• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Fat Guy

Best market in Barcelona

8 posts in this topic

I just visited BCN and went to La Boqueria and Santa Caterina. I was most impressed with Boqueria but some people have told me others are better, cheaper, more respected by locals, etc. So what's the answer? What's the best, and how do we define best?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

That's a tough one - how to define best?

There's no doubt that the experience of La Boqueria is not to be missed. And certainly, to eat in the market is wonderful. Santa Caterina's design and historical connection set it apart, in my opinion. It's design is quite Barcelonian, for want of a better term, and it's built on top of medieval ruins; the archaeological excavations are on display to the public. It encompasses a real supermarket as well.

Finally, Mercat de la Concepcio was the market I'd shop in daily if I had my druthers. Less crazy then La Boqueria, quaint and manageable with beautiful foods on display, and in a neighborhood that I wouldn't mind being a part of. Here are some shots from my favorite market:









Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"


Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with weinoo.

What is best? How can we guess at your concept of the best?

For the overwhelm factor, nothing beats the Boqueria.

In terms of quality and compactness, Santa Caterina is certainly my favorite.

You see, I find it much easier - and less NYT-style-self-congratulatory - to use the word favorite instead of best.

But I would let someone who has visited all, I mean all, the markets of Barcelona to try to answer this question...

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Let's see, I've been to Boqueria, Santa Catarina, San Antoni and Concepcio. When I lived close to Santa Catarina, that was my go-to place. Now I live closer to Boqueria, I go there. Yes, it's full of tourists, but the produce seems the same as at the other places, perhaps with more selection, especially in seafood. The prices are the same as long as you stay away from the front and middle row of stalls. San Antoni, when they've finished renovating the old building and it moves back in is going to be nice. Same for El Born, which is going to be absolutely huge. There is also a market in Barceloneta, I forget the name, but it's quite small and doesn't have a great selection.

I'm sure they all use the same suppliers anyway. If that's the case, then the busiest market should have the freshest products, so it's La Boqueria for the win. But I don't think that any one market is "better" than another.

I do find the staff in Santa Catarina to be friendlier.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just an update to this one. I've been comparing prices a lot lately between Santa Catarina and the Boqueria. Santa Catarina is MUCH more expensive. Chicken and meat products are about a euro a kilo more, and most veggies and fruits seem to be about 50 cents more a kilo. For example, chicken wings last week in just about all the stalls in the Boq were 1.99/kilo, but 2.99/kilo or more in S.C. Same difference for whole chickens. Pork belly, 3.80 in the Boq, 4.70 in S.C.

I also would like to rescind my comments about the staff at Santa Catarina being friendlier. Once you start frequenting one stall regularly in the Boq, they quickly become very friendly. I suppose that they are normally so overwhelmed with tourists it's hard to be nice to everyone!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I see this threat is a bit old already, but for those landing here I thought adding this collateral info about markets in Barcelona:


Regarding La Boqueria, as a local I can indeed confirm that, while retaining some of the allure of the market as it was say 20 years ago, these days is become rather a tourist attraction and most locals don't even go there any more. Prices have skyrocketed, many traditional stalls have been converted into cheap to-go food for passing tourists and it's always too crowded. Yet many restaurateurs in the city use it as a main provider of high quality products because one must say that La Boqueria still has quite a few great quality food stalls.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Conifer; in Santa Caterina the staff are more friendly, but perhaps that is because there is less pressure and they have time to chat to you to find out how best they can help you .... which for me makes it a better destination than La Boqueria for real shopping.


Expanding on the subject, if you end up in a village market and get the impression that the lil' ole' lady selling 23 tomatoes and some random veg is unfriendly, she probably isn't; she is just terrified at being spoken to by some big foreign gent with a funny Spanish accent and bent grammar.

1 person likes this

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I live near the Boqueria so I buy there. But I think that el Mercat de Hostafrancs is better/cheaper. At M. Hostafrancs. they sell the best olives ever at a small stand on one of the secondary aisles and there is one vegetable stand on the main aisle that grows all their own crops in El Prat/St Boi and sells them very cheaply, highly recommend the artichokes in season. Also I've heard that el Mercat de Sant Ildefons in Cornellà is amazing, but have not been.

There are 38 municipal markets in Barcelona, and none of them except Boqueria and Santa Caterina receive many, if any, tourists: http://w110.bcn.cat/portal/site/Mercats/menuitem.8cf34d6b720bce1e7e357e35a2ef8a0c/?vgnextoid=527f9dbc1db18210VgnVCM10000074fea8c0RCRD&vgnextchannel=527f9dbc1db18210VgnVCM10000074fea8c0RCRD〈=en_GB

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By conifer
      Anybody know of a place in Barcelona to buy tomatillos? I've searched the markets and latino food shops to no avail.
    • By SobaAddict70
      What makes an authentic paella?
      Does a paella have to be cooked in a special pan? (There is one, but I can't remember the name of it at the moment.)
      How varied are paellas compared to risotto?
      What kind of image is conjured up for you when you think about or hear about paella?
      For me, there is paella valenciana (the traditional kind incorporating chicken, pork, shellfish and vegetables) and a vegetarian paella. I have made recipes which were a blurring of lines between paella and risotto. What are your favorite kinds and recipes?
    • By annachan
      I've recently discovered Fideua at a local Spanish restaurant and have fell in love wth it! The noodle used in this dish has a vey nice texture. What type of noodle is usually used in this dish? Anyone tried making this at home with success? Please share!
    • By thecuriousone
      Hi All-
      I tried a recipe out of The good cook, James and Jellies over the weekend. It is a bitter orange, lemon and watermelon Jam. Actually its more like a marmalade. The recipe went together easily, but a curious thing happened while I was cooking it. The recipe said to add 3 cups of sugar for each 4 cups of fruit and simmer slowly for 1 hour. I did that but at the end of the hour, the consistency still seemed thin. My first though was to reduce it further. I pulled some out of the pot to taste and continued to reduce. I never did get to a really jelled consistency, however the taste started to change, it lost the fresh watermelon flavor and took on almost a "tea taste" like the sugars in the watermelon had carmelized. It doesnt taste bad but should I have taken another approach? I'm not familiar enough with sure gel to use it if its not called for in a recipe.
      Any help would be appreciated. Its a beautiful jam, I would just like to maintain the fresh watermelon taste and have it thicker.
    • By Prawncrackers
      Hola egulleters! Those of you who know me know that I like to turn my hand at Charcuterie now and then. Nothing is more satisfying than breaking down a whole pig and turning it into delicious cured meats and sausages. I'm quite happy making a wide range of products but there's one thing that I just can't get right. Fresh Spanish cooking chorizo, in particular I want to try and recreate this wonderful stuff from Brindisa http://www.brindisa.com/store/fresh-chorizo-and-morcilla/all-fresh-chorizo-and-morcilla/brindisa-chorizo-picante/
      They're wonderfully red, juicy and packed with deep pimenton flavour. Now when I make them I can get the flavour right but the texture is all wrong, very mealy, not at all juicy and the colour loses it's vibrancy too easily. What's the secret to them I wonder? Some kind of additive and/or food colouring?
      My recipe sees me mincing 2.3 kg fatty pork shoulder through a fine die, mixing with 80g pimenton, 50g salt, 30g sugar, 35g fresh garlic and stuffing into sheep casings. Here's a photo of them:

      I rest them overnight in the fridge before cooking with them. Maybe I should be putting some curing salt in there and hanging them for a couple of days? Does anyone have any experience making this kind of juicy fresh Spanish chorizo or even chistorra?
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.