Spain can really teach us a thing or two about how to celebrate food.
With its proud and profoundly well-established food-market culture, specific to every region, it is no surprise that the country has such a stellar reputation for excellent food, boasting many a glittering Michelin-starred restaurant.
Needless to say, Madrid is home to a plethora of these impressive markets, each with their own highly distinctive characteristics, from the rigidly traditional to the avant-garde!
The Mercado San Ildefonso, opened as recently as 2014, is a great example of the fabulous synthesis between tradition and modernity that is currently rippling through the capital. Located on the super-central Calle de Fuencarral which straddles the achingly hip neighbourhoods of Chueca and Malasaña, Mercado San Ildefonso is surrounded by bars, boutiques and bodegas, producing an eclectic, vibrant atmosphere – the happy confluence of many ‘good-time’ variables!
The Mercado San Ildefonso is a refreshingly contemporary take on the traditional Spanish market, which is rather fitting given its location just around the corner from what once was Madrid’s first covered market, which ran from 1835-1970, setting the tone for the many iterations of markets that followed it.
While a tender homage to Madrid’s rich history of market culture, San Ildefonso equally has its eyes firmly set on the future. The slick, industrial architecture and open-plan spatial design of the market demonstrates this, while also working to enhance the notion of communal, convivial social eating, celebrating food of the highest quality and the social aspect that goes hand in hand with this. The market’s gastronomic offerings are also forward-thinking. While one is still able to get a classic fix of vermouth and anchovies, the market has broadened its culinary horizons, also offering foods from far-flung regions, such as Japan and Peru. With 18 utterly delicious stalls to choose from, 3 bars, as well as a fabulous outdoor patio and an enchantingly lit terrace, the Mercado San Ildefons really does have everything, and then some.
Aside from the glittering array of sumptuous foods and the inestimably cool atmosphere, the market is also known for exercising its social conscience. Once a week the market opens its doors to non-profit organisations, allowing them to distribute information and take collections for humanitarian projects. Additionally, a percentage of the money taken at the stalls is given to these organisations!
Quite simply, it is the perfect storm of temptation and ……!