Madrid: 5 “Can’t-Miss” Spanish Foods

food guide madrid spain restaurant market san miguel

Are you planning a vacation to Madrid, Spain? Spanish food is world-renowned, which can make deciding what to try that much more difficult. Luckily for you, after two years of living in Madrid, I’ve compiled this list of five must-try Spanish foods. Keep reading to find out exactly where to find them.

Food in Madrid #1: Chocolate with Churros

Have your first (and best) “chocolate con churros” experience at Chocolatería San Gines; This is a classic and an undeniable must-do. Most importantly, don’t forget to drink the leftover chocolate!

Chocolate con churros at San Gines, Madrid. Photo: ROOSTERGNN

Food in Madrid #2: Ibérico Ham

Stop by a grocery store and create your own charcuterie board. To try all the Spanish favorites, grab some pre-sliced lomo, salchichón, chorizo and jamón ibérico. After that, add a block of manchego cheese, a bottle of Spanish red wine and a freshly baked baguette to your basket. You’ll enjoy quite the impressive snack.

Left to right: chorizo, lomo, salchichón, jamón. Photo: Tasty Eating

Food in Madrid #3: Calamari Sandwich

Enjoy one of the greasiest calamari sandwiches (bocadillo de calamares) of your life from Bar La Campana. Be sure to ask for some lemon slices to enhance the flavor of the piping-hot, breaded calamari. These hefty sandwiches would be ideal for a Sunday afternoon picnic, for instance.

Calamari sandwich (“bocadillo de calamares”) from Bar La Campana, Madrid. Photo: Time Out España

Food in Madrid #4: Fresh Seafood

Try some grilled shrimp (gambas), cod (bacalao) or hake (merluza) for lunch at a locally-owned restaurant. Firstly, ordering a “menu del día” at midday is a lot cheaper than ordering meat or fish for dinner. Secondly, when opting for the menu del día, they typically serve you multiple courses. This can include bread, starter, main course, dessert and wine or beer for between 10 and 15 euros.

Garlic grilled shrimp (“gambas al ajillo”) from La Casa del Abuelo restaurant, Madrid. Photo: Savored Journeys

Food in Madrid #5: Tortilla Española

Finally, to finish off our list of “can’t-miss” foods in Madrid, it makes sense to save the best for last: Spain’s traditional tortilla española. This tortilla was not be created for the purpose of enveloping succulent meat, cilantro and salsa like its distant Mexican relative. However, after trying Ocafú’s signature tortilla, you won’t miss Mexican-style tortillas that much anyway. While some Spanish tortillas can be overcooked, dry or lacking in flavour, the tortillas at Ocafú are just the opposite: moist, extremely fresh and perfectly seasoned.

Calling all fans of eggs over easy. Tortilla at Ocafú, Madrid. Photo: Imgrum.

BONUS: Valencian Paella

Even though “paella” is typical of Valencia, another one of Spain’s autonomous communities, some visitors still need their paella fix while in Madrid. Although the restaurant is located a bit outside of the city center, head to Socarratt to try an individual serving of Valencian paella. Certainly, dining at Socarratt can be a cheaper alternative to eating the contents of an entire paellera; a typical paellera, which is a large-sized paella skillet, can feed between 3 and 6 people (see photo below).

Different variations of paella at Socarratt, Madrid. Photo: TripAdvisor

Other Ideas: Popular Places

Calle de la Cava Baja

Go tapas bar hopping along the street called [Calle de la] Cava Baja. Each bar and restaurant on this street is slightly different, so it’s worth paying a few extra euros to try some unique, individual tapas. Similarly, you might stumble upon some delicious pintxos (a pintxo is a tapa that consists of a topping set on a thick slice of white bread, typical of northern Spain).

Cava Baja, Madrid. Photo: El Mundo

Mercado de San Miguel

No time to visit the places I’ve mentioned so far? Catch all your typical Spanish foods in one place at the Mercado de San Miguel, but be prepared 1) to be surrounded by tourists and 2) to pay an 30-50% “tourist tax”. In other words, some things are more expensive simply because they’re easily accessible and/or extremely close to tourist areas.

food guide madrid spain restaurant market san miguel Madrid Mercado de San Miguel

Rooftop Market at El Corte Inglés

If you’re interested in rooftop bars and gourmet tapas, head up to the ninth floor of the El Corte Inglés department store in Callao. It is situated just off of Gran Vía, giving you an optimum view of Madrid’s most historical skyline with clay-tiled roofs galore. Above all – unlike other rooftop areas – this “gourmet experience” area is free to access if you simply want to check out the view.

Rooftop area at El Corte Inglés Callao, Madrid. Photo: Guía del Ocio

Spanish Restaurants in Central Madrid

Around Sol looking for some casual, sit-down Spanish restaurants? Check out La Casa del Abuelo or Venta El Buscón, for example.

Photo: TripAdvisor

Have you been to any of these places? Would you recommend other foods for visitors to try? Feel free to comment or send me a suggestion at

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The Top 10 Things I Learned by Studying Abroad

1. Happiness is truly a conscious decision.
2. Speaking another language exposes you to an additional set of opportunities.
3. Life is too short to pursue a career that doesn’t make your life worth living.
4. Don’t waste your time pursuing a person who doesn’t encourage you to be your best self.
5. You can’t control everything; There will always be the possibility of things not going your way.
6. When things don’t go your way, make the most of the situation – appreciate what you have going for you.
7. Food is more than sustenance – a meal should be an experience (shared with friends and family, of course).
8. Espresso > American coffee.
9. A little pasta – nor a croissant, nor a sugar-seeped dessert – is not the death of you. Enjoy it in the moment.
10. It is better to have loved and lost than it is to have lacked the experience entirely.
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