Part of living like a local is eating like a local, but that’s not always possible for every meal on your trip.
Maybe you’re on a tight schedule, maybe it’s jet lag, or maybe you just haven’t gotten used to Spain’s unique mealtimes yet. And that’s okay—eating lunch at 2 and dinner after 9 definitely takes some getting used to!
While you adjust, stop by one of these great places where you can eat early in Madrid.
Spain’s famously late mealtimes are a result of the country being in the geographically incorrect time zone. While originally in the same time zone as Portugal and the UK, Spain jumped ahead by an hour during the Second World War.
But here’s the thing—though the time on the clock changed, Spaniards kept eating at the same time of day. Most people who would have eaten lunch at 1 p.m. in the old time zone continued doing so, but now the clocks read 2 p.m.
We’ve kept this habit for the past 80 years or so, and most authentic Spanish restaurants open “late” by foreign standards as a result. But no worries—there are still a few great spots that open their doors a few hours before the rest, so you can eat early in Madrid without resorting to a tourist trap.
1. Casa Mingo
Enjoy the calm ambiance and rich flavors of Asturias in northern Spain—right here in Madrid!
Open since 1888, Casa Mingo is an authentic Asturian cider house—the only one in Madrid that produces its own cider in its own facilities. In addition to crisp, refreshing cider, they also serve simple, delicious homemade food, with their roast chicken being the house specialty. The kitchen at this local favorite is open nonstop from noon until 11 p.m.
Grab a table in the spacious dining room or out on the gorgeous terrace and you’ll quickly see why this is one of the best places to eat early in Madrid.
2. La Trainera
Craving seafood? Head straight to La Trainera.
Nestled in the heart of the ritzy Salamanca neighborhood, this restaurant is pleasantly surprising in its simplicity and hospitality. Its nautical decor will make you feel as if you’re dining along the coast rather than in landlocked Madrid. The seafood is always fresh and done to perfection, whether you’re craving American-style lobster, their house mussels or anything in between.
This is a great place to eat early in Madrid if you want to escape to the seaside without leaving the city! They are newly open continuously from 12:30–10 p.m. every day except Sunday.
3. Taberna Tirso de Molina
Don’t be fooled by the old-school decor in Taberna Tirso de Molina. The bar itself is actually quite new (in Madrid years—it’s been open for four decades!) but the uniquely vintage interior makes you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time.
They serve up traditional Spanish dishes, including a great menú del día, but the clientele is quite international—not unusual for multicultural Lavapiés. Portion sizes are generous, and their all-day kitchen means that it’s a great place to eat early in Madrid.
Try some of their incredibly tasty tostas (open-faced sandwiches piled high with goodies) and wash it down with some refreshing tinto de verano (what the locals prefer to sangria)!
4. Taberna Antonio Sanchez
For more than 230 years, Taberna Antonio Sanchez has been a reference for traditional madrileño cooking. Without a doubt, this is where to eat early in Madrid if you want to walk in the footsteps of the bullfighters, literary legends and more who have dined here over the decades. They open at 1 p.m. for lunch and 7 p.m. for dinner, making this spot a great option to eat early in Madrid.
Feast on any one of their excellent traditional specialties, from tortilla con callos (a combination of two of Madrid’s most emblematic foods), to slow-cooked bull tail stew or carrillera. And for dessert, be sure to try their famous torrijas!
5. Casa de Granada
Rooftop terrace dining may be all the rage in Madrid nowadays. That being said, Casa de Granada is ahead of its time, having served homemade meals on their stunning outdoor terrace for more than 30 years.
The restaurant is located on the sixth floor of a neighborhood building (you’ll have to ring the buzzer to get in) and once you arrive, you’ll be blown away by the stellar views, friendly service and unforgettable food. The cuisine takes inspiration from sunny Andalusia in the south of Spain—we especially love their tasty fried fish!
Want to eat early in Madrid at the oldest restaurant in the world? Botín is exactly what you’re after. This record-setting restaurant first opened its doors in 1725!
Since then, it’s played host to an impressive cast of characters—including Ernest Hemingway, who considered it one of his favorite restaurants. The same family has owned the restaurant since the early 20th century and has helped Botín earn its rightfully deserved place in Madrid’s history.
We’re big fans of the exquisite suckling pig, slow-roasted to perfection in the old wood-fired oven, but any of the traditional dishes you order here are sure to impress.
Note: Botín opens for lunch at 1 p.m., but we highly suggest making a reservation.
Eating Early in Madrid FAQs
Typically, lunch in Spain is served sometime between 2 and 3:30 p.m. and dinner from 9 to 10:30 p.m. On weekends, expect to eat even later!
Most madrileños have breakfast twice, especially on workdays! The first breakfast is often something light and quick eaten at home with coffee. Then, between 10 and 11 a.m., locals will take a mid-morning break to head to a cafe for “second breakfast,” often consisting of toast, a pastry, or a slice of potato omelet.
Update Notice: This post was originally published on April 11, 2018 and was updated with new text and photos on April 8, 2021.Want our insider’s guide to eating in Madrid? Just add your email address in the form below!
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.