A Tour of Adelaide Central Market

Halfway through our tour of Adelaide Central Market, BK laments “I wish we had a market like this in Sydney.” He loves the variety and European market feel as we walk through the avenues of stalls. Our guide, Broni, explains that the diversity of products on offer reflects the cultural mix of migrants to Adelaide.

How the Markets got Started

Some stalls have been here for close to 70 years passing down generations. From its early beginnings in 1869, when growers sold produce from open carts, the market now comprises up to 80 stalls with over 150 more shops in the surrounding Market Arcade and Market Plaza.  

Wide Avenues in the Central Market at Adelaide
It’s easy to get around

Broni tells the delightful story of how a breakaway group of growers, led by a brass band at 3am one morning, left the East End Markets on foot to set up on the plot of land where the Central Markets now stand. They had sold out by 6am.

The Tour Starts with…Ham

Our small group of four – tour groups are kept small – follows Broni to our first tasting ‘station.’ Family run Lucia’s has three parts. There’s coffee – Lucia was the first to bring and espresso coffee pot to Adelaide, a pizza and spaghetti outlet and a deli for charcuterie and pasta sauces.

Gold lettering on the original ‘50s glass window storefront suggests calling 51*2303 for phone orders. For our first taste of the day, Broni hands round a plate of finely sliced ham from Adelaide Hills milk fed pigs. It’s moist, flavoursome and not too salty.

Coffee at Lucia's
Outside Lucia’s
Lucia's in Adelaide Central Market
Old Phone Number

I like vanilla yoghurt, but it’s often too sweet. The small tub of creamy vanilla bean yogurt from the multi-award-winning Yoghurt Shop is just right. We’re on a roll now and the tasting continues in earnest.

The Mushroom Man’s Mushroom Shop, which also has white asparagus for sale today, sells whole cloves of black garlic, cooked slowly over days. That’s a new one for me. As Broni holds it out I get a whiff of smoke. We taste a pinch of truffle and black garlic salt. There’s a hint of truffle in the grainy brown salt.

The Mushroom Man
Mushrooms anyone?

A board runs the City Council owned Adelaide Central Market. The market is on the ground with a car park above. I do spy a man crouched in an opening in the signage above a veggie stall passing down boxes of fresh fruit.   

There’s Something for Everyone

There’s something for everyone at this market. Vegans make a beeline for Jamu who sell slices made with date bases, cold pressed juices and other vegan products. We sample a Peanut Butter Jelly slice. I’m not fond of peanut butter unless it’s slathered, with butter, on hot toast. Next time, I’ll try a different flavour.

Vegan Delights
Date Based Slices

Another family-owned stall, Charlesworth, has been here since 1934. They sell nuts and dried fruit and their stores can be found all over Adelaide. Broni likes their “Christmas Cake Packs” which come with the fruit and nuts pre measured for an easy bake. Their dry roasted almonds have a fresh rich taste.

Prices to Suit all Budgets

As Broni explains there’s a “price point for all budgets” in the market. Apples for example are priced differently depending on whether or not they are polished or have a slight blemish. A guest on one of Broni’s tours noticed beans being sold for $19.99kg and elsewhere for $4.00kg.

House of Health Adelaide Central Market
Bulk Goods on Tap

Having recently bought dishwashing liquid in bulk, I’m drawn to the set up in House of Health. Wooden paneling hides the bulk storage containers. Labels above brass taps offer bodywash, handwash, shampoo and more, all on tap.  They also encourage customers to return their glass milk bottles for reuse.

During COVID, the market continued to operate, and apparently no stallholder closed up due to a downturn in custom. Stall holders policed customers, ensuring they maintained a safe distance and didn’t linger.

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables at Adelaide Central Market
and Peppers

Between 8.5 and 9 million people visit Adelaide Central Markets each year. This Saturday morning the market is busy, but doesn’t feel too crowded. Our small group easily follows Broni and stays out of the way of shoppers.

Something Wild

Former AFL player and Indigenous man, Daniel Motlop co-founded Something Wild which specializes in native greens and wild game. In the display cabinet, are platters of kangaroo, venison, emu, wild boar, crocodile and camel.

Indigenous Bush Tucker at Something Wild, Adelaide Central Markets
Quandong and Karkalla

With a closer look, a bowl of what looks like green beans is more like the ‘leaf’ of the pigface plant. I take a bite. Called karkalla, it’s crunchy, salty and full of juice. Broni hands round an unopened bottle of gin pointing to the ants floating in the clear Green Ant Gin. Ants also garnish the wattle seed ganache tartlets.

We wander along the market ‘Avenues’, passing mounds of large juicy tomatoes and shiny green and red peppers. One of the guests comments “my grandmother used to grow tomatoes like these.” BK adds “I’d be a disaster if I lived here. I’d spend a fortune.”

A Good Tip

Broni offers a tip. The Saturday market closes at three o’clock. After lunch, stall holders reduce the prices of their fresh produce. The noise level rises as they call out their offerings to attract customers.

Paella at Adelaide Central Market
Chicken Paella
Falafel at Adelaide Central Market
Light and moist Falafel

The tasting continues with a green veg and herb pancake with a thick sweet chicken sauce from Sun Mi, paella from Cumbia’s paella and from Real Falafel, what is “possibly the best falafel in Australia” according to Broni. Served with hummus, it’s certainly light and moist. 

And then…there’s more

We enjoy Turkish Delight, a double shot of iced coffee, creamy, rich and only slightly sweet. I learn that Blackeby’s Old Sweet Shop was the first stall in the market to have electric lighting and a till.

Turkish Delight
Here, Taste this

At Smelly Cheese, which sells mostly imported cheeses, we taste a washed rind ash, a nutty aged comté and a stilton. There’s also a very pleasant French Rosé.

Next, we enjoy a strawberry dipped in wattle seed chocolate sauce and back at The Mushroom Man, a button mushroom cooked with a porcini salt.

Smelly Cheese shop
Cheese and Rose

Well, that was fun

After ending the tour with coffee, we return to Smelly Cheese to purchase cheese and biscuits and a bottle of rosé for dinner. On the way we bump into Broni. She’s carrying a number of bulging shopping bags. Looking down at her shopping, she jokes “What am I going to cook tonight? What can’t I cook?”

Useful Information

  • Get a map of the Adelaide Central Market from the information desk at the Gouger Street Entrance, or download one here
  • Find out more about the market here
  • The market is open Tuesdays to Saturdays. Closed Sundays and Mondays. Check opening times on website
  • And if you’re visiting Melbourne, here’s a link to my post on the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne.


  1. I love markets but have never done a tour of one, what a fabulous thing to do.

  2. I have enjoyed all your travels this year Joanne. Best wishes for the festive reason. Lynda Min xxx

    1. Author

      Thanks Lynda. It’s lovely to hear from you. Have a good break over the holidays.

  3. Hi Joanne, Thanks for the post, it was really interesting. I have visited Adelaide market before, its great and if I remember rightly we had dinner there on Friday evening, choosing dishes from a couple of stalls. I am visiting Adelaide with a friend from overseas next March. I often do food tours when I am away. Is it worth doing a tour of the Adelaide market or is it just as easy to do it yourself? Also, can you recommend anything else to do of particular interest in Adelaide. Have you been to the Ukaria Centre in Adelaide Hills, that’s also fantastic for music lovers.

    1. Author

      Hi Carol, We both enjoyed the tour – as you get to taste samples from various stands, whereas if you do it yourself, you don’t get to sample the fare – unless there’s a tasting happening – there were two or three when we went – mushroom man, paella and cheese. We thought it was worthwhile and then knew where to go back to. I wouldn’t worry with the lunch option added on to the tour.
      We also, being migrants, enjoyed the migrant museum and a great walk along the river, with a stroll through the gardens. We weren’t there long enough to do more than that.

  4. Great story Jo – time for us to go back to Adelaide! You do enhance places and make them so enticing!

    1. Author

      Thanks, Du. We feel we know Adelaide a little better after a couple of days there. The migration museum was particularly interesting and a walk through the Botanic Gardens lovely.

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