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; little food stalls, craft and speciality food sellers.
There’s been a food market here since 1868, and the current structure dates to 1958. It was once a hub of the now fashionable La Latina neighbourhood. I lived in the area for many years when my son was young, and did all our fresh produce shopping here.
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 huge market became a shadow of its bustling 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; Gelato Lab, an authentic artisanal Italian ice cream shop, La Malanga, which does a cracking ceviche and Cuban sandwich; La Ria for it’s 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 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!