Central Market (Mercado Central)

Central Market (Mercado Central)

Central Market (Mercado Central)
3.5
Flea & Street Markets
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6:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday
6:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday
6:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday
6:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday
6:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday
6:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Saturday
6:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Sunday
6:00 AM - 5:00 PM
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About
Unique architecture and street musicians accompany a plethora of dining options, where seafood is abundant in this South American food court.
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The area
Address
Neighborhood: Santa Lucia
How to get there
  • Puente Cal y Canto • 3 min walk
  • Plaza de Armas • 5 min walk
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
Popular mentions

3.5
6,076 reviews
Excellent
1,100
Very good
1,868
Average
1,905
Poor
761
Terrible
442

Kristen T
Baltimore, MD141 contributions
Outside for blocks is one of the most internationally diverse gatherings of Santiago's residents. Great for feeling the changing demographics of the city. Inside the main market building is a rather smelly (fish) depressing tourist trap of restaurants desperate for clients. Maybe if you love seafood it could be good? I do wish I'd researched better other market buildings because maybe there was a flowers one across the river?
Written January 15, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Summerasalifestyle
Malibu, CA2,486 contributions
Central market— refurnished about ten years ago and still busy but much for available for tourists and locals. Good smells of a real Mercado. Waiters hustling you to dine at their place.
Fish, fruits and meat. Restaurants and outside lots of stalls nearby. Certainly Worth a visit. Don’t be overwhelmed. No, smiles and move along.
Written December 5, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

POG53
Buckingham, UK31 contributions
Vibrant and friendly and full of busy family-run businesses. Mainly food with retaurants on the sales floor and around the balcony. Friendly enough but not for the shy - expect people to take an interest in you, Definitely not your sanitised soulless supermarket. I work in similar Markets in the UK so obviously loved it. The design and cast iron structure were fabricated in Britain and shipped to Chile c.1880 - similar design to many British Market Halls. A really important shopping resource and community hub and a pleasure to visit. I loved it.
Written April 1, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Anita Chan
New York City, NY45 contributions
The market was run down and the aggressive touting from the seafood stall and restaurant workers were downright annoying.
We spent a few months in Spain before coming to Chile. The markets in Spain, whether in Seville, Malaga, Barcelona or Valencia were so much cleaner, brighter and the food was so much more alluring. The Santiago Central Market had the feel of a tourist trap rather than a real market.
We had lunch at a seafood restaurant recommended by our Airbnb host. The seafood was totally tasteless and overpriced.
Go if you are curious. Just don't expect a nice experience.
Written March 15, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

425seattletrekker
Bhaktapur, Nepal9 contributions
Solo
Expected a lot from the Central Market because of the high ratings and the amount of reviews. When I visited twice, it was dead inside and the only things that were open were the fish stalls and restaurants. La Vega was soooo much better as it had so much more energy and you could experience the culture. Central Market felt like it’s hey day was years ago.
Written March 8, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

sandy c
Copenhagen, Denmark633 contributions
I know many restaurants will have guys outside trying to hustle customers in the door, but this place was ridiculous. They follow, yell, nag, and try to cajole you non-stop. I couldn't find the exit fast enough. This market is definitely not visitor-friendly. In any case, it's almost all seafood for sale here. If it's fresh fruit and veg, or maybe street food you are after, just head a block west to Paseo Puente and you'll find cheap food and friendly faces galore.
Written March 20, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Luc S
Dendermonde, Belgium5,486 contributions
If you like fish and seafood, this is the Walhalla...
There is nothing else.
But there is such a variety, that you will never find again...
I never saw so many spieces of mussels: from small to very large.
And seafood i have never seen before..
And abalones, for a nice price.
And the best: you can tast it all !
Written March 24, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Sachin K
New York City, NY5,842 contributions
Family
The central market in Santiago is a fabulous off best place to visit for any tourist. One will find typical produce on sale along with several shops selling freshly caught fish. Certainly would very highly recommend visiting this market to any tourist in Santiago.
Written February 29, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Steven T
Seattle, WA1,802 contributions
Solo
The Central Market is mostly a place with restaurants aimed at tourists. There are many fish stalls as well along with numerous souvenir stores. Thus, one gets the feeling when walking through this place that this market is aimed at tourists. That said, it’s still a fun place to go for a quick stroll. You shouldn’t spend more than an hour here, however.
Written September 3, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

GJY2001
Orange City, FL175 contributions
Couples
As I read other reviews describing this place as dirty, smelly, overpriced, a tourist trap, etc. I regret that the reviewers were not better prepared before their visit. If you are expecting a shiny, sterile, modern facility, you will be in for a rude shock. Entering the Mercado Central means stepping into a part of Santiago’s history and experiencing the local culture with all of its beauty, blemishes and idiosyncrasies.

History: The Mercado Central is a 19th century market that has been operating for 140 years! Built with imported iron from Scotland, this market has operated since 1872. The unique beauty of the iron work can be seen if one only takes the time to look beyond the more recent additions of restaurants, stalls and stores. Look to the structure itself. Find a spot apart from the moving throngs of people and let your gaze drift slowly upwards toward the ceiling and upper windows. Peruse the intricate scroll work and the designs captured within the iron. Once outside, walk far enough away from the building to appreciate the architecture from the exterior. Considering the seismic activity which has affected this region over the last 140 years, this building is a credit to the architects who designed it.

Culture: Yes, this is a ‘tourist trap’ in that you will pay higher than normal prices for souvenirs and the waiters will try to push exotic seafood which is very expensive and good for increasing their ‘propina’ (tips); however, this is still a functioning market where many residents of Santiago come every day of the week to buy seafood, fruits, vegetables, and to eat. 15 years ago there were many more stalls selling fruits and vegetables but, slowly, due to demand, the restaurants have expanded and many of the stalls have moved to an adjacent location recently completed across the road in front of the Mercado Central. Walk around the stalls as you first enter the building and look at the unusual seafood that you won’t find back home. Many vendors speak at least some English. While there are souvenirs here, there are better prices at the Cerro Santa Lucia shops, and a better selection at Los Dominicos.

Once again, observation is the key to absorbing the ambience and the cultural experience of this slice of Santiago. If it is a Saturday or Sunday morning, you may see someone who had been partying (read ‘drinking’) too much the night before taking one of the traditional hang-over cures: a steaming hot bowl of Mariscal (seafood soup) or Caldo de Congrio (conger eel soup). After one in the afternoon the Chileans begin to arrive for lunch enjoying Pisco sours, wine, fried congrio, grilled salmon or corvina (sea bass), locos (Chilean abalone) or any of the varied species of fresh Chilean seafood which are served in these restaurants. Those items are the favorites of the typical Chilean and are priced at normal levels. Our favorite restaurant is Donde Augusto, yet any of the larger restaurants will serve similar quality meals. If you are expecting fine dining and attentive service, forget it. There are much better choices than any found in the Mercado Central, if that is what you seek. Eating in the Mercado Central will get you good quality fresh seafood prepared as the typical Chilean would expect. The servers, especially during the lunch rush, will be hard to find and the food will be slow in arriving. If eating during the rush, take your time, enjoy a bottle of wine, order an appetizer and watch the ‘show’ while you wait for your meal. The tourists all walking in a line like school children, or having their photo taken with the USD$100 crab that they just bought, will be easy to spot. Likewise, the roving musicians, local patrons and the servers themselves can be quite entertaining.

Finally, even before leaving your hotel and certainly before you arrive at the Mercado Central, be sure to keep your wallet or purse secure, do not wear expensive jewelry and beware of pickpockets. This can be a very crowded place and Santiago is a city with a population of about 6 million. While violent crime during daylight and normal operating hours is not a normally a concern, crimes of opportunity are always just waiting for you to get careless.

I have spent at least one month per year living in Santiago since 1994 and have visited the Mercado Central every year. I have done my best to provide a realistic description of what awaits in this fascinating piece of Santiago heritage with hopes that you, the reader, will be able to decide if the Mercado Central is really something which is of interest or just not worth the trouble.
Written February 26, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Central Market (Mercado Central) (Santiago) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

Frequently Asked Questions about Central Market (Mercado Central)

Central Market (Mercado Central) is open:
  • Sun - Thu 6:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Fri - Fri 6:00 AM - 8:00 PM
  • Sat - Sat 6:00 AM - 6:00 PM
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