Eating Out In Madrid, Spain | MF Travels
If Barcelona is the cultural, alternative hub of Spain then Madrid is it’s slightly older and more sophisticated sibling. With wide roads, lots of green spaces and some of the best restaurants in the country; it was only natural that I visited this city not once, but twice this summer. Spanish food has never really held much appeal to me because of the heavy focus on pork and shellfish. Though I enjoy both, I travelled to Spain under the assumption that by day three I would have had enough tapas to last a lifetime. Of course, I was wrong.
Madrid has some great Michelin starred restaurants like DiverXo and Cebo, and is also home to small, family-run tapas joints and trendy, progressive restaurants as well. When eating out in Madrid, know that everything runs a little later than usual. If you want to be sure to snag a table, get to a restaurant by 1pm for lunch and 9pm for dinner, when the space is sure to be deserted. By the time you’re on your mains you will look up to see the restaurant completely full.
Each time you order something like huevos rotos (scrambled eggs with potatoes and ham), patatas bravas (fried potatoes with spicy sauce) or sangria, no two will ever be the same. Each restaurant does things their own way, which adds to the diversity and charm of the cuisine. I had some great meals in Madrid and wanted to share my favourites with you!
We stopped by here between the Botanical Gardens and the Prado Museum and were sure we were stepping into a tourist trap based on the location. Luckily, we were wrong! This New York style café has tables set up on the sidewalk and charming interiors. We ordered traditional tapas such as padrón peppers, tuna tartare, eggplant fritters and patatas bravas and were blown away by not only the portions but the quality of the ingredients. The service was not great but I noticed that the service was incredibly aloof all over Spain, even compared to Indian standards. Over the course of 10 days I had at least six drinks spilled on me and perhaps one apology between them.
Located atop the Corte Inglés on Calle Serrano, StreetXo is the affordable, younger brother of DiverXo, the brainchild of three-starred chef David Muñoz. Everything here is bold, unpretentious and intriguing. The food and décor conjure up images of an Asian street market with neon signage on the walls and an open kitchen as the central element. The food is a great mix of Asian and Mediterranean flavours with a menu that changes fairly often. They don’t take reservations so rather than waiting in line for dinner, head there early for lunch when you won’t have to wait more than 20 minutes.
Salamanca is the Malabar Hill of Mumbai with beautiful, tree-lined roads and men and women dressed to the nines. I dare you to find a man not in a suit or a woman not wearing heels here. I hadn’t heard of this restaurant but we somehow ended up here after a long walk through the Parque del Retiro. We were seated on the pretty patio and though apprehensive of the white tablecloths and tuxedoed waiters, decided to dive in. Everything we ordered was delicious! The salads and vegetables were incredibly fresh and light and each plate reminded me why I love food. The perfect stop for some tapas and wine.
Anyone you speak to about Madrid will always mention Ten Con Ten, one of the city’s best restaurants. My family and I dined here on the night of our last meal, where I was thrilled that we saved the best for last. Known for their swish clientele and steep prices, Ten Con Ten was absolutely delicious. The truffle risotto is known around the world to be one of the best while the tenderloin served with black truffle and potatoes is something I wouldn’t mind eating every night. The service was decidedly underwhelming- I don’t think our waiter actually said any words to us at all- but that is Spain for you. Save this for a special occasion.
There are a few La Musa’s around Madrid and we chose to dine at the outlet in La Latina in a pretty, small plaza close to where we were staying. We stepped in to a place that looked more like a Brooklyn studio apartment than restaurant and were met with Ashanti and Ja Rule on the speakers. I was unnerved. However, once the first dish from the Asian inspired tapas menu arrived, the table fell silent and just glowed with satisfaction. The food was outstanding. Each dish blended the flavours of Spain and Asia so well that I can’t believe there aren’t more restaurants serving this cuisine.
After being listed as one of Madrid’s must-visit restaurants by the New York Times, I knew I had to check this out. I made a reservation well in advance (something I recommend you do for all these restaurants) and arrived at the restaurant on a Friday night. The chef has spent time between Madrid in New York and his travels have influenced the Nuevo Latino menu which features fresh, tropical flavours combined with the incredible produce and heritage of Spain. One of the best dishes we had was simply a tasting plate of different kinds of cherry tomatoes and olive oils, it was divine!
Once you’re done eating, head over to this chic cocktail bar located in the centre of town. The décor features velvet sofas and neon signage with a menu that’s about 30 pages long. Named after the fish that goes against the current, expect some of the best cocktails you’ve had in a while.
A word of caution, Spain is not kind to vegetarians so if you are one, definitely have a look at the menus before you visit a restaurant. Apart from Ten Con Ten, I don’t think a single meal cost us more than 20 euros per person, which is including copious amounts of wine! The best part about Madrid is how easy it is to feel like a local. Take in the colours and sounds, eat slowly, talk loudly and drink fast.