My beloved Mercado de la Cebada is having a Renaissance. Like many traditional markets in Madrid, the old fruit and veg stalls, butchers and fishmongers are enjoying a new lease of life alongside new businesses, which include small restaurants, craft stalls and speciality food sellers.
There’s been a market here since 1868, and the current structure, which dates to 1958, was once a hub of the La Latina neighbourhood. Then along came huge supermarkets, embraced so wholeheartedly that markets like La Cebada were abandoned. Busy people didn’t have time to wait in line; stalls began to close down and this emblematic market became a shadow of its bustling former self, peopled by old ladies – it wasn’t cool to shop in markets.
All that has changed! Come to eat, shop and explore the new stalls. Some of my favourites are Flexo 40, which sells original lamps and lighting fixtures; Gelato Lab, an authentic artisanal Italian ice cream shop, La Malanga, which does a superb ceviche and Cuban sandwich; La Ria for its fresh seafood and finally the amazing Parilla de la Cebada, a restaurant owned by the neighbouring butcher’s. If you don’t like what is on the 8 euro fixed price menu, they’ll cook anything you buy at the butcher’s for just 1.50 euros!
Inevitably, it will be a victim of its own success like all great places, but at the moment there is time to catch it in its ascent!