Throughout your time in Madrid, you will enjoy endless restaurants and food options. You really can't go wrong with all of the delicious eats that the city has to offer. That being said, here are ten food items that you can't miss during your time in Madrid, Spain.
Spain is famous for its Mediterranean-influenced diet, consisting heavily of seafood. One meal that is a perfect example of this regimen is paella. The dish can be just seafood, or mixed with other types of meat like chorizo, and even duck or rabbit in some parts of Spain. But if you want an authentic paella, locals will recommend “sin mixta” which means the contents aren’t a mix of fish and other animals- instead, it is just fish or just meat.
Patatas bravas/ali oli
This is a very common food in Spain, where it is served as a full plate or in tapas form at restaurants. It consists of cut and fried potato wedges doused in either bravas sauce or alioli (aioli). Patatas Bravas is a creamy red tomato sauce with a spicy kick to it. Patatas alioli consists of a thick white sauce with a mayonnaise base and plenty of savory garlic.
Pan con tomate/ Pa amb tomáquet
This classic Spanish dish is prepared on toasted or other bread, with olive oil, garlic, and tomato. This is typically served as an appetizer, or tapas, and can even be found as a side to a light meal.
Churros con chocolate
Now these aren’t your everyday churros. These are authentic Spanish churros and aren’t dipped in sugar and other toppings. Just pure naked churros, with a cup of “hot chocolate” which is really just a cup of steaming, melted, delicious chocolate. Madrileños will eat this for breakfast with a cup of café con leche, but feel free to go to Chocolatería San Gines at any hour of the night or morning for the best churros con chocolate in Madrid.
Pincho de tortilla/ tortilla Española
Unlike tortillas in the U.S., these babies are made from egg and are filled with potatoes and olive oil, which is in virtually every Spanish dish. The American name for this dish is a “Spanish omelet” and it is absolutely worth trying at any café or panadería.
Just like many countries, Spain is home to a cuisine with a rich history behind it that reveals a lot about the culture of its citizens. During the Spanish Inquisition, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella would look for proof among their people proving that they were Catholic by faith. Since pork isn’t kosher, people would hang big legs of meat in their windows to prove their faith. Thus, the custom of the big ham legs in store fronts was born- along with a pork-heavy diet. Jamón Iberico is cured ham, very closely related to prosciutto. It is delicious and is so worth trying.
Bocadillos de calamares
If you like fresh Spanish bread and yummy fried calamari, this is the perfect Madrileño lunch for you! The bocadillo de calamares is a sandwich (hoagie, sub, roll, whatever you may call it) with fried calamari. It is simple and delicious. It is very common all over Madrid, and can be found in any café. Try the ones on the outskirts of La Plaza Mayor for a nice lunch with a view.
This style of food is very common throughout Spain. Tapas are small portions of food that range in variety and can be eaten as a meal or in between meals. There are restaurants all over Madrid that you can pop into and order a dozen different tapas for lunch or dinner. It’s a great way to try small samples of many different typical Spanish foods. A perfect place to go is Mercado de San Miguel, an indoor marketplace with an array of kiosks serving an assortment of tapas dishes.
Pimientos de Padrón
Madrid, while famous for its seafood and jamón, also has amazing vegetables. The most common veggie dish you’ll find is peppers in some form, and these aren’t your everyday peppers. They are usually incredibly sweet and very flavorful. Pimientos de Padrón are green peppers fried and seasoned, and then served whole. Even if you’re not a huge veggie fan, these are worth a try.
These balls of fried deliciousness are one of the most common plates at any tapas joint. They consist of a rich, thick béchamel sauce and usually jamón iberico, but sometimes shellfish or chicken. Then they’re fried and served plain or with sauce. Get them as an appetizer or as a meal with other tapas for a sure fire hit.