There’s a new way to enjoy a meal in Madrid that’s not your average sit-down dinner. Instead, stand around at a trendy food market, sipping vino after vino with friends as you peruse the different food stands, ordering whatever tapas you feel like. Food markets are hot in Madrid and they’re popping up all over town. Here’s a guide to the best ones around the city.
Food Court, Tapas, Mexican, Peruvian, Italian, Asian
Put on your shiny shoes for this market, as it’s the fanciest one on the list. Located in the posh Barrio Salamanca of Madrid, Platea is truly a stunning space. Once a theater, the market has a stage and balconies where you can look over and check out the city’s most stylish locals enjoying tapas and wine over four floors. Check out the basement for international cuisine, the ground floor for traditional Spanish cheeses and tapas, and if you’re looking to splurge, check out Arriba restaurant upstairs, where chef Ramón Freixa whips up delectable creations like octupus carpaccio or Peruvian-Spanish fusion specialties.
Twenty-somethings will love the San Ildefonzo market, located in the hip area of Malasaña. The international food stalls, kitschy tunes and outdoor beer garden will have you thinking you’re in Williamsburg and not in Spain. Don’t worry though, you can still find traditional Spanish food here, like paella and grilled octopus with paprika.
For those wanting a traditional Spanish market, here’s your spot. This unpretentious local market is the real deal. The air smells of fried delights and the floor is covered with used napkins as Spanish groups of friends and families crowd together and shout over each other, enjoying caña (a small beer) after caña and tapas of patatas bravas and sardines. Just a typical Saturday afternoon in Madrid.
No trip to Madrid is complete without a visit to the San Miguel market. Although the market is touristy thanks to its location near the central Plaza Mayor, it’s the place to be to sample some of Madrid’s most traditional food and drink offerings. Admire enormous king prawns at the seafood stand, enjoy a cone of shaved ham (yes, cured meats in a paper cone is a thing) or get some tostas, which are small tapas on bread. Visually, the market is pretty amazing from the outside too, as it’s the only market left in Madrid with its original iron structure still intact.
There is a sit down restaurant at this market, but to go to it would ruin all the fun. It’s better to shop along the ground floor for your to-go items, like fresh produce, fancy raw honey or gourmet olive oil to take home as souvenirs, followed by tapas and beers on the first floor and a nightcap on the outdoor rooftop terrace. Sunday evenings on the roof are the most lively, because there’s enough of a scene to make it a coveted spot, but it’s not super crowded. Order a gin tonic and soak in the view and the vibe.