Others visit museums. I visit markets when on vacation.
Here in Madrid, I found that the markets are small and intimate, not the vast expanse of something like La Boqueria that’s ahead of me when I head over to Barcelona. But in this Spanish capital, I visited two markets that offered different experiences in gourmet food shopping.
At the Mercado de San Miguel, not too far from the landmark Plaza Mayor, this market was renovated a few years ago and now has a contemporary and slick look. Inside, vendors provide unusual and traditional Spanish treats. There are also many tapa vendors, fill the stomachs of hungry tourists and local businessmen on their lunch break.
There were paella, jamon, olives, and wine vendors. A woman was also selling thin potato chips that she was scooping up in a glass booth like popcorn.
The upscale market offers a nice spot to get a taste of Madrid’s flavors, but it was primarily a place to eat in rather than take home ingredients to fashion a meal.
For that, you can visit the neighborhood-friendly Mercado de la Paz, which I found in the fashionable Salamanca shopping district. The mercado was definitely a place for locals to shop, as it was much smaller but bustling on a Saturday morning with people carrying bags of chicken, vegetables, fish and fresh meat for the night’s dinner.
Everyone seemed to be talking story with the butcher or grocer, not necessarily in a rush. It was limited yet cozy, and probably meets the needs of its regular shoppers.
Here are some images of the scenes from both markets.
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