To Market: Barcelona’s Best Street Food Stands

Boasting great weather, impressive architecture, and a killer arts scene, Barcelona has been somewhere amongst the top spots of Europe’s best destinations for some time now. And while you might have seen a great deal of the city through its sights and sounds alone, you’ve not really seen Barcelona until you’ve sampled at least one of its stellar food markets. Fresh produce abounds in the Spanish city, and taking full advantage of the food on offer is one of the best ways to get a sense of how the locals really live. With markets and food stalls popping up left, right, and centre, you’re spoiled for choice in the Barcelona, no matter the time of year you choose to make a visit.

Empty tummies at the ready; you’re going to want to leave room to try everything!

Somehow hitting that elusive sweet spot between tourist haven and local hangout, the Mercat de Santa Caterina is worth seeing up close, if only for its dreamy interior. Part of the city’s ambitious remodelling project, the market has had the twenty-first century treatment, and now it resembles an interior designer’s dream, kitted out in wood tones and sky lights. When it comes to the food on offer, it just gets better; amongst the fresh fish, meat, and vegetable stands, you’re bound to find something that tickles your fancy. Lovers of all things spicy should make a beeline for Bar Joan and its mean selection of meat skewers and marinated plates, while those with a penchant for seafood should make a pit stop at the everstylish Cuines Santa Caterina. Make a visit when you’re really hungry so you don’t come away disappointed.

As well as serving up one of the most eclectic mixes of market stands in Barcelona, Mercat dels Encants has a pretty impressive range of foodie options on the table. Head to the top floor and prepare to eat a quality feast. While places like El Mirall dels Encants restaurant offer you a real place to sit down and take your time over a meal, there are plenty of faster food options available, too. Once you’re done eating, you can try traversing the mammoth covered market and get acquainted with the other stands showing off their goods.

If it’s all about the interiors for you, try taking a pilgrimage to the Mercat de Galvany, an impressive space boasting ceilings worth marvelling over. The building itself dates back to 1868 and, with its string of stained glass windows and industrial beams, it puts on a real architectural show. When it comes to the grub, things are of a similarly high caliber here, with plenty of options in all things seafood. While you can buy your own produce fresh on the day, you can also try sampling some of the local flavours at the likes of Café Galvany. Taking a more classic approach to market dining, the bar serves up a number of traditional Spanish dishes, finished to perfection.

It’s not just about traditional dining, either. Barcelona is home to some of the very best up and coming eateries, and some of them are outperforming even the most classic of foodie hotspots. Take Palo Alto, for example. Despite the fact that the market has just celebrated its second birthday, the food haven is notorious for its long queues, attracting groups of keen foodies from across Barcelona. Held in a former factory, Palo Alto takes place once a month, and with its impressive variety of burger, ceviche, and pulled pork stands, it’s got a whole lot going for it. The lines of people are justified, so be sure to get there ahead of the crowds.

While Mercat de Sant Antoni might be one for the future, it’s worth checking out should you make it to Barcelona next year. Renovation works have put the market’s opening on the back burner, but with a 2018 opening date scheduled, things are finally starting to kick up a gear or two. In the meantime, the nearby temporary site will give you an idea of the kind of food that’s going to be on show in this modernist marvel, and while the interiors might not be worth writing home about, they do the job for the time being. Our advice? Head straight to Rekons, the Argentinian empanada place located in the market, and feast away to your heart’s content.

Hannah Lamarque
Hannah is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Europe. She writes about travel, art, design and culture and loves discovering hidden places in the cities that she visits.