How to grocery shop in Madrid

How To's / Where To's, Shopping in Madrid

by Julie Espinosa

Shops in Madrid

SPECIALTY SHOPS: For fresh, affordable fruit, meats, seafood and bread, compare prices at competing fruterías (fruit and veg), charcuterías (delicatessen, ham, cheese etc), carnicerías (meat), pescaderías (fish) and panaderías (bread) in your neighborhood and at local mercado (market) stalls. Check the euro/kilo price at the specific supermarket section, but know that fruit is always cheapest and bread always freshest at individual fruit shops and bakeries.

At small shops, customers mill about chatting or looking at the merchandise. Upon arrival, ask “¿La última?” The last person will pipe up; now you know when it’s your turn. The shopkeeper takes and fills orders so you will never touch the food; you may get the occasional bruised fruit, but not many.

SUPER… and HIPER-MARKETS: Save the supermarket for prepackaged items like coffee, yogurt, beans, spices, ice cream, cereal, etc. or hard-to-find imported items.

Some supermarkets charge for plastic bags. Do as the locals and bring your own carrito (cart – see bottom right photo above) or at least reusable canvas bags. At the entrance lockers, lock up the carrito and anything else you brought. Insert a 50-cent piece to release the key (you’ll get it back). Shopping carts are coin-released too. For large purchases, home delivery is available. Popular chains include Día, Mercadona, SuperSol, and Carrefour. I recommend Mercadona.


Comment from marina
Date: October 14, 2007, 7:48 pm

As Julie, I also prefer buying in the small shops. If you do so regularly shop-assistants will get to know your tastes and will offer you those delicious figs that you like so much, or as happened to me last Thursday when I was shopping for a dinner party, the fishmonger suggested how to cook a particular fish or explain different ways to cook “berberechos” (=similar to clams): “al vapor” (=steamed) or “a la plancha” (=grilled with garlic and parsley). Note that also in the markets these days is common to find a delicatessen or two with delicious things from around the world.