Madrid's Most Traditional Dishes

What to Eat in the Spanish Capital

Madrid didn't invent paella, it doesn't have the sea right there for Spain's famous fresh fish and it doesn't have as many three-Michelin-star restaurants as San Sebastian. But Madrid is still one of the best places in Spain to eat. 

In addition to the classic Madrileño dishes listed below, Madrid can also offer you dishes from every region of Spain, as well as many Latino restaurants opened up by the vast Hispanic diaspora that has settled in the city.

Madrid restaurants are also surprisingly cheap: cheaper than those in the north of the country. And there are far fewer tourist traps than you'll find in Barcelona.

And that little problem of there being no ocean nearby? Not a problem when the top restaurants in the capital fly their fish in twice a day from the coast. 

  • 01 of 05

    Cocido Madrileño

    Detalle del Codido Madrileño del Restaurante Albahaca
    Javier Lastras/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    A stew consisting of chickpeas, vegetables and various cuts of pork, Cocido Madrileño is a substantial meal - so much so, it has to be served in two portions (the soup first and then meat and vegetables).

    Where to Get Cocido Madrileño in Madrid: Malacatin is one of the most famous places in Madrid to get Cocido.

  • 02 of 05

    Chocolate con Churros

    Chocolate con churros
    Chocolate con churros, the classic Spanish breakfast. (c) Damian Corrigan

    This famous fried dough, served with the thickest hot chocolate you will ever see, can be found all over Spain, but nowhere does churros better than Madrid.

    Where to Get Chocolate con Churros in Madrid: Chocolateria de San Gines, close to Sol.

  • 03 of 05

    Cochinillo Asado (Roast Suckling Pig)

    Cochinillo Asado, a classic dish worth seeking out in Madrid
    Cochinillo Asado, a classic dish worth seeking out in Madrid. (c) Damian Corrigan

    A regional specialty that is hard to get done properly, due to its long preparation time.

    Where to Get Cochinillo Asado in Madrid: El Sobrino de Botin (commonly known as 'El Botin') is the oldest restaurant in the world and was Hemingway's favorite restaurant (he says as much in his book The Sun Also Rises). It also makes great cochinillo asado. The kitchen is constantly preparing the pig, so you are guaranteed the freshest of dishes every time.

  • 04 of 05

    Bocadillo de Calamares

    El Brillante in Madrid is famous for its calamare sandwiches
    El Brillante in Madrid is famous for its calamare sandwiches. (c) Damian Corrigan

    Battered squid rings, served on a crusty roll, is another Madrid classic. This is another dish that is often served badly - unless the squid is recently fried, it can be very chewy - so make sure you choose your restaurant right.

    Where to Get Bocadillo de Calamares in Madrid: El Brillante, just across from the Atocha train station, claims to do the best squid sandwiches in Madrid, and few disagree!

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Callos a la Madrileña

    Callos
    Javier Lastras/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    This is utter tripe. No, really, it's tripe. It's not for everyone (apparently it's an acquired taste) but worth seeking out if it's your kind of thing.

    Where to Get Callos a la Madrileña in Madrid: Several places on Cava Baja serve callos, the most famous being La Chata.