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.

The Mercado de San Miguel has modern arches that are high and open

At the San Miguel market, some tapas including unusually shaped individual servings of potato gratin (top) and shrimp with fried potato strings around it (bottom)

Fresh fruits and the ubiquitous jamon (Spanish ham)

One vendor at the San Miguel market sold frozen yogurt treats decorated in a colorful way

Not sure what these are but they look decadent

Fresh seafood including a very large octopus (spotted at San Miguel) and local crab (bottom) spotted at the Mercado de la Paz

Busy grocery stalls at Mercado de la Paz; looks like oranges are in season because they're everywhere

The Mercado de la Paz is squeezed into a ritzy shopping district in Madrid known as Salamanca but it's really a homey neighborhood market

The Mercado de San Miguel has a lot of eating stations for people looking for some tapas and beer

4 Responses to Two Mercados. One City.

  1. foodhoe says:

    Yum, shrimp wrapped in potato strings and fried sounds fantastic! Everything looks delicious. Are you blogging on the road, or are you back already?

  2. Keith Salas says:

    We have been to Madrid maybe 5 times in the last 6 years and will be going again later this year. We love Mercado San Miguel but are always looking for new discoveries. Thanks for the tip on Mercado de la Paz. Next time you are in Madrid there is another Market worth a look: Mercado San Anton in Chueca.

    In fact one of our favorite eating experiences was eating a wide array of croquetas with a few Spanish wines at the gastrobar La Alacena de Víctor Montes.

    • Ben Ben says:

      I actually stumbled upon Mercado San Anton when I was shopping with my niece and sister in Chueca neighborhood. Didn’t get to try any of the food since we were full from lunch. It’s definitely smaller than San Miguel’s market, but prettier than de la Paz. I did notice San Anton had a nice restaurant with a terrace that I really wished we went back to for sunset.