine. If you prefer cocktails, you can even visit the Cocktail Cart.
• Gastronomic specialties: From tasting sherries coupled with tapas at the Sherry Corner and enjoying some of the most original and innovative edible flowers at the Flower Experience to taking your taste buds on a journey of savoring gourmet products and creative cuisine created with elvers at Alevín Creative Cuisine, you would have no dearth of choices. While sushi lovers can head to the Sushimarket, Paella Y Olé beckons paella connoisseurs. For crab lovers, there’s Crab Crab, while those who enjoy fried foods can have their fill at Croquetas Cart and El Señor Martín Fish Cart (that sells fried fish and seafood). Caviar Cart, Daniel Sorlut Oyester Bar (serving unique flavors and a wide range of oysters), Lhardy (serving international and high Spanish cuisine), Mozheart (serving fresh ricotta, burrata, and the fior di latte mozzarella) and La Hora Del Vermut (serving pickled products) are other places worth visiting to savor a variety of mouthwatering delicacies.
• Other food and beverage options: Coffee lovers can visit Café del Art to enjoy the finest coffee drinks and espressos. Those looking for natural fruit juices should head straight to La Flor de San Miguel, while pizza lovers can have a taste of authentic pizza at Pizzeria Tonda. Pasta lovers can take a peek into Uvepan that makes fresh pasta for individuals and restaurants apart from offering some exclusive products like pork belly, truffles, oils, capers, parmesan and spices that have helped their pasta emerge as a high quality product.
• Cheese and Dairy: You will get to taste delicious chocolates, artesian turrones, home-made ice creams and artesian caramels in various flavors at Horno San Onofre bakery. For yummy frozen yoghurts with different toppings (jam, muesli, fruits, chocolates etc), you have to set a date with La Yogurería. For high quality national and international cheeses, you should go to Mya Valdalos.
• Raw produce: For exclusive, high-quality meats and meat products, Raza Nostra is the place to be. Fish lovers should ensure to visit the fish market – El Señor Martín. La Casa Del Bacalao is another stop for fish connoisseurs as it sells the finest Danish pickled herring, Norwegian smoked salmon, Galician preserves and Santoña anchovies. They also make their own cod and combine all their products into tapas, which they offer as takeaway and sampling for customers at a reasonable price.
At this market, you will find the highest quality cosmetic products (for hair care, skin care and body care along with cosmetics and perfumes) from the Dead Sea at the stall of Premier Dead Sea. If you are looking for original souvenirs or recipe books, don’t forget visiting the market’s book and gift shop – Gastromanías. Apart from souvenirs and recipe books, you will find bags crafted out of wine corks and a wide range of accessories here. Being the solitary flamenco tablao in Madrid, Cardamomo Flamenco Venue in this market also deserves a place in your tour itinerary.
With so much to see, do, eat and drink, not to forget shop for, you surely need to plan your tour of San Miguel market located in the heart of Madrid to avoid missing out on any of its interesting stalls or features.