This blog post was originally posted on January 14, 2014 and was updated on March 17, 2017.
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. Madrid’s 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.
Cocido Madrileño is usually eaten 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.
Interested in trying cocido Madrileño? Join us on our Ultimate Spanish Cuisine Tour! We’ll take you behind the scenes at our favorite little cocido spot so you can see how they make this delicious stew—and taste it!
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 this dish served without the meat it is a delicious vegetarian tapa in Madrid. You can find some of the best huevos rotos in the city at Casa 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.
Some Spaniards top the two-ingredient creation with tomato and paprika puree or homemade garlic mayonnaise. It is almost always washed down with a caña of beer and a side of olives. The many side streets around Madrid’s grand Plaza Mayor are home to some of the city’s most famous calamari sandwich bars.
Try It! Taste our favorite bocadillo de calamares on our daytime Madrid food tour!
4. Callos a la Madrileña
Callos is another one of the typical foods in Madrid during the winter. This stew-like dish is traditionally served in clay dishes. It features strips of beef tripe (stomach), chunks of chorizo and slices of morcilla (blood sausage). The smokey, 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 hearty stew is usually tinted red from the paprika. 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 Gines, where Madrileños have been devouring the sweet fried treat for more than 100 years. We also love the homemade porras and churros at Bar Chocolate—one of the stops on our Hidden Madrid Food & Market Adventure!
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 Omelette, 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!
Looking for the typical Madrid experience that goes beyond food? Join our Behind-the-Scenes Botin Lunch & Prado Museum Tour! This exclusive small-group tour will show you the ins and outs of two essential Madrid institutions: the Prado Museum and Botin, the oldest restaurant in the world!
The tour starts with a guided visit at the Prado where you skip the line and get straight to learning about 20 of the museum’s most important works with our expert guide. After a traditional aperitif at a century-old tavern, the group will head to the celebrated Botin restaurant, where the likes of Goya and Hemingway have dined before you. Following a private tour of the establishment and kitchens, you’ll enjoy the dish that has been the house specialty for hundreds of years.
For a fresh take on two icons of Madrid, look no further than our Behind-the-Scenes Botin Lunch & Prado Museum Tour. You’re sure to see the city with new eyes.