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A foodie weekend in Madrid: eat and drink like a neighborhood | Spanish foods and drinks



Freshly fried churros, golden and crisp; a cup of velvety scorching chocolate alongside; circles of aubergine striped from the griddle; mushrooms silky with chorizo; a jumble of potatoes smothered in spicy sauce; handmade crisps, crunchy and salty; slivers of jamón serrano; plump Nocera olives; and crumbly, herby morcilla … By the tip of our first day in Madrid, my sister Penny and I’ve eaten all these items. A contact indulgent, perhaps, however while you’re staying in a metropolis that runs on its abdomen, it appears impolite to not glide.

Madrileños are well-known for consuming late, largely as a result of that mid-evening supper is the final of 5 meals, beginning with a lightweight breakfast – usually espresso and a pastry on the fly, earlier than an early lunchtime snack (almuerzo), a full sit-down lunch, normally between 2 and 4pm (comida), then espresso and cake (merienda) and at last supper. When you perceive this, Madrid actually begins to make sense: a metropolis of centuries-old pasticceria, hole-in-the-wall tapas bars, neighbourhood markets and dimly-lit bodegas, all full of diners. Somebody is at all times consuming someplace. Throughout our go to, it was normally us.

Apple of the attention: Mercado de San Miguel. {Photograph}: Kim Willems/Alamy

Issues start nicely with the invention that Los Artesanos 1902 ( – arguably town’s best-loved churreria – is simply across the nook from our resort. Historical past and custom are a giant a part of Madrid’s foodie tradition, with many eateries run by the identical household for generations. The churros we devour – dipped in wealthy chocolate the color of mahogany – are made by the grandsons of the unique proprietor; they’re fried to perfection and dusted with sugar and cinnamon. Round us, everybody from teams of youngsters to aged {couples} is consuming and consuming precisely the identical factor.

Fortunate dip: Chocolateria 1902

Eating places specialising in a single dish are widespread within the metropolis, from chorizo-stuffed mushrooms at Mesón del Champiñón (, to finger-singeing bowls of gambas al ajillo at La Casa del Abuelo ( – one other Madrid establishment, owned by the identical household since 1906. Night get-togethers are typically convivial rambles between bars, every chosen for one explicit dish. We be taught all this on a four-hour Devour Madrid meals tour ( that wraps 2,000 years of Spanish historical past round 4 tapas stops, fuelled by tinto de verano – town’s simplified model of sangria, crimson wine topped up with a light lemonade (uncommon, however oddly drinkable).


I’m not at all times positive about foodie excursions – you may find yourself consuming a peculiar collection of issues – however this was a winner. Our information, Ana, whisked us by Moorish skirmishes, Habsburg domination and the tough realities of Franco-era Spain, leaving us with full stomachs, a brand new appreciation of Spain’s unstable previous and the robust impression that though town has a cutting-edge culinary scene (presently it has 26 Michelin-star eating places), it’s within the markets, bodegas and tapas bars the place you actually eat like a neighborhood.

With this in thoughts, we set out the subsequent morning to discover town. Madrid is a grand sprawl of a capital; Gran Vía might simply take its place beside Fifth Avenue when it comes to scale and class, whereas Retiro Park unfolds across the sweeping colonnade of the Monument to Alfonso XII – a spectacular backdrop to the shimmering lake. It’s too chilly for the boats to be out, however heat sufficient to sit down with a thimble of thick black espresso whereas we pore over maps and resolve which market to go to for lunch.

Avenue meals, Madrid-style: Mesón del Champiñón. {Photograph}: Alex Segre/Alamy

We choose the Mercado de San Fernando ( within the hip Lavapies district. Each neighbourhood has a market – probably the most well-known, the Mercado de San Miguel, now attracts extra guests than the Prado gallery. San Fernando is extra below the radar; a nondescript constructing containing a ramshackle maze of market stalls sells all the things from meat and cheese to books and electrical home equipment. We settle in among the many patchwork of micro-breweries and meals stalls at El Colmado, the place the counter holds monumental empanadas the dimensions of A4 notepads, ready to be minimize into chunks and warmed. I’m going for bacon and chorizo, the sunshine, buttery pastry scrumptious in opposition to the spicy meat, and wash it down with a caña, town’s sensibly small beer, served in 200ml glasses. Later, wandering again to the resort, we dip into Mercado de San Miguel, but it surely feels somewhat like Selfridges meals corridor and we don’t cease.

In between the consuming, we discover time to see a few of the metropolis’s implausible artwork, choosing the extra manageable Thyssen-Bornemisza over the gargantuan Prado – one of many world’s most extraordinary personal collections, encompassing works by everybody from Titian and Tintoretto to Warhol and Pollock. However the true pleasure is the Sorolla Museum, the previous residence and beautiful backyard of Joaquín Sorolla, stored a lot because it was when he lived there and stuffed with dozens of his works. The work are a lesson in Spanish historical past in addition to artwork; he was commissioned by numerous organisations, together with the Hispanic Society of America, to journey the nation and paint in every single place from Andalucía to the Valencian coast, giving an perception into rural life within the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Hamming it up: Jamón ibérico de Bellota. {Photograph}: Peter Eastland/Alamy

From the museum, we stroll to the leafy Salamanca district, well-known for its designer boutiques and high-end eating places, for our closing lunch. Even right here, there’s a market to find: Mercado de la Paz (, though each seat is taken on the bar counters that slot between the meals stalls. As a substitute, we snap up an outside desk at Jurucha (, a easy tapas bar the place a few cañas and a collection of croquetas and pinchos gratinados (baguette slices topped with béchamel and melted cheese) prices lower than €20 (£17).


On the ned of our keep, we replicate that regardless of our greatest efforts, we’ve barely scratched the floor of this foodiest of cities. We didn’t strive el cocido, town’s iconic stew, the place the broth is served first and the stewed meat and greens as a primary course, or huevos rotos, fried eggs served on chips and ham. However fortunately, that may solely imply one factor. We’ll have to return for second helpings.

A five-night keep, together with resorts and journey by Eurostar and rail through Barcelona, plus a Madrid foods and drinks tasting tour, begins from £1,486pp with Kirker Holidays (

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