A Guide to 24 Hours of Eating in Madrid
There is so much more to Spanish food than tapas. Don’t get me wrong — I LOVE the idea of plates filled with croquetas, Iberico ham and fresh breads appearing at my table every few minutes — but Madrid is a world-class dining city with a lot to offer. My sister lived in Madrid for a year so when Adam and I travelled there with her and her partner Sean, I knew we would hit all the local spots. Between my incessant researching and her street smarts, we ate all of the good things! From bocadillos to Indian food the options are endless. Like most trips I travel to eat, so spending 24 hours eating in Madrid wasn’t very hard. In fact, we did it four times over.
A Guide to 24 Hours of Eating in Madrid
The typical Spanish breakfast is small and simple. Madrileños (Madrid locals) will have some sweet rolls or pastries and a cup of café con leche, a shot of espresso swimming in a giant cup of hot frothy milk. Churros — the Spanish equivalent of a donut — served with delicious melted chocolate are also a typical breakfast treat, or for any time of the day for that matter. Check out either of the Toma Café locations for some of the best coffee in the city. Many hotels will offer a sub-par American-style breakfast along with the expected continental. At our hotel, the Sidorme Hotel Madrid Fuencarral 52, we got a great little bag of breakfast breads, fruit and juice to start the day.
Lunch, known as la comida, is the biggest meal of the day for Spaniards. It consists of many courses and lots of wine and scoring a good menú del día (prix fixe) is the norm. Places like Tortilla de Patatas at Casa Dani serve up the famous comfort food, or try the elegant La Tragantúa for a menu del dia. We didn’t partake in too many of these long drawn-out meals because we were busy sightseeing. After perusing El Rastro Sunday market, Maggie showed us a not-so-secret sandwich spot! El Capricho Extremeño is located near Campillo del Mundo Nuevo Square and there’s always a line for their cheap and delicious open-faced sandwiches. Ingredients like Iberico ham and truffle oil, cod with peppers or giant pieces of breaded chicken are devoured, and only cost 2-3€ .
If you would rather drink your lunch, head to La Latina for cheap cervezas. La Latina is a central neighbourhood filled with tapas bars to whet your whistle and is particularly popular on weekends. Ask for a caña, a small beer (200ml) and more often than not, a place of food will arrive at the table. There’s some ancient rule in Madrid stating you have to serve food along with alcohol so people don’t get drunk. Order a beer, get some fries. Or olives. Or migas, a traditional dish made with croutons and ham. We spent the best Sunday ever at El Madroño.
As if 24 hours of eating in Madrid couldn’t get more exciting, then came dinner! After the much anticipated siesta (commonplace amongst locals and tourist alike) you need to get dolled up and go out for dinner! Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time; Madrileños eat late. Really late. In fact, most restaurants don’t fill until after 10pm. After all my research, we settled on an Anthony Bourdain choice for dinner, La Gabinoteca.
This restaurant is located in the elegant residential neighbourhood called Chamberi sitting just off Calle Zurbano. The menu consists of modern tapas and there are some avant-garde items. The bone marrow for instance: at a high-end restaurant I would be happy to see it on the menu, but tableside bruleed with a torch? That’s La Gabinoteca. My favourite thing from the whole evening was the El Potito, a baby food jar filled with truffles, egg and creamy potato. It sounds weird, but it might have been one of the best things I’ve ever eaten! The meal was very reasonably priced and worked out to be about 25€ a person with 10 dishes and two bottles of Cava.
For a more local dinner, many Madrileños head to Lavapiés. This is the neighbourhood Maggie lived in, so she knew the exact Indian restaurant she wanted us to try. The primarily immigrant neighbourhood has all kinds of cuisine, but Indian food prevails. She led us down the steep hill past dozens of restaurant managers beckoning us with their menus. In the evenings the steep hill is covered in tables and diners devouring dal and korma. Just choose any restaurant that tickles your fancy, you can’t go wrong. My slanted plate of butter chicken was some of the best Indian food I’ve ever tasted!
Where to sleep after you’ve eaten everything in Madrid
After 24 hours of eating in Madrid, you will need more than a siesta! Chill out at the Hotel Sidorme Fuencarral 52. It’s right off funky Fuencarral Street near the Gran Via and they have a great little breakfast bag waiting every morning. You can read my review of Hotel Sidorme Fuencarral 52 in Madrid here!
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