Merkato, Valencia, Spain


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.


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).


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.


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


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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