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best or favourite market in the world?

I have been on the road traveling since 2006 and have had the happy chance to visit many markets (some well known and some off the beaten track). I always find the way into a new place is to wander the market, sample to foods and talk to the locals. I have more travel on the horizon (right now I'm in Macau) so I would love to hear about other foodies favourite markets big or small, and what makes them special. Hopefully I'll get a chance to drop in!

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  1. Indoor or outdoor?

    Indoor: Berkeley Bowl in California

    The sheer variety of produce. There can be 20 varieties of grapes in-season, 40 types of apples, exotic fruit from all over the world. Also it is about the local community. Rich, poor any nationality you can name ... they all shop at the Bowl because it has something for everyone. There are two stores. The newer one, not far awy is the better stop.

    SF Ferry Plaza farmers market

    Great outdoor location on the bay. Huge organic heirloom produce selection, baked goods from the top bakeries, artisan cheese and other products.

    Here;s one of the world's great produce markets, started in 2000, that I'll bet NO tourist knows about. I was dazzled. Here's my recent report ... NOTE ... this is NOT the Mercado Central in the city, but on the edge of town.

    Guatemala: Central de Mayoreo (CENMA) World-class, mind-blowing market in Guatemala City

    Produce markets are my thing and I have stopped at a lot when I travel. This market is one of the best I've seen.

    3 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      wow thanks rworange! I like either indoor or outdoor as each carries its own particular experience. i am from Toronto Canada and we have two fantastic year round markets and regular farmers' markets in the summer. I love discovering new produce and meeting the people who carefully bring it to my plate. If you ever get to the west coast of Canada check out the Saltspring summer market...or for a really great one try the apple festival in October.

      1. re: wanderer

        Ironically, my first thought upon seeing the thread name was St. Lawrence Market! That's certainly my personal favorite.

    2. Best "foreign" market (food) - Palma, Mallorca, Spain

      Best farmers market - Rye, Sussex, UK (only about 12 stalls - but each one a cracker)

      Best "proper" market - Bury, UK (it's "real" - not foody place as such, just good quality food for "real people", together with the usual stalls selling fake designer watches, cheap underwear that your Gran would wear, and the like)

      1. The best indoor market I've ever been to is absolutely the Mercato Centrale in Florence, Italy. It's huge, and they sell the best quality ANYTHING you need to cook the best Italian food of your life. I've never since gotten better mascarpone than I bought there. Downstairs are aisles of stalls selling cheeses, meats, homemade pastas etc. Upstairs is an acre of produce - unbelievable.

        The second best is the market in Bangkok near my guesthouse on Sri Ayutthaya Rd. A wonderful place that sold dried shrimp in about 10 different sizes among thousands of other things. There was a stall in there, completely hidden away, where a woman made fabulous pad thai to order. I've stopped ordering it in the US as I can't find any to compare to hers.

        I also like the markets in Toronto and Baltimore. Oh, and the Reading Terminal in Philadelphia.

        3 Replies
        1. re: woodleyparkhound

          Its been a while since I have been thee, so I forgot about the Florence market. That is pretty great. There are some great little restaurants around it too.

          1. re: rworange

            The restaurants around Florence market are good.
            Had a wonderful half a grilled rabbit with the kidney still attached.

            For me though the market in Valencia near the main trainn station is the best I've ever been to.

          2. re: woodleyparkhound

            We were in Firenze not long ago and I agree. I filled a small suitcase with products. My daughter loved the chocolates, and we got a lot of delicious fruit for our hotel room a few times.

            I have to say that my favorite markets, though, are in Istanbul (not a single one in particular, just all of them in general). This is where my husband is from and when we go back to visit his family, I THOROUGHLY enjoy shopping at the fish, spice, cheese, and produce markets. We go out of a morning, as the fishermen are bringing in their catches and pick out the fish we will eat that evening... as they are still swimming around, happily oblivious of their fate. The spices are so amazing. I wish we had the time to go back to visit more often, as I'm very sad when those precious spices run out (we average about once a year, but have not been back the past couple of years as his family were trying to get visas to come here). We don't live where there are grand local markets like NYC or SF.

          3. Boqueria fish market in Barcelona. Nothing can beat it for fresh seafood and sitting at the bars with a cold beer and a tapas.

            3 Replies
            1. re: pj26

              pj26, I'll be in Barcelona mid-September. And I'll take your recommendation. Beer and tapas in Barcelona will be hard to beat.

              That said, have a listen to Cork's Hidden Village, and let the traders and their particular brand of banter persuade you to sample the phenomenal fare on offer in the heart of the 'real' capital of Ireland.

              They wowed the Queen of England earlier this summer.

              Top notch food. And great fun too.

              1. re: davidintheposthouse

                We had the chance to visit the English Market in Cork and absolutely loved it. Had a really fun time talking with and sampling from one vendor, selling us very high quality cured meats and cheeses. The olives were unexpectedly amazing, and the cured and smoked fish was fantastic. I remember fondly smoked eel, small anchovies wrapped around an olives on toothpicks, smoked mussels, and my favorite the smoked Haddock. Good bread too! We loaded up at that market and had two or three meals of what we called "trunk lid picnics"!

                1. re: davidintheposthouse

                  It's great - be sure to try either Quim or Pinotxo for tapas (or both!).

              2. I live in New York and have access to some of the best-stocked groceries and markets in the world. And yet, I would take the souk in Morocco or Machane Yehuda in Jerusalem any day, for the ambience, aromas, and experience.

                1 Reply
                1. re: brooklynkoshereater

                  Love this topic. I drive my wife crazy insisting on going to farmer's and food markets when we travel. Locally in the NYC area where I live, Union Square Market in New York City has great produce and varieties of grapes in the fall. Farther away, I like the Funchal market on the Portuguese island of Madeira. Great produce and flowers. We found beautifully displayed and tasty berries at the Quebec City market. I also loved the display and quality at the Healdsburg, California farmer's market in Sonoma wine country. Best grocery store I've ever been too as far as prepared foods is in the basement of the El Corte Ingles in Madrid's Serrano neighborhood.

                  Would love to learn about great markets in New Jersey where I live.

                2. I think the one market I'd most love to go back to is the covered open-air market in Nice. All the street markets we saw in France were great, but this one has butcher shops and permanent setups selling such things as every olive imaginable. The Kowloon "wet market" was stunning, too - made me wish I had a kitchen to go back to instead of a hotel room!

                  Markets and food shops are always on our itinerary; when we travelled with Mrs. O's parents, her dad was great at remembering the good ones and sniffing out new ones, and we're happy to carry on the family tradition.

                  1. Toss up for me between Guadalajara and Oaxaca.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: grayelf

                      The Oaxaca market was great. I especially loved the grill room. :)

                    2. For me, it's my little neighbourhood market. I don't have one here in Canada, but when I lived in Italy the parking lot opposite my apartment, and two blocks of street in either direction, would be converted to a market once a week. In Mexico there was one a block or two up the road from my house on Wednesdays. I love the community feeling and the way it changes the dynamic of the neighbourhood. I've been to lots of other markets (Boqueria in Barcelona, Porta Palazzo in Turin, Libertad in Guadalajara, the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market in Istanbul, Piata Centrala in Bendery, Transnistria...) and they're wonderful but not as special to me as a "pop-up" neighbourhood market.

                      1. Pike Place Market in Seattle, hands down.

                        1. I'd have to go with the Spice Market in Istanbul and the souk in Fez, Morocco. Amazing sights, sounds and smells!

                          1. Namdaemun Market in Seoul is amazing for food, clothes, herbal medicines, pipes - whatever you need. Central Market Hall in Budapest is 2nd - get a Lángos; it's basically fried dough with whatever savory toppings you want --- I had sour cream and garlic. Wow.

                            1. Belo Horizonte, Brazil
                              Market - Mercado Central
                              Av. Augusto de Lima 744 - Centre.
                              Tel: + 55 31 3274 9611
                              Email: mercado@mercadocentral.com.br
                              Website: http://www.mercadocentral.com.br

                              1. Along with many mentioned, the covered market in Angkor Wat Cambodia,large night market in Khaosiung Taiwan, Bahia weekend market in Rio De Janiero Brazil, covered hanger market in Riga Latvia, R Lenoir market Paris France, but the mother of them all is the Chatuchak market in Bangkok Thailand. If you leave hold of your child's hand, they will probably be sold before you can find them again.

                                1. Reading Market in Philadelphia

                                  1. My absolute favorite is the Baanzan Fresh Market in Phuket Thailand.
                                    It's so clean you could eat off the floor, and the variety of food is amazing. You can buy any kind of take away food ranging from whole meals to light snacks. Up to 20 different fresh fruit juices are available at a juice counter and the Thai iced tea is to die for. I never really went in knowing what I wanted to eat, I just followed my nose and asked a lot of questions!

                                    1. Indoor:

                                      Carrefours in Nice, France. The Costco of food markets - this is the only one in this chain that I've shopped at and it was an unforgettable experience. Food I'd never seen before, fresh everything, a sous vide section - I was stunned by the amount, the freshness, the displays, the variety and the staff. Not to mention the 69 checkout stands!

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: cuvee31

                                        Carrefour's a great supermarket chain. We usually pay a visit to the Calais one before getting the ferry home - although with usually an overnight stop before we get there, we can't usually bring too much fresh produce. Tinned, bottled and bagged stuff gets crammed into any space we have in the boot.

                                      2. I live in South Korea and the outdoor markets here really are something else. Seoul has one of the biggest outdoor markets in the world, Dongdaemun.

                                        1. I love the Place Maubert Market in Paris in the 5th arrondissement. Every time I visit Paris I go to this market. Small, compact, it packs in the merchandise: fresh produce, foie gras, olives, cheeses and dairy products, charcuterie, flowers, packaged French specialties like mustards, vinagres, honeys, jams, and potted meats and offal. And don't forget the ready-to -eat offerings to snack on while there. And if you just happen to need a new scarf...well...this is your stop! I posted pictures of this market at: http://flavorsofthesun.blogspot.com/2...

                                          1. I love to eat out in Montreal but after visiting the Jean Talon Market I wanted to stock up and take it back to our hotel to eat there. All around the outside of the market are charcuteries, fish mongers and amazing cheese stores. The produce was beautiful and fresh and displayed like jewels.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: jimmyb32

                                              I love this market too!

                                              And if anyone is near the Burlington, Vt., area, their outdoor Market is amazing too.

                                              1. re: jimmyb32

                                                I got the same feeling you did at the Atwater Market, also in Montreal. Next trip there I will renting a studio apt with kitchen so I can do just that!

                                              2. I have a couple. Borough Market in London and Mercat Sant Josep in Barcelona.

                                                1. Hands down
                                                  HEDIARD 75008 Paris

                                                  1. I, unfortunately, am not well-traveled, but I did visit my sister in Seattle some 10 years ago and she made a point of taking me to the Pike Place Market, which is surrounded by wonderful restaurants and the Puget Sound at close hand. What a memorable place that was! You can find some of the most beautiful and freshest fish there! I loved how the vendors would call out and toss your fish to one-another to be weighed and wrapped! The produce was plentiful, varied and delicious. The market was arranged in several levels, as I recall, and there were shops where you could by bric-brac, candles and posters. I wish I could remember more details, but it has been a long time since I was there! Thinking about it just makes me want to return for another visit!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Awwshucks

                                                      I, too am not a world traveller but we have many multi-vendor indoor-outdoor markets that are marvellous. I love Byward Market in Ottawa: fresh produce, meats, flowers, boutique stalls with hats, original design clothing for all the family and of course beaver tails and maple syrup. The Byward has bistros, 'ethnic' grocery stores, an outstanding boulangerie, a superior kitchen supply store, a Provencal toiletry store, etc., etc., on its periphery. I literally 'lose mysel'f in its largesse of produce, products, sights, smells and sounds. Definitely, a market to enjoy if you're lucky enough to visit Ottawa.

                                                    2. Tsukiji Market in Tokyo. Not the famous fish market itself but the shopping area nearby where local residents go for fish, meat, fresh produce, tea, cutlery, including specialty shops and vendors. Also interesting are the many small eating establishments for the area workers and shoppers.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: curiousgeo

                                                        although it has become much more touristy in recent years
                                                        a wonderful experience.........and the food........yum

                                                      2. La Boqueria in Barcelona is my choice. The fruits and vegetables stand out as does the fresh fish.

                                                        1. Gotta agree about Barcelona and Florence, but Valencia is also truly terrific (see in this video www.experiencetheduffyboat.com--parti... the seafood--and Vienna's Naschmarkt is well-worth the time.

                                                          1. Mercado San juan in Mexico City.

                                                            1. I love olives, so my most memorable market was the central market in Athens, which had an enourmos section of olive merchants. All kinds of olives, Greek and otherwise, and to me it was like Christmas.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Tripeler

                                                                I have nothing but nightmares about the central market in Athens. All I remember was the grain market being next to the fish and meat market and the blood and water on the floor soaking the bottom of nearby bags of grains. It is maybe the worst market I've been to in the world. Didnt see the olives though.

                                                              2. Returned from Spain two weeks ago and thought the Boqueria in Barccelona was superb. Gorgeous candied fruits, beautiful vegetables and an array of mushrooms to please Arcimboldo. If yoyu decide to eat, besides the tapas, there's a restaurant in the very back
                                                                of the market that serves delicious mussels, other seafoods and a killer onion soup. Also in
                                                                B. is the Santa Caterina market, newer than the Boqueria, but like it, housing many counters of meats, fish, fruits, etc. Those two rank highest my favorite international markets, but in the U.S., I adore the Pike Place Market in Seattle. It's like nothing else in the country. The array of
                                                                flowers alone, make any trip there a grand experience. AND it is open all day every day, except Sundays

                                                                1. The "Mercado Municipal" in Sao Paulo is definitly on the top list. Not only for good fresh produce, cheeses, meats, but also for the many stalls selling delicious snacks.
                                                                  Try the famous mortadella sandwich at Bar do Mane.

                                                                  The mercado central in Belo Horizonte is also great. As early as 6am on the weekends, you will find the bars there serving cold beer and a sausage/yuca snack to early risers. Lots of fresh produce,cheeses and meats from around the world,local handcrafts , live chicken, duck, goat , etc.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Rogerteixeira

                                                                    Forgot the market in Belo Horizonte. Remember one booth that had a zillion jars and bottles of teeny very hot peppers in vinegar, Still use them. Also the soapstone pot booths, wow.

                                                                  2. I love the small farmers' markets all over Kauai (Sunshine Markets). The farmers just gather in their trucks, with an assortment of great vegetables, as well as papayas, avocados, and the best, fresh flowers. Ginger, orchids, bird of paradise, all really inexpensive. Then there are plenty of fresh fish markets to complete your meal. I was also amazed by the supermarket in Como, Italy, which had a huge fresh fish department, with 5 kinds of octopus!

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: ndchef

                                                                      Those little Kauai were the only source for the tiny golden pineapple which changed my pineapple life forever. They were like canned pineapple, in the best way, freshly grown.

                                                                    2. Cleveland's West Side Market has something for everyone, but meat lovers will think they've gone to heaven.

                                                                      1. I'm not sure it is in the same category as some of the others as it is mostly a meat/fish market but I would like to recommend Rogacki in Berlin. This is an amazing place for all kinds of meats and sausages.


                                                                        1. I think the cultures where buying groceries on a more frequent basis tend to have incredibly rich markets that are centrally located. I've spent time in Japan a few times and for me, the basement levels of the huge department stores are foodie paradises. Aesthetics and purity are prevalent in Japanese culture, and the various counters and stands throughout these giant floor areas display food that seem to be perfect in every shape, color and form. It can be a somewhat sterile environment, particularly if one is used to the relatively wild free-wheeling wet markets in Asia, which are comparatively diamonds-in-the-rough. The department store basements are the honed and polished jewels.

                                                                          1. In Chicago I would have to say that Chicago Food Corp is the best Korean market with expepensive prices on the foods needed for asian coooking. If you live in the Western or Northwestern suburbs then H-Mart is also a great place to shop.

                                                                            1. I have two. Here in the US, while provisioning for a boat trip, I found the West Side Market in Cleveland, Ohio. Tremendous selection of everything ethnic and everything fresh. Plus, all housed in a stunning retro building that is worth the visit even if you aren't hungry.

                                                                              For sheer fun, you can't beat the central Mercado in Guadalajara, Mexico. Just off the main cathedral square, it is HUGE - and contains everything from blue agave to blue jeans. There are food stalls serving the best birria, menudo, various roasted meats and fowls, along with all the trimmings. The entire head of the animal is proudly displayed along side the choice cuts in the meat stalls. Loved it!

                                                                              1. Marché d'Aligre in 12e Paris, Marché d'Antibes and Marché Jean-Talon(montréal) I am just crasy of market . Market without food: San Remo in Italy

                                                                                1. My two favs - both mentioned already are, my home market, the Reading Terminal market in Philadelphia and, I wish it was my home market, the Mercado Centro in Florence

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Bigley9

                                                                                    i love this thread! we rent houses when we travel so we immediately head to the local markets. haven't been everywhere, of course, but these are my favorites in Europe: Barcelona, Arles, Lyon (the cheese alone is worth a trip), Casablanca, Marrakesh, Istanbul, and the small market in Coutras. I love the farmer's markets in San Francisco, Walnut Creek, and in Portland, Oregon which has some of the best street food and street vendors in the world.

                                                                                    1. re: teezeetoo

                                                                                      Still remember the street market in Arles where on a table a 200 lb tuna was being sliced to order. Even though my car was stolen there, always remember the tuna more than the theft. And to pre-empt Chef June's thunder. R Richard in the covered Lyon marche is indeed memorable, her arome du gene, oh my.

                                                                                  2. International: Marche Forville in Cannes. Best tapanade I ever had. EVER. we got at Forville.

                                                                                    Home: toss up between Farmers Market in Wayne, PA and the one in Ardmore.

                                                                                    1. I agre that the market 'local' to you is great. I lived in Phnom Penh for a year and lived next to the Russian Market. Touristy in the day but come 5 o clock all the locals emerged with fresh produce. I used to shop there every evening - initially was a bit squeamish about buying meat there u til I realised that was exactly what I was eating in restaurants!

                                                                                      Also love the English Market in Cork, Ireland.