City breaks. As much as they’re about culture for me, they’re also about food. Getting to try the traditional cuisines from exactly where it all started and from the people who know how to prepare it and serve it best, is always top of my list of things to do – it’s all about the things to eat!
I bet you’re not shocked there.
Madrid was no exception, and with Kim on the same page as me, both being serious foodies, we had plenty of options on our list to try during our trip. In fact, we had way too many to fit into our short break.
We quickly found that food in Madrid is all about the carbs, fried food and cheese, and although it’s pretty yummy, there is only so much of it you can eat before craving a vegetable – Ok, maybe that’s just us. We didn’t think the food was outstanding as an overall, but we sure ate at some fab places which are worth trying if you’re planning a short break.
Here is my pick of the Madrid eats:
This was my standout of the whole trip. I’m a huge froyo fan anyway, but this was amazing – light yet creamy natural froyo, topped with tasty fresh toppings, it sure went down a treat in the heat. With a medium sized froyo priced at under £3, served with two toppings of your choice from a large selection from the front counter, it’s great value for money too – almost the same price as a standard ice cream these days.
A favourite among locals and tourists, calamari sandwiches are a traditional cuisine in Madrid. Crisp fried squid rings inside a ciabatta style roll, it reminded me a lot of fish finger sandwiches. Super cheap, it’s a great option for lunch on the go. Be sure to ask for a touch of lemon juice or some mayonnaise, otherwise it can get a bit dry, but it’s definitely worth a try, even just to say you have given it a whirl.
This tapas restaurant has several branches in Madrid. The menu features a whole array of meat, fish and cheese dishes, along with plenty of carby side options such as a bread basket, patatas bravas and salad.
The jamon and brie on tostada, a mix of salty and creamy flavours, was delicious and definitely worth a try. The croquettes, served piping hot, were soft and creamy in the middle, crisp on the outside, and were my top pick, along with the Spanish tortilla which was superbly creamy, soft, and indulgent.
Sangria, served by the jug (which is huge!), was really reasonably priced too, and wasn’t too strong. A jug between two over dinner was perfect.
Service was pretty good too. I tried out the little spanish I knew, which I think they appreciated, but we got by. Fyi – they do have an English menu too!
La Tita Rivera
This eclectic bar-restaurant had the cutest garden. In amongst the trees and greenery, and under the bunting and hanging bottles, the outdoor area was packed with tables and seats. A little squashed, but so pretty you don’t mind too much, it’s a great spot to dine al fresco.
The menu had plenty of traditional options, a few contemporary takes on classics, and a unique type of dish the restaurant had created – Casis, rolls stuffed with a variety of fillings including Iberian pork and brie, ham and mushrooms, and spanish tortilla.
Dying to eat vegetables and something fresh after all of the carbs, cheese and fried food, we both opted for the salads which were delicious. The Templada, lamb’s lettuce, sauteed mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, crispy ham, grilled goat’s cheese and caramelised onions drizzled with balsamic vinegar, hit the spot and was delicious, leaving me full yet feeling nourished.
The Wahr cans, from the soft drink menu are worth a try too. Both the aloe and apple, and coconut and apple, were tasty and refreshing – great for the hot afternoon.
When in Madrid, you have to go to the World famous chocolatier.
Chocolatería San Ginés, was founded in 1894, and is argued to be the most famous Chocolatería in Madrid. Hidden down a passageway, this spot is a place to be discovered.
The churros are pretty standard, topped with a good sprinkling of sugar, they’re technically just long crispier doughnuts strips. Ok, so I’m probably downgrading them a bit but I’m not the biggest fan of plain doughnuts.
But the hot chocolate for dipping. Now that’s something else.
This rich, smooth and thick, warm chocolate sauce was seriously indulgent. Sharing is probably a good idea, unless you’re a chocoholic obsessed with dark chocolate – it’s quite the challenge if you’ve already had a meal.
A little cafe bar hybrid we stumbled upon, this quickly became a firm favourite.
Another spot winning points on cuteness, this food and drink spot had a natural feel with plenty of woods and plants, and felt really friendly and welcoming – in the corner there was a little book swap area. Service was fab too, attentive and friendly.
Home to a bar serving all the usuals, including cocktails, and a kitchen serving fresh food from morning to late, we ended up here twice over our stay, and for good reasons.
An Aperol sat in the window of such a cute place? How can you say no? Although there wasn’t all that much sun, and the view wasn’t the prettiest out the front (Madrid has so much graffiti), it was still a fab spot for a bevvie mid-afternoon, with the breeze coming in slightly.
The breakfast was delicious too. We needed something healthy, over all the croissants and bread, so after seeing that La Rue also served a wider selection of breakfast options to other spots we’d passed by, we headed back the following morning.
It was also really well priced, with it only coming to about £5 each for yoghurt with compote and granola, coffee and freshly squeezed juice – you’d never get breakfast for that price in London! The yoghurt itself was deliciously creamy, topped with sweet mixed berry compote and crunchy granola, and served in a glass. The coffee actually larger than other standard coffees in Madrid went down smoothly, with the juice a nice refreshing, thirst quenching touch afterwards.
If we’d have stayed longer, I think we might have popped back again as it really was that good!
Have you been to Madrid? Where’s your favourite city for food?