As many of you that have been following on Instagram know, I have been in Spain for the past two weeks. There has been a fair amount of sightseeing, but time has primarily been spent eating all the amazing food in Spain! Octopus, anchovies, churros, steak…. you name it, I have probably eaten it!
I think Spain has some of the best food in the world, so I’ll be doing a series of posts of my top food and drink spots in Madrid and San Sebastián.
This was my first visit to Madrid, and there was a wealth of food options available. Madrid is similar to New York in that there is literally a restaurant at every corner. Thankfully my wife has a friend who lives in Madrid and works for Devour Tours, so she was able to help us out.
When eating out in Spain, it’s important to consider the normal eating times. Typically, the range of times are:
Breakfast: 7:30am - 11:00am
Apertif/Vermouth: 12:00pm - 2:00pm
Lunch: 1:00pm - 4:00pm
Dinner: 8:00pm - 11:00pm
Most restaurants are closed between 4-8pm, so trying to eat during those hours can be hard.
Now, on to my top three places to eat in Madrid!
Best Restaurants in Madrid
Best Bars in Madrid
Best Restaurants in San Sebastián
Best Bars in San Sebastián
1. Casa Macareno
Located in the Malasaña neighborhood, a trendy district with hip bars and clubs, Casa Macareno surprised me in a really good way. The first time my wife and I went, we were a little on the late side as we pranced into the establishment at 11pm (hence paying attention to eating times above). But the restaurant was gracious enough to let us in for dinner anyway. We ordered pretty standard fare of patatas bravas, anchovies, and pan-fried squid, and everything tasted amazing.
The kitchen really took special care with each dish to elevate it to the next level. Take the patatas bravas, for instance. Most places just slap a standard tomato concoction on top of their fried potatoes and call it a day, but not here. The restaurant slow cooks an 8 hour tomato sauce, pairs it with a homemade garlic aioli, and carefully plates it with their twice cooked potatoes. I am salivating right now just thinking about those potatoes.
The food was so good at Casa Macareno that I had to bring my whole family back at a later date (they arrived in Spain a day after my wife and I). Everything was just as good the second time around. The restaurant is also famous for their jamón croquetas - fried oval-shaped balls of flour - and the croquetas we had here were the best that we had in Spain. I even thought their cheesecake was fantastic, and I usually am not a dessert person.
Seriously, I cannot recommend this place enough.
2. Mercado de la Cebada
Tourists who visit Madrid often go to Mercado de San Miguel and Mecardo de San Antón. There is nothing wrong with these establishments - I visited them both - but Mercado de la Cebada is a much more local market. Located a short distance from Plaza Mayor, it is normally just a regular fish, meat, and produce spot. On Saturdays after 1pm, however, the market turns into an open restaurant of sorts. The vendors cook their products on the spot, allowing you to savor some of the freshest seafood in the city. Madrid has also issued drink licenses to the vendors, so you can sip on cold beer while standing around with a bunch of locals.
If you ever wanted to be in one of those travel shows where the host stands amidst a busy marketplace eating a random assortment of food while drinking an endless supply of alcohol, this is definitely the place for you. Oh, and the seared octopus was great!
3. Celso y Manolo
Eating out in Spain can mean a lot of fried food and a lack of vegetables, especially if you primarily venture to tapas bars. If you need a break, you can either have the sad salad of iceberg lettuce and tomatoes at most restaurants, or you can go to Celso y Manolo.
I would describe it as a modern tapas establishment, with Mediterranean and Caribbean influences. There were more vegetables and fruit on the menu here than at any other restaurant I went to, which was a welcome change.
My family and I ordered the tomato tasting, the cheese course, the nine ingredient salad, the rice with meat, and the seared tuna. The rice was much too salty for my taste, but everything else was solid.
The restaurant is relatively small, so I would make a reservation if you plan to visit.
Cash or Credit?
Most places in Madrid take Visa or Mastercards, so I used my Chase Sapphire Reserve to pay for most meals, earning 4.5% back on purchases.
Stay tuned for my favorite drink spots in Madrid!