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A foodie's guide to Madrid's Mercado de San Miguel

Madrid is the capital of Spain-- and Mercado de San Miguel is the food capital of Madrid. In other words, it's a foodie's paradise.

Not only is the last standing iron market hall in the city a site to see, but once you step inside all of your senses are immediately stimulated. The smells of the frying seafood, the colors of the fresh fruits and vegetables and, of course, the tastes are simply overwhelming.

The market was completed under the supervision of Alfonso Dube y Diez back in 1916, and while its food is our main topic of focus here, it is by no means the market's only purpose. According to their website, one of the concepts of Mercado de San Miguel is "to be a community of entrepreneurs. Each should be an expert in their field and enthusiastic about their product." And with over 30 stalls ranging from drinks and quick bites to local and fresh produce to take home, they are doing just that.

There is nothing like being surrounded by people who are with you for one sole purpose: to eat. But the market can get really crowded. Try to avoid the masses by going during the week, or going early. And don't be shy about sharing a table with strangers. There are many more people than tables at the market, so feel free to grab an empty space at any table you see. Most importantly, do not forget to pace yourself because there is a lot of really good food and it would be such a shame to become too full to experience it all.

Here are some of the best stalls in Mercado de San Miguel to make a beeline for.

Mojitos

This is the best mojito I've ever had,
Photo Credit: KARINA SHEDROFSKY

This is the best mojito I've ever had, said all three people I've taken to San Miguel thus far. Mojitos are huge in Madrid, but these Mojitos de Frutas at the Cocktail Cart (No. 52) are something special. I was first attracted by their display of fresh fruit juices, but once I saw the sign for a fruit mojito, I had no choice but to try that instead. It's definitely on the more pricey side at 7 euros. Choose between fresh lime, strawberry, mixed berry and pineapple, and then watch the man behind the counter make magic. Start off your visit with a nice buzz from this cocktail, and you will spend the rest of your time smiling at strangers, even those who bump into you or beat you to an open seat.

Mozzarella

Your next stop should be Mozheart (No. 58)
Photo Credit: KARINA SHEDROFSKY

Your next stop should be Mozheart (No. 58) because it is right by the mojito stall, and who doesn't like different variations of fresh burrata, ricotta and fior di latte mozzarella on toasted bread? They say they make 100% authentic Italian Cheese from a few liters of Spanish milk and boy is this stuff good. Ive never gotten the same thing twice, but the fluffy burrata is something worth dreaming about. Prices range around 4 euros.

Hamburgers

Now that youve stimulated your appetite, its time
Photo Credit: KARINA SHEDROFSKY

Now that youve stimulated your appetite, its time for some meat. Head to the Meating Point by Raza Nostra (No. 67) for a taste of their high quality veal, pork or lamb. You can buy raw meat and patties to take home for later, or choose the type of burger you want them to cook up in front of you. They even have a selection of 12 gourmet sauces to put on top of the burger when it's finished. Because the goal is to try and fit as much as you can in one day, I tried getting the two mini burgers for 4 euros. This will let you taste their high quality meat and two gourmet sauces, but still leave you primed to eat from other stands.

Tapas

If San Miguel isn't your first meal in
Photo Credit: KARINA SHEDROFSKY

If San Miguel isn't your first meal in Spain, you have almost definitely already had tapas. But the tapas at Que Bonito es Panama (Nos. 41, 42, 56 and 57), are going to be some of the best you'll have. As you can see by the numbers of the stall, this place is huge, and thus offers a huge variety of tapas. My personal favorites are the brie cheese roll and the salmon with surimi on toast, but for 2-3 euros I really don't think you can go wrong here. For places like this, the more people you go with, the better, because that means you can try more bites.

Olives

If you want to take a small break
Photo Credit: KARINA SHEDROFSKY

If you want to take a small break from eating bread, meat and cheese, grab a glass of wine at Pinkleton & Wine (Nos. 68, 69, 70 and 71) and head to La Hora del Vermut (Nos. 22, 23, 24 and 25) to choose a variety of pickled products, like olives and pickle skewers. Or, as the name states, you can skip the wine and drink vermouth from this stand instead. The olive combinations at 1-2 euros per piece aren't necessarily cheap, but they are definitely worth trying. Some are spicy, others are sweet, some have peppers, others have anchovies; the combinations and seasonings are unexpected but perfect. Sit (or stand) for a while and nosh on these treats while you enjoy a nice drink and think about all the perfect things you have ingested so far.

Pizza

If you still aren't quite satisfied, the personal
Photo Credit: KARINA SHEDROFSKY

If you still aren't quite satisfied, the personal pizzettas cooked in a skillet at Pizzeria Tonda (Nos. 13 and 14) are perfectly greasy and delicious. To make a good story even better, they make white or red and vegetarian or meaty pizzas with traditional and organic ingredients. You may not even have to get up and lose your spot to indulge in this small piece of cheesy heaven because they push a cart around the market serving up fresh pizzettas wherever you may be.

Frozen yogurt

Every good meal ends with a good dessert,
Photo Credit: KARINA SHEDROFSKY

Every good meal ends with a good dessert, and the frozen yogurt at La Yogureria (No. 11) is nothing like Pinkberry or 16 Handles. First, it's a little more expensive, but it's also simple-- and plain good. They claim to be one of the pioneers of frozen yogurt in Spain, and they make their product daily with fresh milk and no artificial colors or flavors. You can choose from a wide variety of healthy and fresh toppings, but choose wisely because they get pricey once you surpass two (0,50 euro per extra topping). If frozen yogurt isn't your thing, don't stress-- they have plain yogurt as well, flavored with different fruits and syrups.

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