Monday, May 25, 2015

Top Food Markets of the World: Mercado Central

We’re off to Chile next for round five of our Top Food Markets of the World Series! Next stop – Mercado Central.

via Flickr by BruceW.
Nestled right in the heart of Santiago, the Mercado Central first opened its doors in 1872. It originated as a replacement to the Plaza del Abasto, which was destroyed by a fire in 1864. Since opening, the Mercado Central has become a common stop for the country's top restaurateurs, locals, and (of course) tourists. While you can find some produce, deli-ware, bakeries and pharmacy items, the main reason to visit this particular market is for the vast selection of seafood.

Mercado Central

via Flickr by Nicolas de Camaret

Location: Santiago, Chile

Operating Hours: Open Daily

Where Should I Go?

If you are looking for perhaps the most varied selection of seafood and impressive butchers in South America, then look no further. You’ll find both of these at Mercado Central. The selection of sea fare is seriously impressive and much of it is completely unknown outside of Chile.

Do you fancy a quick bite instead? Mercado Central is home to many little restaurants that specialise in local Chilean cuisine, so you’re sure to find something that will satisfy everyone.

via Flickr by Alvaro_Tapia
A word of warning: be careful when perusing this market, it's said that the floors are often slippery from frequent rinsing. As usual, exercise caution and be wary of pickpockets and scalpers.

What Visitors are Saying

“Mercado central market in Santiago is mainly a fish market. One can see different varieties of shell fish and other fishes. The choice is amazing.” – Ravi K
“It does smell like fish, but that’s because there are fresh fish there. The area outside is bustling and has many tourists as well as street vendors.” – RandyKasal
“We went through the market and there was something to eat, drink, and buy at every turn!! Great selection of everything.” – mammatVancouver
“Absolutely packed with customers buying seafood but what an experience. Half the population of Santiago seemed like they were there for the biggest range of fish I think I’ve ever seen in one place. Right in the middle was a range of restaurants offering almost any seafood meal your heart could desire.” – GIL440
The fish market in Santiago is an experience. It is very crowded, crazy, colorful, and noisy. Everywhere you look there are stalls with many different kinds of fish.” – Susan U 
“We explored the market and marveled at the amazing array of fish and seafood. We decided to have lunch there but how to decide on one of the many places available? This man says his is the best, that man says his is better...we enjoyed the interactions and finally decided upon one which suited us very well.” – OntarioAmelia

The Bottom Line

There’s a good reason that this busy fish market made it on to the National Geographic’s list – the selection is second to none! Whether you’re in search or fresh ingredients or are more interested in sampling the local cuisine, you will find exactly what you’re looking for at Mercado Central. There’s nothing fishy about this market...except the fish!

via Flickr by CocombreLibre
Have you visited the Mercado Central before? We’d love to hear about your experience (and what you bought!) in the comments below.