Department store chain El Corte Inglés may sell products from TVs to clothes, but it has also gained a reputation for offering some of the finest selections of food and drink around.

Its rapid expansion was helped in 2001 when it acquired nine stores belonging to Marks & Spencer, including those in Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Seville and Valencia, following the end of the company's operations in Spain.

Its food halls are aptly called the Gourmet Club and offer a wide range of national and international foods, from Spain's world famous whole legs of cured hams that hang en masse from the ceiling to a huge variety of high quality olive oils. Its delicatessen and fresh fish counters are of particular note, according to the judging panel. And its produce section is packed to the rafters with products carefully selected from around the globe.

One judge even goes so far as to say that the stores have the widest range of fresh food anywhere in the world.

An exceptional wine cellar is another feature of many of the stores, helping to make them a hit with both locals and tourists looking to bring home something special from their travels.



Location: Madrid, Spain

Established: 1934

No. of stores: 80

Fact: The shop takes its names from a children's tailor that was the site of the first store