Madrid has become one of Europe’s culinary capitals and its atmospheric barrios (districts) are crammed with taverns, tapas bars and world-class restaurants loved by locals.
Busy taverns and Michelin-starred restaurants alike dish out delicious Spanish fare.
WHAT IS THERE TO DO?
Queue up with the locals for traditional tapas, visit one of the city’s most beautiful markets (Mercado de San Miguel) and treat yourself to a lavish meal.
La Latina is Madrid’s best barrio for tapas. Head to the streets around Calle de la Cava Baja. Here you’ll find Almendro 13, a charming tavern, where locals queue for traditional tapas with an emphasis on quality rather than frilly presentation.
MERCADO DE SAN MIGUEL
One of Madrid’s most beautiful markets, the Mercado de San Miguel has undergone a major renovation and is now an inviting space strewn with tables. The stalls are outstanding and you can order tapas and more substantial plates at most of the bar-counters.
Early on a Sunday afternoon Casa Revuelta, near Plaza Mayor, is packed and lively. Some of Madrid’s finest tapas is served here, and it’s famous for callos (tripe), torreznos (bacon bits) and albóndigas (meatballs). Its tajadas de bacalao (battered cod) are the best in town.
RESTAURANTE LOS GALAYOS
Most restaurants surrounding Plaza Mayor are tourist traps, but long-running Los Galayos, in the plaza’s southeastern corner, is an exception. It’s a good place to sample traditional cooking from around Spain, such as cocido madrileño, a kind of hearty meat and chickpea stew.
The gaily painted exterior of this old Madrid tavern near Plaza Mayor is hard to miss and the food is even harder to resist, especially the local specialties – callos, cocido and steak. The bar area, with portraits of celebrity patrons, is also a good place for tapas or a wine.
Early on a Sunday afternoon Casa Revuelta, near Plaza Mayor, is packed and lively. Some of Madrid’s finest tapas is served here, and it’s famous for callos (tripe), torreznos (bacon bits) and albóndigas (meatballs). Its tajadas de bacalao (battered cod) are the best in town (00-34-91-366-3332; Calle de Latoneros, 3; 10.30am – 4pm & 7pm – 11pm Tues – Sat, 10.30am – 4pm Sun, closed Mon & month of Aug; tapas from ` 200).
Croquetas (croquettes) are one of Madrid’s best-loved tapas and Casa Julio’s version is among the city’s greatest. They’re so good, celebrities and mere mortals from all over Madrid flock to this bar in Malasaña, along with loyal locals. The place acquired a bit of a celebrity status when U2 did a photo shoot here some years ago.
Lucio in La Latina has wowed Madrileños with his home-style cooking since 1974. Eggs and roasted meats are his specialty, and the guisos del día (stews of the day) are also popular. Casa Lucio draws a well-dressed crowd that has included the former king of Spain, Bill Clinton and Penélope Cruz.
LA TERRAZA DEL CASINO
Perched atop the lavish Casino de Madrid building, this temple of haute cuisine is presided over by celebrity chef Paco Roncero and is the proud bearer of two Michelin stars. It’s all about culinary experimentation and the menu changes as each new idea emerges from the kitchen laboratory.
Up on the first floor of the Platea development, this restaurant by the two-Michelin-starred chef Ramón Freixa has a bistro feel, with a what’s-fresh-in-themarket approach to cooking and dishes whose origins range from Catalonia to Andalucía. The food looks pretty though the tastes are reassuringly familiar.
A short step off the Paseo del Prado, Lapepa Chic b&b is a well-placed find. Bedheads lined with flamenco shoes give this place personality. Pricier rooms come with a view.
For a splurge, head to old-world Hotel Orfila 12. The service is outstanding; guests can expect bathrobes embroidered with their initials. It’s in a quiet location with a sheltered garden.