Restaurants in Madrid
A melting pot of cultures and cuisines, many argue that cosmopolitan Madrid does not have its own distinct flavour of gastronomy; the Spanish capital is highly influenced by the contributions of the immigrants who once settled here and the variety of food on offer is exciting.
Madrileño fare can never be called dull or boring with such delicacies as tripe and sausage, or crispy pig's ears and sweetbread (bull's testicles), but plenty of other safer options exist for the less adventurous, such as gazpacho (chilled tomato and cucumber soup), Besugo al horno (baked bream), Cocido (beef, pork, chicken and vegetable stew) and the well-known tapas (savoury tidbits of appetisers). Those with a sweet tooth can enjoy barquillos (rolled wafers), buñuelos (fritters filled with custard and whipped cream) or bartolillos con crema (small pies with custard).
As in most Spanish cities, tapas restaurants can be found all over Madrid and some of the most popular eateries can be found in the area around Plaza Mayor and Sol. Visitors should bear in mind that lunch and dinner start much later than in many other countries. Fridays and Saturdays are the busiest evenings for eating out and it is advisable to make a booking in advance to be sure of securing a table.
Immortalised by Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, when Jake invites Brett to Botin for the Segovian speciality, the Restaurante Botin has been catering to guests since 1725. Botin is a family-run restaurant that has spanned three generations, offering friendly customer service. Much of the décor pertains to the original restaurant, from the charcoal hearth to hanging copper pots and an 18th-century tile oven. The mixed fish casserole and the grilled filet mignon 'Botin' are excellent, a dessert favourite is strawberries with whipped cream. Open daily for lunch and dinner, reservations recommended.
Address: Calle de Cuchilleros 17
Telephone: +34 91 366 4217
This intimate and luxurious restaurant is decorated in deep shades of red and gold, and furnished in the finest dark wood. The menu offers an array of mouth-watering temptations which include lobster salad with sherry vinegar, followed by duck stewed in port. The chocolate blini with pineapple rounds the evening off nicely. Open for lunch and dinner Monday to Friday, and dinner only on Saturday. Reservations essential.
Address: Alvarez de Baena 4
Telephone: +34 91 561 4840 or +34 91 561 1079
Taberna La Bola
La Bola is one of the last restaurants in the city to don a blood red façade, initially operating as a wine shop in 1802. This family-owned restaurant has been passed down over seven generations and continues charming visitors with its 'olde worlde' décor of velvet, Spanish tiles and lace curtains. La Bola guarantees affordable prices and homemade dishes, packed with flavour. House specialities include Madrileña-style stew and roast lamb. Open Monday to Saturday for lunch and dinner, and Sunday for lunch only. Reservations recommended.
Address: Calle de la Bola 5
Telephone: +34 91 547 6930
A modern restaurant that offers cool interiors, tasty food and attentive service, Wagaboo is a good bet for lunch or dinner in Madrid. Specialising in pasta and noodles, Wagaboo has a great selection of contemporary Italian and Asain cuisine. The stylish industrial interior of exposed brick and piping is complemented with chic lighting, red leather seating and shiny dark wood tables. Contemporary art and photography adorn the walls, and the glassed-in kitchen allow patrons to see the pasta and noodles being made. Try an Asian stir-fry or the pizza with pesto, cherry tomatoes, arugula, feta and parma ham. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Address: Calle Gravina 18, Chueca
Telephone: +34 915 316 567
Bazaar serves creative Mediterranean food in a trendy environment. Priding itself on fresh produce and modern cuisine, Bazaar offers dishes such as thinly sliced tuna with mango chutney, or tender ox with parmesan and rocket. With oils, wines and various fripperies on display, Bazaar has an initial delicatessen feel to it. Follow the large staircase to the dining area with cream leather banquettes, and windows overlooking the streets of Chueca - ideal for people watching. The menu is displayed as a list of dishes with no definition between starters, mains and desserts. There is a wide-ranging wine list. Open Monday to Saturday for lunch and dinner, reservations recommended.
Address: Calle Libertad 21
Telephone: +34 91 523 3905
El Club Allard
This extraordinary Michelin-starred restaurant (two stars) serves imaginative, unique food which is presented beautifully. Every dish is a work of art and foodies will relish the originality of the creations. Usually there are three set menus on offer and the creative meals are complemented with friendly service and a good wine list. El Club Allard is ideal for special occasions. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Saturday, but is closed on Sundays and Mondays. Reservations are recommended.
Address: Calle Ferraz 2
Telephone: + 34 915 590 939
Maintaining its old world charm, quality dishes and unpretentious ambiance, Casa Paco has been a favourite of Madrilenos for over thirty years. A superb steak house, meat at this taverna is ordered by weight and the Casa Paco Solomilo (fillet steak) is a firm favourite. For those after something lighter, the sole and baby lamb are also first-rate dishes. The tiled dining room and traditional décor at Casa Paco add to the homely atmosphere, as does the old fashioned bar, natural sidra (cider) and conscientious service. Open Monday to Saturday for lunch and dinner.
Address: Puerta Cerrada 11
Telephone: +34 91 366 3166
For the best paella and a quality selection of cavas (Catalan champagne-type wine) that complements this traditional dish, Café Balear is the place. The elegant dining room is simply decorated with white linens and curtains, lifted by art prints and potted palms. Try the stuffed aubergines a la Mallorquina, or perhaps the vegetarian paella with fresh ginger. Attentive staff and a friendly atmosphere add to the appeal of this lovely restaurant. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Address: Sagunto 18 near Plaza de Chamberi
Telephone: +34 914 47 9115
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