Madrid Favorites | Travel Journal


We were incredibly blessed to live in Madrid, Spain for 2 years! Here is a post about food, places to visit and some travel tips.


There are endless places to eat in Madrid! Anytime we go back to visit, these are the things we look forward to:

  • Eat Bocadillos de Calamari by Plaza Mayor. I cannot think about going to Madrid and not eat a Bocadillo de Calamares! - the one we used to go to is Bar La Campana at Calle de Botoneras 6 (Bar La Ideal is another place. It's right next door).


  • Oldest restaurant in Madrid "Sobrino de Botín". I believe is known as the oldest restaurant in the world. Quite an experience and the food is great! Also, right next to Plaza Mayor.


  • Mercadillo de San Miguel (San Miguel Market). It's fun! Don't forget to try the croquetas and also try different serrano hams. Maybe eat some “Jamon Iberico de Bellota Pata Negra”! (Best Serrano Ham kind). This is also very close to Plaza Mayor. You can go to this market for lunch or start a tapas night there!


  • Tapas with good company is the best! Go to Calle de la Cava Baja (Cava Baja Street) and try one or two things at each of the wonderful bars. The amazing thing is that when you order a drink, the drink comes with a small tapa! In other words, a tapa is included. Unbelievable! They are typically small so, order something else to share. These are the tapas you cannot, cannot, forget to try: tortilla de patatas, ensaladilla rusa, gambas al ajillo, judías con jamón, manchego cheese, Serrano ham, calamares, pan con tumaca, patatas bravas, chistorras, pulpo a la gallega, pimientos de padron, morcilla de Burgos, and torreznos.


  • Other items to order if you see them on the menu: huevos rotos (eggs with French fries but believe me these are not just eggs with fries), a good entrecot, chuletillas de Cordero (lamb) with aioli (homemade garlic mayo), and maybe if you have the opportunity, and the palate, try a cocido madrileño - a winter Madrid dish. It’s a chickpea-based stew but they serve it in three parts: the broth, the meat/vegetables and the noodles. It’s my husband’s favorite because it was his grandma’s specialty.


  • Have “churros con chocolate” for breakfast. Maybe at Chocolateria San Gines or by El Retiro park.


  • O’Caldino Cocina Gallega. The variety of seafood is huge! Try cigalas and bogavantes! They are between lobsters and prawns in size. Try everything!

    Calle de Lagasca, 74


  • Platea - Calle de Goya 5 by Plaza Colon - It's a theater turned into a mercadillo.


  • La esquina restaurant inside Bernabeu Stadium. It’s more about the location than the food. You eat overlooking the Real Madrid soccer team stadium. Avenida de Concha Espina, 1


  • La Mallorquina for little desserts or an afternoon pick me up. 


  • DiverXO - 3 Michelin stars, exceptional fine dining with Chef Dabiz Muñoz. He has been named the best chef in the world two years in a row 2021/2022. You can see pricing and reserve online on their website. 


Things to do:

These are absolutely the best “must” things to do and places to go if you want to get to know Madrid!

  • Go to Corral de la Morreria for an amazing Flamenco show
  • Spend a whole afternoon or morning at El Retiro Park. Don’t forget to see the Palacio de Cristal and ride the boats as well
  • Walk the Gran Via
  • So many museums and so much history! Museo del Prado is amazing and so is the Reina Sofia!
  • Go see Puerta del Sol, Puerta de Alcala, Palacio Real (Royal Palace), Fuente de Cibeles
  • Go inside the Palacios de Cibeles! The Palacios de Cibeles is the old post office. It's such a beautiful building. Buy a ticket to go to the rooftop (top floor, not where the rooftop bar is). Thank me later. You will see an iconic view of Madrid and Gran Via!
  • Go to the Bernabeu Stadium to catch a soccer game but if you have time schedule a visit inside the stadium to see the Real Madrid museum. Book the official tour. It’s worthy!
  • Ride the Teleferico of Madrid, a gondola lift, at the Parque del Oeste which connects to Casa de Campo.
  • Shopping at Calle de Serrano
  • If you can do a day trip, go to Segovia and eat a "cochinillo" right next to the aqueduct of Segovia at the "Mesón de Candido" restaurant. It's an experience! Don't get scared about the broken plate at the end lol.
  • If you have a chance to do another day trip, go to Toledo!


Some tips:

Honestly, forget about paella when in Madrid. Good paellas are from Valencia, not Madrid. You have lots of other options to eat. The touristic places will advertise paella with a photo. Avoid those. Always avoid eating right next to the landmarks. Those restaurants are overpriced and not the best food. You know because they have waiters trying to show menus with photos inviting people to come inside and eat. If you really want paella while in Madrid, try to find a good authentic arroceria.

Like all big cities in Europe, they are safe but watch out! Some thieves are looking for distracted tourists to take phones and valuables away. Keep purses close and don’t put your phone on the table when eating outdoors.

When ordering red wine (un tinto), most likely, they will ask “Rioja or Ribera?”. These are the two big wine areas in Spain. As far as the type of red wine, there are 4 kinds: joven, crianza, reserva and gran reserva. That is the aging order “joven” being more fruity and sweeter to gran reserva being older and bolder. My favorite wine is a Rioja “Marques de Riscal, Reserva”

Remember waiters and servers are different than in the US and it can feel as if they are super rude sometimes. Don’t take it personal like I did when I first moved there lol. Tip is not a big deal at all. Just leave a few coins.

And please eat the bread! Eat ALL THE BREAD when you go for tapas. Best bread ever and it does not make you feel bloated. 

Enjoy Madrid! Ole!

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