Our day begins with a visit to fabulous Mercat Central Valencia. It is one of the top Valencia tourist attractions to visit, with an amazing array of food!
But first things first, we need coffee! Luckily, Mercat Central Valencia has one of Valencia’s best coffee shops. So, first stop is Retrogusto. As I sip my cappuccino I feel it coursing through my veins preparing me to explore the rest of the magnificent Mercat Central Valencia. For a moment, as I savor this coffee, I almost think I am back in Melbourne.
Welcome to Valencia, Spain and one of the best food markets anywhere in the world. Housed in a magnificent metal and glass, art nouveau-style building with a spectacular dome, Mercat Central Valencia (the Central Market) is a food lover’s paradise. With more than 400 stalls selling fresh fish, meat, fruit and vegetables, delicatessens, wines and liquors and no end of spices, rice and other staples of the Spanish diet, you won’t leave hungry!
Luckily for us, our accommodation is only 100 meters from this fabulous market. A haven for food lovers, we share our favorite vendors from this beautiful market.
Top Stalls to Visit at Mercat Central Valencia
Spanish cuisine is one of the world’s most popular cuisines. And, when you visit the Valencia Central Market, you can certainly see why. The array of fresh foods available, the attractive stalls and friendly stall-holders just want to make you cook! From our time in Valencia, here are our favorite stalls:
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Coffee Stop – Retrogusto
Your mandatory, first stop is to visit Retrogusto. We make no bones about the fact we are coffee snobs. And why not? When coffee is this good, you can’t help but be happy. Enjoy your coffee of choice and just sit back and take in the early morning vibe at Mercat Central Valencia. If you have coffee-making facilities at your accommodation, you can also take home artisan, whole or ground coffee beans.
Freshest Fish – Alfredo Gil
You can’t really travel to Spain and not enjoy fresh seafood! There must be more than 50 fishmongers at the market and the range of seafood is just superb. Our hostess recommended Alfredo Gil as being the pick of the fishmongers, and we tried seafood from a number of stalls and they were all good and the fish was superbly fresh.
We purchased the most beautiful calamari from Alfredo Gil. I love the calamari was not pre-sliced. Here, as with other stalls, the stall-holder prepares the whole calamari to your exact requirements, ensuring the seafood is perfectly fresh. And with it, we made a simple, grilled calamari. When seafood is this fresh, you don’t need to be too fancy.
Another seafood dish we prepared, was Spanish garlic prawns. Again, nice and simple, made from the freshest of shrimp.
Meat Vendor – Palancia
Looking for some meat? At Mercat Central Valencia, we just couldn’t go past Palancia. Like Alfredo Gil, Palancia slices meat to your exact requirements at the time you order it, ensuring the freshest of quality.
Palancia stocks a full range of meats with lamb, pork and beef being the most popular, including a full selection of aged, air dried meats. With extremely friendly and helpful staff, it is an easy place to shop. We enjoyed a beautiful, slow-roasted leg of lamb and fabulous, Spanish baked meatballs with meat purchased from Palancia.
There are many other fine, meat vendors at the market and the range and display of the meats was impressive. Hint: Make sure you try chorizo sausages, given Spain is the home of this famous sausage.
Fruit and Vegetables – Puchades
Like the seafood and meat, fruit and vegetables in Spain are of high quality with a great range being available. There are many fruit and vegetable stalls at the Central Market. Some are generalist in nature, stocking a full range and others just specialize in 1 or 2 products only, such as mushrooms (many varieties) or lettuce (also many varieties).
I had to blink more than once when I realized how affordable these fabulous vegetables are. Shopping at the Valencia Central Market can certainly save you money, and you are receiving beautifully, fresh ingredients. How can you go wrong?
We purchased much of our fruit and vegetables from Puchades. And, judging by the crowd at this popular stall, we weren’t the only ones impressed.
Delicatessen – Manglano
You really can’t visit Spain and not taste jamon (ham), with Iberian jamon being the highlight. Iberian ham has some great health benefits.
It is a cardiovascular protective agent, a good replacement for red meat, low in calories, an antioxidant and rich in Vitamins B1, B6 and B12, folic acid, and minerals such as copper, iron and phosphorous. You can read more about the health benefits here.
We purchased fabulous jamon from Manglano. In addition, they have a sensational range of Spanish cheeses, including some glorious truffle-flavored cheese. Superb.
Central Bar in Mercat Cental Valencia
After all that shopping, you might be looking for a bite to eat! Have no fear, because you will just love Central Bar, located within the Valencia Central Market.
Taking its inspiration from the beautiful market ingredients, you can purchase any number of Spanish tapas, pinchos and bocadillos (Spanish sandwiches) as well as other tasty, Spanish dishes.
During our visit, we enjoyed tempura cod, chicken croquettes, a pork, mustard, cheese and onion bocadillo, a green curry meatloaf, and pork cheek. And let’s not forget the bottle of dry white wine from Knaia, mineral water and a superb flan to finish off with. It’s a great experience where you can take in the market atmosphere. It’s a popular eatery and you may need to wait a few minutes before you score seats at the bar.
Mercat Central is a Highlight of Valencia Tourist Attractions
There are many, fabulous Valencia tourist attractions and the Valencia Central Market is certainly one of them. If you have any interest in food and architecture, you will love this market.
The stalls are very attractive with the produce being beautifully displayed. The stall holders are extremely friendly, and our basic knowledge of Spanish presented no problems.
The building itself is spectacular and includes a magnificent dome with plenty of windows allowing natural light to bathe the whole market. It is surely one of the most magnificent markets in the world. The market is open Monday through Saturday from 7am to 3pm, although stalls were winding down from about 2pm on.
While in Valencia, we shopped here almost every day and ate like royalty. If you are into food and want to visit a beautiful market, then come here. It is definitely a highlight of Valencia tourist attractions.
We feature some other great markets here: