Lot’s of guests on our Madrid Food Tours are curious about Botin restaurant– and with good reason. This old eatery in the center of Madrd is world famous!
Check the Guinness Book of World Records and you’ll see Restaurante Botin listed as the world’s oldest restaurant. Serving a variety of traditional Spanish dishes and roasted meats, the food and the atmosphere live up to its place both as a hallmark Castilian-style restaurant and an establishment to be cherished through the ages.
History of a classic
The famous meats (roast suckling pig is the specialty) roast in Botin’s cast iron wood burning stove, the same one that was used at its opening in 1725. Just under 300 years old, the oven still churns out delicious food, so delicious that the restaurant has attracted quite the clientele over the years. Spanish painter Francisco Goya, American writer Ernest Hemingway, various European royalty and Spanish politicians, all have made the visit to Botin. Today, the restaurant is a must-visit attraction for visitors to Madrid, but even so, many locals still go to feast on the restaurant’s specialties: roast suckling pig (cochinillo) and roast suckling lamb (cordero lechal).
The first recorded mention of the building that now holds the restaurant dates back to 1590, a period of growth for Madrid, even while the royal court was temporarily transferred elsewhere. And in 1725, after the area around the Plaza Mayor had taken shape as a commercial center of the town, the nephew of the French cook Jean Botin’s bought the building and converted it to an inn, installing during that time the famous wood oven, thus giving the restaurant its proper name Sobrino de Botin (Botin’s Nephew).
The restaurant came under new ownership in the 20th century, as the González family bought the business with the hopes of expanding it. However, this dream could not be realized until years after the Spanish Civil War, when the González sons Antonio and José turned the restaurant into the landmark attraction that it is today. Its appearance, its service, and its cuisine have all been preserved through the years.
Botin has four floors with wooden beams that span the ceilings and tiles that cover the floors. The ground floor is the bodega, or what used to be the wine cellars, and is lined with arching brick walls. Make sure to go all the way down, into the damp wine cave. The higher floors feature traditional Spanish artwork, and you truly feel transported back in time.
Should you go?
All of our guests ask the same question– should we go? Is it worth the price? A difficult question to answer given that everyone has a different definition of expensive, and different expectations!
What we will say, is that the restaurant is a beautiful piece of history in Madrid and the food is very good. Any Madrid Food Tour guests who have gone have enjoyed their experience. Dining there will run you around 50€ per person, before too many extras.
Regardless of whether you decide to dine there, an insider tip is to visit the restaurant anyway. If you go during a slower hour, you can peak in and see the pigs in the kitchen, and the staff readying the food for the dinner hour. The staff is used to people looking around and are extremely gracious– don’t be shy! If you do decide to eat there, be sure to make reservations in advance, for every night of the week is a busy night at Restaurante Botin.
You can see more information on the Botin Website.
For one of the best things to do in Madrid, try one of our Madrid tapas tours– we will talk about Botin and many more Madrid classics!
Photo Credits: LWY