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Where to Eat in Madrid: The Ultimate Guide

Be it traditional Sunday lunch with family, tapas crawls with friends, or hours spent at the markets picking up the freshest local produce, Madrid’s culture revolves heavily around food. If that sounds like the kind of lifestyle you can get behind, read on to discover where to eat in Madrid!

Garlic shrimp in a small clay dish.
A Madrid staple: sizzling hot garlic shrimp at La Casa del Abuelo!

In Madrid, there’s a dining establishment on practically on every corner, as well as lining the streets in between. Basically, it’s no wonder why deciding where to eat in Madrid can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming!

So we’ve done the hard work for you and narrowed down the can’t-miss eateries in Spain’s thriving capital. Whether you’re craving Madrid’s most typical foods at a rustic tavern, or a modern dining experience at an avant-garde restaurant, here’s where to find the perfect bite!

Where to Eat in Madrid: Types of Dining Establishments

Food Markets

There’s no better way to experience Spanish food culture than by spending time in a traditional market. It’s a unique and fun experience that provides a look at local life, and above all, a can’t-miss experience for Madrid-bound foodies. Most local cooks and chefs have a market they swear by for seafood, quality meats and cheeses and fresh produce, creating a huge demand for the best of the best.

Luckily, there are plenty of excellent food markets in Madrid where you can experience this integral part of Spanish culture for yourself. Undoubtedly the most famous is the Mercado de San Miguel, which has gotten a bit of a bad rap in recent years as a tourist trap. While there are still some great stalls here (La Hora del Vermut being one), it’s not exactly the most representative of a traditional Spanish market.

Instead, head out into Madrid’s residential neighborhoods if you’re looking to shop among the locals. Spots like Mercado de la Cebada in La Latina and Mercado Antón Martín in Huertas are full of top-quality products and even some great onsite dining establishments where you can grab a drink or a bite to eat after grocery shopping.

Vendor at a market stall smiling while serving customers.
Visiting the market gives you the chance to meet locals who are proudly carrying on a family tradition of selling fresh products.

Tapas Bars

Spanish food is typically very simple, often based on peasant food and designed to warm the soul. This way of still eating is still near and dear to madrileños. That means that the freshness and quality of ingredients make all the difference between the best options for where to eat in Madrid and the mediocre ones.

For the traditionalist, we recommend sticking to the fiercely castellano bars when it comes to tapas in Madrid. You’ll know the good spots when they’re filled with locals by 9:30 p.m. and you have to elbow your way to the bar.

Need a few recommendations to get you started? La Casa del Abuelo, the birthplace of Spain’s legendary garlic shrimp (gambas al ajillo), is a surefire winner. Another local favorite is Casa Toni, one of central Madrid’s few remaining rustic tapas bars.

And the great thing about Madrid is the fact that it’s easy to discover the best regional bites from all across Spain. Taberna Sanlúcar brings the flavors of Andalusia to the big city. For Basque pintxos and cider, Sagaretxe is a can’t-miss spot.

People passing shared plates around a table
Sharing rounds of raciones at Casa Toni.

Restaurants

Wondering where to eat in Madrid for a sit-down meal? You’ll want to keep an eye out for a restaurante.

Whereas tapas bars get packed in the evening, a restaurant is a great option for lunch in Madrid. Local workers often stop by their favorite nearby spot for a menú del día, or daily lunch special, at midday. A few of our go-to spots are Badila, Bar Selva, and Casa Macareno.

In general, restaurants in Madrid are where to go if you’re craving something heartier than tapas. Many restaurants specialize in a handful of specific traditional dishes: from arrocerías serving up the best paella in Madrid to family-run spots like La Bola that are known for their cocido madrileño. And despite Madrid being as landlocked as a city can possibly get, there are plenty of excellent seafood restaurants here, too!

Plate of cocido madrileño: blood sausage, chickpeas, cabbage, pork, potatoes
Be sure to come hungry if you’re craving cocido!

Looking for something a bit different? While the Basque Country or Catalonia might be more famous for their innovative cuisine, Madrid is catching up. New chefs are making waves as they bring modern and exciting new dishes to the city.

Renowned Spanish chef David Muñoz is one of them. His restaurant Diverxo, one of Madrid’s most exclusive Michelin-starred eateries, is always busy and very upscale. But a multi-course meal here is well worth the wait and the price for any foodie.

Looking for a modern twist on Spanish tradition? Head to 80 Grados, a fun and modern spot serving up delicious small plates for insanely affordable prices. If it’s fusion you’re after, try Habanera, a posh spot that offers a delightful combination of Caribbean and Mediterranean tastes. They also have an extensive wine, sherry and cocktail list!

Insider’s Tip: Visit David Muñoz’s food court stall StreetXO at El Corte Inglés Serrano to try incredible and creative dishes from the famous chef at a fraction of the price.

Modern presentation of fried calamari rings and small pieces of bread on a plate garnished with sauces
A modern, Asian-style take on Madrid’s classic bocadillo de calamares at StreetXO. Photo credit: Aroca_Antonio_Cainite62

Cafés, Bakeries, & Pastry Shops

Whether you’re looking to have breakfast before you head out sightseeing or just an extra cup of coffee and a pastry, you have plenty of options!

There are countless cafes in Madrid, including an up-and-coming specialty coffee scene. Spots like Misión Café and La Bicicleta serve excellent brews and delicious bites to go with them. Many of these cafes even offer plenty of vegan and vegetarian options.

For a sweet pick-me-up, you can always swing by one of Madrid’s many wonderful bakeries. Pastry shops like La Mallorquina and El Riojano will draw you in with their tantalizing window displays. And for an extra-Spanish treat, don’t miss the chance to eat churros and chocolate at a neighborhood churrería like Chocolat!

Child's hand dipping sugar-covered churros into a mug of thick hot chocolate
Chocolat is a beloved spot for churros in the Huertas neighborhood.

Where to Eat in Madrid by Neighborhood

Historic Center

While it’s getting a bit harder to find authentic dining options in central Madrid these days, there are still some gems in the area. You just have to know where to look.

We’d never recommend eating on Plaza Mayor itself, for example, but head down the nearby side streets and you’ll find bars packed with locals—many of which specialize in the city’s signature fried calamari sandwich! If you’re looking for a sit-down experience, make a reservation at iconic Botín, the world’s oldest restaurant.

And while Puerta del Sol is seemingly surrounded by fast food joints and chain restaurants, you can find some great places to eat near there as well. Stop by Casa Labra or Casa Revuelta for their famous fried cod tapas, and wash them down with a refreshing caña. Then head to La Mallorquina to grab one of their famous napolitana pastries as a sweet finale!

Pieces of fried codfish on a white plate in front of two small glasses of beer.
There’s nothing better than freshly fried salt cod and an ice cold beer.

Huertas/Literary Quarter

The Literary Quarter, also known as Huertas, is just a short walk from central Madrid yet feels an entire world away. This picturesque neighborhood is a great place to dive into the Madrid wine and tapas scene alongside the locals.

Check out lively Calle de Jesús, one of the neighborhood’s main streets that’s packed with lively tapas bars. Our favorite: Los Gatos, the perfect spot for a glass of vermouth and a tostaTostas are typical Madrid tapas that consist of toasted artisanal bread with delicious toppings—think cured meats, cheeses or smoked fish.

For a real hidden treasure, walk a few blocks to Casa González. Here, settle in for a glass of wine and a shared plate of their fabulous cured meats and cheeses. Opened in 1931, this traditional deli is a fascinating slice of history in the center of Madrid.

And to really immerse yourself in local life, don’t miss Mercado Antón Martín, one of the best neighborhood markets in central Madrid. With an eclectic mix of traditional market stalls and modern bars, the market has something for everyone. Pick up supplies for a picnic, or grab a seat at one of the market bars.

Plate of small open faced sandwiches with various toppings, with a pile of potato chips in the middle.
A delicious array of tostas from Los Gatos.

Retiro Park Area

As the most famous of Madrid’s many gorgeous parks and gardens, it’s no surprise that the area around Retiro is full of dining options. But like with all major tourist draws, you’ll want to choose wisely!

For the best experience, head east of the park into the Retiro and Ibiza neighborhoods. Think of this area as the more laid-back cousin of posh Salamanca just to the north. It’s populated by middle- to upper-middle class families, but at its core, it’s a traditional barrio madrileño through and through.

Need a few suggestions to get you started? Escape to southern Spain with the Andalusian fare at Triana, or go Galician at O Grove. And don’t miss the pastries that have made waves throughout Madrid (and on Instagram) at Manolo Bakes.

Red and white scallops in their shells
You don’t have to go all the way to Galicia to find incredible gallego cuisine!

Malasaña & Conde Duque

Just north of Gran Vía, Malasaña and Conde Duque have dozens of options for eating and drinking. This is where to eat in Madrid if you’re looking for brunch, late-night drinks, or anything in between!

One of our favorite local haunts is Casa Macareno, a traditional tavern serving down-to-earth homemade tapas. Try their famous croquettes with a glass of refreshing vermouth!

If you’re craving cheese, head to La Carbonera. Here, you can sample beautifully curated Spanish cheese plates, paired with wines from lesser-known vineyards.

And if you’re craving some of the best brunch in Madrid, you can’t go wrong with Carmencita (or their mimosas). Be sure to reserve, as this Malasaña hotspot fills up fast!

Close up of four different kinds of cheese on a black tray.
A Spanish cheese plate is the stuff dreams are made of.

Chueca

Just east of Malasaña and Conde Duque, you’ll find Chueca. Famous for being the hub of Madrid’s LGBTQ+ community, Chueca is a vibrant, laid-back community, and the kind of place where anyone can feel welcome.

One of our all-time favorite options for where to eat in Madrid happens to be here. At Celso y Manolo, classic Spanish dishes are given a slight contemporary touch while remaining true to their roots. They’re famous for their tomato dishes, and trust us when we say that they truly elevate this humble nightshade to new heights.

For the enophiles, don’t miss Angelita, a cozy space just off of Gran Vía with a stellar selection of over 500 wines. This award-winning spot is run by two local brothers, who serve modern interpretations of their mother’s traditional Spanish recipes. The menu changes regularly to reflect the highest quality products available at any given time, so you know that no matter what you get, it’s going to be good.

Vegetable dish with a base of tomato and garnished with red onion, cucumber, red peppers, and herbs, served on a white plate reading Celso y Manolo
One of the many spectacular tomato dishes at Celso y Manolo. Photo credit: jensimon7

Barrio Salamanca

Most visitors to Madrid find themselves in the glitzy neigborhood north of Retiro Park to check out its famous shopping scene. (Well, that and its small but respectable selection of museums.)

But despite its glamorous surface, Salamanca offers a little bit of everything when it comes to gastronomy. From no-frills tapas joints to upscale celebrity-owned hotspots, there’s a spot here for every taste and budget.

For something more down-to-earth, check out Entre Cáceres y Badajoz, an unfussy bar serving generous free tapas with each drink you order. Or head into Mercado de la Paz to try Casa Dani‘s award-winning tortilla de patatas, widely considered to be the best in Madrid.

Looking for something different? Don’t miss the market-fresh Iranian cuisine at Banibanoo. And no matter where you end up, be sure to top it off with something sweet from Moulin Chocolat.

Slice of potato omelet on a white plate beside two bread rolls
Casa Dani’s famous tortilla. Photo credit: Casa Dani

Chamberí

At first glance, Chamberí may not seem like one of the best options for where to eat in Madrid. A bit of a trek from the main sights in the city center, it’s a mainly residential neighborhood populated by local families.

But don’t write off this unassumingly charming neighborhood just yet. Chamberí happens to be a verifiable gastronomic paradise, thanks in no small part to its main culinary thoroughfare, Calle Ponzano.

Ponzano packs more than 70 eateries along its kilometer-long stretch, making it a can’t-miss stop for curious foodies. The street pulses with life and is lined with some of the brightest stars of the contemporary dining scene, which stand side-by-side among traditional, no-frills tapas bars.

Carnivores can’t miss the ultra-modern Sala de Despiece. Here, you can treat yourself to expertly grilled (and beautifully presented) meat, seafood and vegetable dishes in a bright, post-industrial frenzy complete with great wine.

If you’re craving a truly elegant night out, try Toque de Sal for a journey through modern Mediterranean cuisine. The lush interiors are the perfect backdrop for enjoying the top-notch menu of everything from grilled fish to quinoa salad!

But not all of Chamberí’s foodie highlights are found along Calle Ponzano. Also worth mentioning is the Mercado de Chamberí’s La Chispería, perfect if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten path culinary experience. The space features six restaurants serving market-driven Spanish, Latin American, and Italian cuisine.

Three slices of meat cut very thin on a white tray with bits of sauce and seasoning at either end.
A melt-in-your-mouth meat dish at Sala de Despiece. Photo credit: Nan Palmero

La Latina

Small but vibrant tapas bars line the streets of La Latina, a lively corner of the capital just southwest of the city center. If you’re wondering where to eat in Madrid for authentic tapas from all corners of Spain, this is the place to be.

There are a few different ways to eat your way around La Latina. The most famous is a tapas crawl along iconic Calle Cava Baja, one of the most famous tapas thoroughfares in all of Madrid (and one that gives Calle Ponzano a run for its money).

If you want to go this route, start with a vermouth cocktail from Taberna La Concha. Then cross the street to La Antoñita for modern tapas, like an updated version of Madrid’s classic oxtail stew. And don’t leave without trying the famous “broken eggs” (huevos rotos) at Los Huevos de Lucíothe go-to spot for this classic tapa.

Looking for something a bit different? Skip Cava Baja and head out on a Sunday morning to join the locals shopping at the Rastro flea market—and popping into the surrounding bars for a quick bite to refuel. The no-frills seafood at La Paloma is the stuff dreams are made of (you can thank us later).

And of course, no neighborhood in Madrid would be complete without its market. In La Latina, that market is Mercado de la Cebada. Swing by Saturday at lunchtime for the area’s best-kept secret: the mariscada, in which all of the seafood stalls turn into pop-up bars, frying up fresh tapas and selling them complete with ice-cold drinks.

Street lined with bars in an urban neighborhood on a busy afternoon.
Calle Cava Baja with its myriad tapas bars.

Lavapiés

Lavapiés is Madrid’s best-known cultural melting pot. Immigrants from all corners of the world have congregated in this vibrant barrio, where they proudly carry on the culinary traditions of their homelands. Whether you’re looking for Indian, Latin American, or Senegalese food—or anything in between—you’ll find it here.

If you’re looking for some spice (as much as we love Spanish food, it’s admittedly a bit on the mild side), Lavapiés is the place to be. The curry at Shapla is to die for, as is the maafe (western African peanut stew) at Bar Colores. And for something a bit more upscale, you can’t miss the Latin American-Asian fusion at Toga.

Can’t get enough markets? Lavapiés is home to the vibrant Mercado de San Fernando. Here, you can find everything from natural wine and exquisite cheeses at Bendito Vinos y Vinilos to home-cooked Venezuelan dishes at O Luar.

And of course, no list of where to eat in Lavapiés—or where to eat in Madrid, period—would be complete without Bodegas Lo Máximo. A beloved local watering hole serving simple tapas and on-tap vermouth, this Lavapiés icon is as authentic as they come. Stop by on Wednesday nights for live bolero performances by a host of local musicians, including owner Piluka Aranguren herself.

Stew of meat and vegetables in a white bowl, garnished with peanuts and herbs.
Senegalese maafe is such a great comfort food. Photo credit: HealthierMI

Palos de la Frontera

Just south of Atocha train station, the residential neighborhood of Palos de la Frontera is often overlooked by visitors to the city. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time!

If you’re looking for a bit of an off-the-beaten-path experience within walking distance to the Reina Sofia, the Prado, and Lavapiés, Palos de la Frontera is calling your name. You won’t find any tourist traps here—just genuine, authentic spots that cater to madrileños.

One standout in this neck of the woods is the legendary Bodegas Rosell, which is a true triple threat: It’s been open since 1920, is one of the best wine bars in Madrid, and serves some pretty legendary croquetas to boot. For a more modern interpretation of Spanish cuisine, check out Hermanos Valdivieso.

Several croquettes on a white plate, with a glass of vermouth visible in the background.
Sometimes all you need is a ración of homemade croquettes at an old-school Spanish bar like Bodegas Rosell.

Usera

Usera may not be the most central neighborhood in Madrid, but it might just be the city’s best-kept secret. (As far as food goes, at least.) As a multicultural hub that’s home to thousands of Asian and Latin American immigrants, it’s got some one of the most diverse food scenes in the city.

This is the place to be if you’re looking for Chinese food—and when we say Chinese food, we’re talking food from almost every single region of China. Whether you’re craving spicy Sichuan fare or want to head off the beaten path by trying Zhejiang cuisine, you can do it all in Usera. (Check out Restaurante Sichuan and Lao Tou for both of the above, respectively.)

Another great option in Usera is to eat your way through Latin America. La Fonda de Colombia serves up the best traditional Colombian fare in the city. And don’t forget to swing by Pasteleria Javi to grab some great Bolivian baked goods to go.

People eating noodles off of white plates with chopsticks
Usera is home to the best Chinese food in Madrid. Photo credit: Debbie Tea

Where to Eat in Madrid FAQs

What is Madrid’s most famous food?

Some of Madrid’s most famous foods are the bocadillo de calamares (fried calamari sandwich), cocido madrileño (chickpea, meat, and vegetable stew), and callos a la madrileña (Madrid-style tripe stew).

What is the most popular restaurant in Madrid?

The best-known restaurant in Madrid is Sobrino de Botín, often shortened to simply Botín. Its claim to fame: being the oldest operating restaurant in the world, having opened in 1725!

What is the main meal of the day in Madrid?

The main meal of the day in Madrid—as well as throughout Spain—is lunch. This is a much longer and more filling meal than dinner, and can stretch on for hours on the weekends!

This post was originally published on June 17, 2016 and was republished with new text and photos on September 16, 2021.

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5 Responses

  1. Thanks for the tips. We are visiting in September and planning our whole trip to Madrid around food so can’t wait to sample the places you listed.

  2. Great tips! Any recommendations for a family restaurant to celebrate a bday? We will be there in late March and plan to celebrate our daughter’s 13th bday in Madrid.

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