European public markets call to mind stalls of merchants selling fresh produce, meats, seafood, herbs and the like. You walk along, mingling with the locals and selecting the ingredients you need to prepare a special meal. This is not that market.
The San Miguel Market is nothing like a typical European market! Located a stone’s throw from the plaza mayor in Spain’s capital city of Madrid, the San Miguel Market is a gastronomy extravaganza, a foodie festival. Yes, you will find produce, fresh seafood, delicious hams and meats, however you don’t go shopping for groceries at the San Miguel Market. You taste Spain at Mercado de San Miguel!
For true foodies the market is quite possibly the closest thing to heaven-on-earth. Stall upon stall-nearly 30 of them-offer tapas (small plates) perfectly portioned for you to enjoy the tastes of Spain to your heart’s content. You can sample food and wine, sherry and vermouth from all over Spain.
Tasty croquettes filled with ham, chicken prepared in distinctively delectable ways, shrimp, cheeses of all varieties, steamed razor clams, garlic prawns and oysters, succulent and fresh from the sea are yours for the tasting at the San Miguel Market. Banderillas, small skewers of olives, cucumbers, peppers and pickled onions, are a popular favorite at the market, as are caviar and paella. Chocolate and sweets abound. Don’t forget to save room for dessert!
Wines from around the country, along with Spanish vermouth, Champagne and Spain’s most popular fortified wine, Sherry, are all available at stalls around the market. You can stroll the market for hours while sipping the libation of your choice.
Stacked Boxes and A Humble Start
The gourmet food hall rose from humble beginnings. In the 1800’s San Miguel Square served as a central area where perishable goods, such as meat, fish, produce and bread were sold to homemakers and servants. This primitive market was held outdoors and stalls were actually boxes piled to display the goods.
Over the years the need for a building to house the market became apparent. Hygiene concerns, among other issues, prompted the construction of the San Miguel Market in1916. (An interesting side-note: The architect of the building which houses the San Miguel Market, Alfonso Dubé y Díaz, studied under Gustave Eiffel. As in the Eiffel Tower.)
The market, as it is today, evolved from its unassuming start to become a world renown center for epicures and the epicurious. While it is a must-see destination for tourists, it’s also very popular with locals who enjoy the delectable delights available at the San Miguel Market.