“Crisis? In Mercado de San Miguel, the crisis is far, far away”. I smiled. I knew exactly what she meant. I stood there, at the seafood tapas bar with my new friends, two Madrileñas. We clutched glasses of vino in our hands and we’d emptied two plates of spicy mussels. I looked around and she was absolutely right. The market was bustling with couples, families, groups of friends, business people and tourists. They stood at the tapas bars or at the larger tables, crowded around glasses of wine or cocktails and plates of delicious tapas. Everyone was having a fabulous time chatting and laughing. Spain’s dire economic and financial problems seemed like worlds away. As for me, I started sporting a big smile on my face the minute I walked in. This place, in the heart of Madrid, is one big, happy Mercado!
Exploring Mercado de San Miguel
Mercado de San Miguel, located a stone’s throw from the Plaza Mayor in Madrid, is not a market in the strict sense of the word. It is, in fact, more like a big deli with numerous tapas and dessert bars, and wine sellers. A large collection of tapas bars and stalls sell all sorts of meats, cheeses, seafood, cakes, desserts, wines, coffees and teas.
It can be quite overwhelming when you enter the Mercado as it quite literally sends your senses into overdrive. I got myself a glass of wine and sat on one of the bar stools and watched the many happy faces around me. After a few minutes, I went on a stroll, glass of wine in hand, to check out the many stalls. I started with a small cone of Jamón Iberico (Iberico ham). After that first bite of the flavourful ham, I knew it – I was going to have a terrific afternoon! I met my new friends at the seafood bar and we spent the rest of the afternoon going from one bar to the other, tasting spicy mussels, tender pulpo (octopus), bite-sized hot-dogs, more ham and little desserts. Everything tasted absolutely divine.
It was an unforgettable afternoon. I went back two more times, and each time, I met another local and was introduced to yet another type of ham, specially-prepared seafood or a different wine. There are many things to do and see in Madrid but the Mercado de San Miguel is a must-visit – at least in my book! It’s a fantastic foodie experience and a great place to mingle with the locals. I’m quite sure you’ll leave feeling pretty happy, like I did!