Madrid has a very diverse cuisine thanks to its location in the heart of Spain and the immigration from all parts of the country and Latin America. While you probably won’t have the time to try it all, I hope that this food and drink guide will let you make the most of Madrid’s rich gastronomy.
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 This omelette is originally made with eggs, potatoes and onions, though you can find variations with all sorts of ingredients like mushrooms, chorizo, etc.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
Madrid has tap water of excellent quality. It is considered to be the best one in the country.
Wines and Cava
Beers (una caña…)
Coffee (cortado or con leche)
Learn more about Madrid cuisine at Flavours of Madrid and Devour Madrid or check the most popular Madrid food tours below.