Food is truly one of the best ways to experience culture. Day Uno and Dos in Madrid were all about sightseeing and retail therapy, but this post will have nothing that may tire you out. Unless you consider eating a chore – in which case, how are we even friends sir??
Anyway. Spain in known for jamón, dry-cured ham, and it is everywhere! I was slightly taken aback when I went to a supermarket near my place, and saw massive pieces of meat hanging from false ceilings. Last time I saw something like that was back in Karachi, where butchers often put their best meat on display, all bloody and stinky. Jamón looks like a giant drumstick, and has a very ‘distinct’ smell.
Anyway. As I don’t eat ham, I will once again hand it over to Leli to guide you through the best of Madrid’s culinary scene.
There are innumerous places for good tapas in the city – you can go to Plaza Mayor, Cava Baja, calle Montera, calle de Preciados, calle del Carmen, or anywhere, from Callao to Sol. I have had my fair share, and here’s what I recommend:
- Mercado de San Miguel: This one is my favourite place for good food; it’s an old market that was recently refurbished, and the 20th century glass exterior promises everything chic and gourmet inside. It’s close to Plaza Mayor, and you can have anything from caviar to tapas and chocolate here. There are many stalls in the market, each with its own enticing set of offerings, so look around and make use of complimentary tasting plates.
- Las Cuevas de Luis Candelas: This one dates back to 1949, and is one of the renowned traditional restaurants in Madrid. It is split in different rooms, each one done in a unique way to reimagine eras gone by. It has an extensive menu, with suckling pig being a special delicacy, served by attentive and pleasant staff members.
- Restaurante Sobrino de Botín: Botín was founded in 1725, and is the oldest restaurant continuously operating in the world. The artist Francisco de Goya worked there as a waiter while waiting to get accepted into the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. It is famed for its rustic Castilian cuisine, including succulent roast meats fired in an oven that’s close to 300 years old. The restaurant is spread over four floors, with three dining rooms.
- Museo del Jamon: Translated as museum of ham, this is an inexpensive but authentic spot for Spanish fare. You can have your share of jamón here, or try croquetas, empanadillas, tortilla de patata, and salpicon. Also, they are all over Madrid, so you can find one near you easily.
Popular to contrary belief, Spaniards eat a lot more than just tapas. Try cocido madrileño (a traditional chickpea based stew), paella (must-have during summer), gazpacho (a soup made of raw vegetables and served cold) and Salmorejo (purée consisting of tomato and bread) to experience the Spanish cuisine in all its glory.