Madrid Off the Beaten Path

Madrid tapas tours, Madrid food tours

Madrid is packed with amazing art museums, world-renowned wine, centuries-old markets and perfectly manicured parks. It is also packed with tourists, 8 million of them in 2011 them to be exact. And that means a day of sight seeing in Madrid often means long lines, crowded bars and packed plazas.

Without a doubt, many of Madrid’s main attractions are absolutely worth battling the masses. But beyond El Prado museum and San Gines’ churros, there is a plethora of places packed with culture, beauty and, of course, spectacular food, if you only know where to look.  So ditch the travel book, toss the tourist map, and come explore Madrid off the beaten path with this list of things to do in Madrid.

Dive into history at the Tapestry Museum instead of El Prado

While Madrid’s premier art museum is, of course, a must-see sight in the city, at the Royal Tapestry Factory, art comes to life, literally. Tour the working factory and watch expert weavers at work creating spectacular tapestries, learn about the factory’s nearly 300-year history and gaze upon fantastically preserved tapestries from masters like Juan Gris. Be sure to schedule your English tour in advance by emailing the museum at informacion@realfabricadetapices.com. The museum is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Website

Calle Fuenterrabía, 2 near the metro stop Atocha

things to do in madrid

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Eat your way through the San Fernando Market instead of San Miguel

Mercado de San Fernando, in the immigrant influenced neighborhood of Lavapiés, is the locals-only version of the hugely-touristy Mercado San Miguel. At this smaller, more intimate market you’ll hear kids playing, adults chatting, glasses chinking and butchers chopping. We highly recommend tasting a craft beer from La Buena Pinta stall or a local wine from La Siempre Llena stall while snacking on tasty tapas from one of the many cafés and restaurants throughout the market. Don’t forget to grab a bag of organic Spanish dried apricots (100 g for 1 euro!) from La Monda fruit and vegetable stand for a healthy snack while strolling the city.

Website

Calle Embajadores, 41

what to do in Madrid

Relax in Parque del Capricho instead of Parque Retiro

As if the name wasn’t enticing enough (Parque del Capricho means “The Park of the Whim”), the bright flowerbeds, bubbling fountains and children’s playground complete with a moat and cannons will undoubtably make the trek to Parque del Capricho well worth the metro ride. The park was created in 1784 as an artistic reprieve from city life for one of Madrid’s most powerful families, the Duke of Osuna. Hope on the green Line 5 metro to El Capricho Park and stroll through this secluded oasis on Saturday or Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the winter months (October to March) or until 9:00 p.m. during the summer (April to September).

Website

Paseo de la Alameda de Osuna

Capricho park Madrid, things to do in Madrid

Hit up a flea market at Mercado de Motores instead of El Rastro

If the sprawling neighborhood-wide Sunday flea market of El Rastro seems a tad overwhelming, the smaller, mostly indoor Mercado de Motores is the ideal place to pass your Sunday morning in Madrid. Located in the Railway Museum near the Delicias metro stop, the Mercado de Motores packs stalls of antiques, recycled object crafts, second-hand clothes and more between old locomotives and metro cars. Check out the market on the second weekend of each month from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Website

Paseo de las Delicias, 61 

where to shop in Madrid

Savor some chocolate with a bizcocho de soletillo at El Riojano instead of churros at San Gines

Everyone loves a serving of piping hot chocolate con churros (who can resist crispy fried dough dipped in chocolate?) but few know about another true Madrid classic, the bizcocho de soletillo. This light sponge cake is served at one of Madrid’s oldest pastry shops, El Riojano, and was once brought as a gift to pregnant women because it was nice and light (and therefore recommended at the time). Order one of these and a cup of El Riojano’s famous hot chocolate and you’ll never look back!

Website

Calle Mayor, 10 

Dine downtown at a local Madrid restaurant instead of tourist-centered spots

Finding fantastic, authentic food within an easy walking distance of Madrid’s main plaza Sol can be a challenge. Lining the plaza are streets that are packed with restaurants catering primarily to tourists. We suggest skipping many of these less-than-stellar options and instead make the short five-minute walk to El Zagal, a simple restaurant with home cooking. Here you can feast on scrumptious raciones of pan-seared mushrooms with cured ham bits or homemade croquetas. They also offer a 3-course lunch featuring Spanish favorites like salmorejo (cold tomato soup), grilled trout and beef steaks for 10.50 €.

Website

Calle Trujillos, 7

Mushroom croquettes

Get great city views from the Circulo de Bellas Artes rooftop instead of a hotel terrace

Looking for a spectacular view of the Spain’s capital city? Don’t follow your travel guide book’s advice and pay and arm and a leg to get to the top of a hotel terrace! Head instead to the Circulo de Bellas Artes museum, where a mere 3 euro buys you access to the impressive Azotea rooftop terrace which overlooks some of the most spectacular buildings in the city. On the rooftop you can lounge on outdoor sofas while sipping an ice cold cocktail and gazing out over the twinkling city of Madrid. We definitely recommend timing your visit to watch the sunset. Can you say espectacular?

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Calle de Alcalá, 42

what to see in Madrid

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Cool down with tinto de verano instead of sangria

Here’s Spain’s worst kept secret: sangria really isn’t very Spanish. Yes, it was technically invented here, but you won’t find it flowing freely from behind every bar in town. In fact, much of Madrid’s sangria is usually found in restaurants and bars that cater to tourists (although there are exceptions to this rule!). Instead, most Madrileños opt for tinto de verano, red wine mixed with lemon soda, which quenches their thirst while lounging on the sunny terraces of summertime Spain.

tinto de verano

Feast on cocido Madrileño instead of paella

When in Madrid you must do as the Madrileños do, and that means ditching cast-iron pans of paella for ceramic bowls of cocido Madrileño. Paella (which is actually from Valencia, a city about 200 miles east of Madrid) may have the international fame, but cocido – a stew of pork, beef, chicken, chorizo sausage, vegetables and garbanzos – is definitely the home favorite. During the winter months, restaurants across the city brew up big pots of cocido to warm the bellies of Spaniards and visitors alike.

Cocido madrileno traditional food in Madrid

Day Trip to Alcala de Henares instead of Toledo

If Don Quixote is more your style than Don Juan, then swap the swords of Toledo for the birthplace of Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes. In the cozy town of Alcalá de Henares, located an easy 30 minute train ride from Madrid, you’ll find a gorgeous university, a beautifully manicured plaza featuring Cervantes’ statue, tours of the house in which Cervantes was born and an array of delicious pastries perfected over the centuries by Alcalá’s traditional bakers.

day trips from Madrid

My Madrid – Cassandra of Gee, Cassandra

Welcome to My Madrid, a new 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 Cassandra  who has been hamming it up in Madrid since 2010. She enjoys Spanish idioms, tortillapaseos, and vino tinto (not necessarily in that order). Follow her adventures at: http://www.geecassandra.com/ and on twitter @geecassandra.

what to do in madrid

Hi Cassandra! So, what is your experience with Madrid?

It seems crazy that I’ve called the Spanish capital home for three and a half years! Sometimes I don’t believe it myself, but Madrid certainly feels like home now.

How was your first impression of Madrid?

I first visited Madrid while studying abroad in college, and instantly knew it was special. The walkability, the night life, the socialness of people spilling out onto every terraza imaginable…I was hooked! Coming back with a suitcase several years later, I realized there was much more to the city than Sol, Huertas, and Retiro park. I soon loved the distinct feel of the neighborhoods, the mix of old and new, and the way the local’s easy-going ways of slowing down the day with a cup of coffee or a caña.

What is one thing you wouldn’t leave Madrid without doing?

I wouldn’t dare leave Madrid without revisiting the art museums! This city is home to so much great art, something that’s easy to forget when much of your daily life takes place far away from the triángulo de bellas artes. Going to museums isn’t something I do on a weekly basis, but I would love to say adiós to some fav paintings like Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights or Picasso’s Guernica.

Do you have a favorite Madrid experience?

From exploring old-world charm in Huertas to marveling at the hodgepodge of cultures in Lavapiés to window-shopping in swanky Goya, getting to find the pulse of each barrio is an ongoing experience. Each neighborhood has its own personality, and I love getting to dig a bit deeper with each encounter.

All the olives you can eat at a Huertas market

All the olives you can eat at a Huertas market

Name your favorite Madrid meal.

Instead of having one concrete bar or restaurant to recommend, I tend to choose the place based on the house specialty. For example, I head to Casa Julio for croquetas, Pez Gordo for migas, and Baco y Beto for fried setas with truffled alioli. Regardless of the meal, there will be vino tinto!

What would be your ideal night out in Madrid?

I prefer low-key evenings—en plan tranquilo as they’d say here! An ideal night out would start along Gran Vía; I’d stroll down the street before catching a show or two at Microteatro por Dinero, where you can watch 10-minute plays. Then, I’d have dinner around Malasaña or Conde Duque, followed by drinks outside on a terrace bar. My ideal night would also include glorious summer weather!

gran via madrid

A summer evening on Gran Vía

How about your favorite day trip from Madrid?

Cuenca! You feel like you are in a much different place than Madrid even though you’ve traveled a relatively short distance, you’re in a small ton but can walk around the woods, and it’s not as overrun with tourists as a city like Toledo. The unique casas colgadas, or hanging houses, are definitely worth the trip.

 Thanks so much, Cassandra! Hope to see you at one of our wine tastings again soon! 

My Madrid – Kaley of Y Mucho Más

Welcome to My Madrid, a new 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 Kaley, the blogger at Y Mucho Más. Having spent most of her time in Spain since graduating college in 2009, she blogs about the good, the bad, and the just plain odd about life in Spain and marriage to a Spaniard.

what to do in madrid

Hi Kaley! Tell us a bit about your experience with Madrid.

 I’ve been living in Madrid since September 2012—not that long, really! I moved here with my husband, as he found a job here! We were both Madrid newbies when we got here.

What was your first impression of Madrid like?

My first impression was back in 2008, actually! I visited the city while I was studying abroad in Toledo. Compared to Toledo, I thought it was huge and intimidating, although I really liked the variety of foods and activities you could find here.

Madrid can definitely be intimidating at first glance! What is one thing you wouldn’t leave Madrid without doing?

Hmm. Besides visiting all the sites, I’d recommend trying vermut de grifo, eating a bocadillo de calamares, and bar hopping around La Latina and Malasaña. And don’t forget to enjoy a day of terrace-sitting. Just drink cañas and chat all day long.

Vermú en grifo, the perfect aperitivo!

Vermú en grifo, the perfect aperitivo!

Days on the terrace are some of our favorite days! Do you have a favorite Madrid experience?

I’m a little obsessed with markets, so I’d say you should definitely walk around some of Madrid’s markets—traditional and non-traditional. I work near La Latina’s Mercado de la Cebada, and it’s fun to people watch.

You have to check out our Market Tour, then! Besides sampling the markets, what would you say is your favorite Madrid meal?

Cocido. You gotta try it at least once, even if a after-lunch nap is almost required. You won’t leave hungry (or unsatisfied)!

Cocido madrileno traditional food in Madrid

Cocido is good for the soul

The answer of a true Madrileña! How about your ideal night out in Madrid? 

I don’t go out to clubs, but my ideal night would be one of bar hopping in La Latina, especially if the bars weren’t so full. It’s not that I don’t love a full bar, but I like having a bit of space. It’d have to include some of El Almendro’s famous huevos rotos and rosca. Ideally, we’d get to drink some glasses of red wine followed up by a gin & tonic to cap it all off.

You’re a girl after our own heart, Kaley! Do you have a favorite day trip from Madrid?

Definitely Toledo. It stole my heart from the first time I set foot there, back in 2008. Toledo seems lost in another century completely, and there’s no way you won’t get lost among its winding streets or winded as you climb hill after hill after hill. The churches are spectacular, and I especially love its monastery San Juan de los Reyes, with its orange dotting the courtyard. Don’t miss it this year either: it’s the 400th centenary of El Greco’s death, and there are a lot of expositions dedicated to Toledo’s most-famous painter.

Toledo absolutely can’t be missed, and there’s no excuse thanks to it’s convenient location 45 minutes from Madrid! Thanks so much for sharing your Madrid with us Kaley! 

Would you like to be featured in the My Madrid series? Get in touch!

Typical Food to Eat in Madrid and its History

pig ear typical food in Madrid

Here at Madrid Food Tour, we’re pretty adventurous eaters. We’ll try anything and firmly believe that the best way to get to know a city is by eating everything the locals love. In Madrid, our adventurous spirit serves us well, as many of the typical plates tend to be a little bit odd for us expats. The capital of Spain has a long history, and many of the most common dishes are heavily influenced by what has happened here over the span of centuries of war, shifting politics and poverty. The organ meats, hearty stews, honey-sweetened vegetables and abundance of seafood you’ll find on menus here all have extremely important historical and cultural significance, so maintaining an open mind and ordering bravely serves you very well in your quest to experience local life in Madrid.

What to Order

Callos a la madrileña

Callos, traditional foods in Madrid

  • The most typical food to eat in Madrid, especially in winter, is callos. A stew made of cow’s tripe, callos has been around since the late 16th century when it was thought to be brought to Madrid by immigrants from Asturias (a region in northern Spain). In early times, the dish was a poor man’s food made from the organs discarded at meat markets, but nowadays it is a typical and well-revered treat offered on the menu at nearly every Madrid tavern. The best callos are served with morcilla (blood sausage), chorizo and the famous Spanish jamón, and truly warm the soul on a cold winter day. Though the ingredients may scare away most visitors, there is a reason that so many Madrileños tuck in to a bowl every week; it is absolutely delicious. Conjure up some guts and sample the stew with fresh bread and a glass of red wine!

Caracoles a la madrileña

  • Paris may be famous for its escargot, but Madrid has its own brand of slippery snails. Anything that is deemed a la madrileña, or Madrid-style, lets you know that the preparation is simple and indigenous to the capital, letting the main ingredient run the show with the help of few other ingredients. Caracoles are a very typical ración, or shared plate, here in Madrid where snails are harvested locally and cooked slowly in beef broth and often garlic and jamón. The slimy snack should be served piping hot and with a little kick to it making for a hearty end of the day meal.

Bocata de calamares

calamari sandwich typical food in Madrid

  • Many people are surprised to learn that seafood is so typical and fresh in land-locked Madrid. Spain has very strong Catholic roots, and in past centuries it was very important for the capital to have access to seafood, as strict Catholics did not eat meat on Fridays. To make sure politicians and royals could adhere to their values, some of the best fish and seafood would be sent to Madrid every week via specially created routes to be sold at market. For peasants, the easiest and cheapest way to prepare the seafood they could afford to buy was to fry it and serve it on bread, which is exactly how the bocata (also called bocadillode calamares came about. To this day, the fried calamari sandwich is sold as a snack food all around the Plaza Mayor, just as it was in the 18th century: fried calamari on a crusty baguette with no sauce. Simple, cheap, delicious and one of the most typical foods to eat in Madrid!

Fun fact: Madrid is home to the second largest fish market in the world (after Tokyo), MercaMadrid!

Oreja a la plancha

  • One of the first things that visitors learn about Spain is that the pig is sacred (which perhaps dates back to the fact that eating pork was proof of your conversion to Catholicism during the Spanish inquisition). Jamón is worshipped and great care is taken in raising pigs to provide a rich tapa for hungry Spaniards. One of the most interesting ways that Madrileños indulge in the animal is by snacking on its ears, usually fried and sometimes enhanced with bacon and mushrooms. Pigs are prepared to be eaten from birth and treated with the utmost respect in Spain, many raised free-range and fattened up on a diet of fresh acorns, and so it is very important for many Spaniards that the whole animal be consumed. The ears themselves are mild but savory in taste and absorb any flavor you cook them with, making the Madrid-style ears a salty and garlicky dish.

Some of the most typical foods to eat in Madrid may seem very bizarre to a visitor, but as home to the number 1 restaurant in the world, Spain seems to know what it’s doing when it comes to food. If you’re feeling adventurous on your trip to Madrid, be sure to sign up for our Bizarre Foods Tour or our Ultimate Spanish Cuisine Tour (where organ meats can be tried upon request) to indulge in all the city has to offer under the guidance of a bizarre-foods expert. 

5 Seafood Spots in Madrid

octopus

Here at Madrid Food Tour we’re well aware of just how much incredible food Madrid has to offer. From traditional tapas to wildly expensive molecular gastronomy experiences and everything in between, Madrid will satisfy any and every craving you could think of. Surprisingly, one of the things that our land-locked city does best is seafood. Coastal regions like Galicia, Asturias and Andalusia bring in some of the best fish and seafood in the world, and here in the capital we are lucky enough to receive fresh deliveries daily.

Fun fact: Madrid is home to the second largest fish market in the world! The only city with a bigger fish market is Tokyo!

We love all things seafood here, ranging from the high-quality, canned anchovies you can often find in tapas bars to the scary-looking and shockingly priced fresh gooseneck barnacles, we’ll try it all. We’ve scoured the metropolitan area for the best seafood spots, and could go on and on for days about all of the incredible options available to us. For now, though, we’ll leave you with five of our favorites to get your stomach growling.

Ribeira Do Miño

sea barnacles

Sea barnacles are kind of like the escargot of the sea; salty, slimy and delicious!

If there’s one thing you need to know about Spanish seafood, it’s that the Gallegos almost always do it right.  Hailing from the northwest region of Galicia, these folk grew up with some of the best catches in the world and don’t mess around when it comes to their fishy friends. Ribeira Do Miño is no exception and we simply can’t get enough. A humble-looking spot on a side street off of Fuencarral, Ribeira makes up for what it lacks in beauty with piles upon piles of mariscos. You can order a platter of crabs, shrimps and gooseneck barnacles stacked a foot high to share between friends, making for a labor-intensive (get your lobster-crackers ready!) foodie adventure. If working for your meal is not your thing, you can’t go wrong with the pulpo a la Gallega and almejas a la marinera– Galician style octopus and baby clams in a succulent sauce. Finish off the meal with a flaming chalice of queimada, a traditional Galician spiked coffee drink that is lit on fire to burn off some of the alcohol. Olé!

Calle Santa Brigida, 1

Marisquería La Paloma

This La Latina spot is another that won’t look like much to an unknowing passerby. A typical cervecería and seafood house, La Paloma has no frills. Stop in for a beer after an afternoon spent exploring the endlessly cool neighborhood and order a few raciones of your favorite sea treat.  The grilled shrimp (gambas a la plancha) come highly recommended (and with good reason) but we often prefer the perfectly garlicky clams or any of their canned delights. Canned seafood gets a bad rap in most non-Mediterranean countries, but La Paloma is  perfect example of just how delightful it can be. They can the freshest, tastiest little fish in high-quality olive oils and vinegars right after the catch here in Spain, and many locals enjoy a can with fresh, crusty bread and a glass of wine or vermú.

Calle Toledo, 85 

Casa Revuelta

Known to have the best codfish in Madrid, Casa Revuelta is not to be missed. This small spot near Plaza Mayor is known for its must-try  bacalao rebozao, or batter-fried codfish, which will give you a whole new perspective on fried fish. Light and perfect with a crisp white wine or beer, you’ll be transported to the beaches of southern Spain– although fried cod is actually is Madrileño as it gets! Go for the empanadas de atún (tuna empanadas) or torreznos (pork rinds) as well, for a decadent and traditional bite. We’ve heard that the calamari cooked in its ink are quite delicious as well. Stop by for a bite before continuing your tapeo on the nearby Cava Baja.

Calle Latoneros, 3 

Bar Santurce

Grilled prawns, where to eat in Barcelona

Succulent grilled prawns will doubtless be offered to you at any good seafood spot

One of the most well-known and well-attended weekend activities in Madrid is the Rastro flea market. You can find everything from antique furniture to handmade leather goods within the stalls, including some great seafood. We like to head to Santurce after bargain hunting for some small plates of fried seafood goodness. The energy of the place is high and with a couple of cañas in you, you’ll fit right in. We always go for the calamari (try them in a sandwich for a typical Madrid treat) and the lightly fried boquerones; the perfect way to end an adventurous Sunday.

Plaza General Vara del Rey, 14 

La Caleta

To go full on Andaluz, head to La Caleta restaurant and bar in Lavapies. This place is straight out of Cádiz, a sea-side region of Andalusia known for its excellent fried seafood. Always full of locals, often Gaditano transplants themselves, we love to stop in to be reminded of our days living in the south. Our favorite dish is the cazón al adobo, or marinated and fried dogfish, which is always somehow perfectly moist and full of flavor. We also love the pescaíto frito, or a mix of small, fried fish and seafood, to completely forget about the bustle of the city and be transported to a sea-side bar.

You can’t go wrong with any of these fishy spots, so be sure to stop by at least one while you’re in the neighborhood. For an in-depth look into the history of Spanish seafood and it’s many manifestations here in Madrid, try our customized private Market and Tapas tour and satisfy all your cravings. 

Eating Gluten Free in Madrid

The Spanish may still be struggling with the definition of “vegetarian” (most veggie menus feature tuna!) but when it comes to gluten free in Madrid, the city’s restaurants, bars, and supermarkets are already ahead of the curve.

The Madrid Association of Celiacs and Gluten Sensitive People has been certifying the city’s restaurants as celiac-friendly for more than 15 years. And with more than 50 establishments on their list, there are plenty of options for diving into Spanish cuisine worry-free.

Eating gluten free in Madrid does not mean you have to miss out on the best of Spanish cuisine! Many of the most delicious and most traditional tapas in Madrid are naturally gluten free, such as tortilla de patatas (an egg and potato omelet-like dish) and huevos rotos con jamón (fried potatoes topped with over easy eggs and slices of cured Iberian ham).

Eating sin gluten in Madrid is totally doable if you know where to go. While many places in Madrid are celiac-friendly, it’s always a good idea to talk with the waiter before ordering to ensure your meal comes completely gluten free. Here are some of our top picks for where to eat gluten free in Madrid.

Bakeries

Whether you’re in need of a mid-afternoon pick-me-up or a sweet something to start the day off right, Madrid’s bakeries are a haven of pastries, coffee and chatter. Only a handful of the city’s panaderias  and pastelerias have jumped on the gluten free bandwagon. But those that have are definitely doing it right!

Gluten Free restaurants in Madrid

Gluten free cupcakes at Celicioso

  • Celicioso: Perhaps the most famous (and most delicious) gluten free place in Madrid, Celicioso’s display cases are packed with all kinds of celiac-friendly treats. Enjoy a chocolate peanut butter cupcake or a slice of carrot bread in the cafe or grab a loaf of bread to go! Everything made here is 100 percent gluten free. Calle Hortaleza, 3, one block from the Gran Via metro stop.
  • Oh Celia!: Located in the charming Antón Martín Market (the one we visit on our Huertas Neighborhood Food and Market Tour!) you’ll find the Oh Celia! bakery, selling delicious sweet and savory gluten free pastries.

Beer

A huge part of Spanish culture, and thus of any visit to Madrid, is meeting up with friends to tomar algo or have something to eat or drink. That something, more often than not, is a nice cold beer. Gluten free eaters don’t have to miss out on this cultural experience in Madrid! Here are some great bars that serve up gluten free beer:

  • Café del Jardin: This cute little café in the Malasaña barrio is perfect for relaxing with a cup of tea or tasting a gluten free cerveza under the sunshine in their back garden.  San Mateo 13, off the metro stop Tribunal.
  • El Nerú: This cider house in the center of Madrid transports patrons to the North of Spain in the mountainous region of Austurias. Here you’ll find a variety of gluten free ciders and two types of gluten free beer. They also have an extensive menu of tapas and raciones including gluten free options such as Hake fish in a cider-shrimp sauce and Austurian-style pork and beans. C/ Boradores 5, between metro stops Sol and Opera.
  • Cerveceria San Julián: North of the city center in the Chamberí district you’ll find Cerveceria San Julián. This neighborhood bar offers two gluten free beers, Daura Estrella Damm and Ambar. C/ Alberto Aguilera 30, off of the metro stop San Bernardo
  • Evarsito Club: Two blocks from Plaza de España, Evarsito Club is a place to catch a concert or a DJ set and do a bit of dancing with your gluten free beer. Typically the crowd here is a bit older.C/ Marqués de Sta. Ana 11, off of the metro stop Plaza de España.

Tapas

No trip to Madrid is complete without an evening of tapas, or hopping from bar to bar and eating small plates of detectible Spanish food. You can find naturally gluten free options like the tortilla and huevos rotos mentioned above at just about every tapas bar. But if you’re looking for something specifically and certifiably gluten free head to these places:

Eating gluten free in Madrid

Gluten free tapas at Taberna la Concha.

  • Taberna La Concha: This tiny tavern is easy to miss among the bar-packed street in Madrid’s tapas land (aka the La Latina barrio). La Concha has a special gluten free menu full of traditional Spanish tapas specially crafted for celiacs! Cava Baja 7, near the La Latina metro stop.
  • Bar Lambuzo: A charming Spanish family from Cadiz serves up Andalusian specialties at Bar Lambuzo near the Opera metro stop. If you indicate you are gluten free they will give you multiple options for enjoying a true evening of tapas.
  • Mu Madrid: This modern tapas bar indicates which plates on the menu are gluten free with a helpful SG (sin gluten) label.

Restaurants

If your in the mood for a stationary dining experience pop into one of the many delicious options for gluten free restaurants in Madrid. Experience an authentic Spanish comida with a three-course lunch menu or get a taste of Madrid’s immigrant culture with crusty pizza or savory crepes.

  • Pizza Sapori: This trendy pizza place is certified gluten free by the Celiac Association of Madrid. Here you can build your own pizza or pasta from a variety of toppings and sauces. Lactose-free options are also available.C/ El Camino del Cura, 10 inside the Encinar de Moraleja shooping center located near the Chueca metro stop.
  • La Farfalla: This hole-in-the-wall restaurant in the immigrant neighborhood of Lavapies cooks up the odd yet delicious combo of Argentenian steaks and Italian pizzas and pastas. They are certified by the Celiac Association of Madrid and also serve vegetarian dishes. C/ Santa Maria 17 near the Anton Martín metro stop.
  • La Crep: This French creperie has both sweet and savory crepes made from celiac-friendly dough. It also offers vegetarian dishes. Calle san Bedro Mártir, 3 off of the metro stop Tirso de Molina.
  • El Arrozal: If you are looking for gluten free paella in Madrid, this is your place. They even have a separate gluten free kitchen where they make some of the best gluten free baguettes in town!

Grocery Stores

Almost all of Madrid’s grocery stores offer at least a few gluten free items. Often times, though, they aren’t very clearly labeled and can be tough to spot, especially if your Spanish is shaky.

  • Mercadona: For a good gluten-free-friendly large supermarket we recommend Mercadona. All of the Hacendado brand items (Mercadona’s store brand) have been specifically tested for gluten and those which are completely gluten free are marked with a sin gluten label. Mercadona has two central-Madrid locations, one at Calle Villa de Arbancón sin numero near the Embajadores metro stop and one next to Retiro Park at Plaza de los Reyes Magos, s/n. 
  • Herbolarios Doemi Market: This market is great for ecologically produced items. It has a large sin gluten section with everything from gluten free pastas to gluten free versions of Madrid’s famous pastries like rosquillas (anis-flavored doughnuts). Calle de Carranza, 3 off of the Bilbao metro stop. 

Fast Food

While we definitely recommend directing your tastebuds to the awesome options above, if you’re really craving some fast food, these chain restaurants in Madrid also have gluten free options and can be found all over the city:

  • Telepizza (Domino’s-style pizza)
  • Rodilla (sandwiches)
  • VIPS (array of both Spanish and diner-style dishes)

Please leave us a comment if you have any further information about eating gluten free in Madrid!

Where to Shop in Madrid

shopping in Madrid

Swords for sale at El Rastro.

When you think of fashion capitals of the world, Madrid most likely does not come to mind. We may not be pumping out the trends like New York or Paris, but Madrid is definitely a city of fashion. Take a stroll down Calle Velázquez and you’re sure to feel horribly underdressed in the sea of tailored designer and bespoke jackets, sky-high heels and colorful silk scarves. For a cooler vibe, make your way to Chueca and Malasaña, where the artsy crowd drapes itself in vintage finds, fitted pants and loud jewelry. Though we’re not creating and exporting style quite like Milan, but Madrileños sure know how to dress.

Being surrounded by such fashionable people reminds us that jeans and a t-shirt simply will not do for a night out in the capital, so we hit the shops to build up a new Spanish wardrobe, and noted our favorites to create a helpful little guide to the best shopping in Madrid.

Barrio Salamanca

Start your day of shopping in Madrid off in swanky Barrio Salamanca to get some fashion inspiration. The most expensive neighborhood in Madrid, Salamanca is filled to the brim with high end shops like Loewe, Chanel, Gucci, Prada and Christian Louboutin. If your budget allows you to treat yourself, we recommend picking up a Loewe bag. Loewe is a classic Spanish brand that makes beautiful leather products that will last you a life time, and the store on Calle Serrano is worth a visit even if you’re just browsing; their windows are the most elaborate year-round.

For the window shoppers, make an afternoon of peaking into the shops on Serrano, Claudio Coello and Ortega y Gasset, home to the highest fashion in Madrid. If boutique shopping is more your thing, check out Jorge Juan. Arguably the chicest street in Madrid, Jorge Juan is lined with the storefronts of young designers and eclectic boutiques that source their goods from all over the world. Don’t miss the callejón, where you’ll find designer-of-the-moment Isabel Marant (ring the bell to be granted entrance), classic Gant and eye-popping Jocomomola. Don’t let the enviable clothes distract you too much, though; the street-style in this neighborhood provides the perfect representation of Spanish fashion and trends.

Chueca

Once you’re good and inspired by the designers in Salamanca, head over to Chueca and scavenge the more affordable boutiques to create your own look. Start at Oliphant (Santa Teresa 7) an innovative boutique that sells everything from handmade costume jewelry to the newest dresses from France. The helpful shop girls will be happy to pull things for you, and even tempt you with things you never knew you needed!

Next, head to NAC (Génova 18) to amp up your look for the cold weather with one of their incredible coats, be it faux fur, classic wool or army-style. Don’t forget a bag and scarf for a fun pop of color; NAC stocks designer-style accessories at affordable prices!

End your Chueca shopping trip in Ekseption Stock (Marqués de la Ensenada 2) where you’ll find a drool-worthy collection of shoes. On the expensive side, this boutique picks the funkiest designs from the hottest designers, like Charlotte Olympia and Mr. Louboutin, and puts them on display for your delight. We’ve been eyeing a pair of sparkly-soled Lanvin’s for months, but for now we will keep scouring the second-hand’s in Malasaña and praying for rebajas.

Malasaña

Malasaña is a mecca for vintage shops and inexpensive boho looks. We love spending Saturdays on Calle Espiritu Santu, where you’d be hard-pressed to leave without a vintage gem from El Templo de Susu or Corachan y Delgado. One of the best parts about shopping in Madrid is the variety of fashions available, and the vintage shops offer everything you could think of.

In the Mercado de Fuencarral you’ll find tons of shops, both chain and boutique, offering the trendiest clothes at a lower price. Avoid this market on the weekends if you can, it will be packed and impossible to find the styles you’re looking for. Continue up Fuencarral for tons of unique shops ranging from artsy to rastafari to chic and classic!

El Centro

 

For a sure thing, head to the center of Madrid. Here you’ll find all the chains that can make all the fashion dreams that the looks in Salamanca, Chueca and Malasaña have conjured, a reality. Take a walk down Gran Vía to Sol, stopping in Zara, H&M, Corte Inglés and Topshop along the way.

We recommend H&M for blouses and sweaters, Zara for accessories, coats and bottoms, Topshop for dressier items and Corte Inglés to fill in the blanks. It takes patience and a good eye, but between vintage and chain stores, it is very possible to recreate the high fashion Madrid look at a low price.

where to shop in Madrid

Shoes for sale in Madrid.

La Latina

No trip to Madrid is complete without a visit to El Rastro, the Sunday flea market in La Latina. From 9 am to 3 pm every sunday, vendors set up their stalls full of antique jewelry and furniture, art, food, music and clothes. Go early for the best selection, and watch your bag; the crowded market is a favorite hangout for pick-pockets. With some digging you’re sure to find a unique piece to take home with you to remember your time in Madrid.

To fuel up before or after a day of bargain-hunting, book a Madrid Food Tour and sample the best Madrid has to offer in small bites, without going up a jean-size! 

Madrid Tourist Attractions That Are Worth The Hype

Madrid, particularly in the summer, can be a tourist madhouse. More than 8 million people flocked to Madrid in 2011, making it the fourth most visited city in Europe. And while we typically steer far clear of the city’s guiri areas (tourist spots, as they call them in Spanish), there are a few ultra-touristy places that are just too good to miss.

Madrid tourist attractions

Here are nine tourist attractions in Madrid that are definitely worth the guidebook hype:

Royal Palace

What it is: With more than 3,000 rooms, The Royal Palace of Madrid is one of the largest palaces in Europe. The palace was constructed in the mid-1700s on the site of a Moorish fortress from the 9th century. While Spain’s royal family does not live in the palace, it is still considered their official residence and is used ceremonially.

Why it’s worth the hype: This giant palace commands attention, standing a garden apart from Madrid’s Opera house in the center of the city. Inside, the grandiose décor and architecture are absolutely worth the 11 euro entrance fee. You can stroll through the Throne Room, where red golden lions guard the thrones of the Spanish King and Queen, gaze down the extravagant banquet hall, where the table seats 120 for official state dinners, and explore the Royal Armory, where knights and their steel-plated horses glisten with impressive antiquity.

El Prado Museum

What it is: This sprawling museum is home to some of the most renowned pieces of Spanish art, from Velazquez’s Las Meninas to Goya’s The Third of May 1808. It is the 11th most-visited museum in the world, with nearly 3 million visitors last year. Over 8,000 works of art from the 12th through 20th century are on display at the Prado.

Why it’s worth the hype: El Prado is home to masterpieces of Spanish, Flemish and Italian art. Strolling through its impressive corridors you’ll find windows into Spanish history, portals to past centuries and glimpses of both heaven and hell. Set aside at least half a day to explore El Prado. It’s absolutely worth it! Check here for 1, 2, and 3-hour guides of what to see at the Prado.

Royal Botanical Gardens

tourist attractions in Madrid

What is it: Situated next to the Prado Museum, Madrid’s Royal Botanical Garden is a pristinely designed web of more than 5,000 plant species from around the globe. The Gardens celebrated their 250th anniversary in 2005 and now stretch over 7,000 square meters.

Why it’s worth the hype: There are two greenhouses, more than 100 types of Bonzai trees, expansive beds of exotic flowers (including a row of Irises with stellar names like “Romantic Evening”), archways of wine grapes, paths lined with dozens of varieties of olive trees, and tomatoes that grow on trees! If that’s not worth the hype we don’t know what is.

Reina Sofia National Art Museum

What it is: Reina Sofia is Madrid’s most famous contemporary art museum, showcasing the works of Picasso, Miró and Dali. The museum was formerly Madrid’s General Hospital and was converted into an art museum in 1992.

Why it’s worth the hype: Two words: Picasso’s Guernica. This spectacular work of art hangs alone in a white-walled room, covering an entire wall with its gray-scale intensity. The painting depicts the moment in which German bombs fell upon the civilian town of Guernica in northern Spain during the Spanish Civil War. The adjoining room is filled with the sketches Picasso made of the many characters that he would eventually paint into Guernica. These two rooms alone make the Reina Sofia a staple on any list of Madrid must-sees.

Mercado San Miguel

What it is: One of Madrid’s most modernly renovated markets, San Miguel is a beehive of Spanish cuisine, buzzing with tapas eaters, wine drinkers and pastry revelers at all hours of the day and night. The 33 vendors at San Miguel dish up delicacies from across the country, including octopus from the northwest, cured ham from the south and wine from the north-central Rioja region.

Why it’s worth the hype: While the market is often packed with visitors from around the world, the quality of food and drinks that you’ll find at San Miguel is, by and large, Spanish. The tapas are scrumptious, the atmosphere is festive and the wine, beer and vermouth are delicious and reasonably priced. What more could you want for a Madrid evening?

Retiro Park

Madrid's Retiro Park Gardens

What it is: Created in the mid 1600s as a refuge of leisure and beauty for King Felipe IV, Retiro Park is a sanctuary from the bustling streets of Madrid. The nearly 300-acre park is the largest within the city and boasts an array of gardens, tree-lined paths, running circuits, sports areas and prime picnic spots.

Why it’s worth the hype: If pristinely manicured rose gardens, winding footpaths beneath canopies of chestnut trees and clusters of kid-friendly playgrounds aren’t inspiration enough to visit Retiro Park, considering taking a row boat on the small man-made lake or going for a jog along the running path that runs along its perimeter. Or stop by and ponder the only statue of the Devil in all of Spain, El Ángel Caído. If the sun is shining, as it often is here, Retiro is the place to be in Madrid.

Tapas in La Latina

What it is: Madrid’s La Latina district is located in the oldest part of the city, where ninth-century Islamic city walls used to stand long before Madrid became a capital city. On Sunday mornings, the district is home to Madrid’s most famous flea market, El Rastro. During the evenings it is equally packed, but instead of antique furniture and records, the narrow streets are packed with Madrileños grabbing their nightly cerveza, vino and tapa!

Why it’s worth the hype: Calle Cava Baja in the center of the La Latina district is lined with tapas bars, nearly all of which serve up a spectacular array of Spanish deliciousness. Two of our favorite stops near Cava Baja are Casa Lucio, which is known for its huevos rotos (fried potatoes topped with an over easy egg and, usually, spicy sausage) and Txirimiri, a Basque-style tapas bar where the counter is overflowing with bites of pintxo heaven!

Chocolatería San Gines

Churros, typical foods in Madrid

What it is: This century-old chocolatería has been serving churros with chocolate to Madrileños since 1894. Churros, a fried stick of dough usually dipped in a cup of sweet, thick chocolate are a go-to for a mid-afternoon snack or a late-night, post-discoteca treat!

Why it’s worth the hype: Every guidebook will tell you San Gines has the best churros in Madrid and, for once, the guidebooks are right! San Gines’ churros have the perfect balance of crunch and fluff and their chocolate boasts the perfect blend of bitter and sweet. If the late-night lines at San Gines are any indication, then it may just be the best place to get churros in the center of Madrid!

Guided Tour

What is it: Madrid has a plethora of guided tours to choose from, many of which are a far cry from the stuffy “official” tour usually led by a grey-haired woman holding a red umbrella or the same-in-every-city open-topped red bus. In Madrid you can walk, bike, segway, eat, dance and drink your way through the city’s history!

Why it’s worth the hype: With such a rich and tumultuous history, a guided tour of Madrid is a stellar way to start to understand this magnificent city. To see the sights, sap up a bit of history and get in a bit of exercise try a bike tour, like Bravo Bikes One Day tour. To experience the heart and soul of the city, hop on a Madrid Food Tour and see the city from the perspective of a local. There’s no better way to enjoy Madrid than with a glass of some Spanish wine in your hand and a tapa on your plate!

What Madrid tourist attraction would you most recommend?

8 Foodie Things to do in Madrid

pig ear typical food in Madrid

Get your foodie adventure on with Madrid Food Tour!

As all of us here at Madrid Food Tour know so well, Madrid is a haven for foodies. Whether it’s a traditional Sunday lunch with family, tapa-hopping with friends or hours spent at the markets picking up the freshest ingredients for the next day’s meals, the Madrileño lifestyle is largely based around food. Our beloved city not only offers a taste of the best of Spain’s diverse regions and world cuisines, but also a look into the modern kitchen as it quickly becomes a front-runner in the booming Spanish gastronomic movement, placing itself as a culinary powerhouse for both the traditionalist and the avant-garde.

Our food-obsessed team can often be found trading secrets about where to go in Madrid for the best tortilla española, caracoles or vermut on tap, resulting that our suggested itineraries for visiting friends and families will always be focused more on bites than sites. Luckily for all you hungry travelers out there, you’ve come to the perfect place to find out the top foodie things to do in Madrid.

1. Dine at the best restaurants

Spanish food is traditionally very simple, often based on peasant food and designed to warm the soul. Nowadays since traditional food still dominates Madrid, the freshness and quality of ingredients make all the difference between the best restaurants and the just okay (or worse). For the traditionalist, we recommend sticking to the fiercely Castellano bars of the old town and quaint family-run restaurants. That means no pictures of paella or English menus in the window, or a man on the street trying to coerce you to come in. You’ll know the good spots when they’re filled with locals by 9:30 pm and you have to elbow your way to the bar.

Our favorites include Casa Lucas for great tapas and atmosphere, Sanlúcar for a taste of Andalucía and Txirimiri for ox-tail. If a sit-down restaurant is more your style, check out Garcia de la Navarra for fresh ingredients, hearty plates and excellent service.

Our region hadn’t taken to the avant-garde cuisine that had made Spain famous quite as strongly as Basque Country or Cataluña, but we have been catching up lately, with our fair share of exciting modern chefs making waves. For the most desired meal in Madrid, you’ll have to wait until this summer to be seated. Diverxo‘s chef David Muñoz recently received his third Michelin star and the reservation book has filled up accordingly, but a multi-course meal here is well worth the wait for any foodie in Madrid.

Tip: Visit David Muñoz’s food court booth StreetXO in the Corte Inglés Gourmet Experience.

2. Eat your way through the markets

Our own Lauren loves to hit up the markets to pick up the day's freshest goodies

Our own Lauren loves to hit up the markets to pick up the day’s freshest goodies

There’s no way to get to know a place’s food culture better than spending time in its markets. In Madrid, most cooks have a market they swear by for seafood, a great butcher and fresh produce, creating a huge demand for the best of the best at every stand.

The MFT team often heads to the Mercado de San Miguel where we can satisfy any craving with a quick loop through their prepared-food stalls. No foodie can leave Madrid without trying the olive, anchovy and quail’s egg pincho at La Hora del Vermú and fresh seafood from El Señor Martín.

For a more traditional market experience, head to Mercado de Maravillas, where you can find everything from the simplest of ingredients to live snails. Latch onto a pushy Spanish grandma to see how the ordering is really done.

Tip: You can experience a local market (including multiple tasting stops inside!) on our Huertas Neighborhood Food and Market Tour!

3. Enjoy a meal with locals

Taking the concept of going local to the next level, EatWith has started a movement that allows locals to welcome people into their home for, you guessed it, a home-cooked meal. The meal can include a cooking class,  or just a spread of lovingly-made food for the guests to enjoy among new friends. If you spend some time exploring the site, you’ll find vegetarian, ethnic and regionally traditional meals waiting to be enjoyed for way less than you would pay at a restaurant. Each home is vetted before being accepted by EatWith, so it’s completely safe and easy way for foodies to get a taste of real Madrid.

4. Plump for fantastically fresh seafood

Things to do in Madrid

Shrimp, snails, oysters…oh my!

You would never know there’s no water in Madrid by the sheer amount of seafood on any given menu. The capital gets shipments of every day’s catch from the coastal regions, which means our land-locked location in no way prevents us from our fishy cravings. For all the seafood you could ever eat, stop by Galician Marisquería Ribeira do Miño where the friendly staff will serve you a platter piled a foot high (no joke!) with crustaceans. If working for your meal is not your idea of fun, stay away from the crabs and goose barnacles and order the almejas a la marinera (succulent clams in a garlicky sauce that is so good you’ll mop it all up), and pulpo a la gallega (Galician style octopus finished with olive oil and paprika). Finish off the meal with a bang and order queimada, a Galician drink made with coffee, liquor, sugar and orange slices and then lit on fire at the table. Olé!

Fun fact: Madrid is home to the world’s second biggest fish market! MercaMadrid is 2nd in size after the fish market in Tokyo, Japan!

5. Drink like a Spaniard

To make sure you get all the tastes of the city, no foodie in Madrid can decline to imbibe. Spain is home to some of the best wines in the world that happen to go excellently with tapas. For a sampling of Riojas, Ribeiras and Albariños spend an evening at De Vinos, a wine bar we love so much that we’ve made it the home of some of our monthly wine tastings.

Aside from the staple vino y cerveza, traditional drinks in Madrid include vermouth, sherry and gin & tonics. For a before dinner drink, head to Bodega de La Ardosa for vermut, where you can find both smooth and strong versions of the drink always on tap. The more adventurous can check out La Venencia, a bare-bones sherry bar that Hemingway once haunted. Don’t even think about taking photos or tipping, though, these guys are traditionalists!

Dinner can typically be started or finished (or both!) with a gin & tonic, and making a good one is an art form in Madrid. The best gin-tonics (as the Spanish call them) can usually be found at stylish bars and restaurants, so if you’re up for a bit of schmoozing find yourself a spot at the bar at Ramses, where it’s not uncommon to spot the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo or Spanish soap stars, and pay a pretty penny for an exquisitely crafted cocktail. For a more low-key vibe, check out Bar Santamaría on Calle Ballesta.

6. Go exotic in Lavapies

things to do in Madrid

A plate of falafel in Lavapies.

Lavapies is the cultural melting pot of Madrid, making it an ideal adventure for foodies looking for Indian, Latin or even Senegalese food. Though many of the restaurants in this part of town aren’t quite as trendy as others, trust us, they are chock-full of spices and flavor that can’t be found anywhere else in town. We are big fans of curry at Shapla, the veggie and rice plates at Baobab and the margaritas and tacos at Maria Bonita

7. Learn all the tricks

Looking to recreate all of the memorable meals you had in Spain back home? Lucky for you, there are some cooking classes in Madrid that can help you do just that. To learn the basics of a Spanish mama’s recipe book, browse the offerings at Cooking Point, where you can choose from various cooking classes, promising that you’ll leave Spain with tons of new tricks for your own kitchen. You can also get in touch with us here at Madrid Food Tour, and we can plan a group cooking class in Madrid (groups of 6+).

8. Madrid Food Tour

Sit back and relax while we do all the ordering for you!

Sit back and relax while we do all the ordering for you!

If you’re eager to experience bits and pieces of all of the foodie fun Madrid has to offer, there’s no better way than to spend a few hours with us here at Madrid Food Tour. We can make (almost) any food dream come true with a custom tour, give you a summary of the city on our morning tour, teach you about tapa and drinking culture and even guide you through the markets. For the ultimate foodie experience, book a tour at the beginning of the trip so you’ll be all set to order in the days to come!

Do you have any foodie things to do in Madrid that we’ve missed? Please leave us a comment!

5 Best Bets for Breakfast in Madrid

breakfast in Madrid

In Spain, breakfast often tends to fly under the radar. With such incredible gastronomy to sample at lunch and dinner, many visitors are unaware of what they’re missing out on when they skip the all-important morning meal. Though breakfast in Madrid tends to be smaller than in places like Ireland or Great Britain, Madrileños make sure it is just as tasty.

The meal routine in Spain generally consists of a small bite and a café con leche upon waking, a mid-morning snack called the media mañana to tide you over until a hearty lunch around 2:30 pm, another small merienda (afternoon snack) and finally a light 10:00 p.m. dinner of tapas or a small plate at home. Clearly, eating is a hugely important part of Spanish culture, and in order to fully experience life in Madrid, the meal schedule should be followed as closely as possible. With the abundance of mid-day menus and tapa restaurants in this city, it’s hard to go wrong after 2:00 p.m., but breakfast can be a bit tricky. To ensure you get all the energy and flavor you need before you embark on your day’s activities, we’ve put together a guide of some of the best breakfasts in Madrid just for you.

For a Traditional Bite

Bread with tomato can be eaten as a traditional breakfast, or paired with jamón for a tapa later on

Bread with tomato can be eaten as a traditional breakfast, or paired with jamón for a tapa later on

Café de Oriente (Plaza de Oriente, 2) 

  • Breakfast comes with a view here at this cozy spot located just opposite the Royal Palace. Slide into a velvet-lined banquette and sip on a café con leche as you browse the very traditional menu; it may take you a while to choose between all of the temptations. We recommend a typical tostada con tomate y aceite (bread with crushed tomato and olive oil) or a sandwich mixto, a delightful combination of sweet ham and savory Spanish cheese on freshly made bread, and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. Don’t forget to polish off the meal with a cup of hot chocolate as you watch the early morning light bounce off the palace. Though a breakfast this big is anything but typical in Madrid, if you’re a time-crunched visitor, you’re almost obligated to make an exception and sample as many delicacies as you can!

For When You’re in a Hurry

Maria’s Bakery (Calle Zurbano, 15) 

  • If you don’t have time for an elaborate morning meal, it’s okay to ignore Spanish rules and grab a bite on the run. Though eating and running is almost sacrilegious here in Spain where meal times are relished, the bustling urban atmosphere allows for a little wiggle room. In order to fit in a quick snack on your way to check out modern Madrid, pop into Maria’s Bakery on Calle Zurbano. Located between near the Chueca and Malasaña neighborhoods, this café offers all you need to perk up your morning before hitting the shops and gallery’s of Madrid’s hippest areas. The charming locale might tempt you to stay a while, but you’ve got a lot to see so down your coffee and pastry and take on the day! Don’t worry, you can always come back for tea and a donut at siesta time.

For a Treat

Churros, typical breakfast in Madrid

Fried dough and chocolate for breakfast? You bet!

Chocolatería de San Ginés (Pasadizo San Ginés, 5) 

  • Chocolate and churros is perhaps the most well-known breakfast in Madrid, and some of the best come from this world-famous spot. Originally a poor man’s street food, churros and their fatter cousins, called porras, are savory wands of fried dough that fill you up for the morning. With time and innovation, this breakfast is now considered a real treat, and comes with a side of sugar and thick hot chocolate. The café’s location really can’t be beat, nestled between Sol plaza, the Royal Palace and Plaza Mayor, and provides the perfect mid-morning break from all the sight-seeing. Stop in anytime as the place is open 24 hours a day, savor the sweet and savory combination with friends and don’t forget to drink whatever chocolate your churros leave behind!

For Brunch

Mur Café (Plaza Cristina Martos, 2) 

  • In traditional Spain, one modern influence that has been adopted with fervor is Sunday brunch. During the week, breakfast is quick and easy, but come Sunday many Madrileños flock to brunch after mass or a long Saturday night on the town. In our opinion, one of the best brunches in Madrid based on taste and price can be found at Mur Café, right near the Plaza de España. For 13 euros you can choose between a sweet or savory menu, including coffee or tea, fresh orange juice, yogurt and either pastries or eggs benedict. If you’re feeling extra hungry after a long week of exploring, plump for the 20 euro brunch which gets you all of the above, plus a full English breakfast. Stop in for a taste of modern and hip Madrid…and a very full belly.

For Something Different

Eating in Granada, Where to eat in Granada

You can find tasty combinations like cream cheese and smoked salmon at most Madrid brunch spots

Café Federal (Plaza de las Comendadoras, 9) 

  • Another Plaza de España neighbor, Federal offers a different take on modern Madrid in its unique menu. The space is just as charming as Mur’s, but the food is a world of difference. Federal serves up one of the healthiest breakfasts in Madrid, with organic ingredients and tons of fresh produce. Bask in the light-washed café as you enjoy a green smoothie, greek yogurt, toast with hummus or smoked salmon, or baked eggs with spinach. Anything but touristy, this spot fills up with locals in the know looking to start their day right.

There are so many ways to do breakfast in Madrid, from traditional tostada with café con leche to full organic brunches, and if you follow our guide you really can’t go wrong. If you’re looking for even more, get your palate going early on with all types of delicacies on our Ultimate Spanish Cuisine tour, where we go from morning to mid-day sampling anything and everything your taste buds could hope for!