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Sep 1, 2008 12:26 AM

Best food markets in the world? The kinds with multiple vendors?

If you were to plan an international trip based on cities with great, daily markets, what are some good candidates?

The type of market in mind is the more permanent variety, but with multiple independent vendors... not a once-weekly farmer's market (but similar in offerings). For example, Boqueria in Barcelona, or Grand Central in downtown Los Angeles.

There might be a few butchers, some seafood folks, produce vendors, etc. I seem to recall a central market in Swansea, Wales, for example, when we'd visit my Grandma as a kid. Lava bread, pancakes, cockles, welsh cakes, cheese, fish & chips, etc. were all served up by individual vendors.

I ask because this type of operation seems a thing of the past in many decentralized cities where suburban markets/vendors (under one owner) fill most needs. So I'm guessing the better ones that are still going strong have some tradition, are central to their city, and haven't been convereted to condos!


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  1. not international, but on the East Coast Philly, DC and NYC have fairly decent markets - nothing like the Boqueria, mind you.

    5 Replies
    1. re: hill food

      Borough Market in London is notable, although it's more of a tourist attraction these days rather than a real market. Prices are extorionate but there is a excellent variety of quality produce from all over the UK.

      Tsukiji market in Tokyo also comes to mind, although thats a fish market and also become a tourist destination. Certainly very interesting though.

      1. re: foreignmuck

        Do you know about other UK cities? I saw a BBC version of Kitchen Nightmares where Gordon dragged the chef to a local market to learn about purchasing more profitable cuts from a butcher. It wasn't London, from what I recall. I just can't recall where it was!

        1. re: foreignmuck

          I was just in London and quite enjoyed the stroll through Borough Market. Had mulled wine and cassoulet, sampled some goose fat on bread and drooled over the pork pies. Yum!

          1. re: KayceeK

            You drooled over pork pies? People are going to eat those, you know! Then again, perhaps that will add some spice to them.

            1. re: Lizard

              Well, they were behind a glass case. ;o)

      2. La Boqueria is probably my favourite, but it's pretty touristy these days. There's another good market in Barcelona, in the Born district, I forget the name. In Rome, I love the market in Campo del Fiori. The central market in Toulouse is pretty fantastic too, and I had great fun poking round the "wet markets" in Kowloon, Bangkok and Hoi An (Vietnam). Even if it was a bit disturbing seeing old ladies cut the legs off live frogs!

        1 Reply
        1. re: greedygirl

          "wet markets"

          in that vein, one could consider SF's Stockton Street from above Sacramento to Broadway as such (and a few on Grant near B'way). always amazing.

        2. Markets are everywhere in France. In Paris, each arrondissement has several markets that are open a couple times per week. Produce, potatoes, herbs, beans, olives, poultry, meat, charcuterie, eggs, cheese, wine, seafood, plus brick-a-brack, kitchen supplies, dvds, clothes, and so on. The suburbs have their markets, too. They're definitely not a thing of the past here, but it's not because they're centralized ... just the opposite, they're very much a neighborhood thing.

          1. Our mercado in Patzcuaro Michoacan is terrific - fresh veggies and fruits, meats, chickens, fish, flowers, kitchenware, clothing, DVDs and CDs. There are lots of food stalls towards the front selling different foods depending on time of day. Not gourmet, but really fresh, good food.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Pampatz

              Is this Mexico or Denver? I ask because it really could be a market in both places!

              1. re: tastyjon

                Patzcuaro Michoacan is in central Mexico and I'll second Pam's recco for it. A visit to Patz is never complete without a few stops into the mercado. Killer bionicos for breakfast...

            2. Pike Place Market in Seattle. It's a true farmer's market, with produce from all over the state. It also has permanent shops with out-of-season and out-of-area produce (e.g., bananas), several fishmongers and butchers (who still use sawdust on the floor and really do cut their own meat), bakeries (French, Russian, Turkish, name it), specialty stores such as Latin American and Asian and Italian grocery stores with things such as Salsa Lizano and canned bamboo shoots. There's a cheese maker and the original Starbucks, plus lots and lots of restaurants, any kind of food and ambience you could want: greasy spoons, tavs, sandwich joints, white tablecloth four-star places. There's an apothecary and non-food stores, too. And there are services, too: banks, a dentist, a naturopath, a sliding-scale medical clinic, a food bank. And everything is owner operated, no chains. The only reason Starbucks is there is because it's the first one.