La Boqueria – Barcelona’s Spectacular Food Market

“It is a paradise for the senses. Wake to the smells and colors of the Boqueria. A multitude of feelings that ‘s open passage between the busy comings and goings of people in the right profession strives to buy and sell.” – Manuel Ripoll, President of the Merchants Association de le Boqueria.

The Mercat de San Josep de la Boqueria, also known simply as La Boqueria, is located in Barcelona, Spain.  It is in the Ciutat Vella district of Barcelona, right on the famous street of Las Ramblas.  It is an open air, public market, which is constantly buzzing with both Barcelona residents and of course, tourists.  It is said that the Boqueria dates back all the way to 1217, where it started as just a meat market.  As the market kept expanding, now offering other food options such as cheeses, fruits and vegetables, etc.  In 1826 the market was officially recognized, but it was not until March 19th, 1840 that construction began to build an official structure.  The structure of this market was designed by architect Mas Vila.  After a permanent metal roof was built over the market, things began to modernize in an asthetic and decorative way, and the sanitary level greatly improved.  Since la Boqueria has been a part of Barcelona culture for so many years, residents hold a great meaning to the market.  Often times present day salesmen are mostly of the third and fourth generation of salesmen at the market.

¨After all, the market is all about its people!¨

Today, La Boqueria is still very popular by Barcelona residents as well as being a huge tourist attraction.  It has won a numerous amount of awards, including best market in the world, awarded by the World Markets Congress held in Washington DC in 2005.  According the the official Boqueria website today, ¨The commercial supply is in abundance and varies greatly: fresh fish and sea food; salty fish; tinned food; butchery and offal; birds; game and eggs; fruits and vegetables; herbs; delicatessen; breads and pastries; restaurants; frozen items; artisan products; charcuterie; farmers’ shops; wine; and even a Greek and an Italian hand made pasta stall have joined the  consortium/maelstrom that keeps La Boqueria alive.¨

Restaurants in La Boqueria

The Boqueria not only offers a large selection of fresh foods from vendors, but there are also renowned restaurants which offer a great insight into spanish cuisine.

El Quim de la Boqueria is a family run business, with a father, mother, and son working together to make some of Barcelona’s best tapas.  El Quim was started by Quim himself, in 1987.  He began his restaurant in the market with a simple three meter long counter and five stools.  For years he worked very hard at keeping his business alive and flourishing, desperate to fine loyal customers, be well known, and always offer a high level of service.  By 1991, Quim still had only a small counter, and the same five stools, but was selling more than 100 meals during rush hour.  Quim continued to offer a high level of service and great quality food at his small stall, until in 2000 when he saw an opportunity to expand, and he opened a larger El Quim de la Boqueria, with a sixteen meter counter with eighteen stools, right across from his other bar.  Quim is very passionate about what he does saying, “I want my modest place to be a meeting point of cultures and tastes with a unique devotion: gastronomy. A place where you can taste real market food from La Boqueria market. She has been the mother of “Quim de la Boqueria” and working here daily I want to return all she has given to me.”

Pinotxo tapas bar is another great restaurant option within La Boqueria.  It is a fourteen seat tapas bar specializing in traditional catalan cuisine.  It is located right at the entrance of the market, and is always buzzing with people.  It is very rare to find a seat right away, usually a 15-20 minute wait is expected.  Owner Juanito Bayen and his employees are always dressed in a vest and bow tie, and are constantly in conversation with customers.  A unique aspect of this tapas bar is that there is no menu, so your waiter must recommend dishes to you, including the constantly changing daily specials.  “Bar Pinotxo is as much about the people as it is about the food. I usually don’t like being told what to eat, but when Mr. Bayen does it, it’s all good. ” – food critic, the gastronomer.

The Boqueria Experience

Most people come to the Boqueria to get fresh groceries. and it is all about the smells and bright colors that constantly surround you while you shop.  As a current resident of Barcelona, and because I live very close, in the gothic quarter, the Boqueria has become the only place that I buy my fruits and vegetables.  The options are limitless, the market offers every type of fresh food.  Apart from having an amazing selection of high quality and very fresh food, it has become a place I really enjoy going to as I have gotten to know the people working there.  Below are some pictures that best display the amazing food and people you will experience when you visit the Boqueria.

I asked Colleen Cunningham, a current student in Barcelona, and frequent shopper at the Boqueria what her favorite part about it was, here is her response.

Here is a tour of La Boqueria, featuring the restaurant Pinotxo.

Limitless Options

Not only are the options endless when it comes to shopping at the Boqueria, but it also takes things one step further by offering a food school.  The Boqueria Food School offers classes that combine both theory and practice, where variety and origin of the products, cooking techniques, preparation of conservation, and much more is discussed.  The school offers class for people of all ages and experience.  This is an amazing opportunity for people to learn more about using the foods they have bought at the market, and how they work in Catalan cuisine.

So now you’re probably wondering, how do I get there?

AND here’s a map for when you arrive!




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