Madrid is famous for its casquería (organ meats) and locals are known to indulge in delicious preparations of tripe, kidneys, sweetbreads, and beyond. You’ll also find yummy Madrid foodie favorites like snails, barnacles, and pork rinds available at any traditional bar. And while we realize that bizarre foods are relative, here are seven bizarre foods in Madrid that surprise our non-Spanish friends most often!
1. Callos a la Madrileña – Madrid style tripe stew
One of Madrid’s signature dishes, Madrid style tripe stew (known locally as callos), are a delicious winter meal that even the skeptics will find themselves adoring. Made with perfectly cooked chickpeas, cow tripe, chorizo and blood sausage, it might sound scary but we encourage you to give it a try. Don’t blame us when you’re asking for seconds!
Where to try tripe in Madrid:
- Visit Taberna la Bola for a sit down meal that includes this delicious dish
- For standing room only check out our friends at Bodegas Ricla
2. Oreja a la plancha – Grilled pig ear
When we tell our friends that pig ear is one of Madrid’s most traditional dishes, many people stare back in horror. “But that’s what we feed our dogs!” they exclaim. Well, those lucky dogs have been feasting on one of the city’s delicacies. Here in Madrid local bars chop up pig ears and grill them until they’re nice and crispy. They’re served with a side of spicy bravas sauce, and of course accompanied by a cold beer.
Where to try pig ear in Madrid:
- Our beloved Casa Toni (a stop on our tours!) is among the best places in the city center
- For a more modern version, try the delicious pig ear dumplings at StreetXO– 3 Michelin Star chef David Muñoz’s casual restaurant in the Corte Inglés food court
3. Caracoles - Snails
Although famous in many cities around the world, you won’t find many people more obsessed with good snails than a true Madrileño. The proof? The line out the door at the local snail bars every Sunday morning during the famous Rastro Flea Market!
Where to try snails in Madrid:
- The agreed upon best is called Los Caracoles (just go!)
4. Zarajos – Deep-fried braided lamb intestines
Perhaps the scariest of the foods on this list, these lamb intestines are cleaned and braided around wooden sticks, before being fried to crispy delight. When done right they taste crunch, gamey and delicious– when not, you’ll need an extra strong sangria!
Where to try lamb intestines in Madrid:
- You really can’t go wrong with our friends at Casa Toni!
5. Percebes – Goose neck barnacles
These delicious sea critters come from Galicia, where fishermen risk their lives to collect them. This explains the hefty price tag for a small plate. But once you’ve tried them with a refreshing Albariño wine and the right company, you’ll start to see what all the fuss is about.
Where to try barnacles in Madrid:
- Marisquería Perlora in the center of Madrid
6. Criadillas – Bull testicles
Head to any local market and you’ll find a busy casquería booth– the organ meat butcher is often where you’ll find a line on Saturday mornings. And squeezed between the sheep brains and pig hearts, you’ll find the squiggly oval shaped specimens that you’re too afraid to ask about. They’re the bull testes, and despite being widely available in the markets, we haven’t yet found a restaurant that has them on the menu. But if you’re really interested in trying them we have a connection (see below!).
Our Huertas Neighborhood Food and Market Tour visits the casquería booth at the Antón Martín Market, where you’ll get a full lesson in Spanish casquería!
Where to try bull testicles in Madrid:
- Tell them Madrid Food Tour sent you at Bar Omaira in the Antón Martín Market, and you’ll get the hook up!
7. Ortiguillas fritas – Fried sea anemone
They taste like a mix between a fried oyster and pureed broccoli, but there is something strangely addictive about a good sea anemone. Generally caught in Cadiz, these are tough to find in Madrid, but the places that source them serve them right.
Where to try sea anemone in Madrid:
- The most authentic version can be found at La Taberna Sanlúcar
- For a delicious croquette made with sea anemone check out Bar Lambuzo
We realize our list is missing plenty of other bizarre Spanish foods, but you’ve got to start somewhere! If you have any favorite bizarre foods in Madrid that we haven’t listed, just leave us a comment.