Mercado del Rio: the New Gastronomic Market in Medellín

Inside Mercado del Rio
Inside Mercado del Rio

Mercado del Rio is a huge gastronomic market that opened recently in Medellín on October 26. It is located directly south of the large Bancolombia Headquarters building in Medellín.

Mercado del Rio is a large warehouse type of building.  It has nearly 40 small format restaurants, food stores and bars. The restaurants all have open kitchens.  It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

There ultimately will be nearly 50 spaces in the new marketplace.  This will include three sit-down restaurants planned on the second floor of the building that aren’t completed yet.

There is a big selection of different types of food available including typical Colombian food as well as burgers, sushi, pasta, Mexican, Peruvian and several others. There are also some small bars serving wine and beer and other drinks.

One of the planned restaurants on the second floor will be a Parmasano Italian restaurant, which is a chain that is found in several malls in Medellín.

I am not aware of something like Mercado del Rio in any other cities in Colombia. So it’s the first of its kind in Colombia.

The company behind this new marketplace claims they modeled their idea for the new market after food markets in other parts of the world like Mercados Roma in Mexico and Chelsea Market in New York.

This new gastronomic space began to be planned about five years ago. The building was being used to store Christmas lights for Medellín’s El Alumbrado prior to becoming Mercado del Rio.

The company expects to employ over 200 staff at Mercado del Rio when all its planned spaces are opened in the new food marketplace.

The front of Mercado del Rio
The front of Mercado del Rio

My Experience at Mercado del Rio

I happened to be in the nearby area one day last week and decided to go try out Mercado del Rio for lunch.

I arrived at about 1pm and was surprised at how busy it was. This was likely due to a big lunch crowd from the large Bancolombia building located next-door.

I had a difficult time deciding what to eat due to so many choices. But I didn’t really have much time as I had a meeting to go to so I decided on a simple burger, as lines at some of the other restaurants were fairly long. The burger was good but I plan to go back to try some of the other foods.

The tables at the new marketplace are shared and there are many of them. There are several hundred places to sit.

Peru Mix, one of the restaurants
Peru Mix, one of the many restaurants

How to Get There

Mercado del Rio is located in El Poblado directly south of the huge Bancolombia building next to the Industriales metro station.

It is easy to get to as it is only about a five-minute walk to Mercado del Rio from the Industriales metro station. There isn’t much parking available.  Parking is also expensive for Medellín at 10,000 pesos, so I wouldn’t recommend it.

By taxi you could just say “vamos al edificio Bancolombia”.

Inside Mercado del Rio
Inside Mercado del Rio

The Bottom Line

Mercado del Rio is a unique new gastronomic marketplace in Medellín. The most similar place in the city would be the Contenedores Food Place in Envigado.

But Contenedores is different as it only has a handful of sit-down restaurants. Contenadores doesn’t have as big of a selection to choose from as Mercado del Rio. The big selection at Mercado del Rio is nice.

I believe that this new gastronomic marketplace will remain a very popular place for lunch.

I talked to one of the managers and he said they plan to have entertainment some of the evenings.  He told me they expect Mercado del Rio will also become popular at night as well.

He also said the goal for the new marketplace is “to have delicious food accompanied by good drinks, and the best entertainment experience in an unequaled space.”

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Jeff first discovered Colombia back in 2006 and has traveled to all the major cities in Colombia. He is fortunate to have lived over seven years in Medellín. He is also studying Spanish to become fluent.