MADGuide

The Best Restaurants & Bars In Madrid

Cured jamón, €2.50 glasses of vermouth, and an endless parade of tapas and vino. Here’s where to eat and drink in Madrid.
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photo credit: Kelly Hurd

The most important thing to know about going out to eat in Madrid is to do it later. Breakfast can be anywhere from 8-11:30am and lunch runs from 1-4pm (and yes, it’s completely socially acceptable to take that siesta afterward). Most restaurants won’t even open for dinner until after 8pm, though the most popular time to eat dinner is closer to 9:30 or 10pm.

Plan accordingly so you can drink 100-year-old sherry, enjoy that three-hour lunch, go on a tapas bar crawl, and watch a flamenco performance while you have dinner past your bedtime.


TAPAS


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Barrio de La Latina

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Juana La Loca is a stylish, popular restaurant with glass cases sitting on the bar filled with tapas and pintxos. Deciding on what to order feels like the tapas version of Tinder, only unlike Tinder, every single option at Juana is actually appealing—especially their famous tortilla de patata, a dripping egg and potato dish loaded with caramelized onions. It’s always packed, so definitely make a reservation, especially if you want to eat here on Sundays. That’s when locals head to the La Latina neighborhood to roam around, drink beers with friends, and tapas bar hop.


Emma is one of the few places near the tourist-heavy Plaza Mayor where you’ll find actual locals having a leisurely lunch or some quick tapas and vino with friends. Order a glass of wine from whatever’s offered on the daily chalkboard and pair it with some meatballs, stewed beef cheek, heaping plates of cured lomo and chorizo, and platters of Spanish cheeses.

Locals (and Emma) take jamón and queso as seriously as the French take Champagne—Spain’s Manchego cheese has an official certification, as it comes straight from the La Mancha region, and Emma plates it (slightly sweaty) in a delicious bed of olive oil alongside crunchy, bite-sized breadsticks, picos.


Tucked away on a quiet street in Madrid’s Lavapiés neighborhood, La Fisna isn’t somewhere you’ll likely encounter many tourists. Forget the Prado Museum—reserve a spot here to admire the cozy exposed brick and the towering wall filled with wine (there’s a 37-page list of wines by the bottle). When it comes to food, La Fisna’s dishes are simple, but made with flavorful ingredients from nearby regions, like the egg omelet with Catalonian sobresada, a semi-spicy chorizo paste, and piparras, which are Basque sweet peppers.


This restaurant has been serving up bacalao frito tapas—their delicious small plates of fried codfish—since 1966. This is one of Spain’s old-school, historic bars with vintage photos on the walls, and somewhere that anyone and everyone is welcome (and yes, it’s all good to have your baby chilling at the bar, even late into the night). Pair your tapas with a cold beer, and join the locals in balling up your used waxy napkins, which are typical at bars in Spain, and toss them on the floor after you’re done eating. It’s not rude, just tradition.


FINE DINING & DINNER SPOTS


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Saddle is a tasting menu spot that’s versatile enough for any special occasion. The bar area is sleek and sexy, perfect for a romantic anniversary drink, but the dining room is the highlight, with geometric light fixtures hanging over the tables from wall-to-wall skylights.

The dishes, like the garlic-topped Mediterranean red prawns, Caspian pearl caviar with blinis and crème fraîche, spider crab marinated in sherry, and aged beef shank always deliver, and you’ll probably be talking about every course on this tasting menu back home—even the after-dinner coffee, where you can select your preferred beans.


Tablaos are bars and restaurants where you can see flamenco musicians and dancers, yet most of them in Madrid are more about the performance than the food. But Corral de la Morería features a show with some of the most famous flamenco dancers and musicians in Spain alongside some really excellent dishes, like wild sea bass and watermelon gazpacho. 

When buying tickets online, select the Cena + Espectáculo option, then order the Menú Alegrías. But the real secret? Corral’s sherry menu. They have more than 1,000 different types, including some one-of-a-kind vintage bottles.


Start your evening with a dinner reservation at Angelita, a spot that serves up Mediterranean dishes like pisto, made with olive oil, fresh vegetables (like peppers and eggplant), and herbs that come from the restaurant’s very own garden just outside of the city.

They have 70 wines by the glass and 600 by the bottle, and most of the food is a combination of Spanish and Mediterranean dishes, like scallops topped with bone marrow, artichoke, and chimichurri, and a really strong selection of local cheeses. Post-dinner, head downstairs to the hidden cocktail bar for some Saffron Penicillion, a smoking cocktail made from whiskey, saffron, lime, and ginger.


Paipái has one of the better wine lists in town, with options that go beyond the typical Rioja/Ribera circle to feature small and family-owned wineries from lesser-known regions—this is the spot to order a bottle from the Canary Islands, Madrid’s very own Sierra de Gredos, or even a Palomino Fino vermouth by the glass.

Pair your vino with Spanish dishes that have some Asian and Peruvian flavors, like the crunchy egg set in a bed of potatoes parmentier and truffles and the tender, slow-cooked short rib drenched in Korean sweet and sour sauce over broccolini. This Chamartín spot is a 10-minute drive outside of the main tourist center, so you’ll definitely want to make a reservation and you’ll probably be surrounded exclusively by locals.


One of the most famous stalls at Madrid’s Mercado de la Paz is Casa Dani, a spot that serves up generous portions of croquetas, oxtail, and their famous tortilla de patata. What makes this version so great is that they fry the potatoes in sunflower oil—this helps them retain their original, sour flavor, which is then complemented by the sweetness of the onion. This tortilla can be anything you want it to be—breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack, or a really epic hangover cure.

The menu del día is only €15 and gets you an appetizer, main, dessert, and coffee—expect things like tomato soup from Andalusia called salmorejo, lentil soup, pork chops, and fish from the market’s vendors.


This cozy restaurant with less than 10 tables is the place to try food from Spain’s northern region of León. The size and atmosphere might remind you of squeezing into your friend’s tiny Manhattan living room for a potluck, but the patatas bravas, meats and cheese, and cheesecake are way better than anyone could make using a tiny gas stove. Le Qualite’s standout dish is their smooth, salty foie gras that comes with a sweet, caramelized sauce made from Canary Island plátanos. Space is limited, so make a reservation in advance.


As a tasting menu spot in the Mercado de Vallehermoso, Tripea is one of the most unique dining experiences on this list. The six-dish menu is €45, though adding on some of the day’s additional specials is worth the extra €5-15. Enjoy spice-infused sauces and marinades used in dishes like leek skewers and quail stewed in a saffron-heavy massaman curry.

Make a reservation, watch all the action happening in the market from the barstools, and pay attention to Tripea’s little touches: the water jugs are shaped like fish and they have personalized place settings for everybody.


Reserve a table at Mudrá for plant-based food made from ingredients like mushrooms, nuts, vegetables, grains, roots, and fruits. Because it’s one of the buzzier, newer spots on the list, Mudrá is worth a visit even if you’re not a vegan, if only to bask in the pinkish lighting or sip a fruity cocktail at the marble bar. Order the mushroom ceviche, which has tons of flavor thanks to the mint, lime, avocado, and mango leche de tigre, and finish off your meal with the dulce de leche cheesecake that’s made from cashew cheese.


Sala de Despiece’s colorful tiled ceiling has massive dangling silver hooks, which may seem a little strange at first, but once you realize the space was a former butcher shop, it all starts to make sense. These days, SDD is one of the hottest places in town for dinner, where each dish is a full-on event.

There’s eel with foie gras and apple that’s doused with the restaurant’s secret sauce, which the staff will caramelize directly in front of you with a torch, and the Rolex: a strip of egg yolk, pancetta, foie gras, truffle, and sauternes that’s infinitely tastier than a wristwatch. Even with three locations, you’ll still need to reserve well in advance.


Most of Madrid’s outdoor terraces are fancy rooftops or seats on busy streets where cars and motos zoom by. But not Raimunda, a restaurant whose terrace sits in a charming outdoor courtyard that’s part of the leafy grounds of the Palacio de Linares (make sure to reserve a table a couple months ahead of time, especially during the warmer months).

This is a total escape from busy Madrid with a peaceful patio, complete with fountains, flowers, and heat lamps for those chillier days. The Oriental Chicken with garlic and fried peanuts is perfect for sharing, and if you’d prefer a dish all to yourself, order the flaky corvina white fish infused with achiote.


FOOD MARKETS


Vallehermoso Market is the perfect stop for picky eaters or anyone that needs a break from the avalanche of jamón. Vallehermoso offers things like poke bowls, burgers, ceviche, and pizza, but still retains the old-school look and feel of Madrid’s historic food markets.

Shop for lean cuts of Toledo pork at Carnicería Antonio or Rioja tomatoes from the Frutería Torijano y Varas stands to bring back to your Airbnb, spend a whole afternoon tasting Asturian sidra at the Drakkar stall, go to town on Korean spare ribs at Kitchen 154, or have a tasting menu meal at Tripea.


Not sure what you’re in the mood for, but feel like wandering around and sampling homemade potato chips, empanadas, and anything else that screams “I’m in Spain”? You can do all that and more at Mercado de San Antón. There are first-floor stands where you can taste freshly-sliced Iberian ham, cool off with a lime, yogurt, and cardamom popsicle, or pick up artisanal soaps or olive oil to take back in your suitcase.

The market’s al fresco rooftop is a hip hangout when it’s warm out, and overlooks the red rooftops of the city’s funky Chueca neighborhood. If you’re looking for a full meal, skip the sit-down restaurant and head to the food stalls on the second floor. Try some seafood tapas and tostas at the Casa Bacalao, or the fresh tiger mussels from Hevia.


BREAKFAST & LUNCH


This restaurant is the perfect place to relax with a coffee and friends, especially before or after shopping at El Rastro, Madrid’s famous Sunday outdoor market. If you’re really hungry, go for the Jamonero Brunch, which comes with Iberian ham on toast with freshly grated tomato, plus a fruit and yogurt bowl, your choice of homemade cake, fresh juice, and coffee.

If you’re traveling with somebody who does, in fact, consider themselves a micro-influencer, they do have some great colored lattes, which come in many different colors and get topped with flower bits.


This woman-owned Iranian and Persian spot is only open for breakfast and lunch, and although you can pop in for a quick coffee in the morning, you should make a reservation for their set lunch service, which includes your choice of three dishes and a drink.

Banibanoo cooks up about 15-20 different dishes, all of which you can look over in their glass case while you listen to the staff give you a quick rundown of the choices. We love the sweet and savory rice with saffron, lentils, raisins, mini-meatballs, dates, and fried onion, and the velvety sweet potatoes with red onion, yogurt, and pomegranate.


TreZe is another set lunch option you should check out—just make sure to reserve at the high-table bar section on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Yes, we know these stipulations make it more complicated, but much like trying to cancel your overpriced cable plan, we promise it’s worth it.

For under $20, you get a three-part appetizer which consists of three different tapas, a main course, which could be something like Iberian pork or fresh sea bream, a dessert, and a drink, like a glass of house wine, soda, or beer. There’s typically a lively lunch crowd of Spanish businesspeople and chatty local residents here, so if you’ve been looking for an excuse to test out your brushed-up Spanish, this is it.


San Gines is the tourist spot for chocolate and churros, but Chocolatería Valor is just as good and has a slightly shorter wait. The people-watching at this chocolatería might even be as good as the churros—most of the people who come here have lived in this neighborhood for decades. You might still have to wait for a table, but it’s worth it to join the Madrileños leisurely sipping coffee and reading the paper.


GREAT BARS


If sipping sherry and popping olives where Ernest Hemingway once found inspiration sounds like something you want to do, head straight to La Venencia. The busy bar has vintage sherry bottles sitting under layers of dust, and the place is always crowded with locals and tourists laughing and drinking around dark wooden tables.

Don’t expect to find soda or beer on this menu: this bar only offers sherry by the glass, half-bottle, or bottle, with varieties like Manzanilla, Fino, Palo Cortado, Oloroso, and Amontillado, as well as a few tapas like chorizo or cheese. Just know that photos aren’t allowed, so put down your phone, appreciate some sherry, and enjoy the unique experience at this historic bar.


This classic Madrileño tavern dates back to 1892, and it’s the ideal place for sitting, chatting, and drinking while getting a dose of Spanish history. Although this is a prime bar for day drinking and just hanging out, this is the spot to really dig into traditional dishes from all over Spain. Ardosa’s tortilla de patata is one of the best in Madrid, the salmorejo, Córdoba’s version of gazpacho, is creamy and filling, and you should always order plates of Iberian ham, crisped croquetas, huevos rotos, and stewed tripe.


Madrid’s rooftop bar scene has exploded in recent years, with no shortage of options for those looking for drinks and a view. But the 360° Sky Bar on the 26th floor of the Riu Plaza España on Calle Gran Vía has some of the most impressive panoramas of Madrid. What differentiates this rooftop bar from the rest is not only its massive size, but its skywalk: a glass-bottomed bridge and walkway that you’ll definitely want to avoid if going up an escalator makes you nervous.

You’ll probably have to wait in line and pay a small fee to get in (€5-10), but enjoying the colorful sunset reflecting on the city’s reddish rooftops over a cocktail or some vino is a Madrid must. Just know that most of the food is forgettable at best, so stick to drinks.


Madrid is rather new to the speakeasy scene, which makes Jack’s Library even more fun. The secret bar is located behind the front of a flower shop, where you’ll have to ring a doorbell, then enter a code (that’s provided when you make a reservation) for a hidden door to swing open to a dimly-lit, 16th-century British library bar.

Put your phone away (photos are prohibited) and order a simple, perfectly-prepared cocktail. Drinks are named after artists and writers, like the floral and smoky Juan Rulfo (mezcal, jasmine essence, passion fruit, fresh lime zest) or the refreshing George Orwell (gin, elderflower liquor, fresh ginger, lime juice, and ginger beer).


This may not be the first time you’ve heard of Salmon Guru, thanks to the bar’s wild cocktails and lively atmosphere. The cocktail list is divided into categories—our personal favorite is the “crazy” section that features drinks like the Caos, which mixes cachaca, elderberry, lemon, apple shrub, thyme, and rosemary into a large mug shaped like a mythological fantasy creature topped with nearly a foot of cotton candy foam.

It may feel gimmicky and you’ll probably have to stand in line to get in, but the bar’s neon lights, melting candlesticks, and unique drinks make this spot somewhere that’s worth checking out.


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