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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.