A Guide to Ordering Coffee in Spain

Most people are particular about how they enjoy their coffee, but ordering coffee in Spain can be difficult without knowing the local lingo. Read this guide on how to order coffee in Spain and get the cup of coffee that’s right for you.

Ordering Coffee in Spain

At some point during your time in Spain you will want to order a cup of coffee. Simply asking for un café (a coffee) won’t cut it, you must be more specific.

The first thing to know is that coffee in Spain is usually prepared using the espresso brewing method. This method forces extremely hot, pressurized water through finely ground coffee beans. This results in a stronger flavour in a smaller amount of coffee. A cup of coffee brewed in this manner is often referred to as espresso.

Coffee orders in Spain involve taking a cup of espresso and then adding as much (or as little) milk as you prefer. The barista won’t add any sugar, instead you will receive packets of sugar to add to your coffee yourself.

Coffees Served with Little or No Milk

Café Solo
A café solo is a small cup of strong, black espresso. Order this if you need a some energy during a fun day of sightseeing around Madrid.

Ordering Coffee in Spain: A cafe solo

Café Americano
If the intensity of a café solo is a bit much, try a café americano. This coffee contains the same amount of caffeine as a café solo but with more water, resulting in a milder flavour.

Café Cortado
A café cortado is small cup of espresso with just a tiny touch of milk. Other regions in Spain may refer to this drink as café manchado which means stained coffee– but sometimes a manchado will mean a glass of milk stained with coffee, so be sure to specify!

Café con Hielo
This summer time favourite is literally coffee with ice. The barista will give you a cup of black espresso, and another cup containing ice cubes. Pour your coffee over the ice, and enjoy.

Carajillo
The coffee order doesn’t have a drop of milk, instead it has alcohol! A carajillo is coffee served by taking a cup of espresso and adding rum, whisky or brandy.

Coffees Served with a Lot of Milk

Café con Leche
A café con leche is coffee served with equal parts espresso and milk. Sometimes when you order this, the waiter may ask if you want hot or cold milk. If you’re in a bit of a hurry and can’t wait for the steamed milk to cool, ask for cold milk (leche fría o leche del tiempo).

coffee_cafe_con_leche

Leche Manchada
This drink, which means stained milk, is made by taking a cup of steamed milk and adding a drop of espresso.

Café Bombon
A café bombon is coffee made from espresso and sweetened condensed milk. Those of you with a sweet tooth must try it, you won’t be disappointed. If you prefer to eat your sweets, make sure to check out the 7 best pastry shops in Madrid.

Decaffeinated Coffees

Fresh decaffeinated coffee isn’t very popular in Spain, and many cafes may only have it in instant form. If you order a café descafeinado de sobre, you will be served a cup of hot milk and given a packet of instant decaffeinated coffee.

If you’re lucky, the cafe may have machine brewed decaffeinated coffee or descafeinado de maquina. If so, decide how you would like your coffee served and then clarify that you’d like it made with decaffeinated coffee.

For example, if you want a decaffeinated café americano, simply say: “Querría un café americano descafeinado.”

Enjoy Coffee the Spanish Way

Now that you’ve got ordering coffee in Spain down, the last thing to note is that most Spaniards do not take their coffees ‘to go’. Instead they sit down to enjoy their drinks with friends or family. Do as the Spaniards do, drink your coffee in a beautiful public square or a quaint cafe, and take a short respite from exploring the city.

How do you like your coffee served?

Photo Credits: 55Laney69 on Flickr, Michelle Tribe on Flickr and Edsel Little on Flickr. 

My Madrid – Estrella of Estrella Explores

Welcome back to My Madrid, a series here on the Madrid Food Tour blog in which bloggers from Madrid and all around Spain tell us a little bit about what Madrid means to them. We love hearing about other people’s Madrid favorites, and who better to ask than a bunch of adventurous bloggers?

Today’s post comes from Estrella, a twentysomething Canadian who moved in Madrid in 2012. Since then she has learned some of the language, enjoyed most of the food and fell in love with a Spaniard. Estrella is also the current blogging intern here at Madrid Food Tour!

You can read more about her adventures on her blog Estrella Explores, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

MM_Estrella

Tell us about your history with Madrid.

I first came to Madrid in 2007 while holidaying in Europe. Though I only stayed in Madrid for a few days, I had a great time and knew I wanted to come back at some point. Four years later I found an opportunity to teach English with the Spanish Ministry of Education and jumped at the chance. Now, Madrid is my second home and I can’t imagine living anywhere else for the foreseeable future.

What was your first impression of Madrid?

When I first visited in 2007, I remember commenting on the fact that the city was so walkable. Coming from a suburb just outside Toronto, I was used to having to drive to get anywhere. When the weather is nice, I still love taking a stroll through the different neighborhoods in the centre and discovering new shops or cafés.

One thing you wouldn’t leave Madrid without doing?

I wouldn’t leave Madrid without visiting the Sorolla Museum again. Sorolla is my favorite Spanish painter, and this museum was once his residence and studio. It’s quite exciting to know that you are walking around the same rooms as this great painter once did. I would probably also do all the touristy things, like row a boat in Retiro and have a cafe con leche in Plaza Mayor.

MM_Estrella_Sorolla

Do you have a favorite Madrid experience?

I’m very family oriented, so being away from my entire family can be difficult at times. Luckily, I’ve been welcomed with open arms into my boyfriend’s family, who invite me to various family get togethers like birthday parties and Sunday lunches. My favorite experience in Madrid is being a part of this wonderful Spanish family and immersing myself into Spanish culture through them.

Favorite meal in Madrid?

Prior to moving to Madrid, I rarely ate garbanzo beans. Now, I eat them all the time. I especially love them when they’re in the traditional Madrileño dish, cocido. I don’t really like eggs, but since living here I’ve learned to enjoy a good tortilla española and sometimes find myself craving one.

What would be your ideal night out in Madrid?

It would begin with a delicious dinner, preferably on a patio in the summertime. After dinner, we would have some drinks in the vibrant neighborhood of Malasaña where I used to live. The last stop, energy permitting, would be a late night snack of churros con chocolate before heading home.

What about your favorite day trip from Madrid?

My favorite day trip from Madrid is to picturesque Cuenca. It isn’t as popular as other day trips from Madrid, so it’s not as overrun with tourists. Cuenca is home to the Hanging Houses, 15th century homes built on the rock above the Huecar River. The site of these homes takes my breathe away and is well worth a trip to the city.

Hanging Houses Cuenca

Thank you so much Estrella! We can’t wait to see more of your insider tips and articles on the Madrid Food Tour blog!

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth: 5 Best Bakeries in Madrid

When you think of Spanish cuisine, what comes to mind? Do you think of bread, cookies or ensaimadas? If not, you’re missing out. Madrid is home to many bakeries serving deliciously indulgent goodies. If you haven’t already, you must visit the 5 Best Bakeries in Madrid and find out what you’re missing!

Best bakeries in Madrid

1. Pastelería La Mallorquina

The public hasn’t been able to get enough of the baked goods at La Mallorquina since first opening in 1894. A favorite of Spaniards and tourists alike, this bakery is known for its napolitana de chocolate, a chocolate filled pastry sure to satisfy any sweet tooth. It also offers a wide selection of seasonal Spanish pastries, and is always on the list of best bakeries in Madrid for holiday specialties like turrón and mazapan. If you´re on a tight sightseeing schedule, enjoy your pastries by the bar or take them to go. For a more leisurely experience, head upstairs to the salon and savor every bite of your delicious treat.

Visit La Mallorquina at Plaza de la Puerta del Sol, 8

best pastries in Madrid

The tempting window display at La Mallorquina

2. Formentor

Situated in the ritzy Salamanca neighbourhood of Madrid, Formentor is known across the city for its appetizing ensaimadas. These spiral shaped pastries originated in the Balearic Islands, but have become a Madrid favourite thanks in part to this bakery. Formentor is also famous for its Roscon de Reyes, a sweet Spanish bread served at Christmastime. During the holidays, it’s not uncommon to see patrons lined up around the block, waiting to get their sweet fill.

Visit Formentor at Calle del General Díaz Porlier, 7

best bakeries in madrid

Yummy Formentor ensaimadas

3. El Riojano

Opened by a former pastry chef to the Spanish royal family, El Riojano is one of the oldest bakeries in Madrid. All of the cakes, cookies and pastries served here are baked on-site daily. When you find yourself sitting at a table in their salón de té, don’t forget to order a few pastas de consejo, small lemon flavored cookies that were once served to King Alfonso XIII. Learn more about El Riojano on our Ultimate Spanish Cuisine Tour when we make a stop at this 19th century establishment.

Visit El Riojano at Calle Mayor, 10

best chocolate in madrid

Trying the famous chocolate on our Ultimate Spanish Cuisine Tour!

4. Panic

Panic opened its doors just 12 months ago and has already gained quite the following. This bakery puts an emphasis on organic, homemade breads which are made by hand at the shop. While waiting to place your order, take a moment to watch these master bakers in action. Through a large class window you can gaze into the kitchen, where they are hard at work mixing, proofing, and sorting the fresh baked breads.

Visit Panic at Calle de Conde Duque, 13

best bread in Madrid

The homemade bread at Panic is the city’s best

5. Fonty

Fonty is the place to go for French inspired pastries in Madrid. Founder, and head pâtissiere, Marie Valdez trained at the illustrious L’Ecole Ferrandi before bringing her creativity and vast talent to the Spanish capital. When you stop by her beautiful bakery make sure to try the tartaleta de limón, a sweet and tangy lemon meringue pie served year round. Located a short walk away from Madrid’s Retiro Park, it’s the perfect place to reenergize after a stroll through the beautiful gardens.

Visit Fonty at Calle Castelló, 12

best bakeries in madrid

Our favorite lemon pie in all of Madrid

What’s your favorite buy at a Spanish bakery? 

Photo Credits: Nikolas Moya on Flickr

Madrid at Christmas

Spending Christmas in Madrid and not sure what to do? We’ve got you covered with our Madrid Christmas guide!

MADRID at christmas

1. Shop til you drop (then drink hot chocolate)

Madrid is a shopper’s paradise come December and everyone knows it. Try shopping during the week to avoid the enormous crowds that take over the city center on weekends, or simply go with the flow and enjoy the Christmas spirit in the air!

When you’ve tired of the shops head straight for El Riojano, one of the city’s best and oldest pastry shops and our all time favorite for hot chocolate in Madrid!

best chocolate in madrid

The famous chocolate from El Riojano

2. Go see the Christmas lights (then eat some churros)

Madrid’s Christmas lights are a lot of fun to see and taking an evening stroll through the main streets is the best way to get into the Christmas spirit. When you’ve seen enough, definitely head back to the Puerta del Sol area after for piping hot churros at San Gines. It’s a Christmas tradition you simply have to take part in!

christmas lights in madrid

Shopping for Christmas gifts in Madrid

3. Check out the Christmas markets (and buy a hat)!

Madrid has a variety of Christmas markets that pop up throughout the month, and if you check out the traditional ones in the Plaza Mayor area you’ll see that many booths are selling funky hats and wigs. This bizarre Madrid Christmas tradition may not make much sense, but wearing a hat is always fun!

madrid at christmas

Christmas market at Jacinto Benavente Square

4. Hop a train and visit a village (then eat your way around town!)

As much as we adore the big city, there’s something special about the nearby towns and villages around the holidays. Taking a day trip from Madrid is always a good way to spend the day, and when there’s food involved it’s even better!

Marzipan in Madrid

Sweet homemade marzipan typical of Toledo, Spain

5. Eat like a king (or a queen!)

Madrid has excellent food all year round (we were just showered with new Michelin stars!), but around the holidays things get even better! Pastry shops turn out seasonal treats, and restaurants offer special holiday menus filled with extra special delights.

best pastry shops in Madrid

Have you visited Madrid at Christmas? What was your favorite thing to see?

Don’t forget to check out our food tours as the perfect Christmas gift or activity. We’d love to eat our way around with you!

5 Spanish Food Idioms and How to Use Them

Do you know why you should hurry up if you’re told they’ll give you the grapes? Or why telling someone to go fry asparagus is not a cooking suggestion?  Read this list of 5 Spanish Food Idioms to find out!

Spanish Food Idioms

In Spanish culture, food plays a starring role both on the table and in the language. There are countless idioms involving food in the Spanish language. Spanish food idioms can be used to describe a situation, to compliment or insult, and even to express shock. Below are 5 Spanish food idioms and how to use them.

Darte las uvas

grapes

Literally it means give you the grapes and comes from the beloved Spanish New Year’s Eve tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight. Darte las uvas is used to hurry someone along if he is late or if she is taking too long to complete a task. Use this expression with friends who are taking too long to admire Picasso pieces at the Reina Sofia.

¡Ostras!

Oysters

In English we don’t yell Oysters! when we are caught off guard, but its Spanish translation is perfectly acceptable in Spain. This expression is used when one feels shocked or surprised. Feel free to use ¡Ostras! while you’re looking at a restaurant menu in Spain and realize that a glass of exquisite Spanish wine costs less than $5!

Ser pan comido

loaf of bread

Literally translated it means to be eaten bread. Ser pan comido is an idiom used to describe a task that is very easy to complete or do. This expression can be used to describe how difficult it is to get lost along the winding streets of old Madrid.

¡Vete a freír a espárragos!

asparagus

Literally translated to go fry asparagus! This imperative isn’t a cooking suggestion. Spaniards use it to tell someone to go away because they are being very annoying. Use ¡Vete a freír a espárragos! when your travel companion has convinced themselves they would make a great flamenco dancer and are practicing in your hotel room.

No todo el monte es orégano

oregano

This expressions translates into not every hill is oregano and comes from the rural custom of going up a hill to pick herbs. Not every plant picked is an herb, some are weeds or other non-edible plants. No todo el monte es orégano is a reality check; sometimes things are not always as great as you expect them to be. Spanish cuisine is scrumptious, but not every restaurant in Madrid lives up to the standard. Use this expression if you ever find yourself served a subpar meal.

To minimize the chances of having a bad meal in Madrid, join us on one of our food experiences such as the Ultimate Spanish Cuisine Tour.

What is the weirdest idiom you’ve ever heard?

Photo Credits: Bernal Saborio on Flickr, Roberto Verzo on Flickr, Elliot on Flickrjeffreyw on FlickrRebecca Siegel on Flickr and Roman Plessl on Flickr

30 Ideas for Awesome Christmas Gifts from Madrid

As Christmas draws closer the shopping season springs to life in the Spanish capital, and Madrid is home to its fair share of great Spanish gifts. Here are our top picks for the best Christmas gifts from Madrid, perfect for taking home to friends and family!

 

Christmas gifts from Madrid

FOOD & DRINK

Did you expect any less from us? We’ve already compiled a great list of foodie souvenirs from Madrid, but for quick reference here are some of our favorite food gifts from Madrid!

 

gifts from Madrid

1. Violet candies from La Violeta

2. Turrón from Casa Mira or Turrons Vicens

3. Cava from La Cava de la Villa

4. Spices and teas from Spicy Yuli

5. Sweet wine from El Anciano Rey de los Vinos

6. Embutidos (think jamón, chorizo, and all that is pork) from Ferpal

7. A bottle of vermouth from La Hora del Vermut (try Casa Mariol if they have it!)

8. Rabitos Royales (chocolate covered figs) from Mantequería A Cabello

9. Extra Virgin Olive Oil and other gourmet products from Dónde Sanchez

 

LEATHER GOODS

Shoes, purses, briefcases, gloves…

Spain is all about leather so here are some great places to buy leather goods in Madrid.

 

where to buy leather in Madrid

10. Taller Puntera for handmade leather goods in Madrid

11. Aplauso shoe stores for Made in Spain leather shoes

12. Guantes Luque for exquisite handmade Spanish gloves

 

SPANISH CERAMICS

Yes, ceramics are a quintessential gift from Spain but that’s because they’re beautiful! Madrid is quite close to Talavera de la Reina, one of the country’s most important towns for ceramic goods. You can find ceramics at select shops in the city, here are three of our recommendations.

 

where to buy ceramics in Madrid

13. For incredible ceramic art in a shop that should be a museum, check out Antigua Casa Talavera

14. For ceramic souvenirs from all over Spain at great prices try San Miguel Artensania

15. For a trip back in time visit Amparo at her tiny ceramics shop La Cacharrería on Calle Echegaray– she’s been there since she was a child and her parents owned it since the 1940s!

SPANISH COOKWARE

Once you’ve sampled all the delicious food Spain has to offer (hop on one of our Madrid food tours if you don’t know what we’re talking about!), you need to be able to replicate these delicious dishes in your own kitchen. Here are some shops that have you covered.

 

paella pan in Madrid

Pick up a pan for a Christmas paella!

16. Mini Cooking: All the supplies you need, and in mini form too!

17. Alambique: One of Madrid’s most famous cooking shops, you’ll find paella pans, mortar and pestles and much more!

 

SPANISH COOKBOOKS

There’s no point in having great Spanish cookware without the Spanish cookbooks! Here are our favorite Spanish cookbooks, which you can easily purchase on Amazon (making a little more room in your suitcase!).

 

best Spanish cook books

18. Delicioso! The Regional Cooking of Spain

19. 1080 Recipes

20. La Cocina de Mama: The Great Home Cooking of Spain

21. The Food of Spain

 

Tip: You can also pick up fun Spanish cookbooks at the La Central bookshop and café in the center of Madrid.

MADE IN SPAIN

Madrid is filled with markets and boutiques selling handmade goods, and what a better way to support the Spanish economy than by buying something local! These gifts from Madrid are sure to be unique, so no worries about having to return them.

 

christmas markets in madrid

22. Casa Hernanz: For custom fitted espadrilles (this place supposedly invented the espadrille!).

23. Codo 3: Hidden away on the quaint Calle Codo (steps away from the Plaza Mayor) you find a lovely jewelry shop that specializes in Spanish made jewelry.

24. El Rastro Flea Market: The main drag is filled with souvenirs but on the side streets you can find unique art, clothes and antique items.

25. Mercado de Motores: This funky market is help a couple times a month at Madrid’s railway museum. You’ll find everything from customized baby booties to a leather wine sack!

26. Mercado Central de Diseño: This cool market only happens every few months, but when it’s in town it’s definitely worth a visit for the selection of handmade art, clothing, shoes, and accessories.

27. The Hovse: 2014′s most famous Madrid pop up market is called The Hovse. It features over 80 designers so you’ll be ensured a unique gift.

FLAMENCO GEAR

While most people won’t be in the market for a €300+ flamenco dress, flamenco accessories and knock off gowns make great gifts for future Halloween costumes and kids’ dress-up ensembles. My niece adored her 9€ flamenco dress (so much that on my last trip home I bought her a 100€ “big girl’s” version. You can also find castanets, Spanish fans, flamenco aprons and flamenco music, and if you are staying in Madrid for the holidays the city is home to some of the best live flamenco shows in the world!

 

flamenco gifts in madrid

28. Grab cheap flamenco souvenirs at Objetos de Arte Toledano on Paseo de Prado

29. For quality flamenco gear (still starting at very low prices) check out Disfraces Maty

30. Check out the flamenco show at Cardamomo or Cafetín la Quimera, and the flamenco jazz at Off de la Latina.

 

Are we missing anything?! What are your favorite Christmas gifts from Madrid? And if you could get only one item on the list, what would it be?

6 Truly Upsetting Crimes Against Spanish Food

They may sound innocent enough to uninitiated ears, but these pseudo Spanish dishes have been twisted to the point of no return, resulting in a cringeworthy and totally bizarre culinary concoction that probably tastes pretty funky too.

bad Spanish foods

As an expat in Spain myself, I don’t mind a little culinary license when it comes to a dish (I slather the alioli on my calamari sandwiches and adore tapas with a twist when done with finesse) but these renditions of my beloved Spanish cuisine have simply gone too far.

The jury is in and these Spanish food crimes are guilty– no contest!

1. The paella sandwich

Paella purists are always up in arms about the atrocities that pass for paella around the world, but the sandwich version of Valencia’s signature dish was truly the final straw. We heard that Valencia held a day of mourning the day that UK supermarket Tesco unleashed this beast– called one of the world’s worst sandwiches on The Daily Edge.

paella sandwich

2. Calamari pizza

Okay, I’ll admit– it actually sounds kind of fantastic. But that doesn’t make it right! Pizza is delicious, calamari is delicious, why mix the two? Spanish food is renowned for its simplicity, and this is definitely far too complicated.

calamari pizza

3. Reduced carb sangria

What’s the point?! Seriously– what is the point? Any drink that calls for Crystal Light should be banned anyway. Not much more to say about it.

bad sangria

4. Whipped cream and oreo montadito

Anyone who’s ever lived in Spain can tell you about the simple pleasure of a good montadito– a miniature sandwich stuffed with Spanish ingredients– cheese, ham, anchovies, the list goes on and on. And while Spaniards are known for their sweet tooth (with traditional snacks that include the chocolate bar sandwich), the whipped cream and Oreo sandwich offered at the US locations of the popular Spanish fast food chain 100 Montaditos has gone a step too far.

oreo sandwich

5. Any gazpacho that looks like this

Gazpacho in Spain is generally served in a glass and definitely not chunky. And it most certainly does not include a mound of sour cream on top. This plate below looks like a cross between a Bloody Mary, Mexican style salsa and a Middle Eastern salad. No offense to the chef, but let’s just keep the word gazpacho out of things, okay?

Bad gazpacho

6. This freakish paella

There are enough crimes committed against paella to create a whole other post– but for now, I’ll leave you with this beauty. It seems that this is a Basque creation (for what purpose I can only imagine) and between the hard boiled egg mice with M&M ears and the unidentifiable tails I would really love to meet the crazy people at this party. Any Basques reading? What do the hard boiled egg letters say?

bad paella

Have you ever witnessed a Spanish food crime? Share it with us in the comments! Luckily there are no signs of crime on any of our food tours, so sign up for the real deal!

Photo credits: Cameron Nordholm on Flickr CC, Debbie Does DiningMichael Dunn on Flickr CC, The World Through Athen on Flickr CC, Hungry Dudes on Flickr CC, sangutxujai on Flickr CC

My Madrid – Liz of Passport Packed

Welcome back to My Madrid, a series here on the Madrid Food Tour blog in which bloggers from Madrid and all around Spain tell us a little bit about what Madrid means to them. We love hearing about other people’s Madrid favorites, and who better to ask than a bunch of adventurous bloggers? 

Today’s post comes from Liz, a kiwi who left New Zealand to backpack through Europe. After 4 months of traveling she landed a job here in Madrid and moved on over despite having never been before! Now she’s quite content during her second year teaching part-time and enjoying Spanish culture full-time. Liz is also the current PR intern here at Madrid Food Tour!

You can read more about her adventures on her blog Passport Packed, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

things to do in Madrid blog

Hi Liz! Tell us about your history with Madrid.

I moved to Madrid on whim last year, after landing a job as an au pair. I had been travelling for 4 months at the time and was really desperate to settle somewhere, and use a wardrobe rather than a backpack. Although the au pair gig didn’t really work out, I fell in love with Madrid almost immediately and after a more suitable job kind of fell in my lap, I knew I’d be here for a while.

We are glad you are! What was your first impression of Madrid?

My first night I stayed in a hostel near Metro Tribunal, and I remember walking from here to Sol for the first time and just being in awe of the place. It’s completely different to anywhere in New Zealand and had me captivated straight away. I used to walk down Gran Via regularly just to see the Metropolis building and Cibeles, and admire how truly stunning they were. I was here in September too, so the weather was perfect for first impressions.

things to see in madrid blog

One thing you wouldn’t leave Madrid without doing?

Walking the streets and seeing these beautiful buildings! Those that I mentioned plus Plaza Mayor, the Royal Palace and the cathedral – they’re honestly stunning! Oh and trying a bunch of food!! Madrid has amazing food, you’ve got to try jamón, pintxos, peppers, tortilla… so many things to try!

Do you have a favorite Madrid experience?

I love a good afternoon terrace session in the sun. Complete with flavored mojitos and a few tapas to share among friends. There’s so many great places to eat in Madrid, with great ambience, views and food – it the perfect way to enjoy life.

I’ve also been lucky enough to join the Tapas, Taverns and History tour with you guys and it was amazing! I will be taking my parents on it when they come to visit!

Mojitos in Madrid

Favorite meal in Madrid?

I love a good brunch and try to get out at least once a month and enjoy one. There’s some great spots in Malasaña near the Conde Duque and Chamberi around Plaza de Olavide – they’re usually busy though, so be sure to book!

I also love pintxos, I think because they’re small and so you can try a bunch of different things without feeling like you’ve over done it. Check out La Latina or Huertas for good pintxo spots!

Yum! Pintxos are always a good idea. What would be your ideal night out in Madrid?

A late dinner of tapas, raciones and wine shared with friends. Followed by more wine in a few bars in usually around Tribunal or Alonzo Martinez. If I’m up for it (which I guess I usually am) I’ll head along to a nightclub around 2:30 for a dance and then head home around 6am with a mandatory taco-stop. Then it’s straight to bed, waking in time for lunch the next day at 3pm.

That’s a true Madrileño evening! What about your favorite day trip from Madrid?

I’m really tor between the two most obvious ones; Toledo and Segovia. Toledo is obviously really quaint and beautiful, with old streets winding all over the place, marzipan for sale everywhere and stunning views around every corner.

Best restaurants in Segovia

The gorgeous view from Segovia.

But, the Roman Aqueduct in Segovia is incredibly stunning – it’s ginormous, and in such great condition, it’s really quite special. The roasted chestnuts and suckling pig there is also delicious!

Thanks so much, Liz! Can’t wait to have you come on our Madrid day tours soon!

MFT Team Spills Secrets: Foodie Guide to Madrid!

Recently we’ve added some new members to the Madrid Food Tour team! Coincidently all girls, this group of ladies are tapas lovers, wine guzzlers, and overall Madrid enthusiasts! Below they share some of their insider secrets of our favorite city in a foodie guide to Madrid!

Courtney Likkel- Social Media Intern

Courtney Picture

Favorite restaurant

Juana la Loca in La Latina. If I were to die tomorrow, I’d want my last meal to be their pincho de tortilla and huevos rotos, generously washed down with a few glasses of tinto de veranoTortilla de patatas and huevos rotos are my most perilous addictions, and after a year of vigorous taste testing, I’m convinced that Juana la Loca offers the best of both.

Go-to tapa

I’ll almost always go for a pincho de tortilla (sin pan (no bread) so it’s Celiac-friendly for me!) or tasty pimientos de padrón, fried and salted to perfection.

Tip: Check out our suggestions for gluten free in Madrid!

Favorite Spanish drink

Vino tinto, without a doubt. I vary between Rioja and Ribera del Duero, but lately I’ve been really into Ribera. That said, you can never go wrong with ordering a glass of tinto de verano on a sunny day!

Why Madrid?

I first visited Madrid in 2010 while I was studying abroad in Cádiz, and I was instantly enamored by its unpretentious charm and sophistication. Dissatisfied with small town life in the south, the capital possessed everything that I was yearning for. When I decided to move back to Spain to teach English as an auxiliar de conversación, I knew that Madrid was the city for me. A mecca of vivacious neighborhoods with diverse personalities, Madrid’s many flavors continue to seduce me even after a year of living here.

Find Courtney on the web!

Blog, Instagram, Twitter

Lauren Bonheim- Social Media Intern

IMG_0114

Favorite restaurant

Every Thursday evening you will find me, chatting away at a small wooden table surrounded by overflowing drinks, generous servings of tapas and some of my favorite people. Petisqueira is a small traditional neighborhood bar and coming here weekly has become a tradition among my friends. It is one of few bars in Madrid that accompanies each and every drink order with a large helping of free tapas.  I love coming here for a budget-friendly night out or to try whatever is on the menu that day!

Go-to tapa

What a terrible question. There are WAY too many amazing tapas in Spain! The reason I love the culture of tapas is because you should never have to choose just one!  The point is to share! Some of my go-to choices would be albondigas (meatballs in brown gravy), tortilla de patatas (spanish omelet) and really anything that involves goat cheese or ham. I’ll try anything twice! :)

Favorite Spanish drink

What I’m drinking definitely depends on my mood, the weather and what I have going on that day! Before coming to Spain I wasn’t a big wine drinker, and when I did order the occasional glass, I always went with white. After being in Madrid for just one year, I now almost always prefer red! Actually I’ve come to love the taste of vino tinto so much that most whites are too sweet for me now!  Vino tinto has a way of warming the soul, making it the perfect beverage for the colder months!

Why Madrid?

Madrid captured my heart when I studied abroad in the city 3 years ago! I always knew I needed to find a way to come back and that I wasn’t finished in Spain. Thankfully the auxiliar de conversación program allowed me to do so! Madrid is such a diverse and relatable city and the madrileño culture is so easy to get along with. There really is something for everyone to love!

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Elizabeth Harding- PR Intern

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Favorite restaurant

Taberna El Buo in Chueca. They serve great traditional Spanish food, in large portions using fresh ingredients. The pork tostada is amazing, and their tortilla is one of the best I’ve tried in Madrid. I also love Taberna Txakolina in La Latina for pintxos!

Go-to tapa

I love the combination of goat’s cheese and caramelized onion, so I’ll often order this as a tostada/pintxo if it’s on offer. Or I’ll eat a different kind of cheese tapa – whether a fresh cheese, tomato and pesto arrangement, or just a blue cheese spread on bread… If it’s cheesy, I’ll eat it.

Favorite Spanish drink

Although I’ve never really been a big beer drinker, I quite like a caña con limón. It’s the perfect refreshing beverage for a casual Sunday afternoon.

Why Madrid?

I originally came to Madrid on a whim, but the electric ambience of this city has kept me here. There’s always somewhere new to go, and something new to do. Streets, parks and squares are always alive with people eating, drinking, talking and walking – they really make the most of life. Once you start doing it yourself, it’s quite addictive.

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Kelly Maslow- Tour Guide

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Favorite restaurant

Too hard! Lately, Tres Bocas. Traditional Spanish dishes with a modern twist.

Go-to tapa

Anything cured from the Iberian pig – salchichón, lomo, and of course, jamón.

Favorite Spanish drink

I wouldn’t be (adopted) Spanish if I didn’t say Gin Tonic.

Why Madrid?

I was missing the big city life after years down south in Sevilla.

Debbie Musgrove- Tour Guide

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Favorite restaurant

I discovered Lateral in my first few months living here back in 2010 and have loved it ever since. The menu is packed with well priced and delicious traditional Spanish tapas but with clever contemporary twists! It’s a great restaurant to head to for a special occasion, a date or if you’ve got the folks in town as it caters for every taste. Unfortunately, they don’t take reservations and tables fill up quickly, so it’s best to head down there at around 9pm to cut down on the waiting time.

Go-to tapa

I love my veggies and so grilled padrón peppers are always one of my first choices off of any menu. I like to call them the Russian Roulette of Spanish cuisine as only about 1 in every 30 are spicy. It’s a fun dish to pass around amongst friends to see who ends up with the hottest one!

Favorite Spanish drink

I’m lucky enough to live across the road from the famous Casa Mingo which provides you with copious amounts of sweet cider every time you visit. I can’t say I’m any good at the typical Asturian pouring technique (the cider is poured into the glass from a fair height) as most of it ends up splashed on my shoes, but I always give it a good go every time I crack open a bottle!

Why Madrid?

As a native Londoner, I crave the hustle and bustle of a capital city but love the laid back Spanish lifestyle – Madrid is the perfect combination of the two. It’s an unpretentious, fun and international city, which I’ve yet to find elsewhere in Spain. I’ve often toyed with the idea of moving elsewhere and even packed my bags and headed for a small town Spain’s northern coast for a while, but I always find myself gravitating slowly back to the capital. As they say, you can take the girl out of the city…

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Looking for your own perfect Madrid experience? Come and hang with us on one of our food tours and we will let you in on all our little secrets!! 

Edible Souvenirs! Gourmet Shops in Madrid Worth a Visit

gourmet shops in Madrid

As the holiday season approaches so do the dinner parties and gift obligations that come along with the festivities. Whether you’re hosting a dinner, attending a party or going home for the holidays, chances are you’ll need to bring a gift. Luckily, Madrid is home to loads of amazing shops, boutiques and galleries. And our favorite type of shop in Madrid? The gourmet one!

I’ve never been a big fan of the word gourmet (it sounds a bit stuffy doesn’t it?) so I’m using it here to mean absolutely delicious, high quality food and drink.

Any of these gourmet shops in Madrid will be able to provide you with a lovely (and edible) gift (for yourself or for others!) and have definitely helped make my holiday shopping much easier!

1. Cacao Sampaka

For: Chocolates

best gifts in Madrid

Why? Cacao Sampaka is undoubtedly one of the city’s best chocolate shops. Offering only the best quality chocolates, everything here uses authentic cocoa and no preservatives. Visit their shop for one of their melt-in-your-mouth truffles (try fun flavors like saffron or violet!), or take home a whole box for the perfect gift.

Where: Calle Orellana, 4

2. Casa Gonzalez

For: Wine and cheese

best gourmet shops in madrid

This photo was graciously provided by our tour guest Peggy Liu from her Flickr album on our Huertas tour!

Why? Casa Gonzalez is arguably the prettiest deli in all of Spain (and that’s why it’s a stop on our Huertas Neighborhood Food and Market Tour!). The cozy shop sells excellent, lesser known wines from all over Spain, and a small selection of top quality cheeses. They can whip you up a cheese platter in no time, and pair it with a wine or two (this will quickly make you the most popular dinner guest in town so watch out!).

Where: Calle León, 12

3. Spicy Yuli

For: Exotic spices and teas

what to buy in Madrid

Why? True gourmands in Madrid know all about Spicy Yuli. This tiny shop hidden away on Calle Valverde specializes in spices and teas, and the owner, Yuli, knows her stuff! Whether you’re looking to spice up the holidays with a Jamaican curry, or cure your winter cold with a hot cup of green tea, Yuli will take care of you and her prices are great.

Where: Calle Valverde, 42

4. La Cava de la Villa

For: Wonderful Spanish cava at all price ranges

gourmet shops in Madrid

Why? Right across the street from Spicy Yuli you’ll find Luis and La Cava de la Villa. For those who haven’t been yet, get ready to fall in love with some of Spain’s best sparkling wines. Luis is extremely passionate about cava, and will be happy to invite you to one of his frequent tastings, or give you as many details as you need to make a decision.

Where: Calle Valverde, 35

5. Dónde Sánchez

For: Lesser known wines and craft beers, craft beers, Spanish cheeses, and more!

best gourmet shops in Madrid

Photo by our lovely social media intern (and blogger/photographer) Courtney Likkel

Why? Located on the bottom floor of the constantly evolving Mercado Antón Martín, Dónde Sánchez is one of the city’s best shops for a selection of locally produced Spanish products. Wines, cheeses, patés, jams and much more grace the shelves of owner Paz’s display. This is another stop on our Huertas tour, so make sure to sign up for the full experience!

Where: Mercado Antón Martín, Calle Santa Isabel, 5

6. Torrons Vicens

For: Classic and modern styles of Spanish turrón

best food shops in Madrid

A special tasting platter at Turrons Vicens for our tours!

Why? Nothing says the holidays in Spain quite like turrón– Spanish candy bars. Torrons Vicens sells the delicious bars all year long, specializing in both the classics (such as hard turrón with hazelnut and soft turrón with almond) and also in more modern versions. They even have a line designed by one of Spain’s most famous chefs, Albert Adria! His sdfdsf turrón is to die for. And don’t even get me started on the creamy liquor de turrón! You can sample classic turrones and liquor on our Ultimate Spanish Cuisine Tour.

Where: Calle Mayor, 43

These are only some of my favorite gourmet shops in Madrid– it seems each week something new opens! Have you visited anything worthwhile? Leave it in the comments and we’ll include it in our next round up!

Photo credits: Chocolates photo by Ippei Suzuki on Flickr CC