Typical Madrid dishes
A stew consisting of chickpeas as the main ingredient, cooked together with vegetables and meats (mostly pork), in the form of bacon or sausages. Quite tasty and filling, and without doubt the most representative dish of Madrid.
Chocolate con churros
A very dense, rich, thick chocolate in which you dip the most classic of all classic Spanish pastries, the “churro”. Churros are fried, and dipped in chocolate they transform into a liver-killer bomb, but well worth trying.
Chocolatería San Ginés is the most famous Chocolatería in Madrid. Founded in 1894, it is an insitution and a must-visit.
For breakfast, the ultimate thing to have is the “pan con tomate”, a toast covered in home-made fresh tomato paste and a nice amount of Spanish olive oil (best in the world!).
The BEST place to have this is a place called “Pizzería Cervantes” (actually not much of a pizza place, but rather a typical Spanish bar). It is in Calle León 8 (metro Antón Martín).
Tapas in Madrid is famous
- The typical tortilla de patatas (an omelette made with eggs and potatoes, often served cold).
- Patatas bravas: potatoes fried in olive oil and covered with a spicy sauce.
- Bocata de calamares: basically a sandwich consisting of bread (of course) and squid rings fried in batter. (The bars on the little streets around the Plaza Mayor are famous for this).
- Jamón Serrano: the best ham in the world, easily found throughout Madrid. (Museo del Jamón, there’s one every three blocks all throughout Madrid)
The good thing about Madrid is that you can find good restaurants specialized in different regions of Spain. Eating only “Madrid food” and missing other areas of Spain will leave you without the fantastic dishes from Galicia or Andalusia, or the “pintxos” from the Basque Country.
Typical Spanish dishes that are not from Madrid
- Pulpo a la gallega: a dish from Galicia, delicious, consisting of a plate of boiled potatoes and freshly cooked octopus, fairly covered in fresh olive oil and tons of Spanish paprika. For this dish: Taberna Maceiras (Calle Huertas 66)
- Paella: it’s from Valencia and for foreigners it’s without doubt the identifying symbol of Spanish gastronomy. It consists of white rice mostly seasoned with saffron and with green beans, snails, seafood, and sometimes, chicken meat. “Paella de mariscos” is only seafood and sometimes fish meat, and “Paella mixta” has seafood and chicken. A (in my opinion, yummier) version of the paella is the arroz caldoso, almost same recipe but with much more broth remaining that makes it almost soupy. For all kinds of rice dishes: Marina Ventura (Calle Lope de Vega 13)
- Gazpacho and Salmorejo: both Andalusian (from different regions, though). The first is a cold tomato soup (you can have it with a spoon or drink it from a glass). Very refreshing in summer and very tasty. It has tomato, olive oil, vinegar, cucumber, garlic and bell pepper. The second one, one of my favorites, is also a cold tomato soup but consisting of tomato, garlic, olive oil and bread, all mixed together and served with boiled egg and sprinkled with tiny pieces of jamón serrano.
Las Letras for traditional food
As for areas, I think the best area for restaurants is the Barrio de las Letras, whereas the best areas for tapas are La Latina, Lavapiés and Malasaña.
Every barrio has a distinct character in Madrid.
Skip sangria – it is an insult to wine
Regarding drinks, most people consider “tinto de verano” (red wine with lemon soda) or “sangría” (red wine with fruit and orange juice) to be the most typical thing you can have. In my opinion, Spanish wines are SO GOOD that adding soda or fruit to them is kind of insulting.
Drinks to have
Try wines from Rioja. Have the Horchata (tiger nut milk) in the summer, from Valencia. Try the Sherry from Andalusia. And gin in typically Madrid, available everywhere.
Here is a list put together by my friend who runs a traditional restaurant.
Must-try dishes in Madrid
Bocadillo de calamares
Madrid’s famous bocadillo de calamares – or fried squid sandwich – is a simple but very popular snack. At its simplest, it consists of just deep fried squid rings and fresh, crusty bread, though many stalls and bars serve it with garlic mayonnaise.
Cocido Madrileno is a perfect winter warmer dish - a hearty pork or beef-based stew full of chorizo, vegetables, and chickpeas. If you order a large portion for several people, don’t be surprised if the broth, vegetables and chickpeas, and meat are all served separately. That way you can prepare your own bowl at the table.
While not strictly a Madrid specialty, patatas bravas is a deliciously simple and iconic Spanish tapas dish. Small chunks of white potato are fried in olive oil and usually served with a spicy tomato-based sauce or aioli.
Churros con chocolate
Churros con chocolate is essentially deep fried dough sticks which are then dipped in melted chocolate. And they’re delicious. So much so that you’ll often see people spilling out of bars and clubs in the small hours and heading straight to the nearest café to stock up on churros before heading home.
You will find an exhaustive list on this website. Yes, the site appears dated and is only in Spanish. However, the site has excellent information on Spanish cuisines and restaurants of Madrid. Highly usable on desktop with Google translate.
You should visit Platea Madrid (Calle de Goya, 5-7, 28001). An Art Deco cinema has been converted into a gourmet food market. You can taste food from almost every corner of Spain.