Aperitivos have become one of my new favorite things in life. Especially, aperitivos from Madrid’s Market de San Fernando.
It’s truly everything I adore all at once: conversing with a lot of friends, eating a bunch of different cuisines, and drinking. I’m not sure how I missed this previously.
Aperitivos is similar to a Spanish brunch. It is theoretically possible to do it any day of the week, although it is most common on weekends.
Although there are aperitivo locations all around town, and I’ve tried a few, my favorite was Mercado de San Fernando. Since it was (extremely) filled with locals, it seemed the most real. On my walking food tour of Madrid, we also visited another market, although that one, in my view, was more geared toward visitors.
The Market de San Fernando is in Madrid’s Lavapis district. In addition to food, the market offers crafts and has many bookshops, one of which sells books by weight!
When in Madrid, don’t miss out on the following activities that will let you immerse yourself in the city (get them while they’re hot!):
- Madrid Tapas Night Walking Tour
- Full Day Tour Ávila and Segovia from Madrid with Tickets to Monuments Included
- Flamenco Show at Corral de la Morería in Madrid with Optional Dinner
The Finest Aperitivos at San Fernando Market
Now here’s how aperitivos work: throughout the week, the market offers traditional products like fresh fruits, meats, cheeses, and so on. During weekends, though, it transforms into a food market.
You and your buddies enter, choose a bar for beverages, and reserve a table.
You then purchase small meals from the bar, or even better, have a few pals go out and get food for the group.
It is best not to get everything from the same vendor since everyone has their own expertise.
You may get the croquettes from one of the stalls.
Yet, the blood sausage served with fries and an egg from a separate restaurant.
The best-looking octopus was at the vendor around the corner (pulpo a la gallega)
But the meatballs at the stall closest to the entryway were too good to pass up.
You couldn’t visit Spain and not taste jamn Iberico (ham). Yet, if you’re going to eat ham, you’ll almost certainly need to acquire some cheese as well.
Your table will eventually look something like this:
And while you sit about drinking, talking, and nibbling, you could find yourself wanting a second round. Then your table will look something like this:
Hanging about with old friends, making new ones, munching on amazing fresh local speciality dishes, and drinking it all down with beer, wine, or sangria.
I’m not sure why it took me so long to find aperitivos, but now that I know about them, I’m hoping to include them into my weekend habit whenever feasible.
Mercado de San Fernando (San Fernando Market) is situated on Calle Embajadores 41 in Madrid, Spain. The location is served by many metro lines, however the Lavapis line is the closest station from most directions.
While there are no English menus, many of the booth proprietors do know some English. Worst case scenario, do like I did and brush up on your rusty high school Spanish (and when that fails, point). Since each stall seems to specialize in one product, you can simply point to what everyone else appears to be ordering or leaving with.
No one appeared to know the actual hours of the market, but as business began to dwindle about 5, booth owners began to close their doors. I would aim to come early enough for a 5-5:30 completion time.
For further information, you may visit this page in Spanish.