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Mercado Little Spain: A “Tapa” of Spain in NYC


In July of 2022, I had the privilege of spending 11 days in Spain. I was fascinated by the lively markets, vibrant culture, diverse foods, and unique music and dancing. Honestly, I thought I would never experience this incredible energy again. Luckily, Chef José Andrés brought the nation’s energetic culture to New York City through Mercado Little Spain, a Spanish market located by the Hudson Yards.

Mercado Little Spain is not defined by one restaurant, one meal, or one view, rather the various tapas (Spanish appetizers), sit-down meals, events, and gifts offered. There are four central restaurants: Spanish Diner, Leña, Mar, and La Barra. Additionally, the mercado includes numerous kiosks, serving foods such as ice cream, paella, salads, churros, cheese, and tortillas. The beautiful lights and frequent seating invite the sharing of tapas, bonding time, and conversation.

My personal experience with Mercado Little Spain began by exploring the venue and observing the decorations and music. Unfortunately, I missed their Thursday night Flamenco dancing event, a Spanish cultural dance using abánicos (fans) and tap shoes. I had previously reserved a table at Leña, a grill-focused restaurant emphasizing the Spanish experiences of sharing multiple, smaller plates. I began with the Pan de Cristal con Tomate, a grilled bread with a creamy tomato sauce and fresh extra virgin olive oil. Then, I tried Spain’s famous seafood: pulpo (octopus), specifically in Pulpo a la Brasa. Lastly, I indulged in their Pollo (chicken) a la Brasa, one of the most incredible dishes I have ever had. I continued my night with the Pasteles y Helados Kiosk (desserts and ice cream), purchasing the ice cream flavor Galleta Maria (Maria Cookie). As I enjoyed the desert under the gorgeous lanterns in the Mercado, I was reminded of my nights in Salamanca, lit up by the plaza.

Overall, my experience at the Mercado Little Spain demonstrated that the Spanish culture and vibrancy is not exclusively overseas—little pieces of countries can be brought to America. So, my advice to you: seek out the diversity. Even if you cannot make the trip, find your own local “tapa” of culture.

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Chantal van Dongeren
Chantal van Dongeren, Editor-in-Chief

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