Jump to: Popular ingredients | Breakfasts, tapas & snacks | Hearty meals for Lunch & Dinner | Drinks | Recommended food Tours and Guides
Since the Spanish cuisine is deemed one of the healthiest in the world, you don’t need to worry too much about your diet when in Madrid.
First things first – the portion sizes:
You’ve probably heard of tapas, the tiny bite-sized chunks of food you traditionally get with a beer. If you’re slightly more hungry, you should ask for a pincho, which is more than a bite but still not a meal. And then there is ración – a full sized portion.
Jamón Ibérico (Iberico ham)
Ahh, the famous ham from Iberian pork. Madrid has plenty of shops dedicated exclusively to this product. The most famous is definitely Museo del Jamón (3 shops/restaurants) that any true foodie shouldn’t miss. The best quality is the Pata Negra.
The most popular Spanish sausage is present in many meals. This versatile sausage is made from pork meat and seasoned with pimentón (paprika).
Morcilla is a traditional saussage made of blood. Even though it might sound morbid, it tastes surprisingly good.
The former three and other cold meat products such as the lomo, salchichon (spicy saussage) and saussage.
Cheese with denomination of origin
Every region of Spain has its own variety of cheese and in the capital you can taste all of them. The most famous are the Queso Manchego, from the neighbouring Castilla La Mancha region, and the Queso Majorero from Fuerteventura (Canary Islands).
Olive oil is an essential ingredient of Spanish and other mediterranean cuisine.
Breakfasts, tapas & snacks
Chocolate con Churros (or Porras)
A popular dessert around Spain and beyond, the churros and porras are a must try in Madrid, and are best accompanied with hot chocolate. These deep-fried dough treats are beloved by both kids and adults. The porras are the thicker and softer variation of churros.
Bocadillo de Calamares
Even though Madrid is more than 300 kilometres away from the nearest coast, the crunchy baguette with calamari and ali-oli (aioli) sauce sandwich is one of the favourite fast foods of the Madrileños.
Tortilla de Patatas
If you haven’t tried the traditional Spanish tortilla (omelette) yet, this is a great choice for tapas, light lunch, breakfast or diner. This omelette is originally made with eggs, potatoes and onions, though you can find variations with all sorts of ingredients like mushrooms, chorizo, etc.
Huevos rotos (broken eggs)
Fried eggs placed over french fries made in olive oil and sea salt, literally broken. In some places you break the eggs yourself with a crunchy bread slice and in others the waiter does this in front of you.
Patatas bravas (moody potatoes) are another popular choice for a snack. These are first boiled and then fried potatoes with a secret paprika based sauce. Order them either either as tapas (a smaller portion) or ración (the full portion).
Hearty meals for Lunch & Dinner
The hearty slow-cooked pork stew is a must try especially in the cold winter days. It is usually eaten in 2-3 courses, with the soup being served first, followed by the chickpeas, vegetables, and meat.
The callos (Tripe stew with bits of chorizo and morcilla) is one of the most popular recipes in Madrid’s restaurants. It is another hearty stew that will heat you up in the cooler weather. Callos are traditionally served in clay dishes.
Solomillo a la plancha (steak)
Another classic Spanish dish – the solomillo a la plancha is grilled sirloin steak. They may ask you if you want it poco hecho (very rare), medio hecho (rare) or muy hecho (well cooked inside).
Gazpacho and Salmorejo
Gazpacho – the cold served tomato and cucumber soup is another star of the Spanish cuisine. Some love it, some hate it, but you probably never tried anything similar.
Salmorejo is a thicker and creamier, more basic version of the gazpacho. It consists only of tomato, bread, garlic and oil, often garnished with slices of jamón.
Probably the most famous Spanish recipe, the paella is a combination of rice with saffron, sea food, meat or vegetables. There’s even a stew version of paella.
Oreja a la plancha
The oreja (ear) is the most delicious and crunchy part of the pork, and the grilled version is one of the specialties you should try in Madrid.
This thick bean stew originates from the northern province of Asturias and is popular throughout Spain.
Madrid has tap water of excellent quality. It is considered to be the best one in the country.
Orujo is a pomace brandy (a liquor obtained from the distillation of marc, the solid remains left after pressing of the grape) from northern Spain. It is a transparent spirit with an alcohol content over 50%. It is also known as “aguardiente de orujo“.
Wines and Cava
Spain has plenty of wine producing regions that make top quality wines and cava (sparkling wine, “Spanish Champagne”). Many of them posses the “Denominación de origen” certificate.
Sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes that are grown near the city of Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia, Southern Spain. Sherry is produced in a variety of styles made primarily from the Palomino grape, ranging from light versions similar to white table wines, such as Manzanilla and Fino, to darker and heavier versions that have been allowed to oxidise as they age in barrel, such as Amontillado and Oloroso. Sweet dessert wines are also made from Pedro Ximenez or Moscatel grapes, and are sometimes blended with Palomino-based Sherries.
Madrid has recently emerged as a popular destination for beer lovers, with plenty of traditional bars and quickly growing number of craft beer pubs.
Similar to the food, beers also have their sizes: caña (read cania/canya) is a small glass, pinta (the British pint is the medium size, around 3,3dl) jarra is the biggest and most affordable option – a mug or jar 0.5l or bigger.
Some of the most popular local brands include: Mahou, San Miguel, Estrella Damm, Cruzcampo.
More on beers in Madrid here and here.
The standard way to make coffee in spain is the filtered way.
If you want a simple espresso, ask for café solo. You can also ask for a café cortado if you want just a bit of milk, café con leche for a brew with plenty of milk, a café bombón for a cup of coffee with sweet condensed milk, or a carajillo for a brew with alcohol (rum, whisky or brandy).
Learn more about ordering coffee in Madrid here.
Learn more about Madrid cuisine at Flavours of Madrid and Devour Madrid or check the most popular Madrid food tours below.
Recommended Madrid Food Tours and Guides