Any time someone asks me why I love Spain, one of my first answers is always “the food.” Spanish food is just on a whole other level. If you want a true Spanish experience, many people say visiting Madrid is a must. That’s why I’ve created this blog post about 7 unique restaurants in Madrid, so you can see what all the fuss is about.
I spent 4 days in Madrid, and my favorite thing I did was eat. Between the tapas, cava, and just how damn good everything is, food in Spain is always one of my favorite parts of visiting. Keep reading to discover 7 unique restaurants in Madrid, so eating can be your favorite part, too!
For a complete list of everything I did – and loved! – in Madrid, check out my other blog post: Top Things to do in Madrid!
Popular Spanish Food & Drink
Whenever you go to another country, trying the cultural food & drink is a must. Below, some of the most common menu items you’ll see in Spain:
- Cava – a white wine/champagne hybrid
- Tequila – Blanco is your standard silver (clear) tequila found in most margaritas, whereas Reposado is gold and used more for sipping, or to make a “heavier” margarita
- Mezcal – a type of tequila that adds a “smokey” flavor. This one is an acquired taste! I hated mezcal when I first tried it, but now, I order drinks specifically for the mezcal flavor!
- Tapas – Small bites of a variety of different foods – meant to be shared! Made with seafood, chicken, and a variety of different red meats, tapas are my favorite thing to eat in Spain!
- Paella – Spanish rice served with vegetables and meats
- Chorizo – Seasoned pork sausage
- Croquetas – Small rolls made with butter, flour, and milk, stuffed with ham and deep-fried
- Gazpacho – Cold vegetable soup, perfect for hot summer days
- Jamon iberico – Spain’s version of prosciutto ham
- Pan con Tomate – Toast with a tomato jam; this one reminds me more of an Italian-style dish
Website Disclaimer: I visited Madrid in July 2022. Although everything is accurate as of the publication of this post, it is important to keep in mind that prices, attractions, and other things may change with time.
Madrid Restaurants for Breakfast/Brunch
The Brunch Club
I’ll confess, this restaurant itself isn’t necessarily unique, but it’s moreso the concept of their brunch that is unique to me as an American.
You can come here and get all of the following for only €21:
- A mimosa OR cava + coffee OR tea
- Yogurt with berries/granola
- A bread basket
- Eggs benedict.
I’m not kidding. It was every bit as fabulous as it sounds. As much as I love brunch in America, $21 would not get you nearly that far.
- Pro Tip: This must be a popular thing in Spain; I found a brunch restaurant in Barcelona that offered something similar!
Matilda’s Social Club
I stumbled upon Matilda’s Social Club by accident when I was out exploring Madrid. I remember thinking I didn’t need a coffee, but how could you not at least stop in and marvel the gorgeous bohemian-chic aesthetic?
Although they serve breakfast foods, they are also a bar and stay open late! However, I decided to include this in the “breakfast” list because I saw a lot of people having brunch here.
- Pro Tip: Do NOT confuse this with the other Matilda’s in the city – make sure you include “social club” in your maps when searching
Madrid Restaurants for Lunch/Dinner
Mercado de San Miguel
Mercado de San Miguel is a huge food market near La Latina. This place is an absolute must visit. Essentially, it is a giant food market with different vendors, all under one roof. They sell everything from tapas to Mediterranean food to cheese, sweets, and more.
Even if you don’t buy anything (although, IMO, that would be nearly impossible), it is super cool to just walk through here and see all the different food and beverage stations. I especially suggest doing this if you have never been to a Spanish mercado before!
- If you read my Brooklyn blog post, this is what I was referring to when I talk about Time Out Market!
- Pro Tip: The bathroom is downstairs, and they charge €0.50 to use it – unless you buy something from the market. Show them your receipt, and they will not make you pay.
Rosi La Loca
The first time I saw the pink neon lights, Hawaiian flowers, and the overall eclectic aesthetic of Rosi La Loca, I turned to my friend Kelly and said, “we have to go!” The vibe here is Hawaii meets Alice in Wonderland. It’s crazy…or, well, loca. Make a reservation – this place is very popular!
They serve an extensive list of food and cocktails, so just know that the hardest part of your day will be deciding which ones to choose. Judging by the decor, it should come as no surprise that they serve their food and drinks in artsy cups and plates. Some of the cocktails come in Alice-in-Wonderland themed mugs, and food is brought out on plates that are shaped like mermaids, octopus, fish…you get the idea.
- Pro Tip: We saw a lot of good restaurants on this same street! No harm in leaving dinner and already planning your next meal, right?…
Ana La Santa
This was one of the last places we ate at in Madrid, and it was one of our favorites. Ana La Santa is a tapas style restaurant that embodies everything you think of when you envision food in Spain. Initially, we were at a loss for what to order, but our waiter was really helpful with recommendations and we ended up loving everything.
This restaurant is located in Plaza Santa Ana and has outside seating. We loved sitting outside and listening to Spanish guitars play while we waited for our food to come. Plaza Santa Ana is a lively place, so you are sure to observe some of the best Spanish culture and food while in the center of the city!
Unique Madrid Bars You’ll Love
Inclan Brutal Bar
Inclan Brutal Bar is a gorgeous restaurant with crystal chandeliers and a red interior. Regretfully, we did not get to eat here because they were fully booked; however, it looked incredible, and had really good online reviews. I talked to a couple locals that sang its praises, so I feel confident to include it here. If you visit, know that 1. You need a reservation, and 2. I’m jealous of you.
A quick glance at their menu, and it appears they have won numerous awards for their cocktails. Similar to Rosi La Loca, some of their dishes and drinks come in mugs and plates featuring eccentric characters.
Taberna la Pompeyana
This place is directly across from the Inclan Brutal Bar. I only had a drink here, but it was worth checking out because of the half Roman/half just plain creepy interior.
As you can see, I’m pretty sure there is a guillotine hanging from the ceiling. The whole interior looked like something you would find in the Slytherin Common Room in Harry Potter. Naturally, being a Slytherin myself, I was all about it.
If you’re an avid reader/follower of this blog, you know that I love all things pink and feminine, and therefore, you’re probably wondering if someone hacked this post. No, it’s still me. I’ve just come to the dark side for a bit. Except, unlike Star Wars, I haven’t joined the Dark Side. I just visit from time to time.
Seriously though – this bar is so cool. They serve traditional cider along with Spanish tapas and homestyle foods. I unfortunately can’t comment on the food since I only got a drink here. If you decide to try the food, leave a comment and let me know what you think!
Café Varela at Hotel Preciados
Hotel Preciados was the hotel that I stayed at when I visited Madrid. Let me start by saying I loved this hotel. The rooms, the interior, the service…everything was top notch. If you read my Madrid post, you know they even have neon LED lights in the shower*. It’s that extra. As much as I love saving money when I travel, I also love a boujee hotel in Spain, and this is one I would totally recommend.
- *I don’t know if the neon LED shower lights are in every room. It’s worth asking!
What were we talking about again? Oh, right. You came here for the restaurant recommendations. And I’m getting distracted by the lights. Sighhh.
Since I’ve already hyped this hotel up, it should be no surprise that I loved Café Varela in addition to everything else I mentioned. Part of why I loved it was because the bartenders were so much fun. If nothing else, go sit at the bar and have a drink. The bartenders all kept me laughing, and made sure my wine glass was never empty. Did I mention I love the service here?
If you decide you want more than just a drink, you can view their menu here. Café Varela/Hotel Preciados is located in the Sol neighborhood, right near Grand Via. If you read my Madrid post, you know that means it’s close to everything, making this the perfect place to stop!