Regional Foodie Guide
-Comunidad de Madrid –
Come explore the cuisine capital of Spain with our Madrid regional foodie guide! We’ve compiled everything you need to know, from where to eat, and the best dishes of the region.
They say that all roads lead to Madrid and a small stone slab lies discretely within Madrid’s Sol Plaza celebrating the geographic kilometer ZERO of Spain. But, it’s just a short stroll in any direction where you’ll find the rich aromas of authentic Spanish food wafting from the alleyways and narrow cobbled streets that are lined with Madrid’s famous tapas bars and prestigious restaurants.
Madrid is not only the geographic center of Spain but also the renowned melting pot where Spain’s culinary cultures merge. This is no more evident than in the enormous range of Spanish and international cuisine on offer throughout the capital, and with nearly 10,000 restaurants within the Madrid region, you’re spoilt for choice!
Madrid – The culinary capital of Spain
From fresh bread rolls filled with golden-fried calamari (Bocadillo de calamares), to tapas bars on every corner serving the famous Jamón ibérico to tasty homemade croquettes.
Then, of course, there’s the energetic restaurant and fine dining scene of Madrid where young enthusiastic chefs continue to push the boundaries of Spanish cuisine with new and exciting recipes.
It goes without saying, Madrid is pure foodie heaven.
The energetic center of Spain
As the last rays of light send orange and red hues throughout the city, the streets come alive with the bustle of terraces and tapas bars, where locals rub shoulders with tourists and enjoy a tipple well into the evening.
Madrid is truly a city that never sleeps and whatever time of day or night, you’ll find plenty to satisfy your appetite.
As the sun sets, tables fill with Cañas, small beers that are accompanied by small complimentary tapas dishes with every round. Popular local favorites include patatas bravas, Tortilla de Patatas (tortilla Española), Ensaladilla Rusa, Aceitunas (green or black olives, either stuffed or in brine), and Bocarones, small sardine fillets that have been pickled in garlic, olive oil, and a little parsley.
Red wine is also a favorite, and every wine-growing region of Spain is well-represented on the tables of Madrid’s plentiful bars and restaurants. As the cobbles absorb the warm fluorescent glow of the city lights, areas such as Chueca, Lavapies, Malasaña, and La Latina come alive with thousands of small bars, restaurants, and clubs that stay open until dawn.
The Madrid Hug
The people of Madrid come from all walks of life, and cultures from all over Spain and further afield collect around kilometer Zero with a warm sense of compassion and pride for the city they call home. There is a strong social nature to this city, where residents escape the summer heat and enjoy the evening breeze with a few drinks and tapas.
The city echoes with chatter, laughter, and joy that many first-time visitors find irresistible and utterly addictive. The warmth of the people, the strong connection with exceptional food, and the thriving energy that radiates from the city and its inhabitants leave many visitors fully experiencing what many have affectionately coined ‘the Madrid hug’.
Culinary history and Madrid tapas
Madridleños are proud of their culinary heritage and visitors will be welcomed to the many barrios (small internal suburbs) that lie abuzz with tapas bars and restaurants well into the evening. This is most evident in the tapas culture, where small bars and restaurants will entice patrons with small portions of a house specialty dish with every drink.
Tapas is a great way to sample the flavors of the city and is renowned by international travelers, who can be found in droves circulating the many elegant boulevards, cobbled streets, and narrow lanes in search of their next tapas fix.
Another option that’s common in Madrid is Raciones, which are usually a larger serving of a meal that is perfect to share (para compartir). Raciones are typically purchased after a few enticing tapas have lured you in to try more on the menu.
Top Madrid Tapas Bars and Restaurants
Visiting Madrid for a few days and looking to sample the best of the best when it. comes to tapas bars? Look no further, as foodies who lived in Madrid for years, we’ve got a few suggestions!
From cozy tapas bars tucked away from the hustle and bustle that are perfect for enjoying a tipple and tapas, to lively bars serving impeccable tapas morsels, we’ve done the hard yards and sampled a lot of tapas bars throughout Madrid!
Chips are NOT tapas!
First things first, a plate of chips is NOT a tapas!
Of course, Madrid is a mecca for foodies, and tapas bars are found on virtually every corner, but finding the best ones takes some time!
Why settle for a small bowl of olives as a tapas when you can sample the many delicious house specialties while sipping on a cool beer or wine! At these bars and restaurants, you’ll find everything from delicious seafood dishes like the famous pulpo a la gallega, to stunning tuna tartare recipes, and of course exceptionally high-quality classic tapas favorites like potatas bravas, tortillas, gambas al ajillo, boquerones, and homemade croquettes!
Here’s a list of our top tapas bars and restaurants in Madrid.
- C. de Tribulete, 23, 28012 Madrid
Small Basque-inspired tapas bar within the buzzy Lavapies atmosphere. Dishes to try are definately the Tuna tartare, chipirones a la plancha, and the ventresca con piperrada!
- Calle del Gral. Lacy, 14, 28045 Madrid
Bodegas Rosell is a classic Madrid tapas bar that dates back since the 1920s. Try the homemade vermouth, Bacalao al pil pil, tortilla de abuela, and the homemade croquettes are all a must!
- C. del Ferrocarril, 21, 28045 Madrid
Simple and affordable tapas options are found aplenty at this traditional tapas bar and restaurant with street-side terrace (Bar Octopus). Seafood and meat dishes are the specialties.
Bodegas Lo Maximo
- C. de San Carlos, 6, 28012 Madrid
Trendy tapas bar and restaurant with some excellent tapas options.
Ribera do Miño
- Calle de Sta. Brígida, 1, 28004 Madrid
Exceptional seafood and desserts are served in this Galician restaurant. Notable dishes include Mariscada, Pulpo al la gallega, Galician cod stew, and the enormous Seafood platters.
Restaurante La Jauría
- C. de Colón, 10, 28004 Madrid
Cozy bar and restaurant tucked away from the busy streets nearby. There is an exceptional wine list and a great selection of beers and cocktails. Great tapas options that vary daily. Try the Steak tartare, tortilla, and Jamón Ibérico with cheese plates are always excellent!
- Pl. de la Cebada, 11, 28005 Madrid
Lively tapas bar with an excellent selection of tapas dishes, wines, and cocktails. Upstairs has a lusicous green terrace area that is overgrown with various plants and greenery. Ideal place for a sundowner or to escape the summer heat!
La Taberna Errante
- Carrera de San Francisco, 8, 28012 Madrid
Tucked away in the lower corner of la latina is La Taberna Errante, a small restaurant and tapas bar with some of the best tapas dishes in Madrid. Dishes roate with the seasons, but must-try dishes include the ‘alcachofas de temproada con tartar de gambon’, carpaccio de pancetta asada, and the montado de atun mechado.
- Calle del Dr. Castelo, 22, 28009 Madrid
Sleek taverna-style tapas bar and restaurant serving excellent meat and seafood dishes. Must try tapas and raciones including the navajas (razor clams), croquetas de marisco, and of course the house specialty Mojama (cured-dried Tuna steak) or the anchoas con boquerones (sardines with anchovies).
- C. de Narváez, 34, 28009 Madrid
Small traditional local bar with a fantastic original wooden bar and small terrace space. The sepia a la plancha and the Ensalada Rusa are both very good and affordable.
Bar Los Torreznos
- Calle de Goya, 88, 28009 Madrid
A local favorite since the 1950s. Bar Los Torreznos is a lively scene, with cheap caña beers and the famous Castilian-style torreznos (ribs) served by the thousands every day!
Fresh produce markets of Madrid
Scattered throughout Madrid is a handful of markets with hundreds of fresh food vendors. There you’ll find everything from staple food items, fruit and vegetable vendors, cheese stalls, Mediterranean specialty stores, wine outlets, fresh seafood stalls, and of course, Jamonerias where you can often sample before you buy!
Our favorite fresh produce markets in Madrid;
- Mercado de Santa María de la Cabeza
- Mercado de San Miguel
- Mercado San Antón
Mercamadrid – The largest seafood market in Europe
Madrid is also home to one of the largest wholesale seafood markets in Europe, with fresh seafood brought daily to the capital. Impressive considering the Madrid region is completely landlocked and the closest ocean is found on the sunny shores of Valencia, some 360 km away! But perhaps this is an indication of how serious the people of Madrid take their food.
The local markets are full of pescaderias offering a diverse range of fresh fish and shellfish, and seafood that features heavily in many of the local dishes, served as tapas or as raciones.
Perhaps the most common seafood dishes found throughout Madrid are the Bocarones and Gambas al Ajillo.
Signature dishes of Madrid
With such a varied community hailing from all over Spain, the food of Madrid is hard to pinpoint. It is more so a dappled collage of culinary influences from all over Spain and as diverse as the stunning landscapes that define Spain.
There are, of course, many dishes that are distinctly from Madrid that Madridleños will proudly serve at any opportunity, with many authentic Spanish recipes handed down through generations.
Some authentic Spanish recipes served in Madrid include;
Rich and flavorsome stews of Madrid
While many visitors head to Madrid during the warmer summer months, the city also experiences a striking cold winter season. It’s not uncommon for the mercury to drop well below freezing and when it does, the cuisine turns to warm and rich stews and casseroles.
One famous dish from Madrid is Cocido Madrileño, a substantial chickpea-based stew served with meat (usually a chunk of ham) and seasonal root vegetables.
Then there’s Callos a la Madrileña, a tripe stew that is slow-cooked for hours infusing tripe, black pudding, chorizo, onion, and spices. Both of these hearty dishes are typically served throughout the winter months, although there are many bars and restaurants that will offer them as a midday meal or part of a menu del dia, even during the summer.
Typical foods of Madrid
- Cocido Madrileño
- Huevos Rotos
- Bocadillo de Calamares
- Tartar de atun (tuna tartare)
- Callos a la Madrileña
- Oreja a la Plancha
- Gambas al Ajillo
- Tartar de atun
- Huevos Rellenos
- Salt Cod Fritters
- Ensalada Navideña de Col Lombarda
- Regalitos de Rabo de Toro
- Cordero Asado
- Pollo en Pepitoria
- Patatas Bravas (The bravas sauce originates from Madrid)
Typical Tapas of Madrid
- Tortilla de Patatas (tortilla Española)
- Ensaladilla Rusa
- Aceitunas (green or black olives, either stuffed or in brine)
- Fried sardines/anchovies
- Patatas bravas
Deserts of Madrid
- Churros con Chocolate
- Buñuelos Rellenos
Drinks of Madrid
- Beer- A Caña is synonymous with the tapas culture in Madrid and you’ll be hard stretched to ignore the appeal of a caña (a small beer) filled with glistening cool nectar while enjoying the evening breeze and some tapas. One of the most famous breweries is Mahou, with the brewery skirting the south of the city limits.
- Wine – The closest wine region to the city center is Valdepeñas.
- Vermouth- Each brand of vermut (vermouth) has its own recipe, so the flavor changes from one place to another. In general, this drink is made with white wine infused with spices, herbs, flowers, and fruit. This beverage is traditionally served with appetizers.
- Tinto de verano – this drink literally translates to ‘summer wine’ and is a common drink served to help escape the baking summer heat. It’s made with soda water, red wine, lemon, and ice and is very cheap, sometimes found for a couple of euros a glass.
- Gin and Tonic – A classic cocktail that’s typically served in large glasses with plenty of ice and gin. Every cocktail bar in Madrid will offer a range of local and international gins.
- Clara con limón – An extremely popular and refreshing mix of beer and lemonade. Spain’s answer to a shandy or Radler.
The extreme climate of Madrid has also shaped the culinary preferences of Spain’s capital city. Madrid sits at over 600 meters/700 yards altitude and is surrounded by large mountainous zones and cascading desert-like plains to the south and east.
The city has a diverse warm, arid Mediterranean climate in the summer, where temperatures soar and often reach over 100°F/40°C during the day. In the winter months, the mercury can reach up to 70°F/20°C during the day, and often sends it plummeting below freezing at night. The cold arid climate brings with it low rainfall, but very cold temperatures that lend well to many hearty dishes that are sure to warm you up.
Thinking of visiting Madrid?
Check out our FREE Madrid Tapas Walking tour maps
At these bars and restaurants, you’ll find everything from delicious seafood dishes like the famous pulpo a la gallega, to stunning tuna tartare recipes, and of course exceptionally high-quality classic tapas favorites like patatas bravas, tortillas, gambas al ajillo, boquerones, and homemade croquetas.
Traditional Recipes from Madrid
Easy to follow, Step-by-Step Guides
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