Eating Out in Madrid
Madrid's gastronomical history dates back to the 16th century when Philip II made it the capital of the Spanish Empire. From then on peoples from many different regions around Spain began immigrating to the new capital city, bringing with them their unique culinary traditions. As in the rest of Spain, the eating schedule in Madrid is different than in the rest of Europe. Lunch is taken at around 2:30 in the afternoon and is the main meal of the day while supper is eaten at around 10:00 at night. A good guideline to eat well is to do as the locals do and take your lunch at around 2:30. If you do, you'll be able to take advantage of special lunchtime menús which offer at least a two course meal, with wine and dessert at lower price than à la carte.
Madrid is a world city with a large international population. With restaurants serving cuisine from all around the world, and all around Spain, you'll have no trouble finding something specific to your tastes. But if you're looking to sample dishes typical of Madrid then it pays to know a bit about the city's unique gastronomy. For a nice, satisfying breakfast on a cold winter morning try chocolate con churros (hot chocolate with dough fritters) and for lunch you might have a steaming bowl of cocido madrileño (Madrilenian Stew). As with most Spanish cities, Madrid's gastronomy includes a range of delicious tapas. If you'd like to tapear (go out for tapas) in Madrid, ask for a pincho de tortilla española (a portion of Spanish omelette) or patatas bravas (chips with spicy sauce), which are staple fare in the capital city. Confectionery is also very popular, especially torrijas (honey-battered French toast), which are normally eaten for Lent, and the ubiquitous barquillos, sold by street vendors. Madrid is also known for its love of seafood and particularly calamares (squid).
Tipping in Madrid, as in the rest of Spain, is not as universal as in English-speaking countries. Some people don't tip at all. If you are especially satisfied with the service it's courteous to leave a tip of about 10%.
WHERE TO GO
For good Madrid-style food at an affordable price you might try eating at the Museo del Jamón, a franchise which, in spite of its name, serves much more than just ham. Be sure to stop by El Brillante in Atocha, right by the Reina Sofía, and try out Madrid's signature dish: el bocadillo de calamares (fried squid sandwich). For international food, the district of Lavapiés is the place to go. Typical fast food in Madrid includes Turkish kebabs and American franchises. As a general rule, the closer you are to the city centre, business areas or major tourist attractions, the more expensive it is to eat out. For an excellent restaurant experience, make a note of visiting El Corral de la Morería. Establised in 1957, it is the oldest flamenco show restaurant in Madrid. One of the best things about La Morería is the focus on customer service and satisfaction, assuring that the best chefs and artists have been brought together so as to bring you the very elite of dining and entertainment. It has succulent meals at hand for you to try, a few examples being sherry and garlic scented spring chicken with a portion of paella, braised lamb shoulder and lemon and brut champagne sorbet.
Botín restaurant will captivate your interest as it is the oldest restaurant in the world (so recorded by the Guiness Book of Records). Established in 1725, it has opened its doors to many famous individuals including Francisco Goya (whose art can still be appreciated in the Museo del Prado). A very popular spot, customers on most nights will mainly be tourists, though don't be put off if you're looking for an authentic Spanish experience as the food doesn't drift from the tradition. It does add up as slightly more expensive than other restaurants, although this is compensated by the sizeable meal portions served up.
La Buganvilla restaurant has quite an aura of style. Located in a popular area, only the freshest ingredients are used to prepare its delicious and quintessentially Mediterranean meals. Several smaller rooms away from the main dining hall allow for intimate get togethers in an environment that complements the cuisine. Al Natural restaurant offers a fantastic vegetarian option. It was established in 1994 and caters for all tastes with over 60 plates to choose from. They win customers over with their superior level of freshness and high quality of their ingredients coupled with a relaxing atmosphere that enchants diners with creatively designed decor.