Madrilenians are known to be champions in the art of enjoying life’s many pleasures. There’s no better way of visiting the Spanish capital than to go on a gourmet tour of the city, between tapas bars, gastronomic restaurants, literary cafés and public markets. Buen provecho!
Ir de tapas
Offering a vast panorama of Spanish cuisine, Madrid is one of the best cities to discover tapas bars. Three places to look up for tapas – one of Spain’s most endearing traditions:
Highly praised by food critics, Casa Lucas likes to revisit traditional tapas by reinventing its menu on a seasonal basis. A great place for tapas and raciones (large portions of tapas).
This restaurant is located at the heart of La Latina, one of Madrid’s most authentic barrios, with original medieval streets. It offers beautifully presented luxurious Spanish cuisine. The house specialty: pinxtos, tapas served on small slices of bread with refined ingredients like truffles and foie gras.
One of the city’s oldest taverns, Casa Alberto dates back to 1827. The secret of its success? Offer excellent tapas at the bar and gourmet meals in the dinning room. Anecdotally, it is said that Miguel Cervantes, creator of mythic Don Quixote, wrote one of his books in this building.
¡Una mesa por dos, por favor!
In Madrid, eating is not a necessity. It is a pleasure that one takes time to relish – the atmosphere counting almost as much as the delicious food. A few places you don’t want to miss:
In this amusing bistro decorated with peinatas (traditional hair combs worn by Andalusian dancers), famous chef Paco Roncero offers tapas with a modern touch.
Café de Oriente
Popular with tourists and lavishly decorated, it is located right in front of the Royal Palace. The Café de Oriente is a great place for having lunch! It is here that Savaldor Dalí painted his famous portrait of poet Federico García Lorca.
Established in 1725, Restaurante Botín is one of Madrid’s oldest institutions and, according to Guinness, the world’s oldest restaurant. It has won many prizes and has been listed, by Forbes, as one of the 10 greatest classic restaurants.
Capital of the Hispanic world, Madrid once housed numerous literary cafés, where the artistic elite would gather to read poetry. Nowadays, people go there for a good cup of coffee and a touch of nostalgia. Two must-see places:
This one-of-a-kind café and restaurant offers three equally enticing choices: a bar, a restaurant offering seasonal cuisine and a tapas bar. Whatever you choose, be sure to ask for a table at the superb shaded terrace.
Established in 1888, this mythic coffeehouse was once described by Hemingway as being a “clean, well-lit place”. It is a lot more than that. The atmosphere is great, the coffee is excellent and meals are served at lunch time.
A gourmet tour of Madrid would not be complete without a visit of its public markets. Here are two of them that you won’t want to miss:
Mercado de San Miguel
In this magnificent hall, food stalls overflow with delicious fine products, from local jamón and cheeses to seafood and fried sardines. Quick anecdote; Nicolas Sarkozy and Prince Charles once asked to temporarily close the place so they could have a quiet meal together.
Mercado de San Antón
Spread over three floors, this culinary paradise houses not only food stalls but also tapas bars and restaurants, some of them even offering to cook your groceries. The best of both worlds!