The restaurants and stalls around Barcelona’s markets use fresh produce, often direct from the vendors – and are some of the best places to eat in the city. Here’s TOP 10 best market restaurants in Barcelona:
You’ve not really done Barcelona until you’ve ticked off a Gaudí or two, had some average tapas, watched stag and hen parties messily collide in the early hours – and visited a locals’ market where you will fall in love with the city. There are nearly 40 food markets here; almost every barrio (neighbourhood) has one. There are also loads of non-food markets. Each has its own character, reflecting its community, so a market trip is an excellent way of exploring the city beyond the Ramblas. La Boqueria (the city’s most famous market, on the Ramblas) is not in this list because it’s sold its soul to the devil, who leads a Segway tour of the Gothic Quarter on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. If you insist, google La Quim and Bar Pinotxo.
Mercat de Santa Caterina, La Ribera, Ciutat Vella | TOP 10 best market restaurants in Barcelona
For every tourist in La Boqueria, there’s a local in Santa Caterina, a couple of minutes’ walk from the cathedral, getting on with their shopping. Santa Caterina has a seriously cool multi-coloured undulating roof from its 2005 rebuild. It’s a fine example of the city’s ambitious programme of updating its markets to make them fit for the 21st century. Space has been made for a supermarket, but the fish, meat and vegetable stalls are the real stars. Order a pincho moruno (spicy meat skewer) for a couple of euros at Bar Joan and watch it all happening on the fish stands or sit down to a much more stylish affair at Cuines Santa Caterina. The menu is long, slightly baffling, and mostly modern Catalan, via a quick detour of Asia. Expect to pay around €30-40 a head.
• Market (Avenida de Francesc Cambó 16, mercatsantacaterina.com) open Mon, Wed and Sat 7.30am-3.30pm, Tues, Thurs and Fri 7.30am-8.30pm. Cuines Santa Caterina (+34 932 689918) open Mon-Fri 1pm-4pm, Sat-Sun 1pm-4.30pm and Sun-Wed 8pm-midnight, Thurs-Sat 8pm-12.30am. Bar Joan (+34 933 106150, no website) open Mon-Sat 7.30am-3.30pm (8pm on Fri)
Mercat dels Encants, Glòries | TOP 10 best market restaurants in Barcelona
Back in the day you’d come to Encants open-air flea market to find the bike that had been stolen from you a few days before. But it moved in 2013 to a new site and cleaned up its act. That’s not to say that you won’t find a bizarre range of stuff among its hundreds of stalls. Stuffed elephant’s foot anyone? Or how about a vintage flip-flop? Not a pair, just the left flip-flop. The giant mirrored canopy reflects the sky and trees bringing the outside in – but keeps the rain out. Walkways take you three storeys to the top and to a range of places to eat. I was tempted by a pastrami on rye at Stop & Mos for €7.95 but the wind was whistling and I retreated to El Mirall dels Encants restaurant on the ground floor. The menú del día (set lunch) at €10.50 is great quality and value, featuring ingredients not often seen on a menu, such as picantón (spring chicken) and cazón (dog fish).
• Market (Carrer de Castillejos 158) open Mon, Wed, Fri and Sat 9am-8pm. Stop & Mos (+34 647 424980, on Facebook) open Mon, Wed, Fri and Sat 8am-8pm. El Mirall dels Encants (+34 930 084080, on Facebook) open Mon-Fri 7am-midnight, Sat 7am-1am, Sun 9am-7pm
Mercat de Galvany, Sant Gervasi | TOP 10 best market restaurants in Barcelona
This massive, stunning brick, iron and stained glass building from 1868 is one of the city’s best-kept food secrets; it is extraordinarily popular with the locals and little-known beyond. Sant Gervasi is one of the city’s posher areas but the market itself has no pretensions, just loads of proper stalls. It’s dominated by a roundabout of fish stalls – smaller than the famous one in the Boqueria, and without the tour groups. Café Galvany is a classic market bar: tiny, basic, busy and friendly. It serves up the usual suspects (bocadillos, tortillas etc) for a few euros but they are done really well. I had probably my best callos (beef tripe and chickpeas) ever there – stickily delicious.
• Market (Carrer de Santaló 65, mercatgalvany.es) open Mon-Thurs 7am-2pm, Fri-Sat 7am-2.30pm. Café Galvany (+34 669 188972) open Mon 6am-3pm, Tues-Sat 5am-3pm
Mercat del Ninot, Esquerra de l’Eixample (the left side of the Eixample district) | TOP 10 best market restaurants in Barcelona
The city’s markets evolve to meet residents’ changing needs as Ninot’s recent five-year overhaul demonstrates. There’s a big supermarket and lots of space and light, but the most dramatic development is the number of stalls which also double up as places to eat. Those fish and meat paradas with a menu, counter and a few stools are working their margins, which makes sense in this well-off part of town. Perelló 1898 is devoted to all things bacalao (cod, specifically salted cod), from thick pieces of belly to desalt and cook at home to takeaway meals. Pull up a stool for tapas (buñuelos de bacalao – cod fritters – were light and really tasty) costing a few euros, cod in a choice of sauces around €12, or specials such as cod cannelloni (€6.50). I loved this place. The 2015 reopening also brought a restaurant, El Ninot Cuina, to the market. It’s got an airy interior, open kitchen and a decent €14 menú del día.
• Market (Carrer de Mallorca, 133, mercatdelninot.com) open Mon-Sat 8am-9.15pm. Perelló 1898 (+34 934 543220) open Mon-Sat 8am-5pm. El Ninot Cuina(+34 932 776884) open Tues-Sat 9am-4pm, Sun-Mon 9am-4pm
Mercat de la Barceloneta, Barceloneta | TOP 10 best market restaurants in Barcelona
Barceloneta has changed massively in the 10 years I’ve known it. The wider range of eating options good; the explosion of commercially owned Airbnb lettings bad. The large, open market square is very much the heart of the barrio. It’s the place where people can escape their notoriously cramped flats, get some air and gossip. The 19th-century market was rebuilt between 2005 and 2007, which added steel, glass and a spectacular swooping roof, but left most of the original ironwork intact. The market itself feels very different to Ninot; less polished, both the stalls and the punters. But it’s my local market, and I’m not very polished, so I love it. Take a stool at El Bar de Paco, order a mediana (bottle of beer) and watch market life. Paco’s menú del día is fine but I might go elsewhere to eat, perhaps the infamously unpolished La Cova Fumada in the square for seafood for not much money.
• Market (Plaça de Font i Sagué, mercatdelabarceloneta.com) open Mon-Thurs 7am-2pm, Fri 7am-8pm, Sat 7am-3pm. El Bar de Paco (+34 932 215016, no website) open Mon-Fri 7am-4pm, Sat 7am-4.30pm. La Cova Fumada (+34 932 214061, no website) opening hours unpredictable, but generally Mon-Sat 9am-lunchtime, closed Sundays
Mercat de la Llibertat, Gràcia | TOP 10 best market restaurants in Barcelona
This is probably my favourite market in the city. It’s fairly small and in a lovely part of town. The little streets of Gràcia, so human-scaled, are packed with interesting bars, restaurants and shops. The market sits snugly in its square; just enough room around it for some big knicker stalls. It was built in 1888 and refurbished in 2009, but you wouldn’t know that from the outside – it’s all ironwork and brick, none of the modern tricks of Santa Caterina and Barceloneta. El Tast de Joan Noi is just a few stools alongside a fish stand. So far, so simple. But the chef, Paco González, used to work at Botafumeiro, one of Barcelona’s best-known seafood restaurants. The excellent menú del día is just €10 but the stand-out specials are baby scallops au gratin, cubed tuna with a soy sauce, sherry and walnut dressing and squid, clams and white beans.
• Market (Plaça de la Llibertat 27) open Mon-Fri 8am-8.30pm, Sat 8am-3pm. El Tast de Joan Noi (+34 635 706429, on Facebook) open Tues-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 10am-2.30pm
Palo Alto, Poblenou | TOP 10 best market restaurants in Barcelona
In a city of historic markets this one stands out; it’s just celebrated its second birthday. And what a popular birthday boy/girl it is, despite the €4 entrance fee and the ludicrously long queues to get in (book online to skip them). This monthly market is held (or “curated”) in a former factory complex in a trendy barrio. We are talking handcrafted, vintage, retro – and that’s just the facial hair. But don’t worry, this place isn’t only popular with hipsters; families and young couples love it too. The market’s got a lovely feel. The site is industrial, but surprisingly green. You wander between jewellery, clothing and art stands set amongst trees, with plenty of shady places to stop and watch the tribes. DJs and live performers provide the soundtrack. And then there’s the food – all the players in Barcelona’s burgeoning street truck scene are here. Burgers, pulled pork, ceviche, you get the idea. There’s a good restaurant, La Cantina Palo Alto (menú del día €12), open during the week if you want to visit the complex without the beards.
• Market (Carrer dels Pellaires 30, paloaltomarket.com) open two weekends in December, 3-4 and 17-18, 11am-9pm. La Cantina Palo Alto (+34 933 070974) open Mon-Fri 1pm-4pm
Mercat de Les Corts, Les Corts | TOP 10 best market restaurants in Barcelona
Hundreds of thousands of tourists a year make the pilgrimage to Camp Nou, home of FC Barcelona for games and stadium tours. They’re missing a trick if they don’t explore the district in which it sits, Les Corts. Its quiet, solidly middle-class streets don’t have the charm of the Gothic Quarter, but neither do they have the tourists. Similarly, the 1960s market, a 10-minute walk from Camp Nou, doesn’t have the wow factor of older sites, but it’s bustling and boasts El Bisaura, a tiny place tucked away in a corner. All of its half a dozen tables were reserved but we snuck in by eating unfashionably early at 1pm. Spectacularly sweet clams and mussels, then griddled octopus and cuttlefish. The sting was in the bill, €65 for two. The clams were a hefty €18 – worth it but only just. Learn from our schoolboy error and ask the price before ordering.
• Market (Travessera de les Corts 215, mercatdelescorts.cat) open Mon-Wed 7am-2.30pm, Thurs-Fri 7am-8pm, Sat 7am-3pm. El Bisaura (+34 933 307001, no website) open Tues-Sat 6.30am-4.30pm
Mercat de Sant Antoni, Sant Antoni | TOP 10 best market restaurants in Barcelona
This marvel of modernisme is finally emerging from the scaffolding after its much-delayed renovation. It is reopening in 2018. The food and clothing market’s temporary home is nearby and functional but charmless. My tip is to go to its Sunday sibling dedicated to books and collectibles. Its temporary home is the main road through this part of town which is closed to traffic for a few hours. Dozens of stalls appear selling everything from dusty classics and vintage postcards to pristine 1950s comics and well-thumbed 70s sex mags. Meanwhile, boys and their dads pack the street corners to swap football stickers. At one end of the market is Rekons, an Argentinian empanada place with a terrace that’s perfect for watching the market action as you wolf down its delicious pastries priced at a very moreish €2.10.
• Market (Carrer del Comte d’Urgell 1) open Sundays 8.30am-2.30pm. Rekons(Carrer del Comte d’Urgell 32, +34 934 246383) open Wed-Mon 10am-midnight
Mercat de Sants, Sants | TOP 10 best market restaurants in Barcelona
Oh to have been a brickmaker in Catalonia in the early years of the 20th century. You would have made a packet as Gaudí and co piled millions of them into their designs. Sants market was designed by Pere Falqués and opened in 1913. It’s an impressive building; the soaring facade of brick and ceramics is solid but deeply pleasing and the roof simply magnificent. A 2014 renovation thankfully kept many of the original architectural features. It’s a busy market but the busiest part is around Montero, which specialises in menjars casolans (homemade meals) to take away. A a steady trade becomes a feeding frenzy here as lunchtime approaches. There are dozens of dishes to choose from for a few euros. I had roast artichoke with ham and green beans with baby squid. There are a few tables and they’ll heat your purchases up for you so you can tuck straight in. Worth the 20-minute walk from Plaça d’Espanya.
• Market (Carrer de Sant Jordi 6, santsmercat.com) open Mon 8am-2.30pm, Tues-Fri 8am-8.30pm, Sat 8am-3pm. Montero (+34 934 912846) open same hours as market