Looking for a cheap city break in Europe? One of the best ways to enjoy a cheap foodie holiday is by checking out the local street food markets. Here’s our guide to the best indoor street food markets in Europe.
Check out Mercando San Ildefonso in Madrid, Copenhagen Street Food in the Danish capital, the Foodhallen in Amsterdam and Marché des Enfants Rouges in Paris. From ramen in Madrid, to bao in Berlin, these food markets offer a range of cuisines. Here are some of the best places in Europe to get your street food fix.
Meanwhile, take a look at our favourite street food stalls in the UK here…
At Mercado San Ildefonso, in Madrid’s thrumming Malasaña district, you can sample food from 18 different stalls. As at all good street food markets ramen and dim sum fans are catered for but San Ildefonso really shines in its representation of Spanish flavours and cooking styles, making many of them available under one roof. Look out for prized prawns from the seaside town of Huelva, paella to go and exemplary croquettas. Other highlights include Venezuelan-style cornbread sandwiches called “arepas”.
In the heart of one of the capital’s most vibrant neighbourhoods, this custom-designed street food space is spread over three floors. Set on the site of a 19th century food market, there’s a fuss-free, industrial feel to proceedings. And a sociable vibe that comes from having plenty of places to perch while you eat, and the addition of several bars serving interesting Spanish wines by the glass. mercadodesanildefonso.com
It comes as no great surprise that there should be a standout covered street food market in gastro-hotspot Denmark. In fact, there are more than one but our pick is Copenhagen Street Food, where you’ll find a world of flavours under one roof – Korean, Mexican, Italian, Japanese and Turkish are just a few of the different cuisines on offer here, as well as drinks, coffee and craft beers.
Established by two local foodie entrepreneurs and set in a former paper mill on Copenhagen’s aptly named Paper Island, the mission here is to offer sustainably produced street food at reasonable prices. An enviable position on the harbour front means that, when the weather permits, diners can sit on deckchairs and eat outside admiring views across the city. When the Baltic winds begin to blow, however, hunker down inside and grab a spot at one of the communal indoor tables. copenhagenstreetfood.dk
Part of an imaginatively renovated former tram depot, De Hallen, in Amsterdam’s up and coming Oud-West district, Foodhallen is the place to head for if you’re in search of made-to-order wood-fired pizzas, bao, tacos or waffles in the Dutch capital.
Of the 20 or so street food kiosks that jostle for hungry diners’ attention around a central bar (dotted around the space are other specialty wine, gin and beer bars) a definite highlight is De Ballenbar. Headed up by chef Peter Gast it offers a gourmet take on the classic Dutch snack, bitterballen, with flavours such as chorizo, goats cheese and even bouillabaisse. In search of entertainment, as well as food? Go on a Thursday or Friday, when there’s a Beats and Bites night running until 1am, with more of a party atmosphere. Occasional special events are also held at the market throughout the year. foodhallen.nl
If you’re in Amsterdam, hop on the train to Utrecht, a smaller city with plenty of cheaper options for foodies. Here’s our guide to the best places to eat and drink in Utrecht…
Berlin’s Markthalle Neun is, arguably, the German capital’s best food market. Set in the thick of the achingly hip Kreuzberg neighbourhood, surrounded by a hive of independent shops and art galleries, the market is housed in a 19th century market hall (one of only three to survive bombing raids during WWII), with meat counters, cheese stalls and wine merchants setting up shop most days.
Streetfood Thursdays are the real crowd puller, though, when a stellar range of food stalls (everything from smoked meats, waffles, Korean bao, meatballs and craft beer brewed in the cellars below the market) means the whole place buzzes with hungry gourmets. Or, stop by on the third Sunday of the month to catch the popular breakfast market. markthalleneun.de
Browse the boutiques of the Haute Marais, in the 3rd arrondissement, then do as the local bobos (bourgeois bohemians) do and join one of the communal tables at the Marché des Enfants Rouges to eat from one of its 20 or so food stalls. Tucked behind wrought iron gates on the rue de Bretagne, this is the oldest covered market in Paris, and a protected historic landmark, having first been founded in 1615.
The market takes its name from the former orphanage on whose site it stands (its children wore red jackets) and, having evolved over the centuries, is now both a charmingly haphazard affair and a destination dining hotspot. Aromas of Moroccan, Lebanese, African and Japanese food stalls all mingle here to delicious effect – try fluffly couscous from Le Traiteur Marocain, or crêpes and sandwiches from Chez Alain Miam Miam. marchedesenfantsrougesfr.com
Check out our favourite places to drink in Paris while you’re there…
Inspired by the food markets in Copenhagen and Rotterdam, Holy Food market is housed in the grand 16th-century Baudelo Chapel in Ghent. There are 17 stalls to try, from Malaysian cuisine to avocado on toast. Try Belgium croquettes from Bubba in the classic cheese flavour, or seasonal ones including asparagus and shrimp, or if you fancy something fishy, the Sea Me wine bar serves oysters in a relaxed atmosphere. Head to Cuberdon Carl for a traditional Ghent cuberdon, also known as ‘noses’ due to their shape. Cuberdon Carl serves the dish in creative ways, be it a cuberdon cheese or even cuberdon beer. holyfoodmarket.be/en
Credit: Peter Baas
Set a few hours aside to try all the food on offer at this indoor food market, from steak to seafood, tacos to croquettes. Dig into a bowl of spicy paella or try over 150 artisan cheeses from all over the world. If you’re visiting in the summer, make sure to grab a few scoops of fruity sorbet from Mascarpone. mercadolonjadelbarranco.com
Words | Aoife O’Riordain
If you’re looking for a cheap hotel if you’re on a budget, check out our favourite bargain hotels here…