The Time Out Market is housed in the late-nineteenth-century Mercado da Ribeira building, which is locally referred to as the ‘Turnip Mosque’ because of the cupola on the roof. The market was originally one of the main food markets for the city and even had its own slaughterhouse, but by 2000 it has lost its role as a wholesale market and the building needed to find a new purpose. The Lisbon branch of Time Out magazine had the idea of turning it into a place where people could buy good quality tried-and-tested food and drink from independent stalls, based on the notion that good eating and drinking places are included in the magazine, so why not have the same principle with the market? All the food is tested by an independent panel of experts before the stall is included in the market. This means that, in theory, there is only very good quality food and drink on sale. The Time Out Market opened in 2014 and is now one of the must-see places for tourists to visit in Lisbon, with over three and a half million visitors in 2017.
There are 24 eateries and eight bars catering for all tastes in the market. They all have established and respected restaurants or cafés elsewhere and range from those selling savoury snacks, such as Olhó Bacalhau, Croquetaria and Manteigaria Silva, or ice cream or cakes, such as Santini and Nós é Mais Bolos, to those serving main dishes designed by respected Portuguese chefs, such as Henrique Sá Pessoa, Miguel Castro e Silva, Miguel Laffan, Marlene Vieira and Alexandre Silva, and food from around the world, such as Asian Lab and Pizza a Pezzi. Some of the food stalls serving fish dishes have fish tanks where you can choose your dinner just like the expensive restaurants in the city, although this isn’t something I enjoy seeing. There are also plenty of stalls selling drinks ranging from fruit juices at Compal Frutológica to cocktails at Cinco e Meio. The centre of the large hall is full of communal tables where you take your food, so you can order a starter from one stall, a main course from a completely different stall and a dessert from another. If you time it right you may even get to see a cookery demonstration.
Just a warning. Even though it’s a food market, don’t expect it to be cheap. A night out with food and drink can work out as expensive as ordering a meal in a restaurant but without the waiter service or comfortable seating. For example, we paid €12 for two glasses of wine. It also gets really busy at night, especially at weekends, and I saw many people having to eat their food standing up. It has recently become popular with stag and hen groups who make a day of drinking here.
The upstairs area is an open space which is used for a variety of things. Concerts are often held here, but on the day we visited there was a clothes fair, which was a bit like a jumble sale. It’s worth going upstairs to see the pretty azulejos at the bottom and top of the stars and for the view of the Time Out Market from above. If you’re a fan of traditional markets there is still a daily market (Monday to Saturday mornings) in the hall in the other half of the building.
Time Out Market Lisbon, Mercado da Ribeira, Avenida 24 de Julho, Lisbon (opposite Cais do Sodré station)
Open: Sunday to Wednesday 10am-midnight; Thursday to Saturdays 10am-2am
There is a list of all the stalls here.