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Where to eat in Madrid - a food and dining guide

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More than just food, Madrid’s cuisine drizzles deliciously into every local’s lifestyle. Vivid conversations in bars and restaurants are fueled by tapas of potato omelet and marinated anchovies after starting the day sweetly with churros and hot chocolate. Tapas only come second however, to Madrid’s all-time favorite – the squid baguette, the ideal companion as you stroll around the historic center, people watch in the Plaza Mayor or watch the sunset by the Egyptian Temple of Debod.

Daniel Camiroaga

My Destination local expert on

Madrid

More than just food, Madrid’s cuisine drizzles deliciously into every local’s lifestyle. Vivid conversations in bars and restaurants are fueled by tapas of potato omelet and marinated anchovies after starting the day sweetly with churros and hot chocolate. Tapas only come second however, to Madrid’s all-time favorite – the squid baguette, the ideal companion as you stroll around the historic center, people watch in the Plaza Mayor or watch the sunset by the Egyptian Temple of Debod.

 

Madrileños can teach the world a thing or two about the good life, starting with their love of tapas bars. Going out for tapas is a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages when people gathered in taverns to chat while sipping on wine served in jugs covered with a piece of bread to keep flies off. These titbits evolved into scrumptious spicy potatoes, garlic prawns, and slices of mouthwatering chorizo. Today, tapas are wine and beer’s faithful companions in the hundreds of bars scattered through the glamoros Madrilenian streets.

 

Two dishes identified with local cuisine are Cocido Madrileño - a stew combining chickpeas with vegetables, chicken, beef and pork - and Callos a la Madrileña, a winter stew prepared with beef tripes, cured ham and vegetables.

 

Sol y Plaza Mayor

 

Gate of the Sun and Plaza Mayor are the beating heart of Madrid, where tradition meets modernity. As the city center, it’s where nightlife comes alive and 24-hour pizza stalls stand alongside old-fashioned restaurants. Don’t miss a famous market called San Miguel where you can enjoy oysters with champagne. Another must-visit is El Botin restaurant, a benchmark in Madrilenian cuisine. Founded in 1725, El Botin is the world’s oldest restaurant according to the Guinness Book of Records. Its specialties are suckling pig and lamb roasted in a wood-fired oven.

 

•     San Miguel Market, Plaza de San Miguel. Tel: +34 915 42 49 36 •     El Botin, St. Cuchilleros no. 17. Tel: +34 913 66 42 17

 

La Latina

 

A high degree of creativity is revolutionizing La Latina, where 21st-century tapas contrast with authentic Madrilenian cuisine. The most emblematic spot is Casa Lucio, a restaurant that embraces the values of local cuisine like no other. Their fried eggs with ham on a bed of potatoes will send you through the roof. Otherwise, Olé Lola restaurant has reinvented the traditional tapas by combining recipes from all over the world. Include their squid with guacamole and Iberian ham bagels in your order.

 

•     Casa Lucio, St. Cava Baja no. 35. Tel: +34 913 65 32 52 •     Olé Lola, St. San Mateo no. 28. Tel: +34 913 10 66 95

 

Literary Quarter

 

Immersed in the magic of literature, this bohemian and artistic quarter serves eclectic and traditional cuisine with an international twist. As you stroll around, you will see old-fashioned taverns in harmony with state-of-the-art cafés. A hundred miles away from Parliament lies Lhardy - Madrid’s first classy restaurant - which often features in Spanish literature. Their perfect combination of European and local cuisine has remained unaltered throughout the centuries. Try their mallard flavored with orange and Brosche sirloin.

 

•     Lhardy, St. Carrera de San Jerónimo no. 8. Tel: +34 915 22 22 07

 

Lavapiés

 

Vibrant and cosmopolitan, this neighborhood is popular for its tucked away treasures and exotic restaurants. For an Arabian night, head to Habibi restaurant and try their sublime baba ghanoush surrounded by the magic of infinite arches. If you are looking for tapas, Café Melo’s, a must-eat for the adventurer on a budget. They serve tapas with a Galician touch and are famous for their fried sandwiches and cheese with quince.

 

•     Habibi, Calle del Ave Maria no. 41. Tel: +34 915 28 25 69 •     Café Melo’s, Calle del Ave Maria no. 44. Tel: +34 915 27 50 54

 

Malasaña

 

This quarter is home to Madrid’s top experimental restaurants, like Rustika Angel House. What started off as an old tavern has been transformed into a groundbreaking place with spaces decorated in different styles. In a matter of meters, you can teleport from the coast to the African savannah or an Arabic tent. This multicultural design transcends to their cuisine, which ranges from traditional dishes to Thai, Lebanese and African food.

 

•     Rustika Casa Ángel, Calle Minas no. 18. Tel: +34 911 69 38 56