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Madrid Food Tour (Self Guided), Madrid

While Spain is internationally reputed as a major gastronomic power, the capital city of Madrid – home to vibrant food markets and plethora of places serving traditional Spanish and typically Madrid delectable treats – promises visitors a soul warming food experience. On this self-guided walk of Madrid you will get a chance to visit some of the local spots that left mark in the gastronomic and cultural history of Spain and the rest of the world!
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Madrid Food Tour Map

Guide Name: Madrid Food Tour
Guide Location: Spain » Madrid (See other walking tours in Madrid)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles
Author: emma
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Plaza Mayor
  • Restaurante Sobrino de Botin
  • Mercado de San Miguel
  • Chocolateria San Gines
  • Puerta del Sol
  • Plaza de Santa Ana
  • Cerveceria Alemana
  • Calle de Huertas
1
Plaza Mayor

1) Plaza Mayor (must see)

Plaza Mayor, known originally as Plaza del Arrabal, was built during the Habsburg rule, and is a central square in Madrid, located just a few blocks away from Puerta del Sol. Rectangular in shape, this square measures 129 by 94 meters and is surrounded by three-story residential buildings. There are in total 237 balconies facing the Plaza, nine entryways and a ring of old and traditional shops and cafes under their porticoes.

Dominating Plaza Mayor is Casa de la Panaderia, a municipal building. In the course of history, the square has been the site of many things including markets, bullfights, soccer games, and even public executions of condemned heretics during the Spanish Inquisition.

Why You Should Visit:
The place is excellent to hang out at or to start an interesting tour from.
Perfectly symmetrical, highly detailed architecture, with a walkway to shield from sun or rain around the perimeter. This layout has been copied in many squares Europe-wide and for a good reason.
Very photogenic and a great spot to have a drink or dinner and to watch the world go by.

Tip:
If you look for cheaper but equally good food and drink options, try restaurants and bars just outside the square.

****Food Walk***
Plaza Mayor is skirted by many restaurants and cafes. Although most of them are somewhat overpriced and brimming with tourists, the place is still marvelous to sit out in and enjoy a sip of good Spanish wine and tasty tapas (most notably the calamari sandwich – Madrid's culinary specialty – a bun filled with calamari battered in flour and egg and then fried, craving to be washed down with an ice-cold beer).

One of the many delicious “corners” surrounding the square is the Los Galayos historic restaurant. Open since 1894, serving traditional Madrid recipes, its main specialty is beef tenderloin on a hot stone block. The restaurant has a number of dining rooms, plus two outdoor terraces for those who seek a quick snack of tapas. Unlike the many tourist traps nearby, most of which are quite pricey and not always up to a tee food-wise, Los Galayos – albeit not so cheap either – has the history and well-deserved reputation, in terms of food quality, that draws both locals and tourists in their numbers.
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Restaurante Sobrino de Botin

2) Restaurante Sobrino de Botin (must see)

Madrid's most famous eatery, the Botin restaurant is reportedly the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the world, having been founded by Frenchman Jean Botin and his spouse in 1725 as Casa Botin. The restaurant was eventually inherited by their nephew, which explains the change of name to Sobrino de Botin ("Botin's Nephew") it is now known by.

The famous painter Francisco Goya is said to have worked here in his younger years as a dishwasher, and the place was also a firm favorite of Ernest Hemingway. The restaurant grew particularly popular after Hemingway's regular visits here, where, they say, he even set the last scene of his novel "The Sun Also Rises". Other than these historical associations, Botin is known primarily for its ambience, comfort, photo ops, and main specialty – the 'cochinillo' (roast suckling pig).

Tip:
You can optionally book the 'Botin Experience' which includes a tour of the restaurant prior to sitting down for your meal.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 1pm-4pm (lunch) / 8pm-12am (dinner)
3
Mercado de San Miguel

3) Mercado de San Miguel (must see)

No holiday in Madrid is complete without a visit to the Mercado de San Miguel in the heart of the Old Town. It really is a must for gourmets and gourmands alike. The market is housed in a glass-fronted 20th-century Beaux-Arts building and is known as the Cultural Culinary center of Madrid.

There are over 50 individual stalls, each run by a specialist in their chosen field, e.g. fresh fruit, vegetables, fish or meat. You can browse through the stands of locally grown fruit and vegetables where the odor of herbs and spices fill the air; nothing here has seen the inside of a freezer, none of the produce is ready-packed in plastic and the layout of the goods is an art in itself. The fish stalls display a vast range of rather ugly-looking seafood, fresh from the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea.

Most of the produce on sale is of Spanish origin, but you will also find here charcuterie from France, Viennese Patisseries and a selection of fine European cheeses. The market also contains several cafes, restaurants and shops selling books on Spanish cuisine and kitchen utensils. The only thing a bit off-putting about this really great market is the number of signs forbidding potential clients from touching the produce, so you won’t be able to pick and choose your purchases.

Why You Should Visit:
To try from a seemingly endless variety of fresh tapas, paellas, seafood, produce, as well as cocktails and other interesting and refreshing drinks.
The prices are a bit high in places but the quality is here and you will walk away with a perfect introduction to "la gastronomia de Espana".

Tip:
Don't be afraid to ask for a taster if you are not certain of what you're ordering.
If you're going to use the restroom, make sure to keep a receipt from one of your purchases, so you don't have to pay.
Also, watch out for pickpockets – after all, this is a popular tourist spot.

Operation Hours:
Sun-Thu: 10am-12am; Fri, Sat: 10am-1am
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Chocolateria San Gines

4) Chocolateria San Gines

Established in 1894, Chocolateria San Gines in Madrid is famous for its staple – churros con chocolate – deep-fried batter sticks served with hot chocolate. Also on the menu is a good selection of cakes. This place is ideal for a quick break on a sightseeing walk, to sit down and enjoy the crispy churro dipped into the hot, thick, dark chocolate, while watching the world go by for a while.

Opening hours: 24/24
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Puerta del Sol

5) Puerta del Sol (must see)

Puerta del Sol ("The Gate of the Sun") is a bustling plaza in the eponymous neighborhood of Madrid, and is one of the best known and busiest places in the capital. This square marks the center (Km 0) of the radial network of Spanish roads, and is located in the very heart of the city, not far from Plaza Mayor. The square is dominated by the monument to King Carlos III and the famous bronze sculpture of "the bear and the strawberry tree". Another key attraction here is the clock whose bells chime the start of the traditional Twelve Grapes eating at a New Year celebration which is broadcast live on the Spanish TV since 1962.

Why You Should Visit:
Indispensable for first-time visitors; the essence of Madrid and Spain – lively, boisterous, cheerful.
Many local restaurants serve food till well after midnight, and the pubs stay open till 3am on weeknights and 4am on weekends.
Unlike other areas in Madrid, most retailers here don't close for the afternoon siesta.

Tip:
Keep an eye on your valuables at all times.

****Food Walk****
While in Puerta del Sol, you can have a chance to eat like a true madrileño in the number of family-run restaurants, authentic taverns and tapas bars abounding the area. Known to the locals for decades, these eateries are quite close by yet remarkably away from the trodden tourist paths. One such hidden gem is called La Mallorquina, renowned for its pastries, particularly the “roscón de reyes” (special ring-shaped cake for King's Day).
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Plaza de Santa Ana

6) Plaza de Santa Ana (must see)

Plaza de Santa Ana is located close by to Puerta del Sol and Calle de Huertas, in Madrid's central Barrio de las Letras. It was built in the 17th century and was known originally as Corral de la Pacheca and Principe.

In addition to several monuments, namely to Pedro Calderon de la Barca, the Spanish Golden Age writer, and Federico Garcia Lorca, Grenadian poet, this square is a home to numerous restaurants, cafes and tapas bars. Teatro Espanol, the oldest theater in Madrid, is also found here, on the eastern side. On on the western side of the plaza is a luxury hotel, now known as ME Madrid Reina Victoria. Built in the early 19th century, this hotel gained fame as the one favored by popular bullfighters, including Spain's #1 torero Manolete who was a regular guest here, back in the 1940s, and always reserved room number 220 out of superstition.

Why You Should Visit:
A popular meeting point in Madrid.
May well not be the best venue for real Spanish food, but not bad for taking refreshments out on a terrace and people-watching.

Tip:
Be mindful of your belongings all the time in this area, as it is infamous for pickpockets.
Me Madrid Reina Victoria hotel has a restaurant and a terrace on the top floor with nice views of Madrid.

****Food Walk***
The abundance of tapas bars, cafeterias, cervecerias (beer houses), and restaurants in Plaza de Santa Ana makes it particularly busy on Sundays, and in summer the buzz continues way until late at night. Back in the day, this vivacious neighborhood was frequented by illustrious personalities such as Ernest Hemingway who, among other places, particularly favored the nearby Palace Hotel and Cervecería Alemana to quench his thirst with a glass of beer. If you're a discerning tapas hunter with a taste for exotic cuisines, you will find the variety of hip gastrobars in the area most satisfying.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Cerveceria Alemana

7) Cerveceria Alemana

Sitting on the southern edge of Plaza de Santa Ana, Cervecería Alemana ("German Beerhouse") was once the favorite taproom of Ernest Hemingway and many other celebrities of the day including Ava Gardner, each of whom either lived in or visited Madrid quite often throughout the 20th century.

Established in 1904 by a group of German manufacturers, hence the name, this brewery is still "a good place to drink beer and coffee," – as Hemingway once put it in his article in Life magazine – to be shared, if lucky, with "the most beautiful woman in the world". His regular table here still stands in the near right-hand corner and it feels every bit as though the man himself might walk through the door at any moment. This classic Spanish beer hall prefers buckets of olives to preening pretentions of city life, with wooden beams, hat racks and black and white photos from old bullfights.

The food fills, the beer range (German, Belgian and Spanish) is broad, and the service is efficient.

Opening Hours:
Sun-Thu: 11am–12:30am; Fri, Sat: 11am–2am
8
Calle de Huertas

8) Calle de Huertas

Barrio de las Letras, or Huertas for short, is the “neighborhood of Spanish writers” set in the heart of Madrid. Back in the 1600s, this part of the city was inhabited by the likes of Cervantes, Lope de Vega and Quevedo. Today, this bohemian, cobble-stoned area represents a wonderful whirl of traditional taverns and chic celebrity chef joints, packed to the brim with thriving delicatessens and tapas outlets offering top-notch eating to the many visitors drawn here by the Paseo del Prado and other museums, who seek to recharge their batteries between art viewings with a bit of a bite and tipple. With nearly every door in Huertas leading either to a bar or restaurant offering old and new spins on the local cuisine, it's no wonder that even the most full-bellied find hard to resist the temptation of gluttony amid such a gastronomic boom.

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