The Best 12 Madrid Restaurants That Won't Break the Bank

  • 01 of 13

    Where to Eat the Best in the Spanish Capital

    Calle Cuchilleros in Madrid de las Austrias
    ••• Madrid de las Austrias in Madrid's oldest neighborhood. Damian Corrigan

    One great thing about eating in Spain's biggest city is the sheer variety. Every Spanish region or cuisine type is represented somewhere in the city.

    Check out the following gallery for some fantastic places to eat in the Spanish capital. Keep in mind, the restaurant's hours are subject to change.

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  • 02 of 13

    Best for Fish: Pescador

    Spectacular fish and shellfish are on display as you enter El Pescador in Madrid
    ••• Spectacular fish and shellfish are on display as you enter El Pescador in Madrid. (c) Damian Corrigan

    One of the world's best seafood restaurants?

    Why You Should Visit El Pescador

    When you're seeking out the freshest fish, you wouldn't expect a landlocked city, 300km from the nearest sea, to be the place to get it. But then you didn't know that El Pescador is one of a handful of Madrid restaurants that have their fish flown in twice a day from around the country. 

    Whether it's lobster and hake from the Cantabrian coast or prawns and shrimp from the Mediterranean, you can guarantee your seafood can come no fresher than these daily catches.

    The dishes at El Pescador come unadorned - a parsley garnish is so 1980s! Though they will offer you a variety of serving styles and sauces, including a la romana (fried in batter), a la vasca (in a white wine and parsley sauce) or a la vizcaina (in a red pepper and tomato sauce), the waiter will recommend you take it a la planca - fried on a hotplate with just a touch of oil and a sprinkling of salt.

    Address: Calle de José Ortega y...MORE Gasset, 75, 28006 Madrid, Spain

    Website: www.marisqueriaelpescador.net

    Opening Hours: 

    Monday 12:30 – 4:00 pm, 8 pm – 12:00 am

    Tuesday 12:30 – 4:00 pm, 8 pm – 12:00 am

    Wednesday 12:30 – 4:00 pm, 8 pm – 12:00 am

    Thursday 12:30 – 4:00 pm, 8 pm – 12:00 am

    Friday 12:30 – 4:00 pm, 8 pm – 12:00 am

    Saturday 12:30 – 4:00 pm, 8 pm – 12:00 am

    Sunday Closed

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  • 03 of 13

    Best for Wine and Ham: Stop Madrid

    Wine, cheese, olives and ham at Stop Madrid
    ••• Wine, cheese, olives and ham at Stop Madrid. Damian Corrigan

    Stopping Madrid from overexerting itself since 1929. 

    Why Should You Visit Stop Madrid?

    The holy grail for the wine lover, particularly if you're traveling by yourself or as a couple, is to find a bar with a restaurant with a good wine-by-the-glass menu. Most bars simply don't have the turnover to be sure they'll go through the whole bottle before it goes bad.

    Enter Stop Madrid, a classic Madrid wine bar which around 100 bottles of wine that they will gladly open for you if it isn't already open. Sample wines from the famous regions of Ribera del Duero and La Rioja or go for the lesser-known wines regions, such as Madrid or (my personal favorite) Toro.

    And of course, Spanish wine always goes well with manchego cheese, as well as jamon and chorizo for the meat eaters, all exceptional quality stuff to go with the finest wines.

    Address: Calle de Hortaleza, 11, 28004 Madrid, Spain

    Phone:+34 915 21 88 87

    Website: www.stopmadrid.es/

    Opening Hours: 

    In theory, it is open seven days...MORE a week from 12:30 pm – 2:00 am. The reality can be slightly different.

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  • 04 of 13

    Best for Dessert: Casa de Las Torrijas

    Torrijas (Spanish bread pudding) at Casa de Torrijas, Madrid
    ••• Torrijas (Spanish bread pudding) at Casa de Torrijas, Madrid. Damian Corrigan

    You can have anything you want as long as it is torrijas.

    What Makes Casa de Las Torrijas So Great?

    Torrijas is Spanish bread pudding, a sweet breakfast or dessert based on eggs, bread and honey, usually eaten at Easter time in Spain. At Casa de las Torrijas it is Easter every day, with fresh torrijas made every day.

    Torrijas here is idiosyncratically served not with coffee as you might expect (they have no coffee machine) but with sweet wine.

    The bar itself is beautiful, with vintage advertising on the walls and mirrors adorning the walls.

    Address: Calle de la Paz, 4, 28012 Madrid, Spain

    Phone: +34 915 32 14 73

    Opening Hours: 

    Monday to Saturday 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, 6:00 – 10:30 pm

    Sunday Closed

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    1. 05 of 13

      Best for Breakfast (or Post Clubbing Snack!): Chocolateria de San Gines

      The thickest hot chocolate with churros at San Gines Chocolateria in Madrid
      ••• The thickest hot chocolate with churros at San Gines Chocolateria in Madrid. Trubble/Creative Commons

      Heaven for chocoholics!

      Why Should You Visit Chocolateria de San Gines?

      Spain's most famous breakfast is chocolate con churros: fried dough dunked in melted chocolate. 

      Spanish churros are less sweet than you might expect if you are used to the Mexican style, while the chocolate is not hot chocolate like you get on a British or American breakfast table: it's a lot thicker.

      You can still get chocolate con churros in many cafes in Spain, but the churros are often made early in the morning and the chocolate is sometimes, unfortunately, powdered. But at San Gines, they know what you want before you order it, so they've already got everything freshly made for you.

      Address: Pasadizo San Ginés, 5, 28013 Madrid, Spain

      Website: chocolateriasangines.com

      Phone: +34 913 65 65 46

      Opening Hours: 

      Open 24/7

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      1. 06 of 13

        Best Experience: El Botin

        Roasting a pig at the historic oven in El Botin, Madrid
        ••• Roasting a pig at the historic oven in El Botin, Madrid. Damian Corrigan

        The oldest restaurant in the world?

        What Makes El Botin So Great?

        If a restaurant wants a unique selling point, being considered to be the oldest (continually in operation) restaurant in the world would be good enough for most. But El Botin adds to that the fact it was Ernest Hemingway's favorite restaurant (he says as much in The Sun Also Rises).

        Not that El Botin really needs either of these gimmicks. The restaurant, also known as El Sobrino de Botin, makes the best roast suckling pig in the city and is right up as one of the best places for the dish in the country.

        Website: www.botin.es

        Address: Calle Cuchilleros, 17, 28005 Madrid, Spain

        Phone: +34 913 66 42 17

        Opening Hours: 

        Monday to Sunday 1:00 – 4:00 pm, 8:00 pm – 12:00 am

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        1. 07 of 13

          Best for Food with Beers: La Ardosa

          The 'secret' back room at La Ardosa, with fine meats on display
          ••• The 'secret' back room at La Ardosa, with fine meats on display. (c) Damian Corrigan

          Young crowd, old bar.

          What Makes La Ardosa So Great?

          In fashionable Malasaña, your sloppy joe joints or your greek salad outlets may come and go, but La Ardosa will always remain. 

          One of a handful of Restaurantes Centenarios, Madrid restaurants that have existed for more than a hundred years, La Ardosa is unique in being more a bar than a restaurant - but with bar food far superior to any you'll see in your average pub.

          The front room of La Ardosa is always packed with hip young locals but climb under the bar into the back room for a little more space to sample their excellent tapas. Particularly famous is their tortilla, cooked to perfection (it just to be gooey but not raw in the middle, requiring culinary skills that are sadly dying out today in Spain). Also check out their salmorejo, the thicker cousin of gazpacho famous in Cordoba.

          Address: Calle Colón, 13, 28004 Madrid, Spain

          Phone:+34 915 21 49 79

          Website: www.laardosa.es

          Opening Hours: 

          Monday to Sunday: 8:30 am – 2:00 am

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          1. 08 of 13

            Best for Inventive Tapas: Juana La Loca

            Inventive tapas at Juana La Loca, Madrid
            ••• Inventive tapas at Juana La Loca, Madrid. Damian Corrigan

            You'll go loco for their tapas.

            What Makes Juana La Loca So Great?

            If it's your first time in Spain, you might be surprised to discover that, despite the country's renowned sense of tradition, there are also a lot of chefs doing some quite inventive things with their tapas. Some might even use vegetables!

            The best place in Madrid for such tapas is Juana La Loca in the La Latina district. Their tortilla, set apart from the traditional variety in its use of caramelized onions, is a real treat. 

            Address: Plaza Puerta de Moros, 4, 28005 Madrid, Spain

            Phone:+34 913 64 05 25

            Website: www.juanalalocamadrid.com

            Opening Hours: 

            Monday 7:00 pm – 12:00 am

            Tuesday 1:00 – 5:30 pm, 7:00 pm – 12:00 am

            Wednesday 1:00 – 5:30 pm, 7:00 pm – 12:00 am

            Thursday 1:00 – 5:30 pm, 7:00 pm – 1:00 am

            Friday 1:00 – 5:30 pm, 7:00 pm – 1:00 am

            Saturday 1:00 – 5:30 pm, 7:00 pm – 12:00 am

            Sunday 1:00 – 5:30 pm, 7:00 pm – 12:00 am

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            1. 09 of 13

              Best Place to Prepare Your Picnic: Ferpal

              A selection of jamon (ham) at Ferpal in Madrid
              ••• A selection of jamon (ham) at Ferpal in Madrid. Damian Corrigan

              Make yourself the best picnic of your life.

              Why Should You Visit Ferpal?

              My Madrid Food Tour gave me a good piece of advice for getting the best jamón in Madrid. He said: "Don't get Spanish ham in a restaurant, where you're paying over the odds just for the barman to slice it for you. Instead, come to somewhere like Ferpal and get a few slices and a baguette and take it to Retiro park for a picnic." 

              He has a point!  

              Ferpal is a classic Madrid delicatessen, selling the best ham, cold cuts and cheeses in the city. It is permanently bustling with grandmothers picking up some jamón iberico for lunch, perfectly carved by champion carvers (yes, there really are championships for things like this). Check out the curious sandwiches with the crusts cut off, which is apparently popular with the upper echelons of Madrid society.

              Website: www.ferpalmadrid.com/

              Address: Calle del Arenal, 7, 28013 Madrid, Spain

              Phone:+34 915 32 38 99

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              1. 10 of 13

                Best for Bocadillo de Calamares: El Brillante

                The classic vibe of El Brillante in Madrid
                ••• The classic vibe of El Brillante in Madrid. Damian Corrigan

                This is a dying breed of a​ classic diner.

                Why Should You Visit El Brillante?

                Another of Madrid's most famous dishes is the bocadillo de calamares: a baguette filled with freshly fried squid rings. And nowhere is more known for this dish than El Brillante.

                The class zinc-topped diners of Spain are dying out. In the past 15 years, most have closed up shop and replaced by more modern-looking locales. But El Brillante remains, a testament to its quality. 

                Situated in front of Atocha train station, around the corner from the Reina Sofa museum, virtually every visitor to the Spanish capital walks past this restaurant. It might look a little intimidating at first, with bar staff shouting the orders across the room to the kitchen, but that's a part of its charm.

                Address: Plaza Emperador Carlos V, 8, 28012 Madrid, Spain

                Phone:+34 915 28 69 66

                Website: www.barelbrillante.es

                Opening Hours: 

                Monday to Sunday 6:30 am – 12:30 am

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                1. 11 of 13

                  Best Near Sol: Casa Labra

                  Glass of Spanish vermouth and fried cod at Casa Labra, Madrid
                  ••• Glass of Spanish vermouth and fried cod at Casa Labra, Madrid. (c) Damian Corrigan

                  A round of vermouth and cod nuggets, please!

                  What Makes Casa Labra So Great?

                  The eye of the storm is often the calmest. And in the shopping frenzies around Puerta de Sol in Madrid, Casa Labra is an oasis - perhaps not of calm, but at least of great atmosphere and quality food - unlike anything else in the vicinity.

                  Casa Labra has a restaurant which always seems full, but it is most famous for the standing bar, where they serve thimbles of Spanish vermouth and pieces of fried cod. Prices are fantastic, the bar looks incredible and the food and drink are both prepared impeccably. 

                  Address: Calle de Tetuán, 12, 28013 Madrid, Spain

                  Phone: +34 915 31 00 81

                  Website: www.casalabra.es

                  Opening Hours: 

                  Monday to Saturday 1:15 – 4:30 pm, 8:15 – 10:00 pm

                  Sunday Closed

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                  1. 12 of 13

                    Best for Paella: Arrozal

                    Two types of paella at El Arrozal in Madrid
                    ••• Two types of paella at El Arrozal in Madrid. Damian Corrigan

                    The place to get paella in Madrid.

                    Why Should You Visit Arrozal?

                    Paella is not a dish that is native to Madrid, but that's not to mean you can't get good rice-based dishes in the Spanish capital. But you have to know where to look.

                    Madrid isn't as bad as, say, Barcelona, for passing off yellow-dyed rice as paella, but in most cased paella in Madrid is a large, cheap dish made in the morning and served in portions with the lunch menu. 

                    But for the best paella, with moist, succulent rice, tender meat, and crisp vegetables, you need a freshly cooked paella. There are a few good places in Madrid for this, with Arrozal in La Latina one of the best.

                    One thing that is relatively unique is that they are happy to make a paella for one. Many restaurants claim this is not possible, but in reality, it's because the restaurant doesn't have enough space in the kitchen to dedicate one flame to a single paella.

                    Address: Spain, Calle de Segovia, 13, Madrid, Spain

                    Phone: +34 913 65 39 09

                    Website: elarrozal.com

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                  2. 13 of 13

                    Best for Cocido Madrileño: Malacatin

                    Cocido Madrileño at Malacatin, Madrid
                    ••• All this food is for one person. Cocido Madrileño at Malacatin, Madrid. Damian Corrigan

                    Cocido madrileño is the ultimate Man vs Food challenge.

                    Why Should You Visit Malacatin?

                    The dish most associated with Madrid is ​cocido madrileño, an epic stew based on chickpeas, cabbage, noodles and a whole pig. Well, pretty much. 

                    Visiting Malacatin, one of the very best restaurants for cocido madrileño, is not so much going out for dinner as going on a mission.

                    The dish is served in three parts. First, you are served the broth that everything else was cooked in. I can do this, you think, as the deceptively light soup arrived. Then comes the vegetables, then everything else.  

                    One thing that sets Malacatin apart from the way a Madrid grandmother would make her cocido is that rather than cooking everything in one giant pot, the chef separates the broth into four pots and cooks the various cuts of meat separately, thus preserving the different flavors better.

                    In this way, you get to fully appreciate the cabbage and chickpeas, before progressing to the main course: blood sausage, chicken,...MORE chorizo and pork knuckle.

                    You may never eat so well again. In fact, when you leave Malacatin, you may feel you will never need to eat anything ever again.

                    Address: Calle de la Ruda, 5, 28005 Madrid, Spain

                    Phone:+34 913 65 52 41

                    Website: www.malacatin.com

                    Opening Hours: 

                    Monday 11:00 am – 6:00 pm

                    Tuesday 11:00 am – 6:00 pm

                    Wednesday 11:00 am – 6:00 pm

                    Thursday 11:00 am – 6:00 pm, 8:00 pm – 12:00 am

                    Friday 11:00 am – 6:00 pm, 8:00 pm – 12:00 am

                    Saturday 11:00 am – 6:00 pm

                    Sunday Closed