MADRID, SPAIN. Dinner at the market? If that’s a suggestion a special someone makes to you for a romantic date, you might not think them that special anymore. Markets, though known for fresh, local produce, aren’t usually the hippest place to picotear and party. Usually, that is.
In Madrid, however, things are different. The market revolution started in 2009, when the Mercado San Miguel re-opened its wrought-iron structure as the trendy place to be. Now, another market has followed in its footsteps: the Mercado San Antón.
Located in the central barrio of Chueca, replete with lively bars and notorious as Madrid’s gay neighborhood, the Mercado San Antón brings together international cuisine stands. (Editor’s Note: check back next week for MADbudget’s exclusive feature on the Mercado San Antón).
The real gourmet highlight of the market is located on the top floor. Here, you’ll find La Cocina de San Antón (literally translates as “the kitchen of San Antón”). Run by none other than Cinco Jotas, or “5J,” a company famous for its expertise in Iberian ham, La Cocina de San Antón brings you more than just a good plate of jamón.
In fact, the restaurant comes with a unique, new concept of market dining:
(1) You pick your fresh, local produce, fish and meat downstairs at one of the partnering market stands.
(2) Shopping bag in hand, you arrive at La Cocina de San Antón and hand over the purchases to your waiter.
(3) Pick how you want your food cooked, and the salsa as well as side dishes you want it accompanied with.
(4) A few minutes later, it’ll appear on the table, beautifully presented.
It’s as simply as that.
Those who don’t arrive at the restaurant with their purchases in hand – no need to despair. There’s a fun menu of dishes to choose from. “Fun” because the menu itself seeks to be cheeky: Qué te quiero verde (“I love you green”) is a section dedicated to vegetable-based dishes, such as a Wok de verduras, brotes de soja y salsa teriyaki (vegetable wok with soy sprouts and a terriyaki sauce; 7.00 Euros) or a parrillada natural de verduras baby (plate of grilled baby vegetables; 10.00 Euros).
Those who like to eat soup in hand should head for the “Cuchara en mano” section, where you savor a salmorejo con picadillo de huevo y Paleta 5J (salmorejo soup with egg and ham; 3.00 Euros for a small portion, 7.50 Euros for a large portion).
There’s also an entire section dedicated to jamburguesas – yes, it’s really spelled that way. If you’re coming alone, open up the “¿Para mí solito?” section. Here, a must-try is the Ceviche de pulpo con vinagreta de cítricos y calabaza (octupus ceviche with citric and pumpkin vinagrette; 8.00 Euros).
The “de moro fino” section is a word play on “moro” which also means “male chauvinist pig.” Here, you’ll find all kinds of dishes based on Iberian ham – if you want a steak, try the Solomillo ibérico al Pedro Ximénez (8.80 Euros for a small portion; 15.10 for the whole thing).
“Tierra, mar y aire,” meaning “land, sea, air,” is where you’ll find another favorite: the rabas de bogavante, or lobster fries (13.40 Euros).
Top it off with a “final feliz,” a happy ending. If you’re adventurous, head straight for the sorbete de cactus y tequila (cactus and tequila sorbet) or if you’re missing home, a chesecake con galleta y fresa (cheesecake with cookies and strawberries).
La Cocina de San Antón will make you feel at home in no time. In fact, you won’t ever be alone – the place fills up day, night and especially on weekends. In the summer, you can also eat on the outdoor terrace, which is great for drinks in the evening, too. Come accompanied or in search of accompaniment. Just make a reservation if you want to get a spot.
LA COCINA DE SAN ANTON
Mercado de San Antón
Calle Augusto Figueroa 24, 3rd Fl.
Tel. +34 91 330 02 94
Metro: Chueca (L5)
Menu: click here.