The elegant city of Madrid boasts expansive boulevards and parks lined with designer shops and world-famous museums. Besides these features, the city is known for its cuisine.
So, what to eat in Madrid? It’s one of the top food travel destinations in Spain, with over 8,000 restaurants listed online. Madrid also offers endless vendors, tapas bars, and cafes to explore.
The people of Madrid enjoy leisurely lunches and sipping iced coffees from terraced cafes. You also start each meal with appetizers, such as churros.
Is your mouth starting to salivate from hunger? Get ready to drool even more with this complete Madrid food guide.
Madrid food guide: 8 must-eat dishes
People typically think of tortillas as thin flour shells for tacos and other Mexican dishes. Surprising, the tortilla hails from Spain, where it’s considered an omelette.
The Spanish omelette is found at bars and restaurants throughout the capital city. While it’s one of the most common dishes in Madrid on one of the most popular foods in Spain, it’s also one of the most diverse. Every establishment you go to serve up their own take on the tortilla.
You can find thin tortillas stuffed with eggs and potatoes or thicker slices holding sausages, peppers, and onions.
If you want the local experience, visit the unassuming Bar Cerveriz across from the Mercado de San Miguel. This tapas bar is rarely busy, the staff is friendly, and the tortillas are delicious.
Huevos Rotos is a perfect example of Madrid cuisine. It’s unique and incredibly filling. Also called “Madrid style fried eggs,” the meal consists of lots of meat and potatoes.
You get a plate of French fries covered in a selection of Spanish sausages and various cold meats. It’s then topped with eggs fried over easy and topped with a dash of paprika.
The filling breakfast is a popular choice during the summers, mostly due to the cold meats thrown on top of the fried potatoes. You can also find vegetarian versions, served without sausage, ham, or chorizo.
For authentic Huevos Rotos, try Taberna Los Huevos de Lucio in the La Latina district of Madrid.
Bocadillo de Calamares
This local dish may not appeal to everyone. Bocadillo de Calamares is a sandwich often served as an appetizer. It’s basically just a handful of squid rolled in batter, deep-fried, and thrown into a sandwich. Locals tend to top it with mayo.
Even if you’re not a fan of squid, you should give this local delicacy a taste. Deep frying the squid and serving it with a thick, fresh bun helps mask the texture.
To truly experience the local culture, wash it down with an ice-cold beer. You’ll typically find the calamari sandwich bars on the side streets near popular tourist areas.
Callos a la Madrilena
Callos a la Madrilena, or Madrid Tripe, is a dish often served during the winter. If you’re not familiar with tripe, it’s cow stomach, but don’t let that dissuade you from trying this meal.
The Madrid-style tripe features large chunks of chorizo sausage. Chefs also tend to thoroughly clean and boil the tripe before cooking it as a stew in a mixture of tomato sauce, sausage, garlic, and onions. As a Spanish dish, it also contains potatoes, chickpeas, and spices.
Callos originated in the 16th century and remains a common choice on cold winter days. You’ll find it at most bars or restaurants throughout the colder months.
Cocido Madrileno, or Madrid’s Stew, is another popular winter dish. The soup is typically thick and savoury and served with pasta and topped with chickpeas and meat.
In the old days, locals called this dish ‘rotten pot’. People would toss in any leftover meats or vegetables before they became rotten.
The soup typically comes from the broth made while cooking the chickpeas, vegetables, and meats. As with other Madrid dishes, chorizo sausage is a popular addition. It’s also often served in multiple courses. You get the soup first, followed by the chickpeas, then the meats.
Taberna La Bola is one of the most popular spots for local Cocido, a local tradition since 1870.
Oreja a la Plancha
Oreja a la Plancha is pan-seared pig ear. Many tourists choose to skip this local favourite. As with many Madrid dishes, you need to try it before you write it off due to its ingredients.
The pig ears are boiled or fried and cut into small bites. The pieces are then sprinkled with a light coating of paprika and salt. The cook may also add a small squeeze of fresh lemon. The result is a tasty treat and a typical late-night street food.
While it’s usually served by itself, you can also find bars that serve it with other ingredients, such as peices of bacon, onion, or mushroom.
Churros con Chocolate
Churros go hand in hand with Madrid street food. You can find vendors selling all varieties of these fried treats at any time of the day or night.
For the uninitiated, a churro is a sweet snack made from a strip of dough. It’s fried and then dusted with cinnamon and sugar. Mexican restaurants often sell them as snacks for after your meal.
One of the best ways to eat these crispy treats is with chocolate. With churros con chocolate, you get a plate of fried churros covered in melted chocolate. It’s become a popular snack for locals, so you should have no problem finding it on any crowded street.
As with churros and tortillas, tapas come in a wide variety of styles. You can find these appetizers served cold or hot. A churro or a tortilla can even be considered a tapa.
In Madrid, you’ll find hundreds of tapas bars, ranging from small dive bars to elegant establishments with outdoor terraced seating.
The classic Madrid tapas is the tortilla Espanola. It’s an omelette stuffed with fried potatoes, onions, and chorizo. It’s then cut into smaller pieces and served with toothpicks. Churros, fried potatoes, shrimp, snails, and beef ears are also popular tapas options.
Use tapas as a filler between meals or drinks as you explore the local cuisine or nightlife.
Where to stay in Madrid: The best hotels for foodies
As the Spanish capital sprawls into, what seems like, all directions choosing where to stay in Madrid correctly is one of the most important tasks in planning a trip here. For foodies, staying somewhere in the Centro is your best bet. It’s home to many of the city’s best tapas bars, markets, and restaurants—and a culinary adventure in the making!
- Hostal Central Palace Madrid: If you’re travelling to Madrid on a budget, you can hardly do better than this price-conscious hotel, overlooking the Royal Palace and Sabatini Gardens.
- Catalonia Las Cortes: This elegant hotel, occupying an 18th-century heritage building, offers spacious rooms with a mix of modern and classic European motifs
- VP Plaza España Design: One of the city’s top luxury hotels, this 5-star boasts chic spacious rooms with spectacular views over the city. There’s a whole host of classy amenities here including a wellness centre and sky bar.