Madrid is Spain’s capital and Europe’s third largest city. Given that scope, it’s no surprise people can eat quite well while exploring landmarks like Museo Nacional Del Prado, Parque del Retiro and Plaza Mayor. Learn about 16 top places where you must eat or drink in Madrid. As tour guide Sean Retana said, “The sooner you make Spain part of your life, the better.”
Numbered establishments on the map correspond to information below for easy reference. Establishments also appear in alphabetical order instead of in order of preference.
1. Antigua Pasteleria del Pozo
The oldest bakery in Spain dates to 1830 and resides on a central Madrid side street. They’re perhaps best known for Bartolillos, a classic Madrileñan pastry filled with custard, deep fried and dusted with powdered sugar. In the window, and on shelves, they showcase huge empanadas, savory baked pies filled with seafoods like sardines and bonito. Yemas, confections crafted from egg yolk and sugar, are also popular. So is the tile, which graced the bakery’s floor decades before Instagrammers started photographing stylish tiles.
MUST ORDER: Bartolillos, Empanadas
2. Bar Cock
Bar Cock features a high ceiling with exposed wood beams, marbled-over fireplace, and gorgeous cast-iron lanterns. Emilio Saracho opened the bar on a Chueca side street in 1921. Perico Chicote took the reins in 1945. Since 1985, Teresa Nieto, Jose Astiárraga and Patricia Ferrer have owned Bar Cock, which now holds the distinction of being Spain’s oldest cocktail bar. Spain’s national cocktail has become the Gin Tonic, and this is a great place to order one, though you should feel confident in varying your order, considering the seasoned bar staff.
MUST ORDER: Gin Tonic
3. Casa Lucio
Cava Baja, due south of Plaza Mayor, may have the highest concentration of traditional cuisine in Madrid. Casa Lucio is an institution that dates to 1974 in the old home of Mesón El Segoviano, where Lucio Blázquez started working at age 12. Now, his restaurant offers rustic dishes in this bar hopping hub, serving specialties of Toledo, Segovia and Guadalajara. The sprawling space features two floors, including an upstairs dining room with white clothed tables, art lined walls, exposed wood beams, and a noticeable lack of music, a Madrid restaurant epidemic. Huevos de la Casa consist of sumptuous eggs scrambled with shrimp, spinach, La Moraleda Almaraza olive oil and salt. Their plancha works magic on ingredients like mushrooms and artichokes, and tender boiled oxtail arrives on the bone, luxuriating in a sauce of tomato, carrot, onion and pimienta.
MUST ORDER: Alcachofas, Huevos De la Casa, Rabo de Toro, Setas a la Plancha
4. Casa Victor
Distinguishing between all the tapas bars along Cava Baja can be tricky. Thankfully, my concierge directed me toward Casa Victor, a bar with orange walls, L-shaped counter and blackboard menus that serves terrific pork-centric tapas. Their off menu morcilla is bound with pig’s blood, seasoned with onion, garlic, and spices, and griddled a la plancha, yielding crisp edges. Carrillada Iberica Estofada is a hearty Iberian pork cheek stew served with French fries. Choricitos al Cava are juicy sausage bulbs, pocked with fat and cooked in cava. Dip into the bar-top cold case for quick snacks like marinated caper berries and hard-boiled egg piled with crumbled yolk, mayo and marinated tuna. Most dishes pair well with a glass of Finca Antigua red wine, which Victor’s bartenders serve cool.
MUST ORDER: Carrillada Iberica Estofada, Hard-Boiled Eggs, Morcilla, Red Wine