Madrid is known for its museums, its vast parks and its nightlife. What makes the city really stand out is its variety of food, encompassing traditional dishes from all over Spain and local foods that are only authentic when eaten in Madrid.
If you choose to travel to Madrid, you will be able to enjoy a variety of traditional dishes from Madrid and from other parts of Spain. Head to the Antón Martín area, next to the train station of Atocha, if you want to enjoy a simple yet filling meal in one of the old bars located in the area. Here you will find bars decorated with posters of famous toreros that serve pan con tomate, bread drizzled with olive oil and fresh tomato, for breakfast; anchovies for lunch; and some Galician pulpo a la gallega, octopus fried in olive oil and sprinkled with pepper for dinner.
1. Patatas bravas.
Have you ever heard of tapas? If you have decided to travel to Madrid, then you must realize that tapas are a popular dining option amongst locals, especially on weekends. Locals meet up in any one of the city’s many bars and order a round of drinks. Each round of drinks is accompanied by a tapa, an appetizer that can range from juicy olives to this potato-based dish. Patatas bravas is a tapa that can be found in almost any bar in Madrid, and consists of potato wedges served with a spicy, brava sauce. Some bars offer its sister version, patatas ali-oli, potatoes served with a sauce made of garlic, egg yolks and ali-oli. If you are still hungry, then order a ración of patatas bravas, which is a larger version of the tapa, ideal for sharing.(Image by vamapaull)
2. Cocido madrileño.
The cocido madrileño is a chickpea stew ideal for a hearty lunch after having explored the city. The stew consists of chickpeas, pieces of pork, chorizo and blood sausages. The ideal place to taste this dish, which is considered to be the most typical dish from Madrid, is in one of the restaurants in the city center. La Bola restaurant is steps away from the Plaza de Oriente square, where the Royal Palace is located; Malacatín is a restaurant located in La Latina, a neighbourhood south of the city center that is known for its many bars and restaurants.
Croquetas are croquettes, fried food rolls with a variety of fillings. The most common filling you will find in Madrid are bechamel sauce with ham and bechamel sauce with chicken. Any madrileño, Madrid native, will tell you that authentic croquetas are only made by their grandmothers, using a many generations old recipe. Do not fret if you do not have a Spanish grandmother who makes this dish every family gathering- there are many restaurants in the city offering this dish. In the trendy Malasaña district, which can be found above the main street of Gran Vía, you will find Casa Julio, a traditional tavern that offers croquetas with ham, mushrooms and spinach.(Image by Sergio)
4. Tortilla de patatas.
Another typical Spanish dish that can be found in kitchens all over the country, the tortilla de patatas is a simple potato omelet ideal for lunch, dinner and snacks. Take a walk around the hip Fuencarral street, filled with shops selling clothes by local young designers, before heading to La Ardosa, an old wine cellar with a bar area where you will be able to order this traditional dish and some local wine.
There are plenty of other traditional dishes. Head to the La Latina district, located steps away from the city center, if you want to tray authentic tapas accompanied by a selection of craft beer, cider from Asturias, Rioja wine and sherry from the southern province of Cádiz. In the Huertas area, where most of the clubs, discos and pubs are located, you will find several hole-in-the-wall places offering more tapas. Head to the Lavapiés district, where you will find a variety of restaurants offering ethnic dishes from Middle East and Northern Africa next to terrace bars offering croquetas and platters of jamón ibérico ham.
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Feature image by Andi Fisher