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Fat Guy

Best market in Barcelona

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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?

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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:

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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...

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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

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