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Photo by Sam Zucker
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Photo by Sam Zucker
Carrer de Badajoz in Poblenou marks the subtle transition from industrial to residential as one heads through this quiet area in the direction of the neighbourhood’s busy rambla. Right at the core of Barcelona’s neo-tech hub ‘@22’, this locale offered the perfect spot for Portuguese chef Tiago Rocha to make his mark. Although it first opened four years ago, Rocha and his team took over Market Cuina Fresca just last year and it now serves as one of the only places in the immediate area to provide a healthy, affordable lunch menu that will leave you satisfied (without the typical 3pm food coma).
A native of Oporto, Portugal, Tiago Rocha trained as a chef throughout Europe and brings an extensive repertoire to this bright, little space, earning droves of loyal customers. Currently only opening from 8am until 5pm Monday to Friday, Rocha hopes that the increasing popularity of the area will allow him to also offer a dinner service in the coming year.
There is no menu at Market Cuina Fresca, only a set menú del día, with three starters, three main plates, and two desserts to choose from. At least one vegetarian option in each category is typically included, and Rocha shops daily for fresh meat, fish, and produce at Barcelona’s Mercabarna. “I love buying fresh food every day,” said Rocha. “And we always try to use everything that we buy the same day, so it’s top quality.” Beyond Mercabarna, Market Cuina Fresca also sources produce from Conreu Sereny, an organic farm near Badalona.
To start, expect clean, flavoursome dishes, like the signature Market Salad (a mix of vibrant greens with cucumber, chayote squash, fennel, and honey mustard vinaigrette) or the Beetroot Gazpacho with a smooth texture, edible flowers, and a nicely refined style of seasoning. For main courses, you’ll find healthy, mouth-watering options such as grilled picaña (a cut of steak, also known as rump cap) with roasted pumpkin and chestnut sauce, seared tuna with Romanesco cauliflower, roasted chicken, salmon with quinoa, marinated sardines, and more.
I had the pleasure of sampling the fish of the day upon my latest visit—a perfectly seared fillet of salmon with an earthy purée of roasted aubergine, crisp slices of red radish and blanched asparagus. Rocha’s cooking displays influences from across the globe, including Asia and Central America, but he also lovingly adds a dash of his homeland in the form of Portuguese coffee, beer, and wine (the house white is a crisp, effervescent Vinho Verde). As Market Cuina Fresca becomes increasingly popular with the young, foreign crowd that populates the offices, converted warehouses, and co-working spaces of this up-and-coming barri, you’re likely to hear five different languages buzzing around as you enjoy a simple, delicious, and creative meal during your lunch hour.
Market Cuina Fresca. Badajoz 83. Tel. 93 485 4563. Open from Monday until Friday, 8am- 5pm. €13.50 for the set menu.