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

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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!

Find Lauren on the web

Blog, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

Elizabeth Harding- PR Intern

Liz Picture

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.

Find Liz on the web!

Blog, FacebookTwitter

Kelly Maslow- Tour Guide

Kely picture

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

Debbie pic

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…

Find Debbie on the web!

Blog 

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

6 Reasons to Fall for Fall in Madrid

Anyone who says that Madrid doesn’t have a proper fall season is mistaken.

Fall in Madrid is beautiful, with some of the best weather of the year. The city comes to life mid-September, as everyone is back from their summer holidays and over the stress from going back to work! Suddenly, there are too many events to count; new expositions and restaurant openings, back to school sales and a buzzing city that’s alive with energy.

pretty views in Madrid

From the foodie’s point of view, fall means that stews and braised meats are back on the menu, churros and chocolate are once again calling your name, and the local markets have a whole new array of delicious seasonal goodies on sale.

Here are some of the many reasons we love fall in Madrid!

1. The Weather

The average temperature in October is around 21°C (70°F). In other words, perfect. Combined with Madrid’s always blue sky and bright sunshine, you’ll soon see why it’s so wonderful!

crystal palace madrid

Madrid’s irresistible blue skies in Retiro Park.

2. The Fall Cuisine

Braised beef cheek, stewed bull tail, Cocido Madrileño (Madrid’s signature stew), churros and chocolate… the rich foods that we start to crave come fall are delicious and abundant in Madrid’s best bars and restaurants.

Some of our tour partners serve fantastic renditions of our fall favorites! Come meet (and eat) with us and don’t miss:

Cocido Picture

Cocido Madrileño cooking at Taberna la Bola.

3. The Market Fresh Food

Fall is one of the best seasons for shopping at Madrid’s local markets. Here are some autumn foods in Madrid:

  • Cherimoyas (custard apples)
  • Grapes
  • Spinach/Chard/Cabbage
  • Chestnuts
  • Persimmon
  • Pomegranate
  • Quince
  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Mushrooms
  • Olives/olive oil
  • Pumpkins
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Artichokes
  • Eggplant
  • Cauliflower
  • Mandarin oranges
Try market fresh olives on our tours!

Try market fresh olives on our tours!

4. Gorgeous Madrid Parks

Madrid’s parks are beautiful, especially in fall. Pack a picnic on a sunny afternoon and take in the fall foliage– it’s a must!

retiro what to do in madrid

5. The Drinks

This may seem like a food focused list, but with good reason– Madrid is delicious! Fall is also when people stop frequenting the summer terraces and make their way back into their beloved bars. Some spots to knock one back:

  • Vermouth at Dónde Sánchez in Mercado Antón Martín, while snacking on delicious delicacies from Paz’s gourmet shop.
  • Sweet wine at La Casa del Abuelo where you can take in the atmosphere at a 100 year old tavern.
  • Cocktails at Del Diego, where Fernando del Diego himself will most likely mix your drink.
  • Cava at Taberna la Concha, where their rosé cava is a delicious change from the usual.
  • A beer at Los Gatos Calle Jesús, famous for serving Mahou, Madrid’s most famous beer.
  • A craft brew at Mercado San Fernando, where La Buena Pinta serves a great selection.
vermouth in madrid

Delicious vermouth in Madrid!

6. Events, events, events!

Fall in Madrid is the time that everyone is starting something new. You can sign up for language lessons, try dance classes, attend lectures, and see expositions. To check what’s coming up:

Madrid always has some sort of performance happening!

Madrid always has some sort of performance happening!

These are only some of the many reasons fall in Madrid is so wonderful. Whether you are here for a couple of days, or have lived here all your life, there is something for everyone (and if you’re with us, it probably involves food!).

What’s your favorite fall activity in Madrid?

You can eat with Madrid Food Tour this fall and try some of the delicious foods mentioned above. It’s our favorite time of year– come visit us!

Picture of Retiro Park by Julia Sponseller

7 Bizarre Foods You Can Find in Madrid

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!

Callos, traditional foods in Madrid

Where to try tripe in Madrid:

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.

pig ear typical food in Madrid

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!

snails in Madrid

Where to try snails in Madrid:

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.

bizarre foods in Madrid

Where to try barnacles in 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.

bizarre foods in Madrid

Where to try sea anemone in Madrid:

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.

5 Epic Views in Madrid

pretty views in Madrid

Wondering what to see in Madrid?

There’s no Eiffel Tower, no Statue of Liberty, no Arab palace or Catholic church-cum-mosque. Sounds pretty boring, right? Wrong! The best thing about Madrid is that you don’t have a long checklist of sights and monuments to see. Not that there isn’t plenty to see/do in Spain’s capital city– there is enough going on here to last you weeks, months or even years! But you won’t feel that pressure upon your return, as people judge you ask you, “Didn’t you see X?” or “What a shame– I can’t believe you didn’t climb Y!”.

Yet despite the fact that Madrid doesn’t have some of these instantly recognizable views, our city is still pretty amazing and each year famous photographers visit to photograph its many corners.

Here are five of our favorite views in Madrid, though there are many more so you’ll have to stick around for our part two!

1. Gran Vía from Above

Although Madrid has it’s lovely Calle Mayor (Main Street), the action really happens along the busy Gran Vía. To take in the view we recommend visiting the top floor of the Callao Corte Inglés, where the Gourmet Experience offers an unobstructed look at all of the action.

best views in Madrid

2. A look at Spain’s most important stadium, Santiago Bernabéu

For football fans it is an absolute must. The Santiago Bernabéu Stadium is one of the world’s most important, and with a capacity for over 81,000 fans, one of the world’s biggest too!

best views in Madrid

3. Templo de Debod– at sunset!

The fact that there is a legitimate Egyptian temple in Madrid seems strange enough, then once you finally make the trek out past the Royal Palace to see it, it’s actually quite small and (dare I say) disappointing. Unless you go at sunset. The dreamy pink and orange sunset seen from this Egyptian temple in the center of Madrid is unlike any other in the city.

view of templo de debod at sunset

4. Madrid’s Crystal Palace in Retiro Park

A walk through Madrid’s gorgeous Retiro Park should be on everyone’s list anyway, but make sure not to leave without seeking out the slightly hidden Palacio de Cristal– a gorgeous glass palace that shimmers in the sunlight.

crystal palace madrid

5. Madrid from Above

Another thing you can’t miss when visiting Madrid (a city with 300+ days of bright blue skies and sunshine per year!) is hanging out on a rooftop. Whether you climb to the top of the town hall (Palacio de Comunicaciones, pictured) or the rooftop bar and restaurant at the Circulo de Bellas Artes, you’ll be sure to observe Madrid in a whole new way.

best views in Madrid

Now you have our top five views in Madrid– any you’d add for next time?

Photos by: Jesus Solana (Gran Vía), kozumel (stadium), Harshil Shah (Templo de Debod), Lauren Aloise (crystal palace), and Miguel Diaz (Madrid view from town hall). 

 If these views sound great, but all you really want is to eat and drink your way around the city, you’re in good company! Join us for a historic tapas tour in Madrid to whet your appetite for all the city has to offer!

My Madrid – Josh of Spain for Pleasure

Welcome back 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 Josh, who moved to Spain at the tender age of 23 and now calls Granada home. It is here where he has developed an ever-growing appetite for Spanish food, culture, lifestyle and Spanish as a language. You can follow his adventures, misadventures and everyday expat musings at spainforpleasure.com or his part-time travel endeavors at cheekyjaunt.com.

josh spain for pleasure

Hi Josh! So, tell us about your experience with Madrid.

I’ve never lived in Madrid. I’ve only visited twice and both of those occasions were far too short-lived. I spent most of my time wandering the colorful Lavapies bario and consuming vast quantities of curry-based tapas and beer buckets– also in Lavapies.

Well that doesn’t sound half bad! How was your first impression?

Unfortunately it was raining the first time I visited, which sort of put a dampener on things. However, I always think a bit of rain makes for a true test of a city’s character; if you still enjoy yourself despite being soaked to the bone then you know you’re on to a winner. I enjoyed myself enough to go back several months later when, thankfully, it was no longer raining.

madrid palacio real

Though we love Madrid rain or shine, the sun always brings out the best of the city!

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

Visiting El Bernabeu. Even if you’re not a football fan or you prefer Barca to Real Madrid, it is worth seeing, even just for the stadium tour. I am yet to go to a game, but I am told that the atmosphere is incomparable to that of English football matches. El clásico or the Atlético Madrid derby is the dream fixture for every Spanish football fan.

Do you have a favorite Madrid experience?

My favorite and most memorable experience– on each of those two occasions I have visited –is simply ambling around the Mercado de San Miguel– an indoor food market in the city centre. Since I have lived in Spain I have become something of an olive obsessive, and I have never tasted better than at the San Miguel market. They were enormous and stuffed or skewered with all sorts of other savory flavors, from jamón serrano to creamy Izbores goat’s milk cheese. All of my favorite experiences are usually to do with food.

San Miguel Market

Fruits and vegetables on display at the San Miguel Market.

We love the Mercado de San Miguel, too! In fact, that olive booth is a stop on our Ultimate Spanish Cuisine Tour!

Now, how about your favorite Madrid meal?

Menu del día. Paella for starter, lomo/pescado a la plancha for mains and either a lemony yogurt or fruit salad for dessert.

What would be your ideal night out in Madrid?

One ideally planned by a local, and a local who you can trust. That first experience in Madrid was slightly blemished by the hasty and regrettable decision to sign up for an organized bar crawl. As tourists with no friends in Madrid (at the time) we really had no clue about where to go– and this was before I used blog posts as a reference for EVERYTHING – so the idea was a last resort. Huge mistake. We were led to the crappiest, showiest bars, given the most vile shots to drink (included in the €10 sign-up fee) and then made to wait for anyone who had paid €10 extra for a free bar tab whilst our ears were ruthlessly humped by the most tedious Spanish chart music imaginable. And it was raining outside (which wasn’t there fault but I blamed it on them anyway). So yeah, hook up with a blogger or open group on CouchSurfing and let them take you out…

Favorite day trip from Madrid?

So many options here. If I had to choose, which clearly I do, I’d go for Segovia. On a nice day, there aren’t many other better sights in Spain. The ancient Roman aqueduct is a vast, imposing example of architectural brilliance, and the food, at least when I went two years ago, is to die for. There I go again with the food, which, to be completely honest, is great everywhere in Spain.

Words of wisdom! Thanks so much, Josh! Let us know next time you’re in Madrid and we will set you up to redeem your rough first night out. With the right guidance, it’s almost impossible to have a bad time in Madrid! 

Eating in San Sebastian

best pintxo bars in San Sebastian

San Sebastian is one of Spain’s most popular food destinations, known for its wide variety of pintxos and Michelin Star dining. From cheap local eats to the finest of fine dining, this small seaside city truly offers a bit of everything. We can’t claim to be experts on eating in San Sebastian (we’re working on it with frequent visits, however!) but here are some of our tips, along with recommendations from our fellow food blogging friends!

Pintxo Bars in San Sebastian

For those unfamiliar with this strange word, all you need to know is that pinxtos are a food lover’s dream come true. Similar to tapas (small portions of food), pintxos are often (but not always) spiked with a toothpick and served atop bread. Displayed on top of the bar, it is common practice to take a plate and help yourself, and later tell the bartender how much you’ve eaten.

Bar Haizea: When a place is said to be the favorite of San Sebastian legend, Juan Mari Arzak, you go there. A humble pintxo bar, the explosion of flavors is almost unexpected. Order the foie gras!

Bar haizea foie gras

Bar Azkena: Crammed between market stands in the modern food market at La Bretxa mall, this tiny place has about five pintxos on display. Don’t let the lack of selection turn you off, as the food is gorgeous, prices are low, and the flavors are spot on.

La Viña: While their pintxos are likely delicious, La Vina is known among sweet lovers for having the best cheesecake in San Sebastian. Squeeze into the corner of one of their wooden tables, and order a slice or two of their delicious, light and fluffy version.

cheesecake la vina san sebastian

For a Famous Basque T-Bone (Txuleta)

Casa Urola: Small and cozy yet at the same time refined, this restaurant makes you feel loved as you walk up the stairs to the intimate dining room. Order the bloody T-Bone for two, and share the green beans with hake as a starter. Save room for desserts, as they’re some of the best in town!

best txuleta san sebastian

Txuleta: One of the city’s most popular steak restaurants. Make sure to reserve in advance as its key location in the old town makes it tough to score a table in its rustic dining room.

Food Bloggers’ Favorites

A Fuego Negro: The Inquisitive Couple’s pick for ” the most innovative pintxos bar in Donostia”.

Borda Berri: Eat Your World recommends this popular bar for their cod tempura and foie gras on toast.

Casa Gandarias: For a mix of classic and creative, this is where you’ll find Foodie International who calls it her “favorite pintxo bar on the strip”.

Bar Goiz Argi: The Boy Who Ate The World recommends the shrimp skewers and the smoked salmon with anchovies at this top rated San Sebastian pintxos bar.

La Cuchara de San Telmo: On nearly every blogger’s “must” list, but the picture of their foie gras on Pig Pig’s Corner makes our mouths water!

Bar Nestor: And if you want to try the most classic of Spanish dishes (done right) take Marti Kilpatrick’s tip for AFAR and line up for Bar Nestor, the city’s most famous place for tortilla de patatas (Spanish potato omelet).

We certainly hope to be eating in San Sebastian again very soon, to be able to try all of these recommendations and more! If you stumble upon a must-visit pintxos bar in San Sebastian while there, please leave us a comment and we’ll add it to the list!

My Madrid – Chelsea of Andalucía Bound

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 Chelsea of the Spain blog Andalucía Bound

chelsea andalucia bound

The lovely Chelsea!

Hi Chelsea! So, tell us, what is your experience with Madrid? 

I’ve been to Madrid three different times as a tourist in both winter and summer, and a bunch of times to catch flights. Most of those times I met up with people I knew there, so part of my time was spent with them and part of my time was spent wandering alone. Once I went with my best friends for a few days before heading to Amsterdam.

How was your first impression of the city?

My first impression was great! It was Christmastime so all of the beautiful lights were hung and it felt really magical. I loved how easy it was to navigate the metro, and I also liked that I knew I’d be back in a couple of weeks so I didn’t feel pressure to see and do everything. I was really able to relax and enjoy the beautiful architecture and just absorb the feeling of Madrid. I was surprised buy how clean and quiet it was compared to NYC and I really liked that.

How to Celebrate New Year's Eve in Madrid

Beautiful Madrid at Christmas time

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

Every time I’m in Madrid I make sure to eat somewhere that has international food, even if that just means Wok to Walk. Since I’ve been living in small towns in southern Spain for the past three years, international cuisine is really hard to come by! Next time I go, I’m on the hunt for a good Mexican place.

Do you have a favorite Madrid experience?

My favorite Madrid experience was probably two summers ago when I was there with my best friend and the morning after a late night we grabbed some sandwiches and took a nap in El Retiro park. It was so sunny and beautiful and it felt great to be in a big green space, something I didn’t have in my little town.

Parque Retiro

Everyday is a good day for a stroll in Retiro

Name your favorite Madrid meal.

The best meal I had in Madrid was probably this pad thai that I ordered at a place called Phucket (can’t forget that name), I think near Atocha. I went with a friend of mine, and we each had wine, an entree and dessert for less than 20€ each which surprised me for being in Madrid.

What would be your ideal night out in Madrid?

An ideal night out for me would be something pretty chill. I’m not one for big discotecas- super expensive drinks/covers, flashing lights and throbbing techno make me cringe. I much prefer a more relaxed atmosphere, enjoying some drinks outside maybe, being able to talk, but in a neighborhood with other bars around so we could bar hop if we wanted and maybe end up at a fun place with some dancing.

Favorite day trip from Madrid?

As for my favorite day trip from Madrid, I couldn’t say as I’ve never been there long enough to be able to take a day trip. I’d really like to visit Toledo though. I’m hoping to move to Madrid next year actually, so I’m looking forward to day tripping from there!

Thanks so much for giving us your perspective, Chelsea! Next time you’re in town, you’ll have to hop on one of our Food Tours so we can return the favor!