This blog post was originally posted on January 14, 2014 and was updated on July 27, 2018.
Madrid is full of amazing restaurants boasting delicious cuisine from every corner of the globe! But what exactly are the typical foods in Madrid?
With more bars per capita than any other country in the EU, Spain is a treasure trove of possibilities when it comes to delicious food. In the capital city of Madrid, the sheer number of options can be a little overwhelming.
Madrid is a melting pot of typical food from every region of Spain. Andalusian bars boasting great gazpacho sit alongside Galician restaurants advertising heaping plates of pulpo a feira (Galician-style octopus). Don’t get too caught up in food from other regions, though! Madrid’s own typical food is well worth your time. No trip to the Spanish capital would be complete without tasting at least a few of these typical foods in Madrid.
1. Cocido Madrileño
As the weather gets cold, the smell of this simmering pork stew begins to waft through the streets of Madrid. The most common take on the traditional Spanish stew usually consists of a flavorful broth full of vegetables, chickpeas, chorizo sausage, and pork. The stew simmers for upwards of four hours, creating a blend of heavenly, robust flavors that make for the ideal cure to Madrid’s wintry weather.
The typical way to eat cocido madrileño is in two or three courses. Once the chickpeas, meats, and vegetables have been cooked, the broth is separated and used to make soup. This steaming soup becomes the first course. The rest of the flavorful ingredients are served as the main dish, often in two rounds. The chickpeas and veggies come first, followed by the stewed-to-perfection meat.
Insider’s Tip: Taberna La Bola is our favorite place for cocido in Madrid. This family-run spot have been making cocido in the center of Madrid since 1870 in their primarily woman-owned and managed restaurant.
2. Huevos Rotos
Traditional Spanish cuisine is very meat-and-potatoes. Nowhere is this fact more deliciously displayed than in a steaming plate of huevos rotos, which literally translates to “broken eggs.” This typical Madrid dish is a plate of freshly-fried potatoes, which are fried in Spanish olive oil and tossed with sea salt. The potatoes are topped with perfect over-easy eggs. Depending on where you go, you’ll either break the yolks with the crusty edge of a piece of bread or your server will break them, often at the table.
Insider’s Tip: Many restaurants add bites of chorizo or ham to the mix for a burst of color and flavor, but when this is dish served without meat it is a delicious vegetarian tapa in Madrid. You can find some of the best huevos rotos in the city at Taberna Los Huevos de Lucio, one of many great places to eat in the La Latina district.
3. Bocadillo de Calamares
No trip to Madrid is complete without tasting the city’s most famous sandwich: the bocadillo de calamares, or fried squid sandwich. Madrid’s central Plaza Mayor is the mecca for this simple, yet scrumptious sandwich. The most basic (and most traditional) bocadillo de calamares consists of crusty, fresh bread loaded with flour-coated, deep-fried rings of squid, and nothing else.
Some Spaniards top the two-ingredient creation with tomato and paprika puree or homemade garlic mayonnaise. For the full experience, make sure to wash your bocadillo down with a cold caña of beer. The many side streets around Madrid’s grand Plaza Mayor are home to some of the city’s most famous calamari sandwich bars.
4. Callos a la Madrileña
Callos is another one of the typical foods in Madrid during the winter. You’ll normal find this stew in a clay dish. It features strips of beef tripe (stomach), chunks of chorizo and slices of morcilla (blood sausage). The smoky, savory stew has been a popular cold-weather dish in Spain’s bars and taverns for hundreds of years. The first recipes for callos date back to the 16th century! The paprika usually tints this hearty stew red. You can find it in most bars and restaurants throughout the capital city during the winter months.
5. Churros con Chocolate
Churros are a staple of Madrid’s after-hours nightlife and a definite must-have for Madrid’s fiesta-goers during the wee hours. For non-nocturnal Madrileños, churros with a cup of steaming hot, thick chocolate are a common afternoon snack and are even occasionally eaten for breakfast!
The most famous place to get your hands on a plate-full of churros—or their thicker, richer cousin porras—is San Ginés, where madrileños have been devouring the sweet fried treat for more than 100 years. We also love the homemade porras and churros at Bar Chocolat—one of our food tour partners in the Huertas Neighborhood.
6. Oreja a la Plancha
When in Spain, eat as the Spaniards eat! And in this case, that includes pig ear. A popular dish among Spaniards, oreja is typically only for the boldest of foreign travelers. Oreja a la plancha, literally “pan-seared ear” is typically served as a ración, or large portion, and eaten with toothpicks. It is often sprinkled with salt or paprika and occasionally fresh-squeezed lemon.
Unlike other parts of Spain where oreja is almost always served by itself, in Madrid you can often find chunks of bacon or mushrooms mixed in with the dish.
7. Pincho de Tortilla
Tortilla, or Spanish omelet, is a staple of Spanish cuisine and one of the most typical foods in Madrid. Here in the capital city, the huge diversity of this simple dish is on prominent display. You can find every variety of tortilla de patatas. Some are runny piles of egg and potato that you have to scoop up with bread. Others are firm slices featuring everything from caramelized onions to mushrooms to sausage to peppers. Most bars in Madrid will serve a small square of tortilla with a toothpick as a tapa, but to fully enjoy this dish, a pincho (slightly larger slice) of tortilla is a must!
Insider’s Tip: There are a lot of great tortillas in town, but if we had to choose our favorite, it would be at the nondescript Bar Cerveriz (Plaza de San Miguel, 2), one of the stops on our Ultimate Spanish Cuisine Tour. This bar is hidden in plain sight right in front of the Mercado de San Miguel—but tourists are nowhere to be seen inside!
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As the daughter of a barbecue master and a pseudo-vegetarian, Amy’s culinary obsessions run deep. She spent time in Galicia before settling down in Madrid, where you’ll usually find her browsing the bottles of a local bodega or ogling the produce at the weekend farmer’s market.