A vibrant city with a storied history, beautiful architecture and a serious appetite for food, art and music, Madrid is one of Europe’s great capitals of culture. From market tapas to Michelin-starred fine dining, restaurants in this bustling metropolis intertwine the country’s rich culinary traditions with innovation and modern gastronomy. Here’s a sampling of some of the best food the city has to offer.
After graduating from culinary school, chef Sacha Hormachea took over his parents’ beloved bistro and has since elevated the provincial Spanish cuisine with modern twists and imaginative pairings. Try the spider crab lasagna, a delicate sheet of pasta atop fresh crab meat and creamy béchamel, or the villagodio, a thick cut of grilled beef served with rich bone marrow. Call ahead for a spot on the leafy patio.
Restaurante Sacha / Calle de Juan Hurtado de Mendoza, 11, 28036 Madrid / +34 913 45 59 52
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Credit: Sergi Arola Gastro
A master of modern gastronomy who launched his career working for Ferran Adria, chef Sergi Arola’s eponymous restaurant in Madrid’s Chamberi district is known for its impeccable service and inventive tasting menus. If you can’t get a reservation, head downstairs to SOT for cocktails and shareable plates like Iberian ham croquettes, Cantabrian anchovies and veal sweetbreads with cream.
Sergi Arola Gastro / Calle de Zurbano, 31, 28010 Madrid / +34 913 10 21 69
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Established in 1725 (yes, almost 300 years ago), Botín provides a casual atmosphere with old-world food and great service. Their specialty is roast suckling pig—a meal that is as unforgettable as the centuries old restaurant itself.
Botín / Calle Cuchilleros, 17, 28005 Madrid / +34 913 66 42 17 or +34 913 66 30 26
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Located near Plaza Mayor, this glass-enclosed food emporium is less of a farmers market and more of a food court on steroids. From jamon hawkers and seafood specialists to bartenders pouring vermouth on tap, this is the perfect place to try it all. After undergoing a beautiful restoration, the market is as busy as ever, but it’s worth battling the crowds.
Mercado de San Miguel / Plaza de San Miguel, 28005, Madrid / +34 915 42 49 36
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For 40 years and counting, Zalacain has served excellent international and Spanish cuisine to the country’s elite. Dig out the jacket and tie, this is a classic, formal restaurant meant for special occasions.
Zalacain / Calle de Álvarez de Baena, 4, 28006 Madrid / +34 915 61 48 40
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Credit: Javier Peñas
Describing his own food as “brutal,” chef David Muñoz is in a world all his own, and it shows in DiverXO. With ingredients and inspirations from cuisines all around the world, flying pig sculptures on the tables and three Michelin stars, this isn’t the place to go for a typical dining experience. Chef Muñoz imagines dishes that challenge expectations and traditions, and the space reflects the youthful energy of his staff. If you can manage to get a table, be ready for a culinary experience that you’ll never forget.
DiverXO / Calle Padre Damian, 23, 28036 Madrid / +34 915 70 07 66
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This funky-yet-sleek gastrobar has recently become a favorite experimental tapas place among locals. You can still get classic tapas fare like ham croquettes, fried artichokes, and toro tuna in olive oil, but the mainstays of the menu are creations like fondue of sheep’s cheese with potato, egg and truffle; duck tacos; and sea bass in salt.
La Gabinoteca / Calle Fernández de la Hoz, 53, 28003 Madrid / +34 913 99 15 00
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Credit: La Terraza Del Casino
Perched atop a grandiose 19th-century building, La Terraza Del Casino boasts a stunning formal dining room, magnificent terrace overlooking central Madrid and an elegant menu conceived by Ferran Adrià. The dishes are whimsically plated but still relatable, like olive oil paella and ox tail with mushrooms and Chinese cabbage.
La Terraza Del Casino / Calle Alcalá, 15, 28022 Madrid /+34 915 21 87 00
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Credit: Taberna de Antonio Sanchez
Still with its original decor from 1884, Taberna de Antonio Sanchez is an old bullfighters hang out in close proximity to Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor. Snack on tapas and take in the antique furniture and historic, taxidermy bull heads.
Taberna de Antonio Sanchez / Calle del Mesón de Paredes, 13, 28013 Madrid / +34 915 39 78 26
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Poncelet Cheese Bar has more than 140 different cheeses from all across Spain, plus a handful of other European countries. With classy decor and a 30-meter vertical garden wall, one could spend an entire afternoon here, feasting on cheese and enjoying wine by the glass. If dairy isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other options, including roasted Galican scallops, loin of venison, wild mushroom risotto and warm, caramelized endive.
Poncelet Cheese Bar / Calle José Abascal 61, 28003 Madrid / +34 913 99 25 50
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A small tapas bar in central Madrid specializing in prawns, La Casa del Abuelo has been around for more than 100 years. Grab a high top table next to the window, order a glass of sweet house wine or vermouth, and the gambas al ajillo—a ceramic dish of sizzling shrimp with a side of bread for sopping up the garlic- and chile-infused oil. The original location on Victoria has an old world charm that’s hard to beat.
La Casa del Abuelo / Calle de la Victoria, 12, 28012 Madrid, Spain / +34 910 000 133
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Plaza Santa Ana
Madrid has no shortage of picturesque plazas for eating, drinking and people watching, but Santa Ana is one of the best. Lined with tapas bars and filled with tables of sangria-loving locals and tourists, this is the place to be on a warm summer evening.