Where to eat in Madrid: The ultimate food & drink guide

written by Dajana 12. July 2019
Where to eat in Madrid: The ultimate food & drink guide

From classic bodegas to modern dining spaces

Any trip to Madrid could quickly become a food-centric discovery tour of the vibrant food scene at the city’s markets, taverns, restaurants and the many bars. You’ll practically find a restaurant or bar on every single corner and sometimes even two or three. In Madrid, sometimes it might seem like there are more bars than people in the city. But where to start your culinary journey with so many options available if you are looking for a true taste of Madrid? We’d love to help!

Start the foodie treasure hunt

When we were planning this year’s Rast.Los.Gelöst. team trip we were first thinking about going to Marrakesh, but in the end decided to visit Madrid – a city we’ve both never visited before. This city might be mainly known for football and Real Madrid, art and the Royal Family, but it has so much more to offer: Madrid is chaotic and lively, extremely elegant and modern at the same time. And underneath the hip surface the city’s heart beats with the pulse of a traditional Spanish town. When you get to know Madrid a little better, you do understand why Madrileños are so proud of their hometown.

Once you step out of the touristic center and start discovering Madrid off the beaten track you’ll also see it’s rough edges and will notice the constant evolution of many neighborhoods. This makes finding the really special places turn into a little treasure hunt! At this point we want to thank our friends Christina, David and Max for sharing their best Madrid insights with us and making us literally eat all the time.

The Italians and Spanish, the Chinese and Vietnamese see food as a part of a larger, more essential and pleasurable part of daily life. Not as an experience to be bragged about (..) but as something else that gives pleasure, like sex or music, or a good nap in the afternoon.

Anthony Bourdain

Munching Your Way Through Madrid’s Vibrant Food Scene

Madrid is full of concept stores and hip cafés, century-old taverns, traditional and modern restaurants. Explore Madrid’s food scene off the beaten path, discover the many markets and plenty of options for lunch, dinner, tapas and drinks like a local. This will for sure make you fall in love with this special city, and with it’s food. To help you find your way to some of the most interesting foodie spots, we put together our Top 10. Check this out!

1. Bodega de la Ardosa

This charming bar is going strong since 1892! The traditional wood-panelled Bodega de la Ardosa in the Malasaña neighborhood is a true gem and should definitely be on your must-eat list! It was one of the first bars in Madrid to serve foreign beers (e.g. Guiness) and is famous for their selection of Vermouth. Also, it would be a crime not to try their famous salmorejo, a cold tomato soup with oil, garlic and vinegar that is served with bread, or their delicious grilled artichokes (of which we wanted to order more).

Insider tip: It is a very known spot in Madrid, so make sure to be there pretty early and have some tapas which is fine at any time of the day. Or find a free spot in the little room behind the bar that is only accessible by going under the bar itself!

2. Café Comercial

Café Comercial is one of Madrid’s oldest traditional cafés that used to be and still is a popular meeting spot for journalists, artists and writers. Founded in 1887, the café’s interior has remained largely untouched since the last bigger renovation in 1953. Marble tables and mirrored walls as well as leather-hardwood chairs will make you feel like back in the days. Café Comercial offers a wide range from breakfast to dinner options. Visit this café for breakfast, lunch, a short coffee break or for a few tapas and cold drinks in between. Also, Cafe Comercial’s churros con chocolate are famous! You might want to try these here.

Insider tip: Every now and then Café Comercial turns into an event location for literary and live music evenings. Also, don’t be surprised about people playing chess there. The Café has its own in-house chess club (Club de Ajedrez Cafè Comercial).

3. El Buo de Chueca

El Buo de Chueca is a Spanish style tavern with a modern, cozy touch. It is part of the Grupo El Buo that runs four restaurants in Madrid – two in the Chueca and two in the La Latina neighborhood. Fun fact: The owner Antonio Villar took over the family business and dedicated the restaurants to his parents that were nicknamed “El Buo” and “La Buha”. All four locations are popular amongst locals and tourists and known for serving everything from breakfast to dinner.

Insider tip: You will find a variety of tortilla de patatas options on the menu! Be aware: every tortilla is made with 1kg of potatoes. It is simply delicious and absolutely more than enough for 2 to 4 people (depending on how hungry you are).

*Editors note:buo” is usually written with h and means “owl” in English

4. El Tigre

El Tigre is a very popular bar amongst locals and tourists and a nice down to-earth-place to go for a cold drink and loads of tapas for your energy fix in between. Once you order a drink you’ll get a huge amount of tapas, usually some bread with cheese, tortilla de patatas, ham as well as some patatas bravas. If you’re vegetarian ask for a vegetarian tapas selection when ordering your drink, otherwise you will get a mixed one.

Insider tip: There are two El Tigre in the same street (El Tigre & El Tigre Sidrería). So if one of them is pretty crowded simply walk over to the other one and find a free spot!

5. Honest Greens

Real food for real people. What started as a dream has now become one of the most successful new restaurant concepts in Madrid! Honest Greens was founded by three world travelers whose paths crossed in Spain. Christopher Fuchs (USA), Rasmus B. (Denmark) and Benjamin Bensoussan (France) quickly became friends and started working on their food project. Today they are making healthy food quick and affordable at their multiple restaurants in Madrid. Everything is prepared in-house daily, all ingredients are local, unprocessed, without additives, preservatives or refined sugars. Honest Greens has multiple locations in Madrid. Check our which one is the closest to you and enjoy a healthy lunch or dinner there, as well as great coffee and fresh cake.

Insider tip: Select your favorites from a variety of options and put together your dream salad with fresh vegetables, protein and healthy carbs. You will find vegetarian and vegan options on the menu, too.

6. La China Mandarina

  • Address: Plaza de Cascorro, 17
  • Opening Hours: MON 10am – 00:30am, TUES closed, WED – THU 10am – 00:30am, FRI – SAT 10am – 1:30am, SUN 10am – 00:30am
  • Connect: Find La China Mandarina on Facebook & Instagram

We spotted La China Mandarina in the La Latina neighborhood on our way home to the hotel after a long day and decided to go there for a last drink and little snack in the late evening. It’s a spacious café with tall windows, one exposed brick wall and minimal decor. There are numerous breakfast, lunch and dinner options as well as homemade cake and a great selection of wine you can order by glass or bottle. La China Mandarina is also a work-friendly place where you can spend a few hours working in case you should be traveling for work.

Insider tip: Most dishes on the menu are new interpretations of classic Spanish recipes. Also, they offer a great variety of healthy lunch options.

7. La Mucca del Prado

We have a confession to make: we are obsessed with pizza. And sure, pizza might probably be the last thing you’ll think of when traveling to Spain! But when our friend Christina told us about the pizza with cheese and truffle cream at La Mucca del Prado of course we had to try it! It was delicious and so rich in flavor that we both were kind of dizzy (or in pizza heaven) afterwards. The extremely friendly staff as well as the beautiful interior made this experience one to remember and we will definitely be back! So please do us a favor when in Madrid: go to La Mucca del Prado and order this pizza!

Insider tip: La Mucca del Prado is part of La Mucca Company that runs five restaurants around Madrid. You’ll find “THE PIZZA” at all of them. So check which of the restaurants is closest to you and go there.

8. Mercado de San Miguel

  • Address: Plaza de San Miguel, 5
  • Opening Hours: MON – WED & SUN 10am – 1am, THU – SAT 10am – 2am
  • Connect: Find Mercado de San Miguel on Facebook

If you should be struggling to decide on what you want for lunch or as a snack in between because everything looks so delicious and you want to try it all, we have a solution for you: make sure to visit Mercado de San Miguel! In walking distance from Plaza Mayor, the city’s main market is a popular foodie hotspot for locals and tourists. Visit the market in the morning for coffee and fresh pastries for a sweet breakfast, grab a beer or glass of wine in the afternoon and have some tapas or enjoy some high quality seafood, regional ham, cured meats and cheeses in the early evening. You can never get enough of tapas in Madrid!

Insider tip: Stroll through the market, get a selection of tapas and drinks and enjoy everything while people watching! Nothing better than that!

9. Ramen Shifu

After a morning spent at the Ritiro Park in Madrid and days packed with traditional Spanish dishes and tapas we stopped by Ramen Shifu to satisfy our ramen cravings. The interior is trendy, fun and playful, the service friendly, the ramen rich in flavor, while the prices are reasonable. They also offer one vegetarian ramen option as well as fresh dishes during the hot Summer months.

Insider tip: Get some fruit infused ice cold water for free and enjoy some ice cold mochi as a sweet treat afterwards.

10. Taberna El Sur de Huertas

Shout out to David who used to work with me for this great recommendation! We arrived just shortly before 8pm and just in time to avoid long waiting lines. El Sur is a favorite among locals and travelers! They are serving tapas and main dishes as well as excellent drinks and very good sangria packed with a lot of fresh fruit. Top-notch food, great drinks, and extremely friendly staff! We will definitely be back soon!

Insider tip: With the numerous options it might be hard to decide what to order, but El Sur has found the solution: it is possible to order a half portion of some of the dishes! This allows you to order and try more!

Timing is everything

Sweet breakfast fan or savory breakfast enthusiast? We’ve got you covered! Find the best breakfast spots here! Picky eater? Can’t decide what you want? Check some of our Top 10 foodie highlights mentioned above! When in Madrid, you definitely won’t stay hungry!

The city has so much to offer and there is something for everyone’s palate. Just be aware of the typical Spanish dining schedule that might be a bit different to the one you are used to. Biggest difference: dinner is usually starting around 9pm or even later, especially in Summer. That said, simply stroll through Madrid and indulge everything the city has to offer. Just like the locals do!

P.s.: Our foodie hotspots list is even longer, but we’ll need to go back to Madrid to test them all. There are definitely not enough meals in a day to try it all in only a few days!

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