Expert recommendations for the best places to eat in four price ranges: budget ($), moderate ($$), expensive ($$$), and luxury ($$$$)
“Wonderful wines and terrific homemade tapas—try the cod croquetas del bacalao—in one of Madrid’s most atmospheric old taverns.”—Raquel Sáez, assistant director, Hola.com. Steps from Atocha station yet frequented mainly by locals. C/General Lacy, 14; tel. 34 914 678 458.
“Very creative, stylish tapas and a great selection of wines by the glass; friendly barmen and intimate atmosphere with only a few tables—arrive early to get one.”—Genevieve McCarthy, director, Cellar Tours, Madrid-based luxury wine tour company. C/Cava Baja, 30; tel. 34 913 650 804.
“Traditional taberna décor: tiled walls, ancient wooden tables. Old photos of Madrid and delicious homemade tapas—the meatballs are just like my abuela made.”—Mario Suárez González, editor-in-chief, On Madrid. C/Cava Baja, 31; tel. 34 913 663 110.
“Wonderful Spanish taberna with terra-cotta wine jugs hanging from exposed beams; attracts a local Spanish crowd.”—Genevieve McCarthy. Don’t miss the sizzling garlic shrimp; great wines from the up-and-coming Bierzo region. C/Ventura de la Vega, 22; tel. 34 914 296 031.
“Have a massive steak cooked on a hot stone at your table or stick with tapas at the bar.”—Mary O’Connor, director, Planeta Vino, Spanish wine tastings and tours. Plaza Santa Ana hang-out for bullfighters and aficionados. Tip: Try the grilled asparagus with aioli, spicy chorizo, and shrimp toast. Plaza Santa Ana, 3; tel. 34 915 318 111.
“Located in the building where Cervantes penned part of Don Quixote; it is traditional to have a vermut [sweet vermouth] on tap at the pewter and zinc bar before dining.”—Mario Suárez González. Old world service matches the old world décor; specialties include oxtail stew and suckling lamb chops. C/Huertas, 18; tel. 34 914 299 356. www.casaalberto.es
Pan de Lujo
Magnet for Madrid fashionistas; equal parts beauty and Zen with flowing water and atmospheric lighting; food is modern Mediterranean but with surprisingly practical prices. C/Jorge Juan, 20; tel. 34 914 361 100. www.pandelujo.es
Ribeira Do Miño
“Like eating in fisherman’s tavern in Galicia—fishing nets on the walls and an immense mound of fresh-from-the-ocean seafood on your plate.”—Andy Johnson, assistant editor, TBS: The Broadsheet. Platter for two includes giant prawns, crayfish, crab, and percebes (goose barnacles); wash it down with the crisp, no-label house white. C/Santa Brígida, 1; tel. 34 915 219 854. www.marisqueriaribeiradomino.com
”With a Catalan owner and a Japanese head chef, expect traditional Spanish tapas with Asian touches; the wine list is encyclopedic!”—Genevieve McCarthy. Low-lighting, close-set tables, and tapas meant for sharing; intimate option for two. C/Santiago, 9; tel. 34 915 422 160.
El Ventorrillo Murciano
Tiny brick-wall, oven-warm restaurant offering what many local foodies consider the best rice dishes in Madrid: classic saffron-scented paella, black and intense squid ink paella, or a seafood blend with carabineros (giant red prawns). C/Tres Peces, 20; tel. 34 915 288 309.
“Celebrity chef Darío Barrio offers exciting ‘freestyle’ cuisine based on seasonal products; cellar dining room is both wildly contemporary and intimately cozy.”—Raquel Sáez. Try the degustación menu for a delicious idea of what this former disciple of Ferran Adrià is capable of. C/Villalar, 7; tel. 34 915 767 397. www.dassabassa.com
Gastroteca de Santiago
“Cutting-edge cuisine in a cozy, relaxed environment; tasting menu changes every two weeks.”—Mary O’Connor. Features seasonal, innovative dishes such as tuna tartar with truffle or cod brandade with green pepper ice cream; only five tables, so reservations are a must. Plaza Santiago, 1; tel. 34 915 480 707.
“Urban space offering traditional Mediterranean food with a modern twist; specialties include aromatic rice dishes that feature a secret ingredient.”—Kirsty Tuxford, editor, In Madrid. Fresh fish—the red tuna is exceptional—wild mushrooms, and colorful, unusual salads. C/Bárbara de Braganza, 4; tel. 34 913 196 611.
“Open since 1839, it is the last bastion of honesty; serve yourself a consommé from the ornate samovar, top it off from a bottle of sherry, nibble pastries from the marble counter, then tell the cashier what you had on your way out.”—Stephen Drake-Jones, Madrid-based historian. Upstairs, the antiques-filled dining rooms offer classic roasted meats, game, and fish. Carrera San Jerónimo, 8; tel. 34 915 213 385. www.lhardy.com
“19th-century dining room with parquet floors, lace table runners, and impeccable Old World service.”—Stephen Drake-Jones. Specialties include roasted duck and rice with lobster; weekend nights, costumed performers sing zarzuelas, Madrid’s version of light opera. C/Amnistía, 5; tel. 34 915 595 092.
“All-white dining room ensures you concentrate only on your plate and the playful creations of superstar chef Sergi Arola.”—Genevieve McCarthy. Try the seasonal degustación menu; possibilities include wild mushroom carpaccio with mango, black pudding cremant with petit pois mousse, and rose yogurt ice cream. Hotel Miguel Ángel, C/Miguel Ángel, 29; tel. 34 913 993 437. http://labroche.com/
La Terraza del Casino
Adventurous, award-winning cuisine; monkfish loin with French beans and tomato ravioli, Saint Pierre fish with lemon, and shoulder back rabbit with baby squid; whimsical, post-modern white and blue interior; reservations required. C/Alcalá, 15; tel. 34 915 321 275. www.casinodemadrid.com
“Creative cuisine that is delightfully edible; try maple-smoked duck pâté, free-range eggs with boletus mousse and truffles, or Iberian pork sirloin with Torta del Casar cheese and figs.”—Genevieve McCarthy. Self-taught chef-owner Abraham Garcia is a local character; politicians and celebrities flock here. C/Juan de Mena, 14; tel. 34 915 234 478. www.restauranteviridiana.com
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