Valencia – Ciutat Vella – El Mercat – Mercado Central

To the west of La Seu in the old town is the barrio of El Mercat where, not surprisingly, you’ll find the world-famous covered Mercado Central, Valencia’s principle market.

It was constructed in 1914 by Francesc Guàrdia i Vial and Alexandre Soler in the Modernism style, and is adorned with brightly coloured ceramics and mosaics. My favourite bit is the cockatoo on the top of the central dome.

It’s one of the oldest and largest working markets in Europe and houses four hundred traders in two areas, one for fish and one for all other food stuffs. You can buy a kilo of tangerines for a euro here, or get a warm empanada from the bakeries. However I only come here to eat at…

Central Bar (Elementary A+), Plaza Ciudad de Brujas (towards the back of the market) www.centralbar.es

This was once a run of the mill market bar but has now been taken over by my favourite Valencian chef Ricard Camarena whose other two establishments I have raved about in my Ruzafa post. It’s very popular and people often queue by standing behind the bar stools waiting for the person sitting to finish eating. I’ve even seen people tag team a space by taking turns eating half of a dish each. The lesson is, go just before or towards the end of normal lunch hours to get a seat, bearing in mind the market closes at 3pm.

The food is fantastic as you’d imagine with so many quality local ingredients close at hand. I didn’t take notes but it was all A or A+. The bocadillo in the picture is called ‘El Canella’ and is made with morcilla, scrambled egg and pickled green peppers. I remember reading it once won European sandwich of the year although I can’t find any reference to such an award.

If you’re lucky you’ll be served by the lovely Isabel, the hostess with the mostest.

More on El Mercat in the next two posts.

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