Barcelona’s most famous food market, La Boqueria, an elegant wrought-iron-and-glass pavilion on La Rambla that opened in the 1800s, has become one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. But if you get here on a weekday at 8 a.m., just as the doors open, you’ll still be able to savor the almost devotional atmosphere at this temple to the Catalan passion for food. Every stall holder is reverently proud of his or her produce and strives to display it in the most alluring way possible.
On my recent visit, a gentle-looking older woman with a colorful apron over her flowered housedress was arranging tiny fragile wooden boxes of wild strawberries, picked just a few hours earlier. When I stopped to admire them, she smiled and said, “They are like small gems, but, better still, you can eat them!” The fish stands are a tour de force, including my favorite, Peix Pepi i Eva (Stand #801). And in season, stop by Bolets Petràs (Stand #867) for a spectacular display of wild mushrooms from the Pyrenees. Pick up a few slices of jamón Ibérico de Bellota from one of the ham vendors for snacking later in the day, and then snag a seat at the counter of El Quim de la Boqueria (Stand #606) for a Mediterranean breakfast. Here, you should order fried eggs with baby squid and pan con tomate (bread smeared with fresh tomato, plus olive oil and salt) like the locals. When the crowds start to thicken around 10 a.m., you’ll know it’s time to move on.
La Rambla 91. Open Monday-Saturday 8 a.m.-8:30 p.m.