While Madrid may be on everyone’s radar for its world-class museums, beautiful green spaces and awe-inspiring architecture, there’s one main reason why the Spanish capital has won us over: the food!
We’re spoiled for choice here in Madrid when it comes to culinary goodness. Craving simple tapas at a no-frills, hole-in-the-wall bar? You’ll find one on practically every block. Would you rather expand your horizons with unique international food? We’ve got plenty of that, too. With so many incredible options, narrowing down the world’s best restaurants in Madrid was not an easy feat, but one we were more than happy to take on! No matter what you’re craving, we’re sure one of these fabulous places—listed in no particular order—will fit the bill.
Let’s start things off with a classic. At the ripe old age of 293 at the time of this writing, El Sobrino de Botín (commonly referred to simply as Botín) boasts the claim to fame of the world’s oldest restaurant. With nearly 300 years under their belt of perfecting each and every dish, it’s no wonder why they’re one of the best restaurants in Madrid! The rustic interior will transport you back in time and provides the perfect setting for enjoying home-cooked traditional food at its finest.
What to order: We’re huge fans of their cochinillo asado (roast suckling pig). The dish hails from nearby Segovia, but here in Madrid, no place does it better than Botín!
Not much has changed in the nearly 150 years that Taberna La Bola has been open—and trust us, that’s a good thing. As one of the best restaurants in Madrid, you’ll spot its bright red exterior from down the street—an inviting beacon of what’s to come. The same family has run the place since day one, and the current generation of owners (the sixth!) has contributed to its legacy as a place where anyone will feel at home. Come for the soul-warming traditional Spanish dishes; stay for the inviting atmosphere that will make you feel like you’re dining in the home of a lifelong friend.
What to order: Two words: cocido madrileño. Madrid’s iconic chickpea, meat and veggie stew can be found all over the city, but not all cocido is created equal. Here at La Bola, you’re sure to get an authentic version prepared the same way they’ve been making it for over a century.
Los Huevos de Lucio
“Fast food from the 17th century” is the name of the game at Los Huevos de Lucio, a standout on the bustling tapas haven that is Calle Cava Baja in La Latina. A small but lively spot that hearkens back to the no-frills taverns of days gone by, it’s more often than not packed with locals who push tables together and fill the intimate space with chatter in rapid-fire Spanish. The traditional locale has adapted wonderfully to the changes brought on by modern life in Madrid, but maintains its authentic, old-world charm that has made it a favorite for years.
What to order: We don’t make the rules—you can’t go to Los Huevos de Lucio without trying the specialty of the house, huevos rotos. This rustic dish consists of fried eggs piled on top of potatoes and sprinkled with plenty of chorizo or jamón.
Celso y Manolo
It almost sounds like the plot of a movie: a teenager from a small mining town in northern Spain comes to Madrid and finds a job in an old tavern, pulling himself up by his bootstraps and eventually taking over the business when the original owner retires. Now a young and hip bar, the place has breathed new life into the historic locale. It’s not a movie, though—that’s just how one of the world’s best restaurants in Madrid, Celso y Manolo, came to be. If you don’t believe us, just ask the Michelin Guide reviewers or the folks behind the prestigious La Luna de Metrópoli awards, which named them the best tapas bar in Madrid in 2014.
What to order: No matter what you get at Celso y Manolo, you’re guaranteed to enjoy a meal prepared with fresh, mostly organic ingredients that make eating healthy taste more delicious than ever. Our personal favorite example of this is their chuletón de tomate (beefsteak tomato salad), a bright and colorful dish that tastes so good you’ll forget you’re eating vegetables.
Sala de Despiece
Despite the current trend towards culinary modernity in Madrid as well as across the world, few places will transport you into the future quite like Sala de Despiece. A onetime butcher’s shop converted into a neo-industrial gastro space, the futuristic restaurant on culinary wonderland Calle de Ponzano bridges past and present by focusing mainly on meat products for many of their innovative menu items. The incredibly detailed menu itself even shows you exactly where the main ingredients of each dish were sourced, the preparation method, and additional ingredients, so you know exactly what you’re eating.
What to order: Another standout here is the seafood, so don’t pass up the excellent grilled red tuna. The stunning presentation will make it look almost too pretty to eat, but dig in—it will be love at first bite.
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Life is too short to speak one language and stay in one place. In 2015, this philosophy took her from familiar Ohio to sunny southern Spain. Usually drinking tinto de verano, reading Lorca, or attempting to dance flamenco (not all at once). Follow her blog, Viatic Couture, for more.