The Best of Madrid Food
As much time as I have spent teaching English in Madrid; I have spent an equal amount of time trying to keep my favorite spots and restaurants a secret. I like having places I consider my own. I guess I always felt if the places I frequented ended up crowded with tourists, they would no longer have a local vibe to them or be special to me. It’s like telling someone the directions to the Holy Grail.
But now that I am leaving Madrid I think it is pertinent that I share some of my ‘secret’ (and sacred) places with all of you. I use the word secret lightly because I am sure I have grown more attached to them than necessary and haven’t considered the fact that many other people know about them as well. Just in case, here goes.
DISCLAIMER: These are my OPINIONS based on MY experiences and tastes. I have clearly not tried every tortilla or menu del dia while teaching in Madrid. If you know of a place you like and aren’t an evil secret hoarder like me, please DO SHARE in the comments so everyone can check it out.
BTW! Don’t skip over the ‘Tasty Two’s’. They are all second options within the same genre that definitely deserve honorable mentions and are delicious too! Get it, Tasty Two (too)?
Best Grocery Store/Market (C/ General mitre y Ricardo Leon, Madrid, M: Santo Domingo (Gran Via exit)) Mercado de Los mostenses
Some of the best places are those that you can only give directions to. I have never known the name of this market or the street I just GO there. And up until recently I had never seen or heard any other Americans there, it is definitely a local find.
The only thing I don’t buy here is dry storage food like milk and cereal. And I cannot believe the quality of the fruit, meat and vegetables. It’s unreal. The price is also incredible and better than Dia or Carrefour I had visited.
Tip: This market is not for the faint of heart as it can get very busy and the lines are crazy and people are shouting out weight measurements and orders left and right. BUT I have learned a lot of Spanish vocabulary here and am treated really nicely because I go once a week to the same vendors. I appreciate that a lot more than the “Caja numero 8, por favor” style of shopping. To each his own, but try it out. The fish is ridiculously cheap and fresh for Madrid.
Tasty Two: I wasn’t lucky enough to have a Mercadona in my neighborhood or anywhere even close, but I would say it definitely deserves a spot on a Best Of Madrid list. One of the BEST places to find things you miss from home including spices, peanut butter, oatmeal, and other international foods.
Best menu del dia: (Calle de la Cruz, 17, Madrid M: Sol) Fatigas del Querer
This place is so good, that on my last day in Madrid I went to get the menu del dia and was so excited about eating the food there that I forgot to take pictures of our food to share with this blog!
I’ve seen the price range in the menu change from the standard 10.50 euro to 15 euro. Maybe it depends on the day or maybe it depends on what they put on the menu. But there are ALWAYS traditional Spanish options and is a favorite of mine for taking people that visit Madrid.
Paella, Cocido, Calamares, Sopa de Cocido-seriously this list goes on and on. I’d be disappointed if this place was still a secret at all.
Tasty Two: (Calle Hortaleza, 12, Madrid M: Gran Via) Vivares There are so many Menu del Dias to choose from, but my personal favorite is at a restaurant called Vivares in Chueca. They have a 9.90 option and a 12.30 option and offer a lot of choices. Great for impressing a group of guests
Best International Cuisine: (C/ Costanilla de Los Angeles, 15, Madrid M: Santo Domingo) La Casita Latina
This is another one of those places that once you go so many times you are treated like family. One night I came in with a friend and they couldn’t serve us because their kitchen was closed. We ended up chugging free canas with the bartender and server while the owner turned the music up and taught me traditional Ecuadorian dance.
It’s mid-priced for a teacher’s salary, but worth every euro. Think huge portions, buttery shrimp rice, freshly made tomato based spicy salsa and delicious fried plantains. My favorite dishes are the Arroz con Camaron (pictured) and the Pica Pollo.
Tasty Two: Chinese food! Even in Madrid I would crave a box of this greasy goodness every once and again. The best place I ever found is in the underground entrance right next to the fountain in Plaza Espana. GO DOWN THERE! You can’t miss this “hole-in-the-wall” type dive and for me it hit the spot more than other Chinese food I tried in Madrid!
Best Bar in La Latina: (Calle Oriente, 4, Madrid M: La Latina) La Rosa Bar y Tapas
A little bit hard to find so this address will actually be helpful. It’s not a rowdy bar that you have to elbow your way through to get to a beer and tapa. It is however a small place and seating is usually limited/full. The cakes are all homemade and bomb-and yes I have tried them all. Along with the eclectic artwork you’ll see for sale hanging on the walls, they have an interesting menu that deviates from the “norm.” I don’t know that I’ve ever had friendlier service in Madrid, unless I was a regular at that place. It’s so great for sharing with friends on a Sunday, and actually being able to sit down and have a convo. In my opinion, a hidden gem. 🙂
Best Tortilla Espanola: (C/ Luchana, 36, Madrid M: Bilbao) Cerveceria Chamberi
My friends are not pleased with me for sharing this one. I was seriously asked not to mention it. However, after going and seeing the portion size and the price, as well as devouring the perfect flavor, I had no other option but to share.
If you like your tortilla gigantic and a little runny in the middle this bar is definitely your place. We paid 5euro for a coffee and tortilla to sit on the terrace. Not shabby.
If you show up later in the day and they have run out of the gigantic pie, try some of their tapas. I heard (and saw) that they are mouth watering and a good stand in.
Tasty Two: (Avenida de los Fresnos, Torrejon de Ardoz, Bus:224A from Avenida de America): Cafe Iris For people like me who like LARGE portions of tortilla cooked all the way through, café Iris in Torrejon de Ardoz is the best I’ve had. Ever. I eat mine with salt and tobasco. I was lucky enough to work across the street and it would be a silly for anyone to go that far for it but if you are ever in the neighborhood…..
Best steak (Calle Pez, 30, Madrid M: NOVICIADO): Calle 30
I’ve written about Calle 30 before and I still haven’t found a better cut of beef in Madrid. If you have a craving for steak, there is no need to look any further. I know there are places that you can go and pay a few euros less and still get a good steak. But once you have tried Calle 30’s, nothing will be the same unless you are at your favorite steak house back home.
Tasty Two: (Calle Labrador, 12, Madrid M: Embajadores or Acacias) Andariego Has to be Andariego’s “Plato Entraña” for sure. Another (Argentinian) dive that offers a steak so good it melts like butter once it hits your tongue.
Not too selfish to share? What are some of your favorite spots? I’d love to compare notes. I’m hoping your finds make me so jealous I catch the next plane back. Hey, my NIE doesn’t expire until September 30th. The possibilities are endless.