From authentic recipes to innovative dishes. Experiences like having a glass of vermouth at a century-old bar with tapas such as a fried calamari baguettes or incredible creations at Michelin-star restaurants, Madrid’s gourmet offerings are endless.
According to official statistics, nine million tourists arrive in the city of Madrid each year to enjoy its charms, and culinary tourism alone brings in 23 percent of the total visitors.
Before sitting down for a meal, food shopping is a must and one of the best options is to explore the San Miguel Market, which has become a popular stopover before visiting Plaza Mayor. Many of Madrid’s traditional markets have been renovated and become authentic gastronomic attractions.
There are all kinds of gourmet delights in the stalls, with places to enjoy them, pleasing foodies from far and wide.
A typical Madrilenian custom is to start with a vermouth or aperitif, an opportunity to enjoy one of the stars of the Spanish and Madrilenian cuisine, tapas, small bite-size snacks that can be found in traditional eateries.
Places include La Ardosa – founded in 1882 and where “patatas bravas” (potatoes in spicy brava sauce) reign -, Anciano Rey de los Vinos – established 1886 in the heart of an area popular with tourists between the Royal Palace and the Almudena Cathedral – and Casa del Abuelo, set up in 1906 and which has received many famous customers such as Andy Warhol.
The first course includes traditional dishes like Cocido stew, tripe a la Madrileña, fried lamb or chicken chitterlings, known locally as gallinejas, and fried calamari baguettes.
Enjoying Madrilenian Cocido stew is a ritual, and should be eaten in a strict three-course sequence: first the broth, followed by chickpeas with vegetables, and then the meat.
These customs are time-honoured, just like the centuries-old restaurants dotting the center of the Spanish capital.
Among them stands Botin, the oldest restaurant in the world according to the Guinness World Records, which was founded in 1725 and has inspired several literary figures with its food.
Lhardy, of German origin, has also acquired a mythical status, and Los Galayos, in Plaza Mayor, is a historical venue where the famous “Generation of ’27” group of poets and artists was disbanded.
For more the more discerning, the renowned Michelin guide recommends a number of restaurants in Madrid, like DiverXO where revolutionary chef David Munoz recently received his third Michelin star.
And for those with a sweet tooth, there is an important tradition of chocolatiers and bakers in Madrid, such as the traditional Chocolatería de San Gines and the San Onofre bakery where one can have a coffee and something sweet.
If after-dinner conversation continues, also a typical Spanish custom, it is time for a “digestive” perhaps in a classic like Museo Chicote or, if it is the early hours of the morning, the Tony 2 piano-bar.
Madrid has a fun and diverse culinary offering, from the traditional to the innovative. Bon