Barcelona’s local food markets are the backbone of the city’s residential neighborhoods. They’re not just a place to buy locally sourced oranges and recently-caught fish, they’re also a vibrant meeting point where neighbors connect and catch up. These bustling markets are exciting to enter but can be intimidating for tourists to shop. Read on to know how to visit Barcelona’s food markets like a local!
The History of the Food Markets
Barcelona’s food markets go way back to the 10th century. The first documented market is in Plaça del Ángel, now a busy shopping street. As the city expanded, permanent markets (vs. pop-up markets) spread throughout the city, each neighborhood has its own. Today, there are 39 fascinating food markets in Barcelona, selling the freshest goat meat and lobsters still moving their pincers. You can’t get fresher food anywhere else!
Why they’re worth visiting
Other than being a lively center for residents, the food displays are fascinating. And the quality of locally sourced food is unparalleled! Where else can you find vendors that sell just one type of ingredient for your home-cooked meal? For example, a polleria sells every single part of the chicken. You’ll also find stalls selling salted cod soaking in water, eggs stacked on more eggs, and of course, an array of fruit and veggies. Warning: you might cringe if you see a single sheep’s head or a whole-skinned rabbit. There’s no hiding the reality of carnivorism at the market!
Want a taste of market food that you can have on the go? Go to a charcuterie to find the best-cured meats like jamón Iberico (Iberian ham) or butifarra d’ou (egg pork sausage). Or try a sampler of cheeses! Some to taste are classic Spanish Manchego, Tupi from the Pyrenees, or Mató from Montserrat.
Which Markets to Visit
You’ve probably heard of La Boqueria Market, Barcelona’s most famous market with colorful and overflowing displays. It has no problem attracting customers! Sadly, other local food markets are struggling to survive. Why not try one of these lesser-known markets to share the shopping love?
If you’re by the Sagrada Familia, hop over to the traditional Mercat de la Sagrada Familia. Buy some Spanish olives and have a beer in the outdoor patio. The Mercat de la Llibertat in Gràcia was built in 1888 and is housed in a beautiful modernist structure. Catering towards residents only, this market doesn’t serve food on a stick! The Mercat de La Concepció in Eixample is famous for its vivid flower stalls. They even sell flowers 24/7 except for the month of August. These are just a few markets among dozens. You’re guaranteed to find high-quality food in each and every one!
Practical Tips on How to Buy Like a Local
Buying food can be a little bit intimidating. The point is to find quality goods and enjoy the market atmosphere! Here are some tips:
- If you’re going to buy food, it’s hard to tell where the line ends – because there is no line! In your brave voice, ask loudly “Qui és l’últim (kee es lool-teem)? That means, “Who’s the last person in line?” They’ll let you know!
- Most food is weighed in grams. A quarter-pound is 113 grams.
- Don’t touch the food. Let the vendor know what you want, and they will happily pick it out for you.
- If you’re buying fresh meat or seafood, don’t buy it on a Monday. The fresh food gets delivered to the markets that day and goes on sale starting Tuesday.
- Most markets are open in the mornings only, so do check the schedule beforehand.
- Want to get a real immersive market experience? Let us show you the way with our Taste of Barcelona Tour, a history and food tasting tour in the Gothic Quarter! On our tour, you’ll learn in-depth details about Barcelona’s markets and its products. We’ll also show you how to purchase like a local, directly from family-run stalls. Check out this one-of-a-kind food and history experience, the Taste of Barcelona tour!
Have you ever been to any of Barcelona’s food markets? Which ones? If you need a recommendation, let us know in the comments below!
May 26, 2019 | Words by Justine Ancheta for Eye On Food Tours