The World's Most Stunning Marketplaces You Need to Bookmark
There is nothing like visiting a bustling culinary market where tourists, locals, and chefs shop for seasonal ingredients and delicious eats. From the day’s freshest catch nestled in beds of crushed ice to the ripest bounty of just-picked seasonal produce packed in wooden crates, there is a dizzying array of grocery goodies on display. Everywhere you look, it’s a feast for the eyes. Over there is small-batch cheese made from the summer milk of roaming Jersey cows. Beside that are loaves of artisanal sourdough made from ancient wheat cultures. Next to that is an assortment of aged beef, red and marbled to perfection. The air is heavy with tantalizing aromas, and the sounds are chaotic—a sharp knife whacks open a coconut, a child squeals with delight when handed an ice cream cone, a clever farmer lures passers-by with samples of “the best strawberries you’ll ever taste!” This is the scene you’ll experience when shopping at a fancy food court.
If you’ve never been to the type of market that was just described, don’t worry. The upscale market hall trend is taking America by storm, and Eater reports that more than nine new culinary meccas are in the works for cities such as Denver, Birmingham, and Detroit. Even bad boy culinary expert Anthony Bourdain has jumped on the marketplace bandwagon. Next year, he will open Bourdain Market, a 100-stall international mart inside Manhattan’s Pier 57. Although it’s exciting to think about the markets to come, it’s also worthwhile to highlight the sensational markets that already exist—and have flourished for years. From the Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona to the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco, here are nine of the world’s best culinary marketplaces. Add these spots to your foodie bucket list now!
Eataly is chef Mario Batali and restaurateur Joe Bastianich’s Italian food emporium. Although there are currently Eatalys in Chicago, Rome, and Dubai (and plans to open in L.A. soon), the original mega-shop debuted six years ago in New York City. Everything that you can find in Italy, food-wise, can also be discovered at Eataly: dried and fresh pasta, sustainable salumi, aged Parmesan, and creamy gelato. The food hall is a mixture of restaurants and food stalls, as well as a rooftop beer garden called La Birreria—and plenty of bells and whistles. For example, at La Pizza, Eataly’s pizza parlor, there is a golden oven designed by an Italian artist/architect that’s made from volcanic stone that originated near Mount Vesuvius. It’s kept at a constant temperature of 800°F and can bake six pies at a time.
In 2015, the San Francisco Ferry Building celebrated its 100th anniversary. It’s been a docking port for busy commuters from around the Bay for the majority of its time, but for the past 10 years, it’s been home to an assortment of culinary boutiques, beloved restaurants, and farmers’ markets. The market takes place three times a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturday mornings. Top chefs shop from their favorite farmers for super-seasonal products, while locals hungry for lunch wait in line at some of the city's most popular vendors. It’s the ultimate place to plan a wine country picnic: Pick up bread from Acme Bakery, charcuterie from Boccalone, cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, and ginger cookies from Miette Bakery. Or eat at The Slanted Door, chef Charles Phan’s legendary Vietnamese restaurant.
With its entrance on one of the city’s best known streets—La Rambla—the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria is a world-famous market in the heart of Barcelona. The first mention of La Boqueria dates all the way back to 1217, and the metal roof that covers the current fish market was built in 1914. Endless trays of colorful gummy candy, ham legs hanging by the hoof, dried ñora peppers, and just-picked bright green calçots (the prized Catalonian green onion) are a few of the items you can pick up while browsing the endless stalls at La Boqueria.
The Borough Market has been in London’s Southwark district for 1000 years. It’s a bustling gathering place for chefs, restaurateurs, and food lovers, with bakers, butchers, and farmers selling their specially crafted and grown goods. The products and food available are an international melting pot: You can eat virtually anything. Mediterranean roast goat with soft pita, traditional Austrian kasekrainer sausages, fragrant Ethiopian doro tibs, and spicy Caribbean jerk chicken are just a few of the delectable noshes you’ll discover at England’s most beloved market.
Pike Place Market opened in Seattle on August 17, 1907. It’s a community market run for the people by the people: When the city wanted to tear it down in the 1960s, architect Victor Steinbrueck rallied to save Pike Place, and voters stood by his plan to preserve the 17-acre historic district. The fish market is famous for its “fish toss,” in which the fishmongers throw fish from one stall to the next while hamming it up with customers. Around 200 local craftspeople offer handmade treasures, local farmers sell seasonal produce, and more than 30 restaurants serve up tantalizing house-made pastas, super-fresh fried fish sandwiches, and bento boxes filled with sensational sushi.
Grand Central Market is a 30,000-square-foot market located in downtown Los Angeles. It first opened in 1917, and has been an operating food emporium ever since. However, in 2012, it underwent a culinary renaissance, spearheaded by the property’s owner, Adele Yellin. Suddenly, the market became a darling favorite of the foodie set. The entire market—which features 38 vendors total—was named one of Bon Appetit’s top 10 best new restaurants in 2014. Sip cold-brewed fizzy tea, devour gorditas hot off the griddle, eat sticky rice covered in green papaya salad, and walk home with soft-ripened goat cheese, organic humanely raised beef, and cold-pressed liquid-gold green juice.
On the Boulevard Raspail in Paris is Le Marché Biologique, an organic market that Ina Garten shops at while in France. It takes place on Sundays and can be crowded with shoppers, so don’t forget to bring your patience—and come hungry. You’ll find scrumptious vegetable and lentil salads, metal covered pots with savory soups, and fried potato pancakes with onion and cheese. If you want to pick up ingredients, you’ll find everything: wheels of cheese bigger than your head, loaves of soft, chewy bread, and baskets filled with fresh green produce.
To be a part of the action at Tokyo’s Tsukiji, the largest seafood market in the world, you have to wake up early. Things start at 3 a.m., when the first ships and trucks begin to haul in the fish. About 60,000 people work at the market, which sells whole tuna, whale meat, sea urchins, and more to restaurants all over the globe. The inner market is only for licensed wholesale dealers, but the outer market is open to the public and is filled with groceries, Japanese cooking tools, seafood, and sushi restaurants. If you want to see the historic market, which was created by Tokugawa Ieyasu in the late 1500s, you must do it soon. In November of this year, the government is moving the market, much to the disappointment of many fisherman and seafood sellers, to a new location in preparation for the 2020 Olympics.
The Spice Bazaar is located in the heart of Istanbul. Also known as The Egyptian Bazaar, the covered market was built in 1660. It is the center for spice trade in Turkey, as well as a popular tourist attraction for the thousands of people who visit it daily. Eighty-five shops sell spices, Turkish delight, dried fruit and nuts, and a plethora of exotic souvenirs. Shop fresh foodstuffs—including a stellar selection of local cheese—on the west side of the market at the outdoor stalls. There is also a famous Turkish coffee supplier, Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi, and a well known kitchenware shop, Hasırcılar Caddesi, that should not be missed.