Bustling, vibrant Sol is one of Madrid’s most central touristic neighborhoods, but it’s still possible to eat like a local!
Smack dab in the center of Madrid lies the barrio known as Sol. It gets its name from the emblematic Puerta del Sol plaza, home to the famous bear statue and a point of reference for millions of visitors to the city. While it might appear quite touristy at first glance, Sol retains an authentic charm that continues to enchant locals as well. Nowhere is that charm more present than in the food. Tucked between the tourist traps and tacky souvenir stands lie family-run hidden gems that have quietly been serving madrileños for decades. If you’re wondering where to eat near Sol, look no further!
Walking into Casa Labra is like taking a step back into the past. It’s right around the corner from Puerta del Sol, yet an entire world away from the buzzing, modern plaza. This centuries-old tavern is steeped in history, and is the birthplace of Spain’s socialist political party—the PSOE was founded here in 1879! In addition to its unique place in Spanish political history, Casa Labra is also home to unique twists on classic Spanish recipes.
What to Order: Casa Labra does a lot of things well, but the true gem on their menu is their bacalao (salt cod). We recommend washing it down with a cool glass of vermouth!
Address: Calle Tetuán, 12
La Casa del Abuelo
Just the name of this place (which translates to “Grandpa’s house” evokes warm, homey feelings, and that’s exactly what you’ll get at La Casa del Abuelo. Founded in 1906, it has established itself as a point of reference for some of the best tapas in Madrid. Impeccable service, historic decor and delicious home-cooked food make this a must when visiting Madrid.
What to order: This is where to eat near Sol if you want one of Madrid’s most famous small plates: gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp), which was invented at La Casa del Abuelo decades ago!
Address: Calle de la Victoria, 12
What Bodegas Ricla lacks in space (you’ll have to squeeze in around the locals crowding the bar), it makes up for in fantastic food and service. If you’re wondering where to eat near Sol for an intimate, no-frills dining experience, this is the place for you. A true family venture (brothers Emilio and José Antonio are front of house while their mom, Anna, commandeers the kitchen), you’ll feel right at home from the second you walk through the door.
What to order: This is one of the best places in town for callos a la madrileña, Madrid’s classic tripe stew cooked in a fantastic tomato and paprika sauce. Not feeling quite so adventurous? Try some seafood. The boquerones in vinegar, garlic and parsley are to die for!
Address: Calle de los Cuchilleros, 6
When trying to find out where to eat near Sol, most people stumble upon the popular Mercado de San Miguel. While Madrid’s most famous market can be an enjoyable experience if you know when to go and how to navigate it, we recommend stepping into Bar Cerveriz in the same plaza as the market. Here, charismatic owner Carlos treats every guest as if they were an old friend, all while cooking every single item on the menu himself.
Address: Plaza San Miguel, 2
El Sobrino de Botín
Botín is where to eat near Sol if authentic dishes made from age-old recipes in an iconic Madrid restaurant is what you’re after. Its claim to fame as the world’s oldest restaurant has made it quite popular, so we recommend calling ahead to reserve your table. Don’t miss the stunning underground wine caves, either!
What to order: Suckling pig, roast to perfection, is the specialty of the house. Enjoy it over a long, leisurely lunch with family and friends.
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Life is too short to speak one language and stay in one place. In 2015, this philosophy took her from familiar Ohio to sunny southern Spain. Usually drinking tinto de verano, reading Lorca, or attempting to dance flamenco (not all at once). Follow her blog, Viatic Couture, for more.