I have been to a couple of markets around the world, but not that many. My favorites are Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver and La Boqueria in Barcelona. So when visiting Madrid for the first time back in September I had Mercado San Miguel as one of the MUSTs. Had read about it and seen it been shown on TV travel programs. All excellent reviews.
I know from our public markets here in Sweden … it’s not cheap … premium prices for premium quality, at least it’s supposed to be.
Originally built in 1916, it was purchased by private investors in 2003 who renovated the iron structure and reopened it in 2009.
San Miguel Market is the most popular market in Madrid among tourists since it is located in the centre of Madrid, within walking distance from Plaza Mayor. The market is not a traditional grocery market but a gourmet tapas market, with over 30 different vendors selling a wide variety of freshly prepared tapas, hams, olives, baked goods, seafood and other foods. Beer, wine and champagne are also available. Extremely popular with the locals too.
It was only about 10 min walk from our hotel … but we manage to get there during lunch hour and it was only one word for it: OHh, My God!!!!! It was so packed it was impossible to move inside and also outside. We tried to make our way around and have a good look at all the stands and what they are offering, but it was nearly impossible. Even the thought of sitting down for something to eat or drink was impossible.
Stunning building both exterior and interior.
We decided to buy a fruit that really looked inviting to put the teeth into .. looked like a hybrid between nectarine and melon. I bought ONE!!!! and it cost me nearly a leg. Didn’t think about price when I bought it. We had a quick and very slow walk around .. and then decided to have lunch at one of the restaurants at Plaza Mayor.
Even there I went into a trap … I should have remembered from Barcelona that Tuna Salad isn’t their strongest point. The same poor quality as we had in Barcelona for about 10 years ago. One thing is for sure; never a Tuna Salad in Spain again. But it was nice to sit under the big sun protecting umbrellas that also gave away a nice light cool mist, something all umbrellas had … loved it. We decided to get some fruit to take back to our hotel room.
It was then I started to think about what we really paid for the delicious piece of fruit … I think it’s yellow nectarines or something. So we decided to go back to the market and when checked the prices. 1 kilo of nectarines cost 6.90Euros. 2 times more than what I pay for the same nectarines on Landskrona farmer market, 1.50 per kilo. The price of the fruit we bought was 8.90. Said to Anna-Liisa, no way I buy fruit in Spain for more money than I do at home. So we left empty handed.
Half way to our hotel I saw a mini-supermarket and we need mineral water … so we went in and there they had both the nectarines and peaches, but for 1.99 and 2.99. Exactly the same sizes and brand.
I was thinking about the Japanese couple that bought fruit for over 100Euros … at the market, but on the other hand is fruit not cheap in Japan. Especially the cherries.
So sad that tourists are going to be ripped off … there were no locals buying from the fruit and veg store … only tourists. I understand that overheads for having a store at a popular market are high, but to triple the prices.
The food and the drinks were acceptable priced, but the stores with fresh products were high. Still, I thought the fish monger’s prices were okay. Fish and seafood are expensive everywhere those days.
Mercado San Miguel is a must when visit Madrid, it’s such buzz and the products are beautiful but beware of the prices. I will go back next time I visit Madrid and have my breakfast, I’m sure it will not come cheap. Never during lunch hours again.
The market is open from 10-24 (Mond-Wed) and 10-02 (Thu-Sat) – closed Sunday. So there is plenty time to enjoy it without being squeezed like a sardine.
“It is never very crowded at the front.”