Enjoying a stroll, having a drink and enjoying some tapas in Madrid can be a fiesta all in itself, especially if you know where to go and what the specialty of each place is. More than ever, when it comes to gastronomy, the Spanish capital represents a huge melting pot, where the modern and traditional mix – there’s everything from ethnic restaurants and traditional establishments, to Basque pincho bars and Andalusian frying joints. Not to mention the bakeries, burger bars, sandwich bars, fancy cake stores, terraces, food markets, ice cream parlors, and smoothie specialists… They are all the mirror of a cosmopolitan city, where the modern lives side by side with venues that still preserve an air of centuries past.
JUSTICIA, CHUECA, GRAN VÍA neighborhoods
You will be surprised by the treasures that this venue hides inside. When you enter, there is a bakery counter, selling bread made with organic flours. At the back, a café for a quick fix. And for those looking for a take-away, there’s a selection of homemade sandwiches.
- Argensola, 26. +34 917 27 47 04.
A sanctuary for the best chocolate. Creative bonbons and bars of crumbling cacao. At the bar, chocolate milkshakes and some passable pastries. In spring and summer, they set up a counter on the street that supplies huge chocolate ice creams and fruit sorbets.
- Orellana, 4. +34 913 19 58 40.
Cocktails and hamburgers. The inspiration here are the BBQ meat shacks in Austin, the burger joints from Venice Beach and the cocktail bars in New Orleans. An industrial look and a lot of allusions to the movie world. Recommended: the Royal Burger with Cheese.
- Santa Teresa, 4. +34 910 26 62 76.
Iberian ham in all its forms: baguette, small cubes, fine slices… This place is dedicated to the sacred jamón, but also offers the perfect accompaniment: pates and cheeses.
- Fuencarral, 106. +34 915 21 27 41.
It’s worth a visit here to take a seat and enjoy the pastries, palmeras and sweet or savory croissants. The standard of the coffee and tea is on a par with the sweet specialties. Also notable: the chocolate milk.
- Barquillo, 49. +34 913 08 31 85.
Taberna Ángel Sierra
Vermouth on tap, a tin bar and tiling are the distinguishing characteristics of this legendary tavern in Plaza de Chueca. On offer: olives, pickles, and fine canned produce, including pies, mussels and tuna.
- Gravina, 11. +34 915 31 01 26.
A 100-year-old tavern. Its tortilla, which is juicy and compact, is one of the best in the capital. It’s not alone though: creamy croquettes, artichokes, cold salmorejo soup, fried aubergine, and cured meats from León. Beers and a lovely vermouth to accompany.
- Colón, 13. +34 915 21 49 79.
This venue ennobles the popular sandwich. Not because they serve it accompanied with glamorous champagne, but because the combination of their Andalusian buns with Iberian ham is notable.
- Fernando VI, 21. +34 910 29 94 69.
Always bustling. This elegant tea house has a contemporary vibe, and a counter from which they serve sweet treats. Its glass cabinets are packed with dazzling delights: cakes, mini-tartlets, lemon-drizzle cakes, macaroons and pastries.
- Fernando VI, 23. +34 913 91 43 64.
In the Only You hotel. Sweet and savory sandwiches that are gluten free and take their inspiration from North America. There is also a wide range of recipes for those who are lactose-intolerant, diabetic or vegetarian. Food to eat in or to go.
- Barquillo, 19. +34 915 32 28 99.
The commitment made by pastry chef Oriol Balaguer to keep open this emblematic patisserie has been a complete success. Traditional pastries that nestle side-by-side with innovative specialties. The high tables with stools let you enjoy a magnificent croissant and a great coffee.
- Fernando VI, 2. +34 913 08 02 31.
El Cisne Azul
Mushroom paradise… Even out of season, or when the weather isn’t obliging, at this store you can always find quality fungi.
- Gravina, 19. +34 915 21 37 99.
An obligatory stop for those with a sweet tooth. Croissants and millefeuille in this branch of Pomme Sucre. Their specialties – from the teas, to the cakes and pastries – can all be prepared to go.
- Hortaleza, 30. +34 915 21 75 37.
Another classic in Chueca. A rustic tavern with traditional Castilian and Andalusian fare, including fried eggs, fried fish, and smoked fish canapes.
- Libertad, 6. +34 915 21 53 31.
A contemporary tavern with a marble bar and a creative menu. It’s a charming place, that will win you over with its eggs served in a frying pan and its tomatoes.
- Libertad, 1. +34 915 31 80 79.
This former venue for tertulias (meetings between friends and acquaintances for intellectual chat) has been transformed into a carefully looked after space, with a plentiful bar from where you can buy sandwiches to go, croquettes, Russian salad or tiger mussels. From 7.30am onward, breakfasts and chocolate with churros.
- Glorieta de Bilbao, 7. +34 910 88 25 25.
The casual offering from Galician chef Iván Domínguez (Alborada, Alabaster) in Madrid. Atlantic cuisine with ingredients from other latitudes: pompano tartare with tomato soup, or conger eel with yellow curry. No reservations.
- Reina, 31.
At the bar, traditional Spanish fare with high-quality ingredients, including specialties from other restaurants from the Paco Quirós group in Madrid: red sea scorpion fish hash, cod fritters, roast peppers, ham and egg croquettes, and cheesecake. The crème caramel and Spanish omelet are unmissable.
- Gran Vía, 1. +34 910 52 06 20.
A modern bar in the bustling San Antón market. Very tasty informal fare: canapes, croquettes, “smashed” eggs, octopus salad, tiger prawns, and tuna tartar…
- Augusto Figueroa, 24B (Mercado de San Antón, 1st floor, stand 4). +34 913 30 02 71.
An unmissable stop for all coffee-addicts. Argentinean Santiago Rigoni and his wife, Patricia Alda, the cheerful owners, like to divulge café culture. Their filter coffees, espressos and cappuccinos – which have impeccable pedigrees – are exceptional.
- La Palma 49. +34 917 02 56 20.
A modern bakery, whose produce is created in a kitchen that’s visible to customers. At the bar, sandwiches made while you wait, including Iberian ham, mortadella with Parmesan, cooked ham and spicy pork sausages.
- Prim, 1. +34 915 99 48 45.
A children’s favorite turned into an adult’s treat: home-made popsicles made with fresh fruit, and no added colors, preservatives or artificial flavoring. The countertop, which is brimming with wooden sticks, is highly tempting.
- Augusto Figueroa, 24B (Mercado de San Antón). +34 625 02 27 65.
A tiny venue packed with fresh, colored fruit, which are transformed into delicious smoothies according to the customer’s desire. You can invent your own or choose from the menu.
- Libertad, 37. +34 675 92 88 67.
The pinchos on this bar are constantly renewed: codfish pilpil, Spanish omelet, peppers and asparagus. The cider and txakoli wine also flow freely.
- Fuencarral, 49. +34 915 21 83 18.
Quality ice creams that are finished off on a cold plate. The most in-demand: vanilla and cookies, chocolate brownie, yogurt and fruits of the forest, caramel and lemon and nuts.
- Augusto Figueroa, 5. +34 917 55 63 91.
Here they sell glasses of fresh milk, tiger-nut milk drink with amusingly titled pastries named fartons, and milkshakes made to order. The star product is the yogurt, made with no additives or sugar. Breads and jams are also on offer.
- Manuela Malasaña, 29. +34 910 29 66 39.
Perhaps the best fried fish in Madrid. They are served at the bar or at the tables, and they can be prepared to go in cones. A typical tavern that is packed out at rush hour. The calamari are unsurpassable, as are the wines from Jerez.
- Santa Isabel, 38. +34 645 38 80 77.
On the ground floor of this food market you’ll find Japanese specialties at a moderate price. Delicious Japanese ramen, as well as trays of sushi and sashimi. Try the Japanese beers too.
- Mercado de Antón Martín. Santa Isabel, 5.
The epicenter of bao in Madrid. Before these buns took off in the city, they were already in fashion. Street food with a number of Asian influences: shrimp in tempura with garlic, fried free-range chicken, or meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce.
- Mercado de Antón Martín. Santa Isabel, 5.
Traditional Castilian fare in the heart of Lavapiés. The place is always packed out with unconditional fans, who are addicted to the zapatillas (bread, ham and cheese), croquettes, pies and peppers. The portions here are very generous.
- Ave María, 44. +34 915 27 50 54.
Famous for its calamari baguettes, which sell in their hundreds every day. There are also bacon and pepper sandwiches, or fillings such as fried ham and cheese, and chicken and ham with tomato.
- Plaza del Emperador Carlos V, 8. +34 915 28 69 66.
Located to the side of the Reina Sofía museum, with an exceptional terrace. A contemporary tavern with plenty to take away: Iberian ham sandwich, crunchy chicken burger, a roast beef sandwich… The ham croquettes, tripe and Russian salad are a must.
- Edificio Sabatini (Museo Reina Sofía). Santa Isabel, 52. +34 915 28 68 28.
Taberna La Dolores
A classic in the Huertas neighborhood. Outside, the slogan: “Fresh beers and tapas.” At the bar, well-poured beers, pinchos and small sandwiches with tuna and peppers, baby cuttlefish, duck ham and Iberian jamón.
- Plaza de Jesús, 4. +34 914 29 22 43.
LA LATINA neighborhood
Juana la Loca
The culinary delights here go further than the famous Spanish omelet, which is deliciously juicy. On the bar you’ll find a wide range of cold and hot pinchos: spinach crepe, asparagus and salmon are just a few of the offerings…
- Plaza de la Puerta de Moros, 4. +34 913 64 05 25.
A wide range of pinchos and dishes with Basque influences: guacamole with smoked cod, pork with port, and peppers stuffed with hake. Wine is served by the glass, and there are also cocktails and special coffees.
- Cava Baja, 42. +34 913 65 52 12.
Drinks are ordered at one bar and the food at another. The star dish is the “smashed eggs” with fries, as well as the Spanish omelet. The cold salmorejo soup is also highly recommended.
- Almendro, 13. +34 913 65 42 52.
La Taberna de los Huevos de Lucio
This venue is overseen by the sons of the world-famous Restaurante Lucio. While the bar also supplies cheese and high-quality tapas, the big hit is the “smashed eggs” with fries. To drink, beers and a wide range of wines, champagne and cava, all sold by the glass.
- Cava Baja, 30. +34 913 66 29 84.
A classic tavern that has managed to keep itself up to date. Mussels, whitebait with fries, artichokes, cheeses and a range of Iberian meats. Very well-poured beers.
- Plaza del Humilladero, 4. +34 913 66 68 86.
Confitería El Riojano
Classic patisserie. The sweet specialties change according to the time of year and the religious festival. To take away or enjoy in their tea room. Try the Madrileño rosquillas, chocolate palmeras, or the torrijas, a specialty at Easter.
- Mayor, 10. +34 913 66 44 82.
At peak times you might have trouble getting through the door at this Castilian tavern. Its specialty, the battered cod, is the best in the whole capital. What’s more, it serves pork crackling and Madrileño tripe, but just on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
- Latoneros, 3. +34 913 66 33 32.