Is there anything more local that eating in a market in Barcelona? In a city like Barcelona it is easy to get distracted with Gaudí monuments, museums, parcs and many activities to do but the true essence of a place is the culture and the traditions. For me the food, is the best way to go through the culture and a local market surrounded by locals and eat the way we do it is the best way to immerse in the culture.

The most famous market in Barcelona is la Boqueria market in the city center, but there are many more markets with good quality of food and most of them have bars and little restaurants with fresh fish, meat, fruit etc...

Mercat del Ninot

Barcelona market Mercat del Ninot

Barcelona market Mercat del Ninot

Mercat del Ninot is a local market in Barcelona that has recently been renovated, but this market is full of history in its walls. The market was built in 1892 and the original name was "Mercat El Porvenir" which means the market of the future since it was the only market in the area. In 1993 the market was rebuilt from being and outdoors market to a covered market as it is nowadays.

The market though actually took the name that the population gave to it: "The doll market" because of a doll that decorated a tavern in the surroundings. The tavern was famous to sell the cheapest wine in Barcelona at that time because of its location, the tavern did not have to pay the city fees for alcohol so here is the reason for their great prices.

The doll has a full story on its own, it seems that the doll figurehead in the façade of the tavern was originally from the prow of a brigantine sailboat and they were about to burn it. The daughter from the tavern saw the dolly figure and ask her fiancée to save it from the fire and they brought it to the tavern and placed it as decoration on the outside. This is the story of how the market got the popular name to be the official one!

La Medusa 73: eat in a local market in Barcelona

From left to right, croquettes, clams, octopus and langoustines

From left to right, croquettes, clams, octopus and langoustines

We went for an early dinner at Mercat del Ninot, a food market in Barcelona that is near the city center but away from the crowds very near Hospital Clinic L5 in the underground. We arrived at around 8 pm, the place is called La Medusa 73 and is a fish shop but they also have a tasting counter with stools where you can try their dishes with fresh fish from the same shop.

There is no steady menu since every day what they sell is different it depends on what they actually have available at the shop, they get up at 2 am every morning to go get the best fish into the wholesale fish market in town.

Some dishes such as the squid and the cuttlefish are available almost everyday, but some others are specialties of the day. This is a good thing, there are new dishes every now and then so you don't need to repeat dishes.

We started with a very interesting taste of different products and some of them I am sure you have never seen before, so I will do a tour around our dishes:

Our fish tapas were some langoustine and hake croquettes, "mojama" -salted tuna- with cherries and cheese, razor clams, clams, some langoustines, cuttlefish and mushrooms, octopus with shitake etc...

What took my attention and I have never seen was some raw clams they brought us called cloïsses de carril gran. These type of clams are so delicate that they can't be cooked otherwise the shell cracks and breaks into pieces. They had a salty sea taste but so soft at the same time, they rank now on the top of my list!

Raw clams: cloïses de carril

Raw clams: cloïses de carril

I also discovered razor clams, it was my first time for them and I tried it in La Medusa 73 in the market and I liked them, so one more favorite to the list.

Our main dish was a black rice with cuttlefish and clams -arròs negre amb sèpia i cloïses-, in Catalonia black rice is very common, it is not that the rice itself it is black but that it is coloured with the same squid ink so it gives not only color but also taste. Our rice dish cost around 16 euros and it was a complete individual plate, I liked that very much since normally in restaurant paellas or rice dishes are always for a minimum of two people.

I love paellas for one, so you can make your own choice without being forced to buy two dishes at a minimum. If you plan to try the rice but you don't feel like eating a full paella this little ones are a great option.

Black rice

Black rice

When to go and how to get there

This taste of fish dishes is inside of the market and in line with what is on sale in the fish shop, they open early in the morning so it is a good idea to go for a brunch or lunch, but be aware that it is the rush hour around 2 pm.

They are opened in the evening too, so if you would like an early dinner for Spanish times, from 7 pm to 9 pm it is a more quiet time.

The best way to get there is to use the underground L5 Hospital Clinic, the blue line and it is just two streets away from the metro stop.

Mallorca, 135 Stall 73

Mercat del Ninot- La Medusa 73

Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to 9pm