by Santorini Dave • Updated: April 30, 2018
The 17 Best Places to Eat in Madrid
- DiverXO – $$$$
Located in a nondescript residential neighborhood, DiverXO is the only restaurant in Madrid to hold three Michelin stars, and by the far the most memorable meal you’re likely to have in the capital. Chef David Muñoz was just 33 when he earned the third star, and his approach to cooking is as unconventional as it is delicious. There are two tasting menus to choose from (165/225 €) and dishes arrive on slabs or specially designed recessed trays. Even the cutlery is unique: diners receive dedicated utensils for each course instead of knives and forks. The menus are ever-changing, depending on the chef’s whim, but you can expect unusual ingredient pairings (sea urchin with buffalo milk and pickled chili, octopus with kimchee and lapsang souchon tea) that work amazingly well. Advance reservations absolutely essential.
• Calle de Padre Damian, 23
- Chocolateria San Ginés – $
Just north of the Plaza Mayor, this locally-beloved cafe has been serving churros con chocolate to Madrileños for over a hundred years. Of the few cafes in Madrid that serve only drinking chocolate – so thick that you can almost stand your spoon up in it – and churros (tubular, deep-fried dough), this venerable place is the best-known and the best-loved. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, lines curl around the block, so get here early, or late. Since the place is open almost around the clock, it also becomes crowded in the wee hours of the morning, when clubbers stop here on the way to or from the party. Good for munchies anytime.
• Pasadizo San Gines, 5
- Punto MX – $$$$
The first Mexican restaurant in Europe to earn a Michelin star, Punto MX is a basement restaurant in the trendy Salamanca neighborhood, just north of Parque El Retiro. Unlike most other Mexican restaurants in the city, you won’t find a single sombrero or Mexican flag here: the decor is modern and restrained and the focus is squarely on the food. Mexican and Spanish ingredients are combined to create memorable dishes such as seared tuna tacos with green salsa, chilaquiles rojos with a wonderfully fiery sauce, baked marrowbone and Wagyu beef arranchera. Guacamole is prepared to order right at your table, and the service is smooth and professional. There’s an extensive tequila and mescal list, and their mescal cocktails complement the food very well. Popular for romantic dates. Reservations essential.
• Calle General Pardiñas, 40
- Kabuki Wellington – $$$$
Just north of Parque el Retiro, in the upmarket neighborhood of Salamanca, the best sushi in Madrid has earned Kabuki Wellington a Michelin star. The dining room is all clean lines, dark wood, and contemporary art pieces, with plenty of seating for solo patrons at the bar. Besides an extensive selection of super-fresh sashimi and sushi classics, there are some wonderfully creative fusion efforts that combine Japanese and Spanish cooking traditions. These include fatty tuna belly with beef bone marrow, and seabass carpaccio with mojo verde from the Canary Islands. There’s an extensive sake list, an interesting wine selection, and the service is prompt and friendly. Reservations recommended.
• Calle Velazquez 6
- Sobrino del Botín – $$-$$$
The world’s oldest continuously open restaurant, founded in 1725 as an inn by French cook Jean Botín and his Asturian wife. A couple of minutes’ walk south of the Plaza Mayor, this local institution is renowned for three things: its old-world 18th century decor, its succulent roast meats, and its literary connections. Inside, you can dine in the atmospheric bodega (vaulted cellar) or in the opulent dining rooms with heavy wooden beams and creaky floors. Their speciality is the roast suckling pig and lamb, cooked to crispy-skinned perfection in a 300-year-old oven. Don’t skip out before trying the tarta Botín for dessert – a rich, cream-filled layer cake. The restaurant has been immortalized in two Hemingway novels and Hemingway himself used to dine here, as did Graham Greene. The restaurant attracts crowds of tourists, but many locals also come here for special occasions.
• Calle Cuchilleros, 17
- La Cabaña Argentina – $$-$$$
Down a tiny street three blocks west of the Paseo del Prado, this is Madrid’s best Argentinian steakhouse. The decor is stylish and contemporary: exposed brick walls, subtle lighting, black and white photos of vintage Buenos Aires and Argentinian luminaries, and juicy slabs of steak in the window display. The succinct menu is meat-heavy, with expected steak cuts present and correct: ribeye, sirloin, filet mignon, flank, and skirt. There are a few fish and chicken dishes as well, but steak is what this place does best, expertly cooked to your specifications. The starters are typically Argentinian and meant to be shared: grilled sweetbreads, chorizo, morcilla (black pudding). The extensive wine list focuses mostly on Argentinian and Spanish wines, and the service is young and friendly. Equally popular for dates and family meals.
• Calle Ventura de La Vega, 10
- La Perejila – $$-$$$
La Perejila is a traditional bar popular with locals, set right in the middle of one of the most popular streets for tapas bar hopping in La Latina district. The decor at this family-run little place is old-school, and you have to get here early to grab one of the few tables that are otherwise occupied by regulars, but the food is terrific. There’s a decent selection of traditional raciones: cheese platter, mojama (wind-cured tuna) with roasted almonds, pulpo a la gallega (Galician-style octopus), as well as stews and stew-like dishes. What this bar is famous for, however, are the rebanadas (large, open sandwiches), topped with grilled goat’s cheese and caramelized onion, cabrales cheese with apple, sobrasada (spicy meat paste), and other savoury toppings. Add an excellent selection of wine and vermouth by the glass and it’s easy to see why this place is so popular.
• Calle Cava Baja 25
- La Cabra – $$$$
At this thoroughly contemporary restaurant, specializing in ingredient-driven dishes, chef Javier earned his first Michelin star at the tender age of 27. The daring fusion dishes span the globe: choose from the likes of clam tartar with lychee, flambéed crayfish with tapioca, and Galician beef with yuzu. There are three tasting menus available; and the 3-course executive menu on weekday lunchtimes is excellent value at 50 Euros. The menus change according to what’s seasonally available and the smoked chocolate dessert is remarkable. Popular with young professionals; great for romantic meals.
• Calle Francisco de Rojas 2
- El Inti de Oro – $$-$$$
One of the best Peruvian restaurants in Madrid is hidden down a tiny side street a couple of blocks from the Museo Thyssen Bornemisza and the Prado. Madrid is a terrific place for all kinds of Latin American cuisine, and this friendly restaurant serves authentic Peruvian standards, and thier drinks menu includes the pisco sour, the classic Peruvian cocktail, Inca Cola soft drink, and chicha morada (a refreshing drink made from purple corn). The place is popular with families, particularly at lunchtimes, and Madrileños come here for the excellent ceviches, as well as standout dishes such as ají de gallina (chicken in a spicy yellow sauce), anticuchos de corazón (beef heart skewers) and arróz con mariscos (seafood-fried rice). Inexpensive, casual, big portions.
• Calle Ventura de La Vega 12
- La Paella de la Reina – $$-$$$
One of the best places in Madrid to try paella is this old-school restaurant in a super-central location right near metro Opera. Many restaurants in the capital offer mediocre, microwaved paella; for the real deal, you have to go to a proper arroceria (rice restaurant) where Spain’s national dish is a specialty. Popular with local families, this traditional restaurant cooks up over a dozen different kinds of rice dishes, from traditional Valencian paella (with chicken, rabbit and vegetables), to seafood paella with arroz negro (black rice with cuttlefish ink), to arroz caldoso de bogavante (brothy rice with seafood) and arroz a banda (Alicante/Valencia rice dish cooked in fish stock). As in most arrocerias, all dishes are prepared for a minimum of two people. The service is buttoned-down and formal. Reservations recommended in the evenings.
• Calle Reina 39
- A’Barra – $$$$
North of Madrid’s exclusive Salamanca neighborhood, this Michelin-starred restaurant serves creative, ingredient-driven dishes in a contemporary setting. Diners can choose between the spacious dining room and the circular bar with an open kitchen in the centre. The a la carte and tasting menus revolve around seasonal ingredients and each dish is thoughtfully explained to the diners as it’s served. Some of the more daring ingredient pairings include grilled cod with black garlic and tapioca, duck with aromatic herbs, coffee, and beetroot, and fois gras waffle with coconut foam. Everything is beautifully presented and an expert sommelier is on hand to suggest wine pairings. It’s well worth splurging on the 8-course tasting menu (70 Euros) for the full A’Barra experience. One for romantic meals and special occasions. Reservations.
• Calle Pinar del Rey 15
- La Chata – $$-$$$
A quintessential Madrileño tapas bar, located along Calle Cava Baja in La Latina – a street famous for (and packed with) them. From the brightly-tiled exterior to the dining room decorated with vintage posters, stuffed bull’s heads, and other bullfighting memorabilia, the decor at La Chata is unapologetically rooted in Madrid’s past. Perch at the bar with a glass of wine or vermouth, and order some tostas (toasted bread) with numerous toppings – anchovies with pimientos de piquillo (pickled peppers), salmon with asparagus, jamón serrano with cheese. Or else take your seat at one of the tiled tables and get some raciónes to share. Specialties include such Madrid classic as callos a la madrileña (tripe in tomato sauce), rabo de toro (oxtail), and a selection of cazuelas (stews) slow-cooked in ceramic pots – the one with clams and wild mushrooms is our favorite.
• Calle Cava Baja 24
- Txirimiri – $$-$$$
Txirimiri is a Basque tapas bar that’s a perfect stop on a night on the town. Take your pick of the heaped pintxos (tiny open sandwiches) along the bar; one local favorite is the morcilla (black pudding topped with quail egg). Specialties here include the Unai hamburger, fried in tempura with wild mushroom sauce, a terrific take on the tortilla (potato omelette), grilled fois gras with fig marmalade, and risotto with cuttlefish ink. Tipples include a good selection of Basque wines, as well as wines from all over Spain. The place gets really busy in the evenings, with crowds spilling out the front doors, so get here early to nab a one of the tables at the back or be prepared to jostle your way to the bar. Located just south of the two main streets lined with tapas bars in La Latina.
• Calle Humilladero 6
- El Corte Inglés Callao Gourmet Experience – $$-$$$
Conveniently located right next to the Callao metro stop, this food court on the 9th floor of the El Corte Inglés department store is a great place for a bite with a view. Apart from several specialty stores selling gourmet food products, there are numerous restaurants to choose from. Pizza al Cuadrado sells pizza by the slice, with unusual flavour combinations and changing daily menu. Central Mexicana pairs margaritas with Mexican street food, and Hamburguesa Nostra is all about gourmet hamburgers. Imanol serves Navarran pinxos (tiny sandwiches), while Juanillo Club is a cocktail and oyster bar. With a young, buzzy vibe, the place gets really busy in the evenings, so get here early to grab a spot by one of the huge windows to watch the sun set over the Gran Vía. Popular with young, hip locals and families.
• Plaza Callao 2
- Goiko Grill – $$-$$$
With several locations in Madrid, this mini-chain serves some of the city’s best gourmet burgers. Our favorite and most conveniently located branch is several minutes’ walk from the Prado. The menu in all branches is the same, with a dozen different burgers; Chipotle comes with homemade guacamole and spicy chipotle sauce; Kevin Bacon is a double burger with crunchy bacon and American cheese, while La Yankee is topped with boneless ribs and barbecue sauce. There’s also a smaller and simpler Goiko Kids burger offered for the littles. Other items on the succinct menu include nachos, chicken tenders, and Caesar salad, with craft beer and homemade lemonade to wash them down with. Inexpensive, busy, popular with families and younger Madrileños.
• Calle Del Prado, 15
- Casa Mingo – $
A bit out of the way, but handy if you’re visiting the Casa de Campo park, Templo de Debod, or Goya’s final resting place, the only proper sidrería (cider factory) in Madrid serves a short and sweet menu of Asturian dishes to go with cider brewed on the premises. The setting is austere, within a 19th century warehouse; diners sit, surrounded by barrels and racks of bottles of cider made from the Villaviciosa apples from the Asturias province. Locals swear by Casa Mingo’s roast chicken. Other food specialties include a better-than-good tortilla (potato omelette), and platters of strong blue cabrales cheese, ham, and roast potatoes. Simple, filling food, casual ambience, busy on weekends.
• Paseo Florida 34
- Mercado de San Miguel – $$-$$$
This beautiful and historic food market, located couple of blocks away from Plaza Mayor, is a great place to stop for tapas. It’s well on the visitor trail, and it’s very popular for several reasons: its central location, varied selection of edible offerings at counter-bars, and its many gourmet wine and chocolate shops. Choose between fishy pintxos (tiny sandwiches) at La Casa del Bacalao, burrata mozzarella and other Italian cheeses at Mozheart, helpings of paella at Paella y Olé, fine hams at Raza Nostra, and macarons and other sweet nibbles at Horno de San Onofre, among others. Buzzy, casual and inexpensive.
• Plaza de San Miguel