This is another one of those tips that I find it difficult to place on VT as it could easily sit in nightlife, restaurants, shopping and things to do so, as you can see, I have picked the latter. The tip refers to the Mercado de San Miguel (St. Michael's Market) which really is a most incredible place for many reasons as I hope to explain.
Let's start with the building itself which was opened in 1916 and is of cast-iron construction which has been refurbished to make it a delightful space now as I hope you can see. It was built to the design of Alfonso Díez Dubí on the site of an existing open market which had stood on the site since 1835.
At this point I should apologise yet again for the quality of the images. I was still using a defective camera which has now been replaced and I do not like firing off flash at people, especially when they are eating or socialising so the image quality is not all I would like it to be but I hope it gives you an idea.
By definition San Miguel (as the locals refer to it) is still a mercado (market) which is given over entirely to food and drink. You are certainly not going to get a new screwdriver or pair of shoes here. The food and drink are, however, of absolutely the highest quality and if you like you can browse and purchase whatever takes your fancy to take home and enjoy. The great joy of the place, though, is that there are numerous tables, chairs and stools all over the place where you can sit and enjoy the fare on offer. This is what most of the locals seem to do.
Unlike other places I have been, the tables are not specific to the premises they are adjacent to. You just find a table anywhere and eat and drink purchases from anywhere in the market. The friend who had brought me here would keep disappearing at intervals and return with another plate or bowl of something that was delicious. I did wonder how each establishment managed to get it's own crockery back but not for too long, I was too busy enjoying myself.
We visited on a Monday evening on a fairly raw late November evening and the place was not deserted by any means but not overly full although I am reliably informed that at weekends it becomes completely jam-packed. A small note of caution here. Apparently, in the way of these things, pickpockets do love tightly packed crowds and do tend to frequent this place so take care of your valuables.
As you might expect, the predminant cuisine repesented is Spanish and there are indeed some fine examples to be had but there are a few other little things to try as well. I noticed several Asian stalls including a sushi bar. I understand that the Spanish would like to go to a sushi place in the same way as we do in the UK but as a visitor to Spain it had to be Spanish all the way for me. I only had a few days and wanted to sample as much of it as I could.
Should you wish to visit, and I recommend you do, here are the logistics.
The Market is open 1000 - 2359 Monday to Thursday and 1000 - 0200 Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It is open 365 days a year. i wonder what it is like on Christmas day. There are regular entertainments for which you should check the attached website.
San Miguel really is tapas eating at a gourmet level in a very relaxed atmosphere which makes for a wonderful experience.
Mercado de San Miguel is a covered market where you can enjoy local delicacies, appetizers, food and fruit in a vibrant ambiance. The market is always crowded with locals and tourists. You can enjoy the snacks and drinks inside the market or you can take away. I really enjoyed the atmosphere here and the snacks too. The prices are not so cheap but it's worth it.
One of the best places to eat in Madrid the mercado de San Miguel is a redone train station that now has some 50 or so stalls selling everything from bread to seafood to drinks ..... but since it's in the middle of the Madrid be forewarned that prices are a bit high and it's very crowded but it's a good time, it closes very late and the crowds are rowdy but fun..... want to have a great time then this is a place to come !!!! highly recommended !!!!
Located in the heart of Madrid, just outside Plaza Mayor, the Mercado de San Miguel is a local market for fresh produce and other food items. The market takes its name from the nonextant church of San Miguel which once occupied the site. Although the tradition began in 1835, it was initially an open-air market until the cast iron structure was built over it in 1916, inspired by les Halles in Paris. The Mercado de San Miguel is the last remaining example of such markets in Madrid, but it was closed for a few years while undergoing major restoration work. I have heard that it has recently reopened keeping its tradition as a fresh produce and food market.
There are big markets in Madrid, but the Mercado de San Miguel is a bit special for its appearance. Its an Eiffel-look-alike iron construction with one floor. This floor contains little market shells and you see glass windows. Its build in the beginning of the 12 th. century and you will find fresh fruit, vetgetables and meat. Take a look at the typical tiles you also find in Madrelian pubs.