Eating in Madrid was…interesting. So much jamón, eggs, seafood, fried this, fried that, paella, tapas, tapas, and then more tapas. Dietary restrictions be gone. Despite not being a part-time vegan friendly city (pescatarians would love it though), once I temporarily abandoned my usual diet, there were plenty of cheap and good meals to be had in Madrid.
Calle Ángel, 16, 28005 Madrid, Spain
Neighborhood: La Latina
Lunch is the biggest meal of the day in Spain, and when I arrived at HRC Hotel in Madrid, Sideria La Burbuja Que Rie did not disappoint. I’m used to travel days being the worst day food-wise on any trip. For some reason, the combo of planes, trains, automobiles, and walking it takes to get from place to place makes me desperate for food close to my lodging. This restaurant gets extra points for its convenient proximity to HRC Hotel…it was right next door. For a mere €9, they offered a three-course lunch that included bread, wine/beer/soda, and an American-sized portion of dessert. The place was filled with both locals and tourists enjoying their almuerzo, always a good sign.
Plaza de San Miguel, s/n, 28005 Madrid, Spain
There are many tapas restaurants along Calle Cava Baja, but at the very end of Madrid’s famous dining street, there’s a market to rival all other markets. It’s all the tapas you could want, all in one place, and all good. Mercado de San Miguel was a recommendation from another traveler I met while having tapas at Taberna Txakolina, and it did not disappoint. Mercado de San Miguel is hard to describe, but imaging putting a Whole Foods Prepared Foods bar, specialty food trucks, bakeries, bartenders, and multiple tapas bars all under one roof, you’d have Mercado de San Miguel. It’s also the easiest place in Madrid to find more diverse food options. If you’re tired of Spanish tapas, there’s a sushi stand, slider stand, and sausage stand too.
Taberna Txakolina, Calle Cava Baja, 26, 28005 Madrid ($)
Neighborhood: La Latina
Benefitted by a social ambience and appealing decór, this popular spot is always packed. Get there a little early to snag a spot at the bar.
Cantina La Traviesa ($$)
Calle Cuchilleros, 10, 28005, Madrid, Spain
Without researching for a specific paella restaurant in Madrid, we stumbled upon Cantina La Traviesa as we walked along Calle Cuchilleros. Enticed by the traditionally dressed waiters standing in the doorway outside inviting us in, we swiftly ordered the paella mixto. They also serve an appetizer of jamón iberico and cheese. The paella was delicious, but it’s such a large serving.
If you’d like to indulge in paella for dinner, I’d recommend you either have a party of 4 or more or be a man with a healthy appetite. The dish is very good and very filling. I love to eat and can eat my fair share of food, and even I couldn’t eat more than two helpings. It felt so wasteful financially and environmentally to order paella at Cantina La Traviesa and only eat a quarter of it, since I’m guessing they throw away the leftovers.
TIP: If you’re traveling solo and want paella, head to Mercado de San Miguel where you can get a satisfying tapas-sized portion for €4 from the paella stand.
Pasadizo San Ginés, 5, 28013 Madrid, Spain
Who would’ve thought chocolate and churros could go together? But they do, and they do it well. Chocolateria San Gines is a great place to start the day with a light breakfast of churros, chocolate, and cafe con leche. If you’re not into overly sweet breakfasts, take note that both the chocolate and churros are very lightly sweetened. Chocolateria San Gines is a bit touristy, but it’s worth a visit.
Gran Vía, 22, 28013 Madrid, Spain
If you’re heading out of a bar or club late at night, PaPizza serves up some inexpensive and tasty slices in the wee hours of the morning. Grab one before heading to catch the last train.
Paseo Prado, 24, 28014 Madrid, Spain
If you don’t want a big sit-down meal or are just looking for a quick bite before heading on to the next museum, Faborit offers good sandwiches and salads, along with coffee and tea.
Diurno, Calle de San Marcos, 37, 28004, Madrid, Spain
Diurno’s ultra modern interior and media library is appealing in and of itself. If you’re exploring Chueca, you can easily pick up pasta, a sandwich, or salad. They’ll plate the food for you, and you can either get it for take away or sit down and enjoy the ambience.