Madrid, the bustling capital of Spain, besides being an economic, political and cultural center has evolved into a global culinary destination offering a diverse range of cuisines.
There are many tasty meals to be had when visiting Madrid. However, we recommend you choose the local fare when you’re there. Get prepared to loosen your belt a few notches and take this list of seven best foods to try in Madrid with you.
1. Bocadillo de calamares
This is not your ordinary sandwich. It is crusty bread stuffed with lightly fried calamari rings. Adding a squeeze of lemon or ketchup onto the calamari rings is optional.
There are several places to eat Bobadilla de calamares. Try it at La Campana, a small eatery just outside Plaza Mayor. You can eat in or order to take out. Expect to stand in line during lunch hours, but the freshly fried calamari rings sandwich will be well worth the wait. This traditional food is cheap (3 euros) and delicious. It pairs well with the local beer.
2. Cocido madrileño
Feast on 100 percent scratch-made Cocido Madrileño, Madrid’s specialty and stew. This hearty stew is made of ham hocks, chickpeas, chorizo, chicken, potatoes, and noodles.
Cocido Madrileño is usually served during lunchtime and eaten in sequence. First, you drink a noodle soup, followed by chickpeas, carrots, potatoes, and cabbage. Then a plate of meat including chorizo (sausage), ham hock, bone marrow and chicken.
Try it at La Bola Taberna, a restaurant founded in 1870 or at Malacatin.
3. Tortilla de patatas
History has it that Francisco Martinez Montino, the head chef for the Hapsburg King Philip III and IV, created the tortilla de patatas or potato omelet.
Nowadays, many variations have been created including tortilla de espinacas (spinach omelet), tortilla de atun (tuna omelet) and tortilla de mariscos (seafood omelet). Still, the overall favorite is tortilla de patatas. Try tortilla de patatas for breakfast.
4. Churros con chocolate
Churros con chocolate reign supreme when it comes to sweet delights. You must indulge at least once while in Madrid. Get it for breakfast at your hotel or at a traditional churreria.
Churros are deep-fried pastries served with a cup of thick chocolate. To eat, dunk churros in the thick chocolate.
5. Jamon Iberico (Iberian ham)
The highest quality and most expensive Iberian ham, bellota are from Iberian pigs known as pata negra. These are carefully raised pigs that are fattened with acorns in cork forests in their final growing stage.
Watch this video from La Tienda for the different types of Jamon Iberico from Spain:
Iberian ham is best served as a tapa on a tiny piece of bread, and pairs well with the Spanish sparkling wine Cava or a local beer.
6. Rabo de Toro
Slow cooked for hours, oxtail stew or rabo de toro is the ultimate treat for a carnivore. This traditional dish is related to the bull-fighting tradition in Spain.
Today, you can find different versions of rabo de toro throughout Madrid.
Spanish Esquire magazine recommended 10, and we chose four:
- Restaurante Taberneros
- Arado Grocery and Restaurant, a restaurant in Melia Madrid Serrano
- Gran Clavel in Iberostar Las Letras Gran Via Hotel
- La Clave
For first-timers, no treat is complete without trying the Spanish paella. You’ll find this dish throughout Madrid and Spain. There are a few versions to choose from:
Paella de verduras (vegetable)
Paella marinera (seafood)
Paella negra (black paella)