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Normally you wouldn’t visit Madrid for the main purpose of eating and trying the Madrilenian cuisine; most of the time the main purpose is to visit one of the greatest cities in the world in order to have fun, to visit the tremendous amount of monuments, churches, and of course, to learn more of its general history.

While writing the first guide, there were so many things and places I wanted to share as the top bars and restaurants in Madrid, or the best food to try, that I decided to dedicate and entire guide just to the best food within Madrid.

What to eat in Madrid

No experience is complete without trying local foods in an ambient environment. Here you will find three remarkable dishes that you must consider and the best places to enjoy them. For every dish, you also have the ideal drink, only from Spain.

Bocata de calamares

bocata calamares madrid
This is a very typical street food style dish from Madrid. You can find it in almost all the Spanish bars and restaurants. It is very simple, consisting of a sandwich filled with fried squids. Usually, the size of the sandwich (bocata comes from bocadillo which is a sandwich in Spanish) is quite big, definitely not like a tapa. A bocadillo is a kind of huge portion of bread, very different than the montadito which is a tiny little bread. The most traditional are also the simplest, nothing added other than a squeeze of lemon. Different types of the bocata have sauce on it like classic mayonnaise or the Spanish garlic based sauce called aioli.
If you have the opportunity to experience a festival or a special celebration, the bocata de calamares should be your street food choice. If not available on the street, there are plenty of restaurants at Plaza Mayor where you can try them, such as La Campana in Calle de Botoneras 6.
Never pay more than 4 euros for a bocata. Furthermore, do not forget to order a fresh Cerveza (beer) to accompany your sandwich. Prices usually vary depending on where you eat; at the barra or at the table (la mesa); it is common in the bars. Talking about cervezas, if you want to taste the very authentic Madrilenian beer, Mahou should be your first choice, it’s everywhere in Madrid, not difficult at all to find around the city. It’s an institution more than a beer, part of the history of the city.

Tortilla

tortilla madrid
The tortilla is the most famous Spanish tapa. You can start eating a racion (portion) for breakfast, as a pinchos with bread or just a plain tortilla, and finish eating tortilla at night with a glass of vermouth. The main ingredients are potatoes, eggs, and onion, the ideal vegetarian alternative to jamon. In Spain, there are many brands of local vermouth. In Madrid, vermouth or vermut, as they call it, is not only a well-known beverage used as an ingredient for cocktails such as Negroni or Manhattan, but is popular on its own poured over ice or mixed with a little bit of carbonated water, with the sifon. You can find it everywhere in Madrid; in all the tapas bars. When you choose your tortilla, make sure the kitchen of the bar is casera, meaning that it is cooked when you order, not buying it already cooked. It’s very difficult to recommend where to get the best tortilla, but some places we might advise are the Taberna Pedraza that has a tortilla counter and the most liquid Betanozs version of this famous plate and Pez Tortilla either in Calle del Pez or Cava Baja, where you can try some many different tastes, truffle-brie-jamon in the following pic.

My favorite tapas bar is called the Cerveceria Restaurante Padron in Noviciado.  They serve raciones and for every cerveza or vermut you order, a tasty side dish is included for your enjoyment.

Cocido

cocido madrid la bola
It is called Cocido Madrileno because it is one of the most traditional dishes of the city. In the very beginning, it was enjoyed by nearly 100% of the population. It is a very popular dish, cooked by families for special days or events; it is very economical and is not considered to be a gourmet meal. When Madrid restaurants started adding it to the menu as a typical Spanish delicatessen, it became famous and even mainstream. The fact that it is a soup with chickpeas and meat definitely makes it a winter dish. Just so there is no doubt, there are also versions of Cocido Madrileno that can be eaten during the summer. When you ask a native madrileno which restaurant has the tastiest cocido, there will always be one answer: my mother. And it’s not the name of the restaurant. But when asked “What is the best public restaurant in Madrid to try cocido?” the answers will change to  “La Bola” situated in central Madrid.
To end such a typical and enjoyable madrilenian meal, you should order the Madroño. It is liquor made from berries of the madrono tree, which is also one of the symbols of Madrid along with the Oso, the Bear. (the sculpture of El Oso y el Madroño is situated in Puerta del Sol). The Madroño is also the name of a famous restaurant in Madrid, which serves shots of the liquor in wafer cups coated with chocolate; situated very close to Plaza Mayor.

Two additional tips

We cannot finish this Madrid food guide without these two additional tips.

(1) Follow the new wave of food districts (barrios in Spanish) by going to Calle Ponzano. Although it is not situated in the very center of Madrid, it has many of the great gourmet stops of the city. You can find very typical Spanish menu restaurants or very contemporary cuisine. Meals for shortly after work or for a late dinner, Calle Ponzano offers plenty of various alternatives. This street has become so famous that they have even coined a verb for it – “ponzaning” because of the completely different atmosphere than in the usual tourist attractions of Madrid.
restaurant botin madrid
(2) Seek your dining pleasure at the oldest restaurant in Madrid, located at Plaza Mayor. You have to see it, not because of its particular shape, but because the Guinness Book of World Records once named this restaurant as the oldest in the world, which attracts many tourists taking pictures of the old restaurant and the original slab at the entrance which has the date of a refurbishment completed in 1725. It is called Restaurant Botin, founded in 1725, serving traditional dishes and probably one of the best meals of the city with affordable prices.

There is no better place than a food market if you want to experience and taste the food culture of a city, and there is no better city than Madrid for doing it.

By food market we consider all the gourmet shops where can be found a large variety of products to eat at a stand, or to take-away. We also consider all those classical markets that produce raw foodstuffs like vegetables, milk or meat.

In recent years a great enthusiasm has been registered for specialists, one-product producers, as well as stands that sell ready-cooked meals.  This has quickly changed the structure of city markets from 100% producer oriented markets to agglomerates of small, mini restaurants that can mobilize at a minutes notice.

1) San Miguel

Madrid has developed this “new market era” in a very special way, and the best example in the city is definitely San Miguel. Here can be found dozens of little stands that are hyper specialized, offering a single product offer.  (80% of them specializing in tapas.) You have the crab stand, the burrito stand, the jamon stand and so on.

A special mention to all the new entries in the market from Michelin starred restaurants like the Rodrigo de la Calle paella, the Javi Estevez mini sandwiches and last but not least the crazy icecreams from the genius Jordi Roca.

The space is great, just behind the famous Plaza Major.  The glass architecture is striking and considered a cultural heritage within the city.

2) San Antòn

The second most important and public market is San Antòn, in the Chueca area. Similar to Saint Miguel with its tapas stands, but with a large terrace where you can better enjoy your pinchos. The delicatessen market is the heart of San Antòn. Here can be found fresh, high quality food that you won’t find anywhere else. There is also a restaurant called, La Cocina de San Antòn, which is a classical restaurant where you can share the huge table with other guests. We are mentioning this market especially for the nice terrace at the last floor of the building.

3) Platea

The third one, which is a completely different experience, is Platea. In this market you probably won’t just go for a quick tapa, but for a night out. This venue is very similar to gourmet stores such as, Eataly, where you have the best of both worlds, a market and various restaurants, in a multi-floor setup, and available at the same location.   You can also pick-up an entertainment calendar featuring the selecting of theatre and music shows available, at the Information Centre on the ground level.

4) Mercado de la Cebada

The fourth one is the Madrilenos, people from Madrid, choice, an authentic market that you don’t usually find in the “Top 10 markets in Madrid” charts, but look at the picture, this structure is amazing, and it’s in one of the most beautiful block of Madrid: Latina. This is a very residential area, great for a lovely walk when you want to enjoy the real Spanish architecture, because it is the oldest part of the city. It’s the Mercadode la Cebada, a real producers market where you find the best meat and fish of Madrid. This venue was built in the XVIII century in order to have the highest hygiene level for food conservation. Now it’s also a cultural stage for music and performing arts due to the huge stage in the backyards.

Additional tips

 

Few other markets that worth a visit are the San Fernando, Anton Martin and Tirso de Molina markets, all of them are extremely authentic places, where people from the neighborhood usually hang out for a beer after work or just doing the groceries shopping.

Also for the most famous tortilla queue (Casa Dani) worth the mention of Mercado de la Paz in the Salamanca district, definitely the chicest and most expensive food market (after Platea which is super close). It also has an Amazon Now area dedicated to the shipment of the groceries shop.

Madrid is definitely a market city, but the best markets are the food markets, no clothes, no antiques or furniture, the only market product is food, either if you want to cook something home, or to consume it inside the market. The Spanish capital is a great foodporn destination, with probably the lowest prices of Europe where you can so many different cultures, tapas after tapas.

Recently opened in Salamanca’s Barrio of Madrid, Santerra is the new project carried on by the young and talented Chef Miguel Carretero and the experienced Alfonso Vega (Premio Nacional de Gastronomía 2009) as Director of the Restaurant.

It’s a kind of a cuisine that comes from the flora and fauna of both Castillas, with its mushrooms, aromatic herbs, garlic and also partridge, rabbit, not forgetting the fishes as the trout and the vegetables from the gardens of Madrid and Toledo.

So that’s the idea: to cook classical dishes but in a modern way, with contemporary techniques and presentations. And that’s exactly what the Chef Miguel Carretro is trying to do through its dishes that reflect his roots and the place where he comes from. It’s an ode to the nature and the simple things which focuses on the importance of the product itself.

 Not one, but two Restaurants

Santerra is built over two floors: the Barra fina de Barrio and El Gastronomico.

Different spaces, different concepts.

Barra Fina de Barrio, is an informal space where you can have a caña accompanied by some tapas such as aceitunas, callos and home made croquetas that are already an hit among the croquetas of Madrid. You can also choose a glass of wine from the wine list on the blackboard that changes day by day.

El Gastronomico is the formal restaurant inspired by a wood that reflects into the decorations, the painting on the wall that remind a real wood, the wooden and stoned chairs and tables, in order to recreate that atmosphere. Even the menu, and it couldn’t be any other way, is conceived by the product of the land.

Tradition, technique and raw materials.

The way in which they treat raw materials is what differentiates this Restaurant.

Bread, olive oil, eggs, etc. Products and Producers: everything that comes to your table is previously chosen and elaborated by Miguel Carretero and Alfonso Vega themselves. Care and diligence in the selection, the accuracy and precision of plating contribute to make every dish unique.

 

General Info

Medium Price El Gastronómico 45–50 euro

Medium Price La Barra Fina de Barrio 18–22 euro

 

Address: General Pardiñas 56

Phone Number: +34 914 01 35 80

From Monday to Saturday, 13:30–16:00h and 20:00–23:30