The Adelaide Central Market has just clicked over 150 years old, yet always finds new ways to surprise. There's been huge growth recently in new street food vendors and old vendors trading in new ways. What is street food? Well, there isn't a hard and fast definition. I'd say it's a mix of the food being prepared and cooked in front of you and/or served fresh to eat right away. Either way, read on to be well prepared for a bit of a 'street food safari' into the Adelaide Central Market.
Samtass Bros market offering of freshly shucked oysters has always been a winner with curious tourists and hungry locals (me included). The oysters are expertly handled (without losing their salty liquor) and are served plain, or with seaweed, red and black caviar, and Thai dressing. Both ways taste sublime! If you don't like oysters, maybe you haven't tried a freshly opened one. The fresh fried fish, squid, or prawn cutlet and chip meals are hot and crisp without any heavy oiliness. You can also try freshly steamed mussels and cockles with garlic and white wine. The daring connoisseur can order the cleaned and dressed sea urchin with cooked and peeled king prawns, salmon roe and lumpfish caviar. The dishes can change from time to time but they're prepared to order and are simply amazing. The fried dishes do take some time to cook, so be prepared to wait ten minutes or so. It's worth it.
Marino's is an Adelaide Central Market icon. They now offer street food style porchetta in a panini or on plates with salads, and handmade cannoli at their market-side cart, naturally called 'Marino's Porchetta e Cannoli Bar.' What is Porchetta? Imagine a pork roast rolled inside a pork roast, rolled inside a pork roast with fresh herbs, wrapped in crackling. You know you want to…
What would Adelaide be without Lucia's? It'd be a city with something missing from its soul, that's what. Lucia's is an Italian restaurant inside the market that recently expanded to include a charcuterie and cheese bar. At lunch and dinner times, Lucia's offer freshly made panini, filled with delicious market produce, meats and cheeses. The selection changes, so you'll have to check them out on your visit to see what delicious combo is on offer.
You can't miss colourful Comida and its huge paella pan. Sometimes it's hard to get a seat when the paella is ready! The board outside Comida will tell you when the next paella is ready, so take note and time your visit so you can enjoy a hearty dish of Spanish paella washed down with sangria. Comida has an excellent menu of other Spanish delights if you miss the paella.
In the quieter north-east corner of the market near Grote Street, you'll find the markets latest 'Producer in Residence'. This spot offers limited-time-only tenancies to food vendors and producers. There's an ever-changing flow of artisan offerings. One visit, it might be burgers, and on the next visit, it might be dumplings.
A recent addition to the 'street food' offering at the market. O'Connell's meats have long been a go-to butcher for their range and top-quality meat. Now they've begun trading from the other side of the counter and offer hot redgum smoked chicken wings, kassler chops, smoked turkey legs and rolled roasts to go. Mmmm, chicken wings…
Just a little nibble rather than a meal. The cheese shops are always offering tastings of rare and interesting cheeses during the busy times. Yes, you will probably buy some cheese you've never heard of before.
'You wanna pizza? Only five dollars a slice. Best pizza in Adelaide.' Well, that's what the pizza guy's booming voice proclaims to all nearby in the centre of the market plaza. The pizzas are cooked at Aces Bar and Bistro, you can head in and check it out if you like. It's not dressed up and it's not artisan, it's just excellent pizza and well worth the five dollars.
This little stall at the entrance to the market proper is one of the first 'grilled meat on a stick' Asian street food offerings at the market. This busy little kitchen also has a great range of Asian salads to grab and eat on the go.
Obanyaki are delicious soft, fluffy and warm puffs of pancake mix filled with bean paste, custard or chocolate. These are strictly a street food treat as they are best eaten warm and fresh. Don't worry if it's busy, there's plenty on hand and it won't be long before you can enjoy one of the most unique desserts in town. You'll find Obun Chef close to the market plaza food court.
Adelaide Central Market is probably Adelaide's first street food 'safari' destination all under one roof. Buying and eating fresh food amid the colour and hustle and bustle of the Adelaide Central Market is a quintessential South Australian experience. It changes all the time yet remains timeless.
To find the best selection of street food traders, the best times to visit the market are Fridays from lunch onwards, and early to mid-morning on Saturdays. Some traders have seating, but not all. With first hour free parking at the Central Market carpark (most of the time) and good access for people of all abilities, there's no reason not to give it a try!
This isn't an exhaustive list, so let us know if you have a favourite trader or street food at the Adelaide Central Market in the comments! The more the merrier!
Chicken wings? Did someone say chicken wings??? Am dribbling just a little bit. I love the Markets and aim to try something new each time I go. I love how you are made to feel like family at most of the shops and, of course, I love the 1 hour free parking!