While Valencia’s Central Market is widely acknowledged as the go-to food market for both locals and tourists, there are other options for curious cooks who want to get to know the local food offerings. Mercat de Russafa (The Russafa Market) and the Mercat del Cabanyal (Cabanyal Market) offer Valencian meats, produce, spices and kitchen goods, and are both large, mostly indoor markets tucked away in easily accessible neighborhoods outside the main tourist areas. As such these two local markets offer travelers the chance to meet providers who supply a lot of local restaurants and household shoppers.
Russafa Market (Mercat de Russafa)
Opened in 1957, the Mercat de Russafa is a classic, solid local institution that anchors the vibrant Russafa neighborhood in central Valencia (not far from the north train station and the bull ring – Plaza de Toros de Valencia, and walking distance from the old city). The market is not grand or glitzy. But, having served the Russafa district for decades it is reliable, clean, and the produce, meats, fish, spices, and other products sold in the market’s 160 stalls are reasonably priced and reflect the everyday food choices of a typical Valenciano.
During my timein Valencia I was fortunate enough to stay in a flat about 50m from the 4,780sqm Russafa Market. As a result, the people I saw both in front of and behind the counters (buying and selling) were also people I saw out and about in the neighborhood. And over the course of my visit I got a sense that much of the popular Russafa neighborhood’s residents gravitate towards this market. While there are other small markets and corner shops, it’s pretty clear that many/most of the locals turn to Mercat de Russafa for their fresh produce, meats, and seafood.
Cabanyal Market (Mercat del Cabanyal)
East of central Valencia, out near the coast in the historic Cabanyal neighborhood, the Mercat del Cabanyal is a combination of indoor food market and outdoor shops with flowers, paella pans and accessories, and other items, said by some to be the largest in Valencia. Whether that claim is true or not, it’s certainly huge, and offers visitors the chance to learn more about Valencia’s foodways and everyday shopping habits for things like housewares and kitchen goods.
Inside, the market offers a wide variety of fresh produce, Spanish cheeses, Spanish hams, fresh seafood, and all of the local rice varieties and spices (like smoked paprika and saffron) required to make an authentic Valencian paella. And outside, a series of small storefronts supply a range of paella pans (steel and enamel-coated), long-handled utensils, and the extra large double-ring gas burners used to cook a paella.
As touring the market won’t take more than an hour or so, any excursion to Cabanyal is also the perfect excuse to head out toward the beach, explore this historic part of town, and tour the nearby rice museum (Museo del Arroz de Valencia).
Bordering the sea, it’s logical that Cabanyal was once known as a maritime community. But that doesn’t explain the little artistic flourishes (tiles and murals) found throughout this charming , hitstoric “fisherman’s quarter”. They give the area around the market a stylistic unity that speaks to a long, shared past, and the need to make the “everyday” something special.
TIP: The Cabanyal Market is located only a short distance from Valencia’s broad flat, sunny beach, walking strand, and a collection of seaside restaurants.
In a city where food culture is taken seriously in the form of paella, tapas, bunuelos, horchata and Agua de Valencia, the local market tends to be a central focus of the community, and both the Russafa Market and the Cabanyal Market reflect the pace of life, food preferences, and daily food rituals in two very different Valencian neighborhoods.
Text and photos by Glenn D. Kaufmann
Mercat de Russafa
Estamos en Plaza Barón de Cortes, s/n
Monday-Saturday 7am – 3pm
Mercat del Cabanyal
C/ Martí Grajales, 4
Monday-Saturday 7am – 2:30pm (Friday evenings until 8:30pm)
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