If you are a lover of food, you must visit Mercat de la Boqueria, Barcelona’s most famous food market. Keep in mind that you won’t be alone, thousands of shoppers as well as tourists visit every day so plan a visit early in the day if you can.
My husband and I are traveling foodies and if you have been one of my readers for a while, you know that we appreciate good food whether we dine at a Michelin starred European restaurant or eat at a small clam shack along the coast of New England. When visiting a new city, one of the things we like to do is walk through local markets to learn about the culinary traditions that we might encounter during our stay.
When planning for our visit to Barcelona last year, we both knew that we had to visit the Mercat de la Boqueria. It is the city’s most famous food market where some of the top restaurants in Barcelona shop for their fresh ingredients for each day’s special offerings.
During my research on Barcelona, I read that the market gets thousands of shoppers and tourists visiting the market each day. From our visit there, I would suggest planning to go to la Boqueria between 10 A.M. and noon, 9 A.M. if you want to have breakfast there.
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Wander up and down all the food aisles and marvel at the huge selection of carefully stacked fresh produce, tropical fruits, all kinds of seafood, meats including Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, thought to be the finest ham in the world, fresh baked pastries and sweets that are all beautifully displayed.
One of the pleasures of visiting la Boqueria, is being able to sample some of the wonderful food that you have admired like croquetas, empanadas and fresh fruit smoothies.
If you are like lots of the people visiting the market who plan to have lunch there, know that space is extremely limited at the small food counters. I would recommend trying to eat a little earlier than the regular lunch crowd. Check each of the small restaurants blackboards listing their daily specials and decide where you want to eat. If the restaurant’s counter is full, keep an eye out for people who are just finishing their meal and perhaps you can grab their stools as soon as they pay and leave.
On our visit, we decided that we wanted to eat at Kiosk Universal, which is located in the middle of the market. It specializes in grilled seafood such as Galician octopus, scallops, razor clams and baby squid. They also serve meat for those that don’t care for seafood. What also made us decide on the restaurant was the giant platter of seasonal wild mushrooms on display along with platters of fresh vegetables and potatoes that you could order as appetizers or sides.
Kiosk Universal has a very large counter with stools and a half dozen or so tall tables in a seating area just to the side. They will take your name and put you on a wait list if there are no seats available but we were lucky enough to get two stools at the counter when a couple stood up to leave right when we walked up.
Kiosk Universal has a large blackboard above the grill that lists their specials of the day in both Spanish and English which makes ordering easy. There is also a printed menu in both languages. What we thought was fun about sitting at the counter is that you get to watch the cooks preparing each order right in front of you. A lot of the fresh fish and vegetables are displayed along the counters and if you see something you like, you can just point to it.
The mixed grilled vegetables we had as an appetizer were great, the fresh seafood was simply prepared with olive oil, lemon and seasonings and cooked to perfection, the mixed grilled wild mushrooms had amazing flavors and they all went well with chilled glasses of white wine. While you may be able to eat cheaper somewhere else, the atmosphere and freshness of the food couldn’t be better…we think it is a must try if you love seafood.
The market can be very crowded at times with local shoppers as well as tourists but we throughly enjoyed our visit and lunch at Kiosk Universal. After all, where can you go nowadays and not find tourists and the Mercat de la Boqueria has become one of Barcelona’s top tourist attractions. The atmospheric market is a must see if you happen to be foodies like we are and want to get familiar with the culinary traditions of the region.
There are nearly 40 wonderful food markets in Barcelona where locals do their shopping but if you are a first time visitor, you should try not to miss Mercat de la Boqueria which is also called Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boquería by the locals. The market is located just off Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s most famous street which you will surely be visiting before the end of your stay. Note that the market is closed on Sundays and that during the week, some stalls close around 2 P.M. so plan your visit accordingly.