The Spanish capital’s reputation for both food and fiestas serves up one final espectáculo before saying adiós to 2019.
Whether you’re a visitor, an expat, or a local, everyone is invited to Madrid’s New Year’s celebrations. Thousands gather in Puerta del Sol at the base of the Correos building, eagerly watching its clock countdown to midnight, eating good-luck grapes, and popping bottles of cava.
Traditionally, New Year’s Eve dictates a fanciful dinner at home—including lamb or seafood dishes—before heading out to the festivities. The following day is spent cozy in one’s home, recuperating from the party and eating lentil and chorizo stew. But what if you choose to dine out? Which restaurants are open and what can you expect? Read on for our top dining picks to ring in the new year in Spain’s capital.
Nochevieja (New Year’s Eve) in Madrid
Be advised that most restaurants and shops will close by 7 p.m. on December 31. For that reason, we recommended saving your tapas crawl for another night of the year. Instead, pick just one restaurant, offering a fixed-priced menu, and make a reservation as soon as possible.
Certain venues serve dinner only, close by 11 p.m., and provide enough time to make your way to the Puerta del Sol. Others assume the role of party planner and offer the whole package: dinner, live music, the countdown grapes and cava at midnight. Whichever you choose, expect to pay a 50 percent deposit upon reservation to guarantee your place.
Madrid has mastered the art of gourmet food halls and Platea, near Plaza de Colón, is its most ostentatious example. Every year, it throws an epic, multi-level New Year’s Eve party. This is a full-package event, including a live show after midnight.
You have three options, depending on your budget and appetite for Michelin stars. Choose the bottom floor (Patio), and you’ll be closest to the main stage. Move up a level (Foso) for a better view and proximity to the dance floor. The top level (Canalla Bistro) is undoubtedly the most coveted space, offering a special menu designed by Platea’s two-Michelin-star chef, Ricard Camarena.
Price: €170–€340 per person
Taberna El Sur de Huertas
This beloved corner tavern of Lavapiés hosts a delicious and affordable New Year’s Eve dinner. The original location was sold out a month in advance, so we recommend heading up the street to its newest restaurant.
This year’s menu includes three options each for appetizers and entrées, including jamón, prawns, salad, steak, salmon and salt cod. Dessert is a homemade carrot cake with ice cream and a glass of cava, of course.
Reservations at this homey bar are less official: give them a call at +34 919 20 56 86 or send a message to [email protected]. The owner will send you a PDF of the menu and confirm your place.
Price: €55 per person
Ana la Santa
Like Taberna El Sur de Huertas, this restaurant is situated in one of Madrid’s prettiest neighborhoods. If you love the Literary Quarter as much as we do, and boast a slightly higher budget for dinner, then book a table at Ana la Santa.
Tucked inside the ME Madrid Reina Victoria Hotel (famous for its rooftop bar) is a sophisticated space carved out by Catalan group En Compañía. Upon entering, you’ll receive a welcome cocktail before diving into a five-star menu.
This year’s gala dinner includes mango and seafood ceviche, truffle croquettes, octopus, roasted turbot, beef tenderloin with foie gras, and a Saint Honoré tartlet with salted caramel ice cream. For wine, choose between a special edition Rioja or a fruity albariño from Rias Baixas.
Price: €160 per person
Cambridge Soho Club
A favorite amongst the English-speaking expat crowd, the Cambridge Soho Club is known for its weekly social mixers and dances. The upscale British lounge features stellar views of Plaza de España and deep velvet sofas (perfect for long-winded conversations).
What many don’t know is that the Cambridge Social Club also hosts a stellar New Year’s Eve dinner. It follows tradition, serving both lamb and seafood, plus a bottle of wine or cava per table.
Price: €85 per person
Led by chef Juan Antonio Medina, A’Barra earned its Michelin star in 2017. And its New Year’s Eve feast is deserving of that accolade.
Designed by Juan Antonio himself, this year’s dinner includes pigeon, caviar, brioche, artichokes, pumpkin-stuffed pasta with sage, lobster, sea bass, San Marcos cake (a traditional dessert from Castilla y León) and all the wine and champagne you can drink.
Price: €240 per person
The Westin Palace
If budget isn’t a factor, then opt for the most extravagant party of them all. Around the corner from the Fuente de Neptuno, you’ll find one of Madrid’s most luxurious hotels. Every year the Westin Palace hosts the most decorated gala—by Michelin stars, that is—in the city.
Chef Kiko Moya from Alicante has designed a gastronomic journey to deliver you into 2020 both dazzled and extremely full! Dinner seating starts at 9 p.m. and the party runs until a staggering 5 a.m. It includes a six-course banquet dinner (with no less than three appetizers), an open bar, cotillón in the 1912 Bar, live orchestra, and a set by internationally renowned DJ Fernando Martínez Teruel to finish off the night.
Price: €650 per person
New Year’s Day in Madrid
Feliz año nuevo! After a night of partying, you’ll likely want to sleep in and enjoy a slow start to the new year.
Traditionally, madrileños spend the day at home with loved ones and enjoy a lentil and chorizo stew, a steaming bowl of which is said to bring good luck, prosperity, and a cure to your hangover! Additionally, a brisk walk in the Parque Buen Retiro will fill your lungs with crisp January air and soothe a lingering headache. But if that’s too much effort, then we recommend heading directly to brunch and ordering a hair of the dog!
If you’re craving a hearty stew, there is no better place to eat it than Madrid. (Though Asturian fabada—a northern bean stew—is giving us a run for our money).
The capital’s official dish, cocido madrileño, is made by packing garbanzo beans, chicken thigh, ham hock, chorizo and pork fat into a clay vessel. It’s topped off with homemade broth—made from Madrid’s famous drinking water—before simmering over hot coals for hours. It’s the ultimate cozy food, perfect for cold weather. Granted, it’s not the traditional lentil and chorizo stew, but it’s a near perfect substitute if you’re visiting Madrid and crave a local alternative.
La Bola is the most famous of all cocido-serving restaurants—we love telling their story on our Ultimate Spanish Cuisine Tour. To our delight, they are open on New Year’s Day, and offer two lunch seatings.
Price: €21.50 per person (cocido only)
The five-star Gran Meliá hotel chain has multiple locations in Madrid, and four of them offer a spectacular New Year’s Day lunch. Each offers a different set menu for €55 per person, but our vote goes to Hotel Meliá Castilla for lunch at L’Albufera restaurant. This year, it offers a three-course lunch with a variety of rice dishes to share.
Again, not the traditional lentil and chorizo stew, but paella valenciana (Valencian-style rice), arroz a banda (Alicante-style rice cooked in fish stock), or arroz de la huerta (a vegetarian rice) are excellent to soak up New Year’s Eve’s festivities and settle your stomach.
Price: €55 per person
As a wild-card, we’re throwing in a non-Spanish option for Western-style brunch lovers. Carmencita Bar is a local favorite in Malasaña for good reason. It offers brunch plates—think eggs Benedict, smoked salmon, avocado, homefries and huevos rancheros—for less than €13 each. Their portions are generous, and we love their pitchers of fresh-squeezed mimosas for just €8. Given that Carmencita is ultra-tiny and adored by Madrid’s hipsters, reservations are definitely recommended!
Price: €55 per personBring the flavors of Spain into your home this holiday season with our new digital cookbook, Spanish Feasts from the Devour Tours Kitchen. (It makes a great gift, too!)
Prior to selling everything and moving to Spain, Claire served in the Canadian Army. She is a nutritionist (and foodie), armed with a degree in literature, conquering Madrid one restaurant at a time. She has worked in multiple restaurants and a culinary school, but now helps others fall in love with her adopted city through Devour Tours.