Madrid, Spain‘s capital, is a melting pot of Iberian culture and cuisine… So what should you eat and drink while you’re there?

To find out what to eat in Madrid, we talk with Lauren Aloise from Madrid Food Tours… If anyone knows, she does!

To listen to Lauren’s recommendations, hit play below or find episode 274 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:

What to eat

Madrid is a planned capital in the centre of the country and people have migrated there from every region of Spain. It’s not just a melting pot of Iberian culture, it’s a tasting platter of its cuisine. But just because everything’s available, doesn’t mean everything’s great.

Take tapas for example: they seem like the quintessential Spanish dish. But this Andalusian speciality is best tried there. The Basque immigrants have been much more successful at introducing pinxtos — a similar idea, but always served on a slice of bread. Many ‘tapas’ you find on central Madrid menus deserve those accusatory quotation marks: they’re just smaller portions of main dishes rather than real tapas, so head to a pinxtos bar instead.

Madrid goes fusion
Madrid goes fusion

Madrid’s many taverns make up for the lack of tapas bars: you can try the organ meats of old Madrid, peppers from Galicia in the north, and the ever-present tortilla española. Word on the street is that Madrid gets some of the freshest seafood in Spain too, so you can enjoy the fried fish and calamari without worries.

Don’t eat…

Don’t eat at restaurants near the Plaza Major. There might be a few good ones in there, but the majority are overpriced and serve low-quality food. Lauren’s only exception to that rule is to try a couple of the smaller bars, and their bocadillo de calamaris – the calamari baguette is a Madrid favourite.

Eggs benedict for brunch
Eggs benedict for brunch

Do eat…

Do eat near the La Latina metro stop. Your first stop will be one of the bars or restaurants along the street Cava Baja. This area has lots of tourists, but the price/quality ratio is not too bad. After your first stop or two, explore the side streets for cheaper prices with food quality as good or better than the main drag.


Do visit the markets, as well! The local neighbourhood markets, the fish markets, the more boutique artisan markets… There are lots to choose from.


Make sure you try…

One of Lauren’s personal favourites: salmorejo or tortilla.

Do drink…

Spain’s wine scene is vibrant, but many people don’t get past Rioja. Lauren recommends the lighter Ribera del

Duero for red drinkers; and either an albariño or godello for white drinkers… If you can find the latter.

About Lauren and Madrid Food Tours

Lauren first visited Spain to study abroad in Granada, and was quite underwhelmed by the food. When she moved back to Spain — Seville this time — a few friends sat her down and ordered a selection of tapas that changed her life. Now she lives in Madrid, writing about its food and running the fast-growing business Madrid Food Tours — Look her up when you next visit.

All photos from unless otherwise watermarked.

Your thoughts on "What to eat (and drink!) in Madrid podcast"

  • hello Linda and Craig, Congratulation for your style of life, always travelling. I live in Madrid, and in connection with this topic, "Where to eat in Madrid", I would like to comment that close to our hostal in Madrid there is a place to eat delicius, called "Gastromaquia", this small and personal restaurante that belong to 2 cooks that came from Ferran Adria. Next time to Madrid visit them to have a new experiencie. tripadvisor rates! Fernando tw @hostallaplata

    on May 6, 2013 at 4:24 am Reply

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