To taste all the magical flavors of Spain in one place, look no further than its bustling capital, Madrid. Since 1561, Madrid has pushed the boundaries of culinary art, with influences from Arabian and Italian food culture creating a fusion of flavors unique to the city.
In this article we will highlight some of the popular dishes you'd encounter on a GoWithGuide adventure. From sweet and salty street food, to Michelin star meat stews, and everything in between - booking a Madrid private tour with a local tour guide will ensure you take full advantage of your time in the city.
Salty, thin, and packed with flavor - Jamon, or artisanal ham, symbolizes Spain's mastery of gastronomy. Though Jamon has evolved over the years, the meat derived from Iberico pigs is unmatched. Slightly sweet, thanks to the acorn diet, smooth in texture, and cured to perfection, it's the star of any appetizer, especially when paired with some Vinos de Madrid wine.
Watching a specialist slice your Jamon so thin that it's translucent is quite the experience, and several shops offer tapas as a side dish with their servings. The Mercado de San Miguel and the Gran Via have some notable Jamon shops, so ask your Madrid private tour guide about the different classifications, as there is a serious art to selecting Jamon.
Churros Con Chocolate
Known as the mountaineer's breakfast, churros and chocolate have become a worldwide phenomenon. The tube-shaped, deep-fried dough rolled in cinnamon and sugar, and dipped in a thick cup of hot chocolate is the perfect way to start your morning.
Because the dough and chocolate aren't heavily sweetened, it's not overwhelming. Plus, eating hot chocolate so thick it requires a spoon is indulgent on its own. Several spots in Madrid serve this popular treat, and you can get a quick fix in the morning, afternoon, or at 5 am after a night out. Though it's often crowded, the Chocolateria san Gines cafe is worth a try simply for its iconic taste, rich history, and 19th century scenery.
Next is Madrid's most beloved comfort food, cocido madrileño, or Madrid stew in English. Filled with hearty chickpeas, thick cuts of chorizo, pork, veggies, and a savory broth, it's the perfect pick-me-up after a day spent touring the city. Formerly known as the "rotten pot" because it transformed leftovers into a large meal, it's served in two or three parts with the broth, meat, and vegetables in different bowls.
Thanks to its popularity, cocido madrileño is sold in almost every restaurant, so it can be hard to identify which vendors have the tastiest version of this classic dish. To get to the good stuff, talk to your local Madrid private guide about the best stew spots.
As you walk along the vibrant streets of Madrid, be on the lookout for these savory fried balls of perfection. Croquetas are the ideal street food. They're the perfect walk-and-eat snack; being crunchy and golden on the outside and pillow soft on the inside.
Biting into croquetas is always a surprise, with some concealing salty Spanish ham and creamy béchamel while others contain salted cod fish. However, vegan croquetas have become more common as Madrid's chefs adapt to changing tastes. The croquetas de jamón is undoubtedly the most popular option, but feel free to taste your way through the city's wide selection.
Contrary to popular belief, locals don't consider paella to be Spain's national dish, but the Valencia region proudly takes credit for this seafood masterpiece. Due to the Moor's occupation, rice became a staple in Valencia, and day workers found inventive ways to spice up the simple meal. Seafood, sausage, fresh vegetables, and spices are just some of the ingredients in paella, as no two are alike.
Though paella didn't originate in Madrid, the cultural melting pot born of heavy migration to the capital means you can get the next best thing right in the city. To get as close to authentic Valencia paella as possible, head to spots like the Casa de Valencia or Bar La Gloria, which have a reputation for replicating the seaside meal to perfection.
Callos a la Madrilena
Next is a 16th century classic that resembles the cocido madrileño and tastes just as good. Callos a la Madrilena is the perfect Sunday night meal. Filled with pork and beef tripe, chorizo sausage, blood sausage, paprika, and fresh tomatoes, this stew is mainly eaten with large chunks of white bread soaked in soup.
Thanks to the paprika and traditional clay pot, each spoonful leaves a smoky rich aftertaste, making it a winter staple for Madrilenos of all ages. If you haven't tried tripe before, don't let that keep you away from this culinary treat. The exciting textures and flavors make for a memorable meal.
If you've imagined eating most of the things on this list at once, you'll be obsessed with Tapas, Spain's all-you-can-eat display of several local delicacies. Served in bite-size pieces, tapas is a staple side dish in most Madrid bars and restaurants. The typical tapas platter has an assortment of olives, Jamon, fried potatoes, grilled beef, croquetas, and toasted baguettes, just to name a few.
Tapas joints are a dime a dozen in Madrid, especially in busy, vibrant areas like the Gran Via or the Barrio de Las Letras, so you'll never run out of new spots to try. For an insider's look into the city's beloved tapas bars, talk to our local experts about a Madrid tapas tour.
Madrid has no shortage of unique fast foods and the bocadillo de calamares, or calamari sandwich, is high on the list. Despite having no coastline nearby, Madrilenos can't get enough of this deep-fried delight. Crunchy rolls of flour-dipped calamari wedged in a toasted baguette served with fresh lemon wedges and topped with paprika sauce or garlic mayonnaise; it doesn't get much better than that.
Tortilla de Patatas
Not to be confused with the flat corn or flour tortillas from Central and Latin America, Spain's tortilla de patatas is a mix between a potato pancake, a fluffy soufflé, and an omelet. While potatoes and eggs are the main ingredients, each vendor puts their own twist on this Spanish breakfast meal. Some feature sweet caramelized onions, mushrooms, and ham, while others are runny and served with toast.
It's a brilliant post clubbing snack as the oily egg and hearty potato fills you up. You can also find slices of tortilla de patatas in most tapas displays. When sandwiched between bread, it becomes a bocadillo de tortilla, perfect for a midday snack as you tour the Plaza Mayor.
The fried potato is one of the most universally beloved dishes, and Patatas Bravas is king in Madrid. Featuring rough-cut potatoes fried until golden brown and smothered in a spicy paprika & tomato sauce, it's a simple dish amplified by the city's vibrant atmosphere.
The recipe is so simple; you can try it at home, but when in Madrid there's no better place to start your patatas bravas exploration than Docamar. The restaurant boasts the best patatas bravas in the city, a claim worth testing.
Are you ready to take a big bite out of this food metropolis? Get in touch with a GoWithGuide Madrid tour guide and craft a unique experience that includes sightseeing, nature hikes, culinary delights, and more!