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Merkato, Valencia, Spain


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The revival and re-invention of old-style indoor public markets continues. We are seeing more open-plan spaces with stalls selling fresh food and crafts, small restaurants, multiple eating areas, long tables and the intoxicating mix of smells, sights and sounds. Clearly, the shopping-mall food court or the neon-lit grocery store food counter are not the types of communal eating venues we crave.

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In Valencia, Spain, a well-edited selection of food offerings, reminiscent of a market, has opened in an old aircraft hangar/paper stock room.

Merkato is the brain-child of Valentín Sánchez Arrieta, a well-known restaurateur in Valencia, Spain (of Valen & Cia y Al Tún Tun).

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Merkato’s nicely industrial and dark–toned design is by interior and industrial designer Francesc Rife (born 1966) who established his Studio in 1994 in Barcelona.

The aircraft-hangar aesthetic is still there, but the space does not seem cold or cavernous. Rugs, partitions, and variations in height and materials give the open concept a coherent structure and create intimacy.

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Vegetables, fish, meats, wines, baked goods – everything is fresh and the cooking combines both international and local flavours and styles.

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Merkato is located in Valencia’s buzzing central district of Eixample (Ensanche) with its mix of current and historical, shopping and dining, cool and quaint. Tuija Seipell.

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