I think it all started with the Salcedo Weekend Market in Makati, well…at least that’s the first one that I knew of. I was strolling around the Makati CBD one weekend morning, having just finished college and transferred to Manila for work (this was a decade ago), when I noticed a lot of people and some bazaar like stalls at park in Salcedo Village. It piqued my curiosity, but it took some time before I finally went in and saw for myself what it was all about.
Now, 10 years later, weekend markets are still around and thriving. It’s still a niche market by all means, but that niche is growing. The latest regular weekend market opened at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, right beside the Bonifacio High Street (BHS), bringing the weekend market concept closer to the regular weekend crowd who frequent malls.
The place is called Mercato Centrale. It’s built around 2 large tents put up on an otherwise bare, empty block, with outdoor food stalls and tables for a an “al-fresco” dining experience. The outdoor dining was nice in a cool February weather, although there could be a shortage of tables if you come during the peak lunch hour. I don’t know how it would feel like during the summer though, since unlike the Salcedo and Legazpi markets, the Mercato Centrale does not have trees around it.
The majority of stalls selling desserts, snacks and other goodies are inside the airconditioned tent, which I guess would be “summer proof”. There are no dining tables inside though, and the place could get quite packed.
Just like on any weekend market, the fun is in going around and looking at whatever catches your fancy. You don’t go to these places with a grocery list at hand, but rather, you go here with your eyes wide open for anything that may be of interest. Due to the limited space though, going around Mercato Centrale may be more of a challenge than in the wide open spaces of the likes of Salcedo.
The variety of food here seems to be lesser than what you’d find in Salcedo or Legazpi (or is just an illusion due to the smaller place?), but the fare is typical of weekend markets, with exotic (but not bizarre) offerings that you normally wouldn’t find elsewhere (or you could, but with the price multiplied several times). It also comes with the typical weekend market prices though which, though relatively inexpensive, still doesn’t come as exactly cheap. It’s a nice place though if you’re tired of the usual restaurant and fastfood fare, provided that you beat the lunch time rush.
* We went to Mercato Centrale on February 2011. All photos taken with Olympus E-420 and Zuiko 50mm F2.