Madrid, the capital city of Spain, has long been one of my dearest travel destinations. Having spent a good amount of time there the past six years, I’ve found and discovered some favorite places and restaurants. In a week-long trip this past autumn, I created a list of my top five. While the extent of my culinary expertise really only comes from being a self-professed foodie brought up by self-professed foodies as well, if you ever take a trip to Madrid, I believe these places are worth visiting.
1. Posada de la Villa
In Cava Baja, a trendy part of town, a part full of bars and little restos, there is an old asador (grill house) called Posada de la Villa. Its oven has been roasting lamb since 1642. (Take that, Lombardi’s!) And the lamb? It’s out of this world! But start your meal with some padrones (roasted Spanish peppers that are eaten whole, and they’re not spicy!) and choose among the many other classics it has on the menu. Just don’t skip the lamb!
2. La Ardosa
Every visit I have ever made to Madrid included a visit to this bar (sometimes several visits to this bar!). This place opens relatively early for a Spanish watering hole, and it is famous for its tortilla de patata (potato omelet). Even Anthony Bourdain has nothing but praises for this dish. Be sure to go early. I’d once arrived at 9 p.m. (early for a Spanish night out) and they’d already run out and stopped cooking tortilla. Should that happen, their other tapas are great, too. My other go-to is the morcilla de foie.
3. Casa Salvador
Known for its bull soup, having once been frequented by bullfighters, the restaurant is nothing but Spanish charm. Despite being known for its meat, I really enjoy its merluza (hake). In a restaurant like this, you can’t go wrong. So order what you wish and savor every bite!
4. Barril de Las Letras
It was a real toss-up between this and La Barraca—another famous paella restaurant—because what is a trip to Spain without paella, right? But since La Barraca makes it to many food lists, I thought to include this place instead. La Barraca is another great restaurant for Spanish classics! Enjoy its giant sangrias on a lazy Spanish afternoon.
Note: If you really want out-of –this-world paella, and if you have the time, drive down to Alicante and look for a restaurant called Mi Casa. Its paella is different, very thin and really incredibly delicious.
5. Valor vs. San Gines
This comes down to chocolate. It really does. Both churrerias are great places to visit. Valor churros are big, puffy, and airy. San Gines churros are what you might recognize: skinny, ridged, and crunchy. Both are good so it really comes down to chocolate. I, personally am a fan of Valor chocolate, which is thicker and more chocolatey (does that make sense?), but I know some people love San Gines through and through. So if you have the time, try both!
One of the best things about Spain is the ability to take the simplest ingredients and make them out-of-this-world. That is one of the defining traits of each of these restaurants, and perhaps what I love most about Spanish cuisine.–Rachel Davis