Savoring Madrid: What to try, where to eat

Here are seven restaurants and a market to start you off on Madrid’s booming food scene.

One of the main drivers of a good trip is the food it offers. The capital of Spain definitely has no shortage of it whether served on small plates, indulgent dishes, or from the oldest restaurant in the world.

Mercado de San Miguel

Photo of Mercado San Miguel from Shutterstock; banner photo from Gran Santander Facebook page

A stone’s throw away from Plaza Mayor is this intricate structure of iron architecture built more than a hundred years ago. Mercado de San Miguel is a great place to start on your food adventure in Madrid as it offers all types of tapas, innumerable empanadas each with different fillings and paper cones filled with thin slices of jamon.

File photos; lower right photos by Jar Concengco

Locals prefer other markets as they say this one has gotten too touristy and this usually means that it’s pricier. Tapas—small plates of food—make it possible for you to taste a gamut of flavors instead of being stuck with one entree. Check out Madri stall, which has a great spicy sausage on a stick topped with a rich yolk sauce.

Gran Cafe Santander

Photos by Jar Concengco

Before Gran Cafe Santander’s renovation under new management, it was a 52-year-old restaurant in Madrid with an iconic status. Elegantly designed and careful to preserve the essence of the original Cafeteria Santander, interior design studio Sandra Truella Interioristas kept the colors neutral and added as many windows to allow natural light in.

Right photo of Gran Santander’s famous potato omelet from the restaurant’s Facebook page

Booths with testo di moro leather, walls clad in walnut with Le Corbusier sconces and white tablecloth set the mood for a sophisticated lunch or light dinner. This place is known for their Santander-style potato omelet, served as a slice, which won the Spanish Tortilla de Patatas Championship back in 2021. The anchovies with brioche and butter is a staple and a must.

Dani Brasserie

Photos by Jar Concengco
The author’s wife Kay Concengco at Dani Brasserie

Perched on top of the Four Seasons Hotel Madrid is the rooftop restaurant by 3 Michelin-starred chef Dani Garcia called Dani Brasserie. The interiors are bright with pistachio-hued walls and burnt orange leather seats. Out on the terrace, diners get a beautiful view of the Escultura Las Cuádrigas—sculptures by Higino Basterra of soldiers standing on their chariots.

Located on top of the Four Seasons Hotel, the restaurant has views of the Escultura Las Cuádrigas.

The food and service are top notch as one can only expect from such an establishment. If you have reserved your appetite, definitely go for their special tasting menu that takes you to all of chef Dani’s greatest hits such as mussels with roteño sauce and oxtail ravioli. In their a la carte menu, the truffle ricotta ravioli in a black truffle butter sauce was a highlight.

Chocolatería San Gines

Photos by Jar Concengco

Many locals go here at the break of dawn after a long night of clubbing as it is open almost 24/7 (Monday through Wednesday they’re open only 8 am to midnight). Churros may start tasting the same after trying it at different places (light and crispy wands of fried dough), but what makes this place stand out is its decadent hot chocolate. It’s thick, rich, and not cloyingly sweet. Serving Madrid since 1894, Chocolatería San Gines is tucked right in an alleyway behind a church and can serve as a perfect nightcap or the start of your day even.


Photos by Jar Concengco

Speaking of starting your day, if you’re on the lookout for a fuller breakfast, chances are you won’t find many restaurants open before 10 am. Tapaspaña at the corner of Gran Via and Calle de los Reyes across Plaza España opens at 7 am and offers different combinations for breakfast—an egg, fries, a side salad, a protein and a choice between coffee or beer (no joke). In the afternoon and evening, this turns into a bar serving up classic tapas.

El Perro y la Galleta

Photos by Jar Concengco

With multiple locations around the capital, El Perro y la Galleta (which translates to The Dog and the Cookie) is as quirky as its Instagrammable interiors—antique furniture, dried flowers hanging from the ceiling, and stuffed toy dog taxidermy on the walls.

Its menu consists of contemporary dishes with a casual sophistication. Their fried eggs with fries, wild mushrooms, and crispy ham is a no-brainer crowd pleaser. For entrees, the top sirloin cap with chimichurri sauce on top of truffle potato puree is a flavor bomb with every bite—the bright chimichurri complementing the richness of the beef.

Restaurante Castelados

Photos by Jar Concengco

On the northeast corner of El Retiro park is a neighborhood restaurant brimming with regulars with good reason – the food is spot on and the service is as familiar as family. Castelados receptionist Stan Unciano, a Filipino working in Spain for 15 years now tells The POST, “I love working here because our clients are friendly, approachable, and appreciative of our services. Second, the food that we serve is so good because we use high quality ingredients and our cooks follow the original recipes. All our cooks in the kitchen are Filipinos. Lastly, our bosses are the best we could ask for. They offer us good benefits, treats us like their family, and help us grow professionally.”

Stan Unciano at Restaurant Castelados

Combine their excellent chipirones encebollados (baby squid with onions) and sautéed chickpeas with king prawns with their upbeat and attentive service, and you understand why it’s an institution in the neighborhood.


Photos by Jar Concengco

Established in 1725, this is the oldest standing restaurant in the world. Botin is known for serving roasted suckling pig and suckling lamb. In Ernest Hemingway’s book Death in the Afternoon, he writes, “… but in the meantime, I’d rather have suckling pig for dinner at Botín than sit and think about any accidents my friends might suffer.”

The place probably is reason enough to visit—the basement level has narrow wooden stairs that lead you to a cavernous, brick-lined ceiling and walls. Four floors with an old world tavern charm will make you feel like you traveled back in time. Their food is served rustic style as well. Their hearty, garlic soup with egg and ham almost seems like how it was presented hundreds of years ago —in thick ceramic bowls with little garnish. Botin is definitely a piece of history you want a bite of.

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