This blog post was originally posted on January 8, 2014 and was updated on October 11, 2017.
If you want to see Madrid’s beauty, wander its narrow streets or sprawling gardens. But if you want to know Madrid—its people, its culture, its vibrancy—head to its food markets. Here, the heart and soul of Madrid are on display.
With 3.2 million residents, most of whom are immigrants from other regions of Spain, Madrid is a diverse city. Each neighborhood has a distinct personality and nowhere is this more apparent than in the markets in Madrid. The market in the ritzy Salamanca district, for example, features shops with pricey spreads, conserved delicacies and even lace tablecloths and duvet covers. In Lavapiés, the hippie immigrant barrio, stands of organic foods and craft beers speckle the market.
If you’re looking to meet the Madrid of the locals, strolling through these markets is the best way to do it! Experience the city like a local with our top five markets in Madrid.
1. Mercado de San Miguel
Sitting next to the Plaza Mayor in the tourist center of the city, Mercado de San Miguel represents the huge role that tourism plays in Madrid. Strolling through Mercado de San Miguel you’ll hear myriad languages, see people from all around the world and feast on food from every corner of Spain—and beyond.
This market is all about eating, as the majority of its stands serve ready-to-eat tapas, pastries and snacks. By 10 pm, tourists and madrileños alike have crowded into Mercado de San Miguel. There are people at each stand, sipping vermouth and munching on everything from olives to oysters. While it may seem like a tourist trap, the Mercado de San Miguel is worth a visit.
Address: Plaza de San Miguel
With its diverse variety of foo stalls, the Mercado de San Miguel might seem overwhelming to a first time visitor. (How are you supposed to pick from among so many delicious options?) Luckily, Devour Madrid expert guide Joy is here to show off some of the must-visit stalls inside the iconic market.
2. Mercado de Maravillas
The Mercado de Maravillas, another of our favorite markets in Madrid, is in the Cuatro Caminos district. This market absolutely lives up to its name as the “Market of Marvels.” More than 200 stalls selling fresh fruits, fish, meats, cheeses, olives, and more create a maze of colors in this massive 75-year-old market.
Walking through Mercado de Maravillas is like taking a behind-the-scenes tour of Spanish gastronomy. Fresh products and raw ingredients tell the story behind the flavors of the staple cocido or the super popular paella. Both are dishes that you can find all over the city, although you’ll often need some insider help to find excellent paella in Madrid!
Here you can buy the rarest of Spanish delicacies, from live snails and crabs to cow tongues and lamb skulls. You can also find products from around the globe, like chilies from Mexico, fresh pasta from Italy or rice from South Korea.
Address: Calle Bravo Murillo, 122
3. Mercado de la Paz
Mercado de la Paz is tucked into Madrid’s Salamanca barrio, one of the wealthiest and poshest areas of the city. This market is a glamorous mix of raw food stands, tapas and wine bars and specialty food shops. The 135-year-old market is an ideal place to pop in for a lively afternoon tapa or to shop for a jar of expertly preserved Spanish anchovies, white asparagus or foie gras pâté. Despite its ritzy location, most vendors have been there for decades. This is one of the markets in Madrid where you’ll feel right at home as you shop for Spain’s best offerings.
Address: Calle de Ayala, 28
4. Mercado de Antón Martín
You know you’re getting close to Mercado de Antón Martín when the typical bars and cozy cafes of the Lavapiés neighborhood are swapped for the florescent lights of butcher shops. Racks of lamb and giant cuts of beef shoulder mark the path to the market, lining the street between the Antón Martín metro stop and market.
Inside, the two-story market is packed with organic food stalls, wine bars and Iberian ham and cheese shops. There is an area dedicated to cooking demonstrations and small art exhibits and a shop that sells only craft beers. The “indie” vibe of this market is a direct reflection of the neighborhood it is in. The area borders Madrid’s immigrant barrio and has a distinctly bohemian personality.
Address: Calle de Santa Isabel, 5
5. Mercado de San Antón
Steps from Plaza de Chueca in Madrid’s colorful Chueca neighborhood sits the Mercado de San Antón. The market itself is on the second floor of a five-story food heaven. You can stop in for tapas from each region of Spain, shop for organic olive oil or gourmet hamburger meat or enjoy a cerveza overlooking the city on one of many amazing rooftop terraces in Madrid. Mercado de San Antón is the Whole Foods of Madrid food markets, with its sleek modern design and array of fresh fruits, vegetables and prepared meals. This is one of the markets in Madrid that is well worth a visit.
Address: Calle de Augusto Figueroa, 24
Do you want to learn more about the markets that make Madrid tick? Join our Huertas Neighborhood Food & Market Tour, where we visit a traditional Madrid market where the locals do their grocery shopping! Come with us to try the best bites and get to know the vendors behind them. We hope to see you in Madrid soon!
As the daughter of a barbecue master and a pseudo-vegetarian, Amy’s culinary obsessions run deep. She spent time in Galicia before settling down in Madrid, where you’ll usually find her browsing the bottles of a local bodega or ogling the produce at the weekend farmer’s market.