Madrid is one of my favorite food destinations in the world. As the capital of Spain and home to nearly 7 million people, there are a lot of amazing places to eat in Madrid.
Madrid is the city I’ve spent the most time in during my travels through Spain. Our last trip here in the summer of 2023 was my fourth time visiting. This gives me a unique take on where and what to eat in Madrid, Spain that most other visitors (and travel food bloggers) don’t have.
Several fantastic food guides share the best Madrid restaurants right now (aka trendy new spots). But this food guide will focus on the classic Madrid restaurants tourists can’t miss and some hidden gems that tourists rarely hear about.
Hopefully, this guide will help you not only determine where to eat in Madrid but also better understand the dining culture in Spain before arriving. Now, let’s dive into the 15 best places to eat in Madrid right now!
Things to know about Madrid Restaurants
Meal times in Spain
One of the biggest things tourists have to adjust to on a trip to Madrid is Spanish meal times. Spaniards eat meals more frequently and at somewhat unusual times compared to other countries. If you’re not accustomed to the meal times in Spain it can be a weird schedule to get used to.
Understanding meal times in Spain will help you avoid eating at the tourist trap restaurants in Madrid that are open during non-Spanish dining hours. Below are the five Spanish meals and typical dining hours for each.
|MEAL IN ENGLISH||MEAL NAME IN SPANISH||NORMAL MEAL TIMES||THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THIS MEAL|
|Breakfast||Desayuno||7:00 – 9:00 AM||Breakfast is a light meal, usually a croissant or pan con tomate (bread with grated tomato, garlic, salt, and olive oil drizzled on top). Almost always served with a small coffee.|
|Mid-morning snack||Almuerzo||10:00 – 11:30 AM||This can be anything from cheese, fruit, bread with jamon, or other small snack. It’s not eaten every day but is a common time to snack if you are hungry between meals.|
|Lunch||Comida||2:30 – 3:30 PM *3:00 – 3:30 is peak time for locals*||This is the largest meal of the day. It’s hard to find lunch after 4:00 PM and around 3:00 most restaurants will be packed. It’s a good idea to make reservations for peak dining times at the top restaurants here. Expect a three-course meal for most lunches served with wine and finished with a coffee. This is a great opportunity to try menú del día during the week!|
|Afternoon snack||Merienda||5:00 – 7:00 PM||This is another small snack to hold you over if needed until dinner time. Typically it’s a sweet treat served with a café (coffee).|
|Dinner||Cena||9:00 – 11:00 PM|
*9:30 – 10:00 is peak time for locals*
|Dinner is a light meal. It can be a mixture of tapas (small plates) or it can be a single dish but the goal is not to fill up too much before bed. Some common dishes for dinner in Spain are huevos rotos, ensalada rusia, tortilla de patatas, or a tomato, tuna, and olive salad, along with others.|
The cost of food in Madrid will depend on the type of establishment you are dining at and its location. Madrid is an extremely wealthy city and is comparable in many ways to New York. It’s the bustling production hub for Spanish television and movies and it stands as the dynamic capital city teeming with both aristocrats and lawmakers.
Not to mention Madrid is home to millions of individuals who contribute to its daily prosperity and vitality. With that being said, there is a wide range of restaurants to dine at that can meet any budget.
If you’re going to a nicer restaurant, for example, one of the 172 Michelin-recommended restaurants in Madrid expect to spend several hundred Euros per person. Most restaurants, even upscale or trendy restaurants have dishes for around 15€ to 30€. Tapas usually cost 2.50€ to 10€ or more depending on the dish.
Just know, that no matter where you are dining, expect an upcharge of 10% to 15% to be added to your bill if you eat on the patio or terraza.
🍺 🍷 Beer and wine are extremely affordable here. A caña (small glass) of beer will cost around 2€ to 3€. A glass of red wine (vino tinto) or white wine (vino blanco) costs around 3€ to 4.50€. A bottle of wine is normally around 10 to 12€, even in a restaurant. However, fancy cocktails are more expensive costing 10€ to 12€ or more.
💧One thing that often surprises tourists is that water, which is exclusively served in bottles, often costs as much if not more than a glass of wine. Expect to pay 2€ to 4€ for agua.
We’ll share pricing expectations for each of the best restaurants in Madrid with the following icons. A * indicates farm-to-table and the restaurant uses local or homegrown organic products on its menu.
€: 5 – 10€ per plate
€€: 10 – 20€ per plate
€€€: 20 – 35€ per plate
€€€€: 40€ + per plate/per fixed menu
Almost all Madrid restaurants accept credit or debit cards. If you’re going to the bar, it’s easier to pay with cash but you should be just fine with a card, too. Feel free to exchange your currency for Euros at your bank before going. We only had 200€ with us for our entire seven-week trip to Spain so don’t feel obliged to take a lot of cash with you.
Make sure to have a credit card that doesn’t charge international fees. Check out our favorite travel credit card we use when we’re out of the country click here.
Tipping in Spain
Tipping is not customary in Spain. Most restaurant workers make a livable wage without tips. So, you should not feel obliged to leave anything on top of the bill. Most Spaniards don’t leave a tip at all. However, there is a growing culture of leaving a few cents (rounding the bill up) as a tip. You can leave a 5€ to 10€ tip if it’s you would like to show your server their service was above and beyond.
The only places you will see things like tip jars are in the busy tourist centers. Some will even have bells they ring when they receive tips from tourists to encourage more tipping. Tipping is not required and is rarely done by Spanish locals.
We highly recommend making reservations for lunch or dinner in Madrid. A lot of the best restaurants in Madrid will be fully booked at peak dining times – no matter the day of the week. If you want a guaranteed spot at the table, it’s best to reserve in advance.
The 15 best places to eat in Madrid
Below are 15 of the best restaurants in Madrid right now. You can easily DIY your own food experience, but if you are short on time take a food tour. We highly recommend taking a food tour with Get Your Guide. We did one in Barcelona and learned so much about the traditional foods of the region.
This Madrid food tour has hundreds of views and has a 4.9 ⭐️ rating! If you’re short on time or want to learn more about the food you’re eating, book your food tour tickets here. You can also see some of the other recommended tours in Madrid below.
There are way more good restaurants in Madrid than I have the time (or space) to write about. If you’re out and about in the city, make sure to refer back to this blog post for the best dining options that extend beyond the 15 best places to eat in Madrid I’m sharing here.
Mercados, which are Spanish for markets, are some of the best places to eat in Madrid. These indoor markets were once the primary way of shopping before the modern supermarket was invented. People would come here to purchase fish, produce, meats, and other necessities several times a week.
After supermarkets made their debut in the 1950s, interest in the markets started declining. Restaurants are popping up in these spaces brining a new resurgance to the markets.
You may notice Mercado de San Miguel is NOT on the list of the best places to eat in Madrid. This historic market which is located around the corner from the Plaza Mayor is the most popular market for tourists. However, it is certainly not one of the best places to eat in Madrid. It’s truly a tourist market with higher prices and often subpar food. Feel free to check it out (it is a cool old building), but we recommend dining elsewhere!
Mercado de Vallehermosa
Mercado de Vallehermosa is on the north end of town far from the tourist hot spots of Madrid. It’s located about a five-minute walk from the Quevedo metro stop. While its a bit of a trek to get out here, it’s worth it!
This two-story market is home to several outstanding restaurants including Tripea, a restaurant on the Michelin Guide for Madrid. This casual Nikkei restaurant serves Japanese-Peruvian fusion.
Tripea was closed when we were there, but we thoroughly enjoyed the food we got at Miga Cana (traditional Spanish food and tapas) and our habanero pastrami sandwich from Craft 19.
If you’re on the hunt for caracoles (snails) which is a traditional dish from Madrid, give them a try at Caracol De Cadalso. It has amazing reviews and is nowhere near the crowd as the tourist spot Restaurante Casa Amadeo los Caracoles (which is still very good and worth trying).
Mercado Antón Martín
Just a 10-minute walk from the Prado Museum is Mercado Antón Martín. This international food market is gaining a lot of recognition in the Madrid food scene. It still serves as a traditional market with several produce, fish, meat, and bread stalls. However, it’s becoming more popular for its gastronomic offerings.
We stopped here for lunch one day and found the most amazing Italian restaurant! The chefs here are from Italy and are doing everything right from their pizza, pasta, and porchetta.
I don’t think you could go wrong with any of the restaurants here. However, some of the other noteworthy restaurants to try in this Madrid market are Cutzmala Mexican Food, Caracola Cheesecakes, and Asian Army.
Mercado de La Paz
Mercado de La Paz still proudly operates, first and foremost, as a traditional shopping market. You’ll see tons of locals shopping for seafood, meat, produce, and sweets, along with other food items in the stalls here.
But there are a few cafeteria-style restaurants here with wide open seating. One of the most famous spots in all of Madrid for tortilla de patatas (also called Tortilla Española) can be found at Casi Dani. This traditional dish is the most commonly eaten tapa in the entire country.
Casa Dani’s tortilla de patatas is the perfect ooey gooey slice of heaven. This dish is made from thinly cut potatoes and onions sauteed until soft, then mixed into eggs with salt and slowly cooked to perfection. You can find tortilla de patatas on almost every menu, but this is a top spot to try it.
A lot of tourists aren’t aware that Madrid has a thriving Asian population that is growing rapidly. As we were walking around town we noticed so many Szechuan, dumplings, dim sum, ramen, and noodle places. All of which were completely packed!
I know you probably aren’t thinking about eating Asian food on a trip to Madrid, but if you get tired of croquetas, tortilla de patatas, or jamon you have to come to Yatai Market. This market focuses on Asian street food and popular specialties with different stalls serving things like ramen, noodles, dumplings, and baos.
Yatai Market is certainly not the only spot to score incredible Asian food in Madrid. Casa Pei and Mama Dumplings are two highly underrated spots to visit in the centro. We loved Mama Dumpling so much we wanted to eat there every day!
Madrid Tapas Restaurants
I often find tourists are surprised by the tapas restaurants in Madrid. While you can find trendy tapas restaurants throughout the city, most of the best tapa restaurants in Madrid are extremely simple offering counter-bar service with standing room only. These no-frills spots are made to be enjoyed with a quick bite (one or two tapas at most) and a drink.
Normally you move from place to place when eating tapas. Spainards rarely order all of their tapas at one bar or restaurant, but rather move from bar to bar ordering the speciality for that restaurant. We always encourage you to “tapa hop” when ever you’re in Madrid!
Juana La Loca
Juana La Loca is one of my favorite places to eat in all of Madrid. This is always my first stop after arriving and is the Madrid restaurant I recommend to all my friends coming here. Located just off Cava Baja (a popular street for tapa bars) in La Latina neighborhood this trendy pintxos bar has an amazing variety of tapas to choose from.
We love seeing what’s on display and ordering whatever looks good at the time. But one staple that shouldn’t be missed is their tortilla de patatas. Most of their tapas are served on small slices of bread (pintxos) in the style from the Basque Country in the north. This place gets packed, so come right when they open at 8:30 p.m. to start your tapa crawl or make a reservation!
Casa Lucas is another amazing tapas restaurant off of Cava Baja. This small but cozy tapas restaurant is known for their croquetas and squid (calamar). However, I highly recommend veering away from the traditional tapas and trying something new. They have loads of unique dishes to choose from.
We ended up ordering the Rabo de Toro (tail of the bull similar to oxtail) which is served over a potato puree, with olive oil and crushed pistachios. It sounds like an odd dish but is so beautifully cooked. The meat is tender, juicy, and so flavorful. We’ve eaten at Casa Lucas nearly every time we’ve come to Madrid. It’s definitely one of the best places to eat in Madrid without a doubt.
Bar La Campana
There’s a lot of typical dishes and tapas to try in Madrid, Spain. But one of the classic tapas is a fried squid sandwich, or in Spanish bocadillo de calamar. This dish originated in Madrid and is one of the top foods to try here. And Bar La Campana is the most famous spot to do so.
This is a super relaxed setting with just a few tables for seating. Grab a caña (small beer) or two and enjoy this salty, fresh, crunchy treat.
Casa Labra is another institution in Madrid. This historic restaurant that has been open since 1860 specializes in cod, or bacalao in Spanish. The Tajada de bacalao (piece of cod lightly battered and fried) or Croqueta de bacalao (a croqueta of beschamel with cod) are must-order items.
This is definitely a popular and well known tourist spot, but also loved by locals too.
Madrid restaurants (lunch or dinner)
There’s a wide range of restaurants in Madrid. You have everything from white tablecloth fine dining, cozy and intimate restaurants with trendy decor, and more typical restaurants with an informal cafeteria-style bar with a few tables on the side. The restaurants below are considered ‘nicer’ restaurants which offer higher-end dining experiences.
StreetXO is a posh tapas restaurant with super funky fun vibes. Their food is hardly traditional with strong influences from other cultures, including American, Italian, or Asian. The plates are small but the flavors are full and their cocktails are fantastic. Don’t miss a chance to get an epic view of the city from their roof top bar!
The menu changes frequently, but expect really unique dishes like Korean Lasagna, Wok Squid, and Asian inspired croquettas. If you’re looking for a fun gastronmic experience this is the spot for you!
Posada de la Villa
Posada de La Villa is a historic restaurant located on Cava Baja (are you seeing at trend for a great street to eat on yet? 😉). The building dates back to 1642 originally served as the mill for the neighborhood. It was abandoned for a long time until in the late 21st century developers restored it to it’s former glory.
They spared no expense and completely transformed this into a cozy upscale restaurant specializing in traditional Spanish food. You really can’t go wrong order anything off their menu. But their specialty is lechazo, slow roasted lamb that is cooked in their oven from 1642, or cocido.
We came here specifically for the cocido.
Cocido is a traditional stew of meats and vegetables that originates in Madrid. It’s my favorite dish in all of Spain and is super traditional. In the cooler months (October – March) you will see families across the country enjoying cocido on Sundays.
At Posada de La Villa their cocido is made by adding a variety of pork, chicken, garbanzo beans, and carrots to a clay pot with water and slowing cooking it for five hours over coals.
This dish is served in two courses. The soup, or sopa, is first. This rich broth is the by product of the slow roasted meat and is served with small noodles called fideuas. It’s my favorite part of the meal!
The second course is a massive plate of meat and vegetables that are so tender and juicy. This is a belly-buster meal, but well worth it! Reservations are required and you must have two or more people to order cocido here.
Restaurant Botin is by far, the most famous restaurant in Madrid, Spain. It’s claim to fame is not just it’s incredible cochinillo, a slow roasted suckling pig. But the fact that it holds the title as the oldest restaurant in the world in the Guiness Book of World Records.
Botin’s restaurant has been serving guests since 1725 and it’s restaurant oozes of charm and history. Reservations are must in order to eat here for lunch or dinner.
Sacha Restaurant is a bistro style restaurant in a cozy neighborhood setting. This spot focuses on locally sourced ingredients and seasonally changing menu of upscale Spanish classics. Much of their menu is inspired by the Basque Region in the North of Spain, a culinary mecca for the country with hearty plates of meat and bright dishes of seafood and produce.
You definitely need to make a reservation to eat here due to it’s popularity. There’s a short window for lunch (only open from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.) and dinner reservations book up early.
El Cogolla de La Descarga
El Cogolla de La Descarga is a mostly local spot nestled a few blocks from the Plaza Mayor in the heart of Madrid. This Asturian restaurant is a hidden gem, serving the most incredible dishes from north western Spain.
We found this spot by recommendation from our Uber driver and it was one of our favorite dining experiences from our last trip! We met the kindest locals, chatted with the owner Miguel, and even had cupitos (shots) of after meal drinks (digestivos) with him.
We enjoyed a cochopo which is thinly pounded veal stuffed with jamon and cheese then breaded and fried, although we’ve heard their steak and seafood dishes are other wordly.
Cava Baja is where tourists go for tapas and dining, but locals go to Ponzano Street on the north end of town.
Located on the very trendy and local, Ponzano Street, Charnela is one of the best restaurants in Madrid right now. This cozy restaurant is seafood focused with most of their dishes showcasing molusco de concha, or shellfish in inventive ways.
For obvious reasons, anything featuring shellfish like the beautiful mussle dish above or seafood are the must-order items here. Reservations aren’t required, but highly recommended if you want to secure a table.
Most tourists coming to Madrid imagine themselves sipping Sangria while eating a massive plate of paella on a terraza. As dreamy as this sound, it’s not really what you eat in Madrid. Paella is a traditional dish from Valencia, and if not cooked in the traditional manner is called “rice with things”.
Most restaurants claiming they serve fresh paella are not. Often times the rice dish does not use the proper ingredients (which are chicken, rabbit, green beans, and tomatoes) and is very rarely made to order as it should be. However, if you want to try traditional paella, or simply interested in try what Valencians call “rice with things”, Casa Benigna is the place to do it.
Just remember, if you are not eating traditional paella made the Valencian way don’t post about it on social media unless you are ready for a slew of scathing comments. Don’t say I didn’t warn you 🥘 😜.
The options for dinning in Madrid are endless. Thankfully there are so many amazing places to eat in Madrid, you have no shortage of restaurants to choose from. If you found this Madrid food guide helpful make sure to let us know in the comments below. And please share any other food recommendations you have with us as well!