Mercado da Ribeira: New life, old Lisbon food market
Guest Post: Princess Pappoe
Established in 1882, Mercado da Riberia also called the River Market has been in existence as far back in the 13th century. The market covers 10,000 square meters which makes it Lisbon’s and one of Europe’s largest food markets.
Fresh Food Market
The first stop for me was the Mercado da Riberia fruits and vegetables market where I was surprised to see cocoyam on offer. The various food stalls are neatly arranged in rows and even though there were a couple of camera wielding tourists sampling the market’s delights the majority were locals. The fish market was next. This was apparently one of the most famous fish markets in Europe. A vibrant and colourful flower section to Mercado da Riberia was not too far off. The assault of subtle smells and colour to the senses was overwhelming.
Curated Artisanal Food
The highlight of my visit, however, was the Mercado da Ribeira food court, a section that seats about 500 people and was developed as recently as 2014 by Time Out Lisbon. It is hip, modern, suave and has breathed new life into the old Mercado da Ribiera. I ordered the francesinha classica which had beef, pork sausage, ham cheese and egg from the Marlene Vieria stall. Francesinha which meaans Little Frenchie in Portuguese is a popular Portuguese sandwich originally from Porto. In Porto it is made with bread, cured ham, fresh sausage, steak and covered with melted cheese. The sauce is made of a hot thick tomato and beer sauce. Francesinha is served with french fries.
I had throughout this holiday, been impressed with the friendliness of the Portuguese. It was, therefore, no surprise when Bruno, a student in a nearby college, struck conversation and told me about how his grandfather made great Francesinha. Bruno, originally from Porto himself, was fun to talk to and was looking forward to coming to my city – London in next year for the first time.
This is not street food as I have experienced in London or Istanbul and elsewhere. The “stalls” are more like mini restaurants serving gourmet food from Asian, Portuguese, Italian, seafood, burgers, tapas, veggie, pastries and much more.
The Arts and Adornments….
For instagrammers out there, pop up to the next floor up for a fuller view of the fresh food market. This is an artistic section that has beautifully coloured stairs to take you up, rather like Istanbul’s rainbow stairs. Decorational tiles are a feature of Portuguese architecture and as you stroll on the upper floor of the Mercado da Ribeira you’ll find some of the more colourful varieties adorning the Moorish style archways.
Mercado da Ribiera is also a haunt for young professionals usually busy typing away on their Apple MacBooks in Lisbon’s Cais do Sodre, Baixa and Chido area. My newly found friend did say though that he comes in sparingly because the prices are relatively on the high side. There is a strong older presence of older folks, probably retired folks, in the fresh food market and in the food court. Cooking classes are also offered for those inspired enough to create their own meals and dishes.This is an unmissable must see and experience thing to do in Lisbon and if your stay in Lisbon is reasonably long then i’d suggest you make several trips, certainly more than one to sample different dishes.
Traveller and Foodie : Princess Pappoe
Address: Avenida 24 de Julho – Cais do Sodre, Lisbon, Portugal
- OPENING HOURS
- Mon – Sat
- 05:00 – 14:00
- – – – – – – – – – – – – –
- FOOD COURT
- OPENING HOURS
- Thu – Sat
- 10:00 – 14:00
- Sun – Wed
- 10:00 – 00:00
Nearest train station: Cais do Sodre