If you only have a few hours to spare and wish to experience Madrid at it’s best especially it’s culinary culture, I would recommend that you spend at least an hour at the Mercado de San Miguel ( San Miguel Market ). Located in the heart of the tourist centre of Madrid, this historical building stands out as one of the world’s main gastronomic markets
Opening it’s door in 1916, Mercado de San Miguel is one of the oldest and most alluring markets in Madrid. The building has stunning 20th-century glass walls and exquisite iron structures which is the only iron structure market left in this present day. Mercado de San Miguel is not only the most popular market in town, but it was declared Bien de Interés Cultural (Property of Cultural Interest)
Housing 33 stalls, the market offers a wide variety of raw food and cooked tapas. All of the food featured in the market is from all over Spain. Visitors can experience the essence and most significant flavors of every corner of Spain.
The market attracts over 10 million visitors a year who travel here to immerse themselves in the strong Spanish culture and traditional heritage that the market has managed to retain amidst their modern and chic exteriors.
There are a couple of seating areas with high chairs although most of the locals will just stand around the stalls and eat as they carry on their daily banter and socializing. Every single stall looks interesting and mouth watering as we pass throng of people standing and sampling food. One of the common sight you get to see is that everyone has a drink in their hand. We managed to grab ourselves a table near one of the end of the market.
One of the stalls selling various kinds of pickled olives. The selection is enough to make any olive junkie kneel down and rejoice. The olives also makes for great tapas to have with wine or sangria.
All the seafood was extremely fresh and sweet at a pretty affordable price. The oysters were plump and juicy with a strong taste of the sea.
We had to get the grill squid as we were seated right next to the fresh seafood stall and waft of freshly grilled seafood smell kept attacking us. We got a huge plate piled up like a mountain and the squid were juicy and tender with a nice roasted flavour. There was close to no seasoning except for sea salt and you can taste the freshness of the squid. The squid was perfectly grilled and not rubbery.
These fried mini fishes were like chips served in a paper cone. They were extremely crispy and savoury and is great as snacks or accompaniment to wine or beer.
Last but not least we also tried the traditional Spanish paella which was golden yellow in color from the generous amount of Saffron flowers used in the process if cooking the rice. The rice was soft and creamy which reminds me of risotto but a much drier version. The meat and vegetables in the paella was also well seasoned.
Overall, I feel that it is a must to drop by the San Miguel Market as it has so much to offer just in one single space.
Address: Plaza de San Miguel, s/n, 28005 Madrid, Spain
Operating hours: 10 am to 12 am