Avoid tourist traps and dine like a true madrileño at these seven best restaurants in Madrid found throughout the Spanish capital’s most up and coming neighborhoods.
If visiting Madrid for a short amount of time, it could be difficult to avoid the hundreds of restaurant employees bombarding you with menus and ofertas (deals) as you walk up and down the streets of this bustling capital city. The entire goal of this phenomenon is to pressure gullible tourists through persistence—and for those who have no idea where to eat in Madrid—this tactic works. The issue is that these restaurants are usually geared towards tourists, thus resulting in unauthentic and overpriced meals.
To spend a short amount of time wisely in the capital eating like a true local, or madrileño, as Spaniards say, check out the following list of the seven most authentic and best restaurants in Madrid.
Starting with a charming morning brunch and ending with an evening cocktail overlooking the stunning city center, these top authentic eateries spread throughout Madrid’s trendiest neighborhoods, or barrios, as the madrileños say, will leave visitors with a delectable Spanish cuisine experience.
Address: Calle de San Andrés, 1
Located in what is considered to be Madrid’s young hipster neighborhood, Ójala is one of the few brunch spots in the capital city, a favorite amongst young millennial students and madrileños alike. With outdoor seating, a hanging garden, decorative fluoride colors with wood interiors and even a basement “beach bar” with sand, this trendy restaurant features fan favorites such as the granjero, a brunch specialty with organic wheat bread, a baked egg with beans and chorizo, ricotta, a fruit salad and banana cake.
While the restaurant opens every day at 10 a.m., it wouldn’t be a bad idea to arrive early and reserve a seat, for this small corner eatery will fill up quickly, especially on weekends.
Address: Calle de Hortaleza, 4
Conveniently situated at the very end of the busiest street in the city’s friendly LGBTQ neighborhood, Vesuvio is a tiny, tucked away pizzeria that can easily be overlooked, arguably the reason it is a madrileño favorite and one of the best restaurants in Madrid. Consistently ranked amongst the top five pizzerias in Madrid on TripAdvisor, Vesuvio serves as an excellent option for those in a hurry, on a budget or need a little break from Spanish cuisine.
The best time to arrive would be around 1 p.m., just before the lunch rush. There are only about eight seats in the entire restaurant, half of which face the kitchen for guests to gaze upon the freshly made pizzas being tossed right in front of their eyes. During peak hours when the restaurant is overflowing with Spaniards standing shoulder to shoulder, visitors have the option to order at the outdoor window to avoid claustrophobia and bask in some Spanish sun while waiting for their orders.
3. Museo Del Jamón
Address: Calle Gran Vía, 72; Calle Mayor, 7 (and many more)
Neighborhood: Gran Vía, Sol
While Museo del Jamón is a chain restaurant with several locations spread throughout Madrid, it still remains a local favorite and is ideal for travelers on a budget. Specializing in none other than Spain’s cherished Iberian and Serrano hams, Museo del Jamón’s principal location opened in 1978 as a convenience store, and grew to become the city’s most renowned delicatessen shop and one of the best restaurants in Madrid.
When entering any location, travelers will first notice the hundreds of pig legs hanging from the ceiling, a Museo del Jamón staple. For under 7€, visitors can enjoy a ration of classic reserved ham or a mixed Serrano ham plate, served with the choice of buttered cheese or pork sausage.
4. Bustamante Hermanos, S.A.
Address: Calle de Alcalá, 58
An ideal stop for a quick sweet treat before or after a visit to Madrid’s beloved Retiro Park (Parque del Buen Retiro), Bustamante Hermanos is another hidden gem that only an insider or local would know. Serving the most delicious and rich hazelnut chocolate filled donut, this local bakery has hundreds of fresh and cheap baked goods to choose from.
Since the bakery doesn’t see too many tourists, employees speak little English. Luckily, all of the bakery’s finest goods are displayed in glass cases, thus pointing at items will suffice. This is also a great place for travelers to indulge in some classic Spanish churros con chocolate. After ordering, relax and enjoy your pastry while people watching in the quaint outdoor seating area, ideally paired with a warm café con leche.
5. La Antoñita
Address: Calle Cava Baja, 14
Neighborhood: La Latina
One of the most prominent Spanish traditions is a night out for tapas with friends and family. In Madrid, La Latina neighborhood’s Cava Baja street is lined with the city’s best tapas bars. According to local standards, guests should start at one end of the street and throughout the night, have one drink and one tapa at each bar. Travelers who succeed will leave with their bellies warm and full and may need to order a taxi home after a number of cañas, or small beers.
Along Cava Baja street lies La Antoñita, a local favorite serving their signature crujiente de rabo de toro, a crispy oxtail roll with Parmentier potatoes. Be sure to also try the restaurant’s fall-off-the-bone barbecue ribs, doused in a mouthwatering pineapple chutney. To reserve a table at La Antoñita, click here.
6. Bar Sidi
Address: Calle de Colón, 15
Despite Cava Baja being deemed Madrid’s ultimate tapas hotspot, it excludes one of the greatest aspects of traditional Spanish tapas, namely found in Spain’s southern Andalucía region, but hard to come by in Madrid: free tapas with the purchase of an alcoholic beverage. While completing the Cava Baja tapas challenge is a great experience, it can come at a high price.
For those looking for a more traditional and cheaper way to consume Spanish tapas, head to Bar Sidi, one of Madrid’s only true free tapas bar and authentic local hangout. As long as the drinks are flowing, so will the tapas. Arriving around 8 p.m. is suggested, for there are few seats in the bar and it will be swarming with locals within an hour or so, just in time for la cena, or dinner.
You may be the only traveler at this bar, and it may be hard to order without any knowledge of the Spanish language. To make it simple, just ask for a caña (small beer) or copa de vino (glass of wine), and you’ll receive a tapas plate with your drinks, all while indulging in Spanish culture surrounded by locals at one of the best restaurants in Madrid.
7. Círculo De Bellas Artes
Address: Calle de Alcalá, 42
Neighborhood: Las Letras
While Madrid is known for its abundance of rooftop bars overlooking the city, Círculo de Bellas Artes is a locally kept secret during spring and summer months. When the weather is right, this private, non-profit cultural organization opens its rooftop doors to the public for a small entrance fee, while students with valid identification enter for free.
Located on the seventh floor, the rooftop terrace at Círculo de Bellas Artes features spectacular views of the city center and the surrounding Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range, especially stunning at sunset. Due to this, travelers should arrive at least one hour before sunset in order to get a seat at a table or on the lounge chairs. Signature cocktails, beer and wine are served at the bar.
by Alexandra Mahoney
Article published on Travelista Club