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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 10 February, 2024
Expert travel writer: Dana Facaros

With over 6,000 restaurants serving dishes from all around Spain (and the world), Madrid is a funfair for foodies,. Join the locals at traditional restaurants, informal tapas bars, gourmet food markets, and the new Michelin restaurants setting off gastronomic fireworks.

As the capital city, Madrid has sucked up influences and talented chefs from all across Spain. There is a vast range of fresh seafood, fabulous tapas (patatas bravas were invented here), side by side with the hearty dishes of the interior – roast lamb, suckling pig and stews.

Alongside all these old favourites, a new breed of chef, each with their own personality and style of cooking, have made eating out in Madrid an adventure.

What to try

Pop into any tapas bar and you’ll see hams hanging from the ceiling, reflecting one local speciality – jamon. Don’t miss the finest, melt-in-your-mouth jamon Iberico de bellota (Iberian acorn-fed ham).

Beyond pork, Madrid’s favourite tapas dishes include soldadito de bacalao (salt cod fritters), tortilla (thick potato omelette), fried and salted padron peppers, hot garlic shrimp, saucy patatas bravas, and boquerones (pickled anchovies). Tuck in with a local beer, wine, sidra (Spanish cider) or vermouth straight from the barrel. Draft Vermouth, particularly before lunch, is a civilised custom that everyone should try.

Lastly, seek out the city’s rustic classics: suckling pig, callos a la madrilena (stewed tripe) and cocido madrileno (a meat and vegetable stew, served in three stages).

Also see our round-up of traditional Spanish foods you must try in Spain.

The dining scene

Madrid’s restaurant scene is incredibly dynamic right now. While traditional restaurants (mesones) still roast pork and lamb in wood-fired ovens, young chefs from all over Spain are creating some of the most innovative cuisine in the world, turning the capital into a foodie mecca to equal San Sebastian and Barcelona; at time of writing, Madrid has 21 Michelin-starred restaurants.

Madrid has more bars per capita than any city in Europe Locals love alternating old-school tapas joints with gastrobars and rooftop cocktail bars, while sipping wines from different Spanish regions by the glass.

Although well inland, Madrid is also home to the world’s largest seafood market after Tokyo, MercaMadrid.

 

Recommendations

7

Sobrino de Botin

Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

External view of the old fashioned facade

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Botin which first opened its doors in 1725 – and has always been renowned for its suckling pig and roast lamb – is the oldest restaurant in the world.

Best for ages 13+

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Chocolateria San Gines

Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

An overhead photo of churros on a white plate. One churro has been half dipped into a mug of hot chocolate.

Founded in 1894, unchanged with its mirrors and marble tables, this is the place to try Madrid’s favourite snack, churros – long doughnuts dipped in thick hot chocolate – available nightly until 11.30pm.

Best for ages 4+

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DiverXO

Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

Staircase into the restaurant entrance

Young chef David Munoz is at the helm of Madrid’s acclaimed three Michelin-starred restaurant, creating unique food ‘pictures’ in a Cirque du Soleil ‘Dream World’ atmosphere: there’s nothing quite like it.

Adult price: £70

Min age 10

Best for ages 18+

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Madrid Gastrofestival

Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

clsoe up of a plate of delicious-looking green soup

With two weeks in May and June of foodie events from tapas crawls to cooking workshops, this internationally-renowned food festival features 450 participating establishments offering over 550 food-related activities.

Best for ages 13+

Duration: 2 weels

When: May & June

Frequency: annually

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Museo Chicote

Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

External facade of a street bar

Spain’s oldest cocktail bar, founded in 1931; along with bucketloads of atmosphere is a wall of photos of the movie stars (Sinatra, Grace Kelley etc.) who once sipped drinks here. Go for Sunday afternoon brunch with a DJ.

Min age 18

Best for ages 18+

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San Ildefonso Market

Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

San Ildefonso Market

Away from the tourist crowds between the Chueca and Malasana districts, this street market is designed for socialising. It covers three floors, with two terraces and 20 wildly diverse stands and bars; it frequently hosts events.

Min age 18

Best for ages 18+

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San Miguel Market

Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

External view of the market budiling - with walls that are all windows

Madrid’s foodie hotspot: a gourmet hub housing 33 shops and street stalls, selling the highest-quality local produce – including more than 100 varieties of cheese. A Madrid institution, the market buzzes from morning until late at night.

Best for ages 13+

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Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around
Duration: Any

Who to go with: organised tours

5

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour

Madrid

Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour
In this all included tapas tour, discover Madrid’s vibrant tapas scene alongside a knowledgeable guide during a 3-hour evening tapas tour of the city. Stroll around the ambient streets of Madrid in the evening and visit at least four of its most popular eateries; sample up to 10 tantalizing tapas dishes while learning about the city’s rich culinary heritage. Sip refined wines and pleasure your palate on this excellent epicurean experience.  Numbers are limited to 12 on this small-group tour, ensuring personalized attention from your guide.

Price: €80

Min age: 9

Rating 4.86 / 5 [2124 ratings]

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Madrid Tapas Night Walking Tour

Madrid

Madrid Tapas Night Walking Tour
Sample Spanish nightlife and Madrid's tasty tapas on an evening walking tour that will tantalize your taste buds! Led by an entertaining foodie guide, this walking tour is the best introduction to the laid back Madrileno lifestyle. In a small group, with an average maximum of 10 people, you'll visit Madrid's tucked-away corners and feast on tasty treats you would never discover on your own, leaving you with a lasting feeling for Madrid and its people, and an appetite for its fabulous food and drink! Our unique pay-as-you-go system allows us to personalize things to your tastes on the night. The tour price includes your first drink and tapas at the first bar you'll visit. You can then choose how much or how little you'd like to eat and drink at the other bars/restaurants you'll visit on the evening walking tour. For a satisfying night out you should expect to spend about 35 euros per person.

Price: £50

Min age: 0

Rating 4.87 / 5 [1809 ratings]

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Tapas, Taverns & History Tour Madrid

Madrid

 Tapas, Taverns & History Tour Madrid
Madrid’s history comes to life through food and fascinating stories on this one-of-a-kind tapas crawl. In between stops at some of the city’s oldest tapas bars, you’ll embark on a journey through hundreds of years of history past legendary monuments, unassuming hidden corners, and everything in between. You’ll also gain firsthand knowledge of how to go out for tapas just like the locals do in Madrid!

Price: €87

Min age: 13

Rating 4.94 / 5 [1044 ratings]

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4-hour Spanish Cooking Class in Madrid

Madrid

4-hour Spanish Cooking Class in Madrid
Enjoy an unforgettable morning shopping and cooking a delicious paella, or a fun evening making tapas and sangria. The perfect Spanish cooking & cultural experience!

Price: €80

Min age: 5

Rating 4.96 / 5 [928 ratings]

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Madrid Local Tapas & Wine tour with Drinks & Views from a Rooftop

Madrid

Madrid Local Tapas & Wine tour with Drinks & Views from a Rooftop
Enjoy the true art of Tapeo in this 4.5-hour experience in which you will discover Spanish gastronomy from bar to bar visiting different neighborhoods. The tour will start at the San Miguel square, where we will move to La Latina, Cava Baja and Cuchilleros streets, most of the famous sites for Tapeo’. Near the first stop, you will visit a picturesque unique boutique, where you will enjoy the essence of Spain by tasting a curated selection of ham and Iberian sausages, perfectly paired with quality wines, we'll walk through the Plaza Mayor and Barrio de las Letras, where famous poets and artists spent the best years of their lives. Next to Huertas Street, our stop goes into an old but renovated bar, to taste Meat cheeks, known as “Carrilleras”with smashed potatoes and drinking a good wine, preferably red. The route continues walking through Plaza de Santa Ana and Spanish Theater. Our last tasting stop, deliver us a traditional Shrimp with Garlic served in terracotta or in a clay dish.

Price: €83

Min age: 0

Rating 4.98 / 5 [901 ratings]

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Destination guides

1

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Madrid

Madrid Region, Spain

Exterior of La Almudena Cathedral in the late afternoon.

Spain’s sunny capital offers up world-class art, super shopping, renowned tapas and late, late nights.