Spanish people are proud of their food. When you ask an American what their favorite type of food is, you’ll hear a lot of different opinions from Italian to Chinese. But in Spain, most people will quickly speak the praises of traditional Spanish food. While I knew nothing about Spanish food before living here, after four years I’ve learned a lot! While it does not have a spicy flavor and the ingredients are pretty basic, there’s something for everyone to love. If you don’t want to eat Spanish food for every meal, fear not! Madrid has a huge variety that will satisfy all travelers. For those who are not familiar with Spanish food, I’ve compiled a list of popular items, along with a variety of  restaurant recommendations.

The most popular dishes in Spain:

  • Tortilla de Patata:  egg and potato omelette
  • Jamon: cured ham,  only found in Spain. You’ll see ham legs everywhere. 
  • Salmorejo: cold tomato and bread soup. Sounds really weird, but it’s delicious. 
  • Gazpacho: cold tomato and vegetable soup. 
  • Patatas bravas: fried potato wedges with a somewhat spicy sauce (I say somewhat because Spaniards can’t handle spicy foods like Americans can.) If it says “dos salsas”, it comes with the brava sauce and aioli sauce.)
  • Calamares: fried calamari
  • Chorizo: really good sausage
  • Morcilla: blood sausage, but doesn’t taste like British blood sausage. 
  • Ensaladilla Rusa: Translates to “Russian Salad.” It’s a potato salad with tuna, veggies and hard boiled eggs. 
  • Paella: rice dish with meat or seafood. 
  • Croquetas: fried bechamel sauce. They can come with different flavors like ham, bull’s tail, or stew. 
  • Pan con tomate: bread with a tomato and olive oil spread.
  • Churros: This traditional Spanish dessert is deep fried dough which is typically served with a thick, pudding-like hot chocolate. 
  • Normally when you order a drink, you’ll get a small tapa for free. Sometimes the tapas are good, and sometimes you’ll just get potato chips. 

Spanish food restaurants

Malaspina:Traditional spanish restaurant. It’s where I typically take guests. It’s a small, typically crowded space with small tables and wooden stool seats. Not the most comfortable, but really authentic. City center near Sol.  

La Buha: Really great tortilla de patata! 

Pez Tortilla: They also have great tortilla, but it’s more crowded and you have to wait to get a table, and most likely it’ll be standing. They have really good beer though. 

Antigua Hueveria: Lots of recipes with eggs and traditional Spanish food. 

Casa Mingo: Not quite near the center, but delicious food from Northern Spain (the region of Asturias). Basically you can order a whole chicken, chorizo, cabrales cheese (blue cheese from the North of Spain), and drink tons of Asturian cider. Really good. 

Malacatin: Very traditional and all they serve is Cocido Madrileno, the typical stew in Madrid. It’s truly an experience eating here. They give you the broth and you put chickpeas, jam, chicken, and veggies inside. It’s a bit expensive though, and is 25 euros a person. Must make reservation.

Sobrino de Botin: The oldest continuously running restaurant in the world. It’s expensive, but worth it for the experience! Most dishes are around 25 euros, but the service is really good and it’s very traditional.  Must make reservation.

Mercado San Miguel: This isn’t a restaurant, but a market near Plaza Mayor. It’s really touristy, but worth a walk through because it has all the traditional Spanish foods. 

Petisqueira: Here you can order a drink and get a huge tapa for free. 

Melo’s: The best croquetas in Madrid. They’re seriously massive. Also really famous for ham and cheese sandwiches. It’s small and doesn’t have many tables. You have to go right when it opens if you want a table! 

American food restaurants

Goiko Grill: Amazing burgers. Locations all over Madrid. Must make reservation. 

Casa Tomada: Giant sandwiches Must make reservation. 

Mox: Really small, so best for just takeaway, but amazing salads!

Federal: Lots of American food, particularly breakfast foods. 

Asian food restaurants

Izakaya han: Delicious Korean food. Must make reservation. 

Wagamama: Chain restaurant, but good Asian food. 

El Buda Feliz: The oldest Chinese restaurant in Spain, and my personal favorite. Really cool decorations and amazing food! The rice with duck is so good! 

Italian food restaurants

Oven: American-style restaurant with good pizza and pasta. Several locations. 

Bosco de Lobos: Really cool designed restaurant. A bit more expensive, but really nice! 

Other restaurants 

Grama Bar: Delicious arepas, but sometimes slow service. 

Hummuseria: Serve various types of hummus and tapas. Really healthy and really good! 

Moharaj: Indian food. Just be warned it’s less spicy than Indian food you’d get in the United States and the United Kingdom. 


San Gines: One of the oldest churro cafes in Madrid, and arguably the most famous. The location is really cool and historic, and there are photos of famous patrons all over the walls.

Los Artesanos 1902: Also located in a historic part of the city, and the cafe is large. The waiters wear an old fashioned uniform, which adds to the tradtional vibe.

Chocolateria Valor: It may not be the most historic of the churro places, but the chocolate is made by the Spanish chocolate brand Valor.

Churreria Madrid 1883: A small, traditional churro cafe in the heart of the hipster neighborhood.

Churreria La Mejor: Another churro cafe in the hipster neighborhood.


Toma Cafe: Good coffee, hipster vibe. 

La bicicleta: Good coffee, hipster vibe. 

HanSo Cafe: Good coffee and breakfast. Also hipster vibe. 

El Jardin Secreto: A cafe with really cool drinks and even cooler decorations! It looks like you’ve stepped into Alice in Wonderland. They also serve dinner. Must make a reservation or stand outside before they open. There’s always a line, but the desserts and drinks are worth it! 

Mama Framboise: Cute bakery with good pastries.  

La Cocina de mi Vecina: Really great cakes, and typically very crowded. 

Delish: Amazing vegan donuts. I’m not vegan at all, but they’re sooo good, and come in many different flavors.

Celicioso: Gluten free cupcakes and desserts.

Pum Pum cafe: Great for brunch! Hipster vibe. 

Bars and Rooftops

Salmon Guru: Really cool cocktails!  The last time I went, I had a cocktail in a glass shaped like a frog and another in a glass shaped like a flower. 

Macera Taller Bar: Housemade gin and other liquors.  

Roommate Oscar: Hotel with a cool rooftop with views of Chueca neighborhood and Gran Via buildings. 

Apartosuites Jardines de Sabatini: Best rooftop view of the palace! Make a reservation. 

Círculo de Bellas Artes: Rooftop bar with a cool view of the Cibeles palace. You have to pay to get up (4 euros). Normally pretty crowded. 

Casa Suecia: Rooftop bar right next to Bellas Artes. You have to pay 12 euros to get up, but you get a free drink with it.