When traveling with kids, mealtimes are one of the most important yet most complicated parts of the day.
You might barely understand what everything is yourself, so just imagine how foreign all of this food must seem to a little one! Luckily, eating in Madrid with kids doesn’t have to be much of a hassle. With these tips, you’ll be able to enjoy meals in the Spanish capital just like any family of born-and-bred madrileños.
Take a food tour
Okay, so locals living in Madrid probably don’t have much need for a food tour. After all, they already know all about the best places to go! However, trying to distinguish the authentic gems from the tourist traps can be difficult for new visitors. Throw in a tired, hungry child and you’ve got even more of a challenge.
That’s why we created our Madrid for Kids Walking Tour with Activities & Snacks especially for families with younger kids. Along the way, kids will be enchanted as they listen to legends told by your expert local guide and participate in fun, interactive activities to learn about Madrid. Plus, you’ll also stop for some of the most popular Spanish snacks as you make your way through the city! Parents will get a primer in how to eat like a local and spot the genuine bars and restaurants among the tourist traps. It’s the perfect first step for eating in Madrid with kids!
Get the hang of Spanish mealtimes
Locals in Madrid eat quite a bit later than what your family might be used to. Lunch isn’t served until 2 p.m. at the earliest. If you show up somewhere at noon, you’ll find locals still finishing their second breakfast (more on that in a bit). And don’t expect anyone to start sitting down for dinner until at least 9 (or even later!). Keeping these in mind will make eating in Madrid with kids much easier as you plan your day and meals.
Embrace second breakfast and merienda
You might be wondering how locals aren’t starving every day when it finally comes time to eat lunch and dinner. The answer: second breakfast and merienda! The first is exactly what it sounds like. Around 10 or 11 a.m., madrileños start heading to cafes and bars to enjoy a midmorning coffee break. As far as food goes, you can’t go wrong with a tostada. Similar to toast but made on a homemade baguette, tostadas make a great choice because you can top them with just about anything. Stick with simple butter and jam, or go full Spanish and top yours with olive oil, fresh tomato and jamón!
Later, around 6 p.m., many locals will head back to their favorite cafe for a sweet pick-me-up. Known as merienda, this mid-afternoon snack is a way to relax and refuel that will hold you over until the late dinner. Take advantage of this time to snack on some well-deserved sweet treats. Churros and chocolate is always a merienda hit!
Go out for tapas and raciones
Everyone knows what tapas are—or at least they think they do. Tapas are simple small plates, many of which come free when you order a drink (but not always). If many people in a group want the same thing, they may opt to order a media ración (half portion, good for about two or three people) or a ración (full portion, good for four or five) rather than everyone ordering the same tapa. Raciones are a popular shared-plates style of eating in Madrid, so embrace the local custom!
What might not be so obvious is that tapas and raciones are great for eating in Madrid with kids. Tapas are small and inexpensive, and raciones are a great value as well. Even if your child doesn’t like the first thing they try, this style of eating allows for lots of variety. There’s sure to be a kid-friendly dish they’ll love!
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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.