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The Central Market of Cádiz, for shopping, eating and enjoying yourself

A visit to the Central Market of Cádiz is a delightful must-do for those who pride themselves on being foodies, as well as those who want to get a glimpse of daily life in the historic quarter of Cádiz.

Such is the quality of the fish, meat, fruit and vegetables that are sold at the market, that whilst you marvel at the more than 100 food stands, it’s easy to miss the beautiful architecture of the Central Market building.

As striking as the fresh produce on sale within the monumental space is the special atmosphere between market traders and their customers. The relationship between sellers and buyers is so convivial that it’s another attraction in itself, more than warranting a visit.

What’s more, since the last refurbishment in 2009, the Central Market of Cádiz now comprises the so-called Rincón Gastronómico [Gourmet Corner], situated in one of the open-air wings. At its many different stalls you can sample the best of Cádiz’s traditional cuisine, as well as produce from overseas and original innovations.

From the square to the Central Market of Cádiz

Before it was the Central Market of Cádiz, it was once the site of a farmers’ market dating from the 1890s, designed by the architect Torcuato Benjumeda, who was also responsible for the Town Hall building and the Church of San José, among others. The space was conceived as an open quadrangle surrounded by Classical-style Doric columns, making use of the space freed up by the disentailment of the Convento de Los Descalzos.

 

 

Under the mayor Ramón de Carranza (1928) it was decided that the space would be renovated, and thus began the Central Market of Cádiz. To do so, a roof was put over a large part of the original structure, which is today the central pavilion of the market.

Over time, and to meet a growing demand for produce, two more wings were added to either side of the central building. The unusual thing about these two spaces is that they are in the open and joined to the rest of the Central Market of Cádiz by a string of columns.

As previously mentioned, the Central Market of Cádiz was closed to the public during the first few years of this century. During that time an ambitious renovation project took place to restore part of the spaces that were in poor condition, as well as to equip the market with services, adapt entrances in line with current regulations and improve hygiene standards and the way in which produce is presented.

Cádiz market: structure

Part of the legacy of the refurbishment in the early twenty-first century was a clearer distinction between the parts of the market selling food and those selling other products. Below is a breakdown of the different areas of the Central Market of Cádiz:

  • Fish: 54 stands
  • Fruit and vegetables: 57 stands
  • Meat: 44 stands
  • Groceries: 7 stands
  • Bread and baked goods: 4 stands
  • Others: a stand selling pickles, another selling paper bags and one selling fishing items

Most of the stands are situated in the central pavilion of the market, and one thing that stands out the most is the colourful array of fish with magnificent examples of bluefin tuna, dogfish (a small species of shark that is common in Cádiz’s waters), prawns and Sanlúcar king prawns, as well as all manner of local and national shellfish.

The wing situated to the left-hand side of the main entrance houses the Rincón Gastronómico, the food court where you can sample freshly made food. The area on the right-hand side, meanwhile, is occupied by various stands specialising in meat and less common produce.

A genuine gourmet market

One of the main attractions on a visit to the Central Market of Cádiz is, without a doubt, its Gourmet Corner, a space following in the footsteps of the same trend that has transformed a good many of the markets in Spain (and indeed other countries) into culinary centres.

However, although new businesses in which you can sample interesting food, cured meat, cheese and others keep popping up, the Central Market of Cádiz continues to be dominated by stands selling fresh produce. Something that should be acknowledged, as the market is still a full-functioning marketplace with a characteristic, inclusive atmosphere, at the same time as offering something for the foodies out there.

Here are just a few of the stands in the Rincón Gastronómico where you can taste produce:

  • El Colmado: This stand is divided into two parts: the first is a wine bar, with local, Spanish and international wines, and the second is dedicated to Iberian cured meats, such as the magnificent Jabugo ham, and that from Salamanca and Guijuelo.
  • La Tapería de Lula: Products from the province of Córdoba in the form of tapas. Salmorejo (a cold tomato soup similar to gazpacho) and dishes made using extra virgin olive oil are the stars of the show, but mini sandwiches with tortilla (Spanish omelette) and peppers, and serranitos (made with pork loin, ham and peppers) are also worth a try.
  • Gadisushi: The finest tuna and other fish from the seas of Cádiz are presented here in the form of sushi, seaweed and rice rolls, and sashimi, all made on the spot with takeaways available too.
  • Gadesbeer: International beers also have their own place at this stand in the Rincón Gastronómico that, incidentally, is one of the most popular. It’s also a great place to try the local beer: Maier.
  • La Sartén: Here the spotlight is on eggs, almost always in the form of tortilla but there are other options too. You can also savour chips with different sauces.
  • Queso 360°: The standout cheeses sold at this establishment are, of course, those made with payoya goat’s milk from the Sierra de Grazalema. You’ll also be able to find other Spanish and European varieties, with cheese from France, Switzerland, and Italy, among others.

 

Information of interest

How to arrive

  • By foot: The Central Market of Cádiz is some five minutes by foot from the cathedral and around 12 minutes from the port.

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