Tastiness always wins. Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine have won fans across the world for a very good reason. And, if you are visiting Madrid for the first time you are sure to be tempted to try the city’s famous cuisine. Luckily, as already mentioned, it’s tasty - with a seemingly endless array of dishes out there just waiting for you - from the delights of seafood to pastries and stews. But where do you start? Read on for some tips on food to try during a visit to Madrid.
1. Cocido Madrileño
A true traditional dish of Madrid, Cocido Madrileño is a popular meat and vegetable stew with a centuries-old recipe which, thanks to its hearty nature, is especially popular during the winter months. Primarily composed of chickpeas, the stew also features a mix of vegetables and, while pork is the main meat of choice, it is not unheard of for a little chicken and beef to wind up in the mix. It has evolved substantially since its creation in the Middle Ages, changing from a meat-free long-cooked dish to the recipe that today wins many a fan. Naturally, its history as a dish of Madrid means it will not be hard to chase down a restaurant or two during any visit to the city - giving you the perfect opportunity to see what all the fuss is about.
Address: Calle Ruda 5 | next to Plaza de Cascorro, 28005 Madrid
Opening hours: 11am to 5pm (Monday and Tuesday); 11am to midnight (Wednesday to Saturday); closed on Sunday
Average price for two people: From 32 to 145 USD
2. Bocadillo de Calamares
Seafood fans looking to grab an unusual bite on the go will likely want to give this dish a whirl during any visit to Madrid. Bocadillos are a popular type of sandwich that are widely available in many a tapas bar or cafe, and consist of Spanish bread with a wide array of different fillings available. Indeed, the types that are available often vary from region to region - and Madrid is no different. The city is a big fan of the Bocadillo de Calamares variant, which, as the name suggests, translates as a ‘squid sandwich’. So if you like your calamari you’ll be in food heaven during a visit to the Spanish capital.
Bar La Campana
Address: Calle Botoneras 6, 28012 Madrid
Website: Bar La Campana
Opening hours: 9am to 11pm (Sunday to Thursday); 9am to midnight (Friday and Saturday)
Average price for two people: From 11 USD
3. Churros con Chocolate
No trip to Spain would be complete without sampling one of its iconic pastries, the churro. Its fried-dough charms have conquered the globe, with varieties appearing in many countries with a history of Spanish or Portuguese migration. But while you can today find it with ease everywhere from the Philippines to some of the southern states of the USA, the Iberian peninsula is its true spiritual home. And, in Madrid they are particularly fond of churros with chocolate. And, as many a sweet-toothed diner would ask, why not? It sounds like a match made in heaven, so why not indeed.
Los Artesanos 1902 Chocolate
Address: Calle de San Martín, 2, 28013 Madrid
Website: Los Artesanos 1902 Chocolate
Opening hours: 7am to midnight (Sunday to Thursday); 7am to 2am (Friday and Saturday)
Average price for two people: Under 11 USD
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4. Huevos Rotos
It may be simple, but this egg-based dish is popular for good reason - it’s quick, it tastes good, and it’s a handy bite for those on the go looking for something filling. Huevos Rotos - or broken eggs to give it its English translation - involves the frying of the eggs in olive oil but removing them while the yolk is still runny. It is then served alongside potatoes - usually fries or even potato chips - which soak up the egg yolk, and a little meat (ham, sausage or bacon are typical). In essence, it’s the Spanish equivalent of a ham, egg and chips, but with a little flare thrown in for good measure.
La Taberna los Huevos de Lucio
Address: Calle Cava Baja 30, 28005 Madrid
Website: La Taberna los Huevos de Lucio
Opening hours: 1pm to 4pm, and 8.30pm to midnight (daily)
Average price for two people: 24 to 46 USD
5. Callos a la Madrileña
Another common stew that is popular all across Iberia, but which is also something of a traditional Madrid dish, Callos a la Madrileña is a deceptively simple and hearty treat that features a host of meat and vegetable ingredients. The base ingredients include the likes of chickpeas, peppers, tripe and blood sausage, although chorizo and other options are often added for a little variety. Naturally, any dish which has Madrid in the name will be easy to come by during a visit to the Spanish capital, so you’re sure to be able to find an eatery or two in which to sample it, should you wish.
Taberna San Mames
Address: Calle De Bravo Murillo, 88, 28003 Madrid
Opening hours: 1.30pm to 4.30pm and 8.30pm to 11.30pm (Monday to Saturday); closed on Sunday
Average price for two people: 60 to 104 USD
6. Spanish omelette
A signature dish of the country, you’ll likely encounter the Spanish omelette in numerous eateries - and in numerous guises - during your visit to Iberia. This fried traditional dish, which is made with eggs and potatoes, is not just a delicious treat you might tuck into for breakfast, it is also something that can also be enjoyed as an appetiser or a snack. The latter sees it cut into small pieces and skewered on sticks - or pinchos. In this guise it is a popular picnic or finger food.
Meson Restaurante La Mi Venta
Address: Plaza Marina Espanola 7, 28013 Madrid
Website: Meson Restaurante La Mi Venta
Opening hours: 1pm to 4.30pm and 8pm to 11.30pm (daily)
Average price for two people: 21.62 USD (Spanish omelette only)
7. Iberian ham
A true regional treat, Iberian ham is cured pork made from the meat of the black Iberian pigs which originate from the peninsula. But while this may, on the face of it, appear to be a simple cured pork-based ingredient, there are endless sutbtle tastes to consider when choosing the variety for your dish. For instance, the type of food the pigs consumed while being reared, and the conditions in which they lived, can make a big difference to the price - free-range pigs that were able to roam the woods and feed on acorns produce a particularly fine variety… with a price tag to match. What’s more, the hams are labelled according to these various conditions - from black and red at the upper end of the scale to green and white. Will you give each a whirl during your visit to see if you can detect the taste differences?
Mercado Jamon Iberico
Address: Calle Mayor 80, 80, 28013 Madrid
Website: Mercado Jamon Iberico
Opening hours: 10am to 9pm (daily)
Average price for two people: 17 to 34 USD
8. Oreja a la Plancha
It may be something of an acquired taste but oreja a la plancha is one of the traditional and popular tapas snack foods of Madrid. Yes, grilled pig ear may not sound appetising to some palettes, but you know what they say - ‘when in Rome’… or maybe that should be 'when in Madrid’? And if you do pluck the courage to give this local dish a go, there are a number of different flavour styles from which to choose - with the likes of spicy sauces and garlic among the additional ingredients used to add a little variety.
Address: Calle Cruz 14, 28012 Madrid
Opening hours: Midday to 4pm and 7pm to midnight (Monday to Thursday); Midday to 4.30pm and 7pm to 1.30pm (Friday); 12.30pm to 4.30pm and 7pm to 1.30am (Saturday); 12.30pm to 4.30pm and 7am to midnight (Sunday)
Average price for two people: Under 11.40 USD
9. Patatas bravas
This potato-based food is a signature dish of Spain and is popular right across the country, where it can be commonly found served as a tapas in bars and restaurants. To create it, the potatoes are cut into small chunks and then fried in oil before being served underneath a sauce, which can vary from simple tomato to more elaborate types based around olive oil, paprika and red pepper. And, while potato is the base ingredient, it is an incredibly versatile dish, with a range of different possible toppings also creating all new flavours to suit your mood. Everything from baked chicken to chorizo and even fish are just some of the different recipes you’ll likely stumble across on your travels.
Address: Calle Alcala 337, 28027 Madrid
Opening hours: 8am to midnight (Thursday to Tuesday); closed Wednesdays
Average price for two people: 11.50 to 23 USD
10. Manchego cheese
Cheese aficionados will definitely want to check out some Manchego during their visit to Madrid. This firm, buttery cheese - which is made from the milk of the Manchega sheep - enjoys protected origin status within Europe. This means that any cheese bearing the Manchego name has to have been produced within the La Mancha region - so you know exactly what you’re getting when you pick some up during your travels. And, despite this specific protection, there is still plenty of variety available - with cheeses typically aged anywhere between two months and two years and ranging in colour from a pale yellow to white.
Address: Calle del Leon 12, 28014 Madrid
Website: Casa Gonzalez
Opening hours: 9.30am to midnight (Monday to Thursday); 9.30am to 1am (Friday and Saturday); 11.30am to 5pm (Sunday)
Average price for two people: Moderate
Sensational foods await
Madrid’s local food scene contains plenty of taste sensations for you to enjoy during your visit to the Spanish capital. Which will you try first?
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