Eating in Madrid: Recommendations from a local foodie

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Today we are joined by Gemma, who lives and guides in Madrid, Spain. Apart from being an expert in European art (with a PhD in Art History) Gemma is passionate about gastronomy and has an inside track on the best places to enjoy the region’s freshest traditional and contemporary cuisine. Today she’s sharing with us five places to enjoy a meal in Madrid.

The narrows streets around Plaza Mayor are always a great place to begin a walking tour of the Habsburg district. I would position friends new to the city on the steps of my favourite restaurants. How better to understand a city than to eat where the locals eat?

According to tradition, Madrid is the best place to taste hot chocolate with fried “churros”, small beers with the calamari sandwich and definitely Tapas!

But we have more culinary surprises for you:

1. Casa Botin (17, Cuchilleros) This is the place for classical Castellan cuisine: suckling pig, lamb and onion soup. According to the Guinness Book of Records, it is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the world, founded in 1725. It has four floors including the cellar. Its vaults give it a very peculiar and unique style. Artist Goya supposedly worked here before becoming a painter. Hemingway was a frequent visitor and pronounced it one of his favourite restaurants.

2. San Miguel Building Marketplace (1, Plaza San Miguel) is a people's marketplace serving residents and travellers alike. It started its new life in 2009 when it reopened with 33 vendors selling fresh products, fish, pasta, meat and even cookbooks in a beautiful and pleasant atmosphere. Restaurants and cafés serve cuisine representing the quality and cultural diversity of Spain’s best chefs. For thirsty visitors there are several bars offering everything from coffee or beer to wine and champagne.

3. Estado Puro ( 4, Canovas Del Castillo Sq.) For contemporary Tapas (small plates of finger food) or Pintxos (bite-sized food eaten with tooth picks) inspired by the food and flavours of Spain, featuring different regional specialties and wines. A Spanish tapas bar is a place where friends and family gather to eat and drink while standing, sitting or moving about to catch up with others or reach over the bar for those last bites.

4. Ada Hotel’s Terrace (2, Gran Vía). This dining area is located on a roof top. It is the ideal spot for soaking up the sun and enjoying a quiet drink and a light fare while admiring breathtaking views of Madrid. Since the construction of the first buildings on the Gran Via, many fashionable private, member-only casinos have appeared. This building, known as the Royal Big Crag Club is exclusively for men. Current King Juan Carlos is an honorable member.

5. Terraza del Casino (15, Alcalá Street). If you're looking for a special dinner, this 2 Michelin Stars restaurant is an unforgettable "experience". Opened in 1836 in a gorgeous rooftop location, it offers an opportunity to experience cuisine in the famous Chef Ferran Adria style without vacuuming out your pockets. If you are a true foodie you will find this place an absolute joy. Highlights of the architecture include the elegant reception room, a magnificent Neo-Baroque library, and the main staircase in a singular Modernist style, which is one of the best in Madrid.


Gemma will be back in a couple weeks to share some insider shopping tips for Madrid too. If you’re planning a trip to Gemma’s city, consider starting a conversation with her! You can find her here: Gemma’s Guide Page.
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