Eating out in Madrid
Madrid´s culinary offerings rarely fail to impress any visitor. Whether you are looking for traditional or contemporary food, budget or luxury, Madrid offers it all. Excellent Vegetarian options are also available, which may surprise those who know Spain for its cured ham, chorizo, sausages, and seafood paella.
Quick Tip: Check out HostelBookers.com for accommodation in Madrid when planning your culinary experience to remember. Look out for hotels close to the centre for easy access to some of the best renowned restaurants.
Best for Contemporary
The designer tapas chain Lateral specializes in pinchos, which are bite-sized tapas often served on a small slice of baguette. Whilst the décor is contemporary at its best, traditional Spanish ingredients like Iberian ham and codfish are combined into creative and modern pinchos, like Iberian ham with apple preserves and foie gras, sirloin with caramelized onion, and rolled salmon stuffed with ham, apple preserves, and cheese. The house sangria is also excellent and one to try. There are now six sleek and stylishly decorated locations conveniently spread around central Madrid.
For a contemporary sit-down meal, Restaurante Ginger may be the best bang for your buck in the city. Menu highlights include the codfish with eggplant mousse and crispy leeks as well as unusual salads like the goat cheese salad with crispy maize and apple. All meat, poultry, seafood and vegetarian options are equally enticing, all presented beautifully. La Finca de Susana, Bazar, La Gloria de Montera, and Public are also owned by the same restaurateur and feature similar menu items and surprisingly reasonable prices.
Best for Traditional
Madrid´s most famous traditional Spanish restaurant is undoubtedly Restaurante Botín. Cited in the Guinness Book of World Records as the World´s oldest continually running restaurant, Botín features a traditional wood-fired oven just as you enter the restaurant where chefs prepare made-to-order roast suckling pig and baby lamb. The menu also offers a wide variety of traditional Spanish dishes and the 25-page wine list is impressive.
Hidden in a picturesque alley behind a church, Cafetería San Ginés is a local legend. Since it supposedly never closes, locals and visitors alike enjoy the traditional thick hot chocolate with sweet salty churros at any time of day. There is practically always a line, but for good reason. Even in the early hours of the morning, patrons line-up as the bar hopping crowd stops by for a midnight snack or an early breakfast. Turn-of-the-century tables and mirrors give the restaurant an old-fashioned feel.
Photo credit: Mobilephotosheindenstrom
Best for Vegetarian
Vegaviana is located in Chueca, Madrid´s trendy gay-friendly district full of bars, restaurants, boutiques and art galleries. The high-quality vegetarian food at Vegaviana is very reasonably priced. On the menu you will find canelones with spinach, zucchini and cheese burritos, eggplant parmesan, and the leek, squash and spinach pie can´t be beaten. The decorations are simple and functional, yet the restaurant has a cozy touch. While it may not have swanky décor, if what you´re looking for is excellent food at a good price Vegaviana is the perfect choice.
La Isla del Tesoro is a more upscale vegetarian restaurant, though an affordable multi-course fixed price menu is offered at midday. All dishes are made with whole grains and organic ingredients. House specialties include tofu and stir-fried vegetable loaf, yellow-curry soy noodles with vegetables and pasta stuffed with apple, walnuts. The hippie sheik décor complement the beautifully presented vegetarian dishes.