Food lovers visiting Madrid this month are in luck. Whether you planned it this way or not, you’ve arrived just in time for Madrid’s annual Gastrofestival, the biggest food event in the city. In collaboration with Madrid Fusión, the city’s prestigious international gastronomy summit (which Madrid Food Tour will be covering this year!), Gastrofestival presents the opportunity to get to know Spain’s gastronomy through its restaurants, cafés, bars, shops, museums, theater, music, and books. If you are planning on coming to Madrid to enjoy the festivities it would be best to book early, as people from all around the world are flying in daily for their Spain holidays. It can all be a little overwhelming (and the official website leaves a lot to be desired) so we have come up with a little Gastrofestival guide with our recommendations for enjoying the festivities!
Gastrofestival at a Glimpse
You can also find a very in-depth guide here (in Spanish).
Dates: January 19th to February 3 (2013)
Tapas & Beer Route at 3€
I’m not always a fan of the city’s fixed price tapas routes, but this one sounds quite nice. For 3€ you get a specific tapa and a small bottle of Mahou beer at participating establishments. There are 70 restaurants located all over the city, so you would be best off downloading one of the maps on Mahou’s website.
De Vinos is offering a tartar de atún (tuna tartar).
Address: Calle Rosario Pino, 6
Los Galayos is making trufón de morcilla con manzana con almendra tostada (Blood sausage with apple and toasted almonds)
Address: Calle Botoneras, 5
Pan de Lujo offers pimientos de Guernika en tempura con salsa Romesco (Guernika peppers in tempura with Romesco sauce).
Address: Calle Jorje Juan, 20
Tapas & Wine Route at 6€
This is a similar route with slightly more upscale tapas and a glass of Rioja wine instead of beer. It isn’t exactly a deal, but is guaranteed to be delicious!
Txirimiri serves up their classic pintxo de tortilla or croqueta de boletus, trufa, y jamón (either their Spanish omelette (tortilla) or a croquette with mushrooms, truffles, and cured ham).
Special Fixed Price Menus
Gastrofestival has fixed price menus at three levels. The first offers menus at 25€, definitely a deal at some of these places. The next level is 40€, also an interesting price considering some of the restaurants. But the most exciting (and expensive) option are the 75€ menus. This is called “Dining with the Stars by American Express” and takes a famous international chef (often with Michelin stars) who is in town for Madrid Fusion, throws them into a top Madrid kitchen and lets them offer the menu of their choice. In other words, you can go to a famous foreign chef’s restaurant without having to leave the country to do so.
Where we’d like to be:
Restaurante la Gastro-Croquetería de Chema
Address: Calle Segovia, 17
Reserve: (0034) 913 034 090
Address: Calle Villalar, 4
Reserve: (0034) 914 316 997
Chef Jorge Rausch of Restaurante Criterion in Bogotá, Colombia
Cooking at: Restaurante Zalacaín
Address: Calle Álvarez de Baena, 4
Reserve: (0034) 915 614 840
Gastrofestival has suggested various gastronomic routes throughout the city. However, these routes simply make suggestions of certain shops, cafés, or bakeries and do not mention if they are offering anything special for the festival. Nonetheless, there are some wonderful places on each route.
Here are our favorites:
On the “Sweet Tooth Route” (La Ruta Golosa)
Mama Framboise is a lovely French bakery
Address: Calle Fernando VI, 23
Xocolhátl has to die for truffles (try the nutmeg one)
Address: Calle General Pardiñas, 74
On the Colombian Coffee Route (La Ruta del Café de Colombia)
La Esquina del Café
Address: Calle de Huertas, 70
If you are looking for a more in-depth guided route, sign up for one of our tours. They are the perfect compliment to Gastrofestival! For an introduction to Spanish gastronomy and an insider’s look at the San Miguel Market, try the Signature Tour. For a unique look at some of the city’s best tapas bars and a fascinating look at Madrid’s history, sign up for Tapas & History. If you’d like something a bit more low-key without too much walking (but equally delicious) try Market & Dinner.
Cocktail culture in Madrid has exploded over the past few years and bartenders at cocktail bars all over the city have prepared something special for the festival. Here’s what we’ll be drinking:
Ave Fénix prepares a simple strawberry daquiri– yum!
Address: Calle Manuela Malasaña, 20
In addition to these special tapas and menus, Gastrofestival also features specialty food shops and cooking schools.
What I love about the festival is how it shows the importance of food in popular culture as well as throughout history. Gastrofestival presents gastronomy in paintings throughout the city’s many museums, gastronomy in photography, in cinema, in music, in literature, and in theater.
Here are five of the cultural events associated with Gastrofestival that have caught our eye:
- For the first time in history they are opening the kitchens at the Royal Palace! This is an incredible opportunity and one you’ll have to sign up for in advance at the Plaza Mayor tourism office.
- Centro Sefarad Israel shows off a photographic exhibition of José María Escudero Ramos’ work on Sepharad wine.
- Artistic Banquets at the Prado Museum are guided tours looking at paintings that reflect the importance of food in art.
- Zanzíbar offers a concert and 3 bottles of Mahou beer for 8€.
- See a gastronomy-themed play at the Microteatro por Dinero.
One of the most interesting elements of the festival this year is its attention to fashion. Some of the city’s leading designers including Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada, Adolfo Domínguez, and Custo Barcelona are participating and will decorate their boutiques with culinary motifs. Elle Magazine also wanted to get involved and chose to feature thirty Madrid restaurants that “pay as much attention to their design as their menu”. These fixed price menus cost around 30€ per person and are sure to please both the eye and the palate.
We’d like to try:
Asiana Next Door
Address: Calle Travesía de San Mateo, 4
Reserve: (0034) 913 104 020
The official guide (link above, in Spanish) includes a list of shops and restaurants that offer healthy food. What this means, exactly, is yet to be determined…
Lets not forget about the wine here! It wouldn’t be Spanish gastronomy without it. Unfortunately, this section is also very vague, simply making mention of some restaurants and cooking schools where you could sign up for a tasting.
Lavinia, Spain’s biggest wine store!
Address: Calle José Ortega y Gasset, 16
Well, that is this year’s Gastrofestival in a nutshell. We are very excited for some of the fixed price menus, the tapas route also sounds good, and we will definitely be checking out some of the exhibitions at the city’s museums (check individual websites for more information).
Let us know if we are missing anything in this Gastrofestival Guide!
What will you be exploring at Gastrofestival?
Don’t forget to check out our tours for an insider’s look at Madrid’s gastronomy.