Shopping for fish in Barcelona may seem like an easy task. Hundreds of varieties of fresh fish arrive in the Mediterranean’s biggest port daily leaving quite the assortment available to the customer. In my short time living in Barcelona, I’ve learned that his also means quite the opportunity to pull the wool over on tourists. Now there are reputable purveyors in all of the major market’s but in this article I will list the pitfalls and what to look for when selecting fish for your next special meal. Boqueria Market is very well located with variety to boot. It’s also teaming with tourists which means there are pickpockets about so you must be wary of all of your personal belongings. Additionally, beyond the basics of selecting fish (clean smell, scales firmly attached to flesh, clear eyes) you must be careful to watch the market vendors when they organize your purchase. Keep an eye on your selection while its placed on the scale – I’ve seen vendors blatantly replace fish selected for lesser fish. Or place 13 gammas in your bag when you’ve asked for eight. Or of coarse, change the price to one more favorable to the merchant instead of using the advertised price. All that being said – there are a couple of honorable vendors in Boquaria. Look for locals purchasing large amounts of fish for their small restaurants and you’re on the right track.
Santa Caterina Market is another vibrant, local venue for shopping for fish in Barcelona. Prices are comparable with Boquaria and a slightly more local feel. There are fewer options with variety of fish however. Get here early, around 8:00 am to view the best of what these guys have for the day. If this is your local market, I recommend establishing a report with a fish monger you feel comfortable around and give him your business. Basic Spanish language skills helps.
My personal favorite fish market is now Sant Antoni market. Not once did anyone speak with me in English or haste that I buy fish from them – It was the most local experience I’ve had at the markets here. You still must shop around as quality and prices vary – but there are over 10 fish mongers at Sant Antoni and the competition drives the prices more affordable. Have us plan a meal for you using fish purchased from our favorite vendors.