Chile has an extraordinarily long coastline. The country is very long and very narrow, and runs along over half of the eastern coastline of South America.
All that coastline, from the tropics to its wintry southern tip, means a staggering variety of seafood is part of Chile’s cuisine. And not just fish, but a huge variety of shellfish. Oysters, scallops, mussels, razor clams, and a bunch of other types that only have local names.
Many of them are for sale in Santiago’s Mercado Central, a mecca for fresh, local seafood. And if you’re not in a position to cook up your own meal, a series of bustling restaurants in the center of the market will cook up delicious market-fresh meals for very reasonable prices.
And it’s all housed in a charming old wrought-iron building within an easy walk of the Plaza de Armas. It’s well worth a visit.
Photos of Mercado Central
More About Mercado Central de Santiago
The Mercado Central de Santiago, situated in Santiago, Chile, is a bustling food market renowned for its fresh seafood and local culinary offerings. Established in 1872, this market is housed in a striking wrought-iron structure designed by Chilean architect Fermín Vivaceta, with materials imported from England.
Covering an area of 2415 square meters, the market is partitioned into numerous stalls and restaurants, each offering a variety of fresh produce, meats, and especially seafood, given Chile’s extensive coastline. The market’s seafood section is particularly noteworthy, with a diverse array of oceanic produce available, including salmon, hake, mussels, clams, and the locally prized king crab.
The Mercado Central de Santiago is not just a food market; it is also a destination for experiencing authentic Chilean cuisine. Several restaurants and food stalls within the market premises serve traditional Chilean dishes, with an emphasis on seafood delicacies. These establishments range from high-end restaurants to modest eateries, catering to a broad spectrum of visitors.
The market’s architectural significance adds to its appeal. Its wrought-iron structure, crowned by a central dome, is considered a notable example of 19th-century architecture in Chile. This architectural style reflects the influence of European designs of that period.
Additionally, the market’s location in the heart of Santiago makes it accessible for both locals and tourists. It is situated within walking distance of other key city attractions, including the Plaza de Armas and the Mapocho River. Its central location, combined with its rich offering of fresh foods and local cuisine, makes the Mercado Central de Santiago a vibrant hub in the city’s food and cultural scene.