“You will be spoilt for choice,” “where all the famous chefs are based,” “great restaurants,” were just a few snippets I had heard from people when researching Madrid. When it comes to exploring new places, especially cities, for me an important aspect is to check out the food scene. Although I like to think of myself as somewhat of a foodie I don’t tend to focus my reflection about a place on food, but for Spain’s foodie capital I believe there should be an exception.
After an early morning walk in Retiro Park before the crowds hit, it was time to experience our first meal. We stopped off at Fonty on the outskirts of the park for a lazy brunch before getting up the energy to explore the city. Our next stop wasn’t too long after the hustle and bustle of Plaza Mayor we stumbled upon one of the most famous cafés surviving what was claimed to be “the best churros” in Madrid. A sugar hit later and we were ready to continue to explore the city. Staying in the Latina area it would have been rude not to experience the Cava Baja on our first night. In true Spanish fashion things didn’t kick off here until around 9pm, so after many beers later we were more than ready for a tapas bar crawl.
This morning began on an empty stomach – an insult to Madrid’s gastronomy but with good reason, it was time for our Huertas neighbourhood food tour by Devour Madrid. The tour took us on a journey around this idyllic neighbourhood, meeting local restaurant, shop and market owners, learning about the history and taking in a part of the city that we wouldn’t have necessarily visited. We ate in various family run eateries, from the best churros (this time they were the best and freshest!), local cheese, olive oil and olives, various gourmet tapa to complimenting all of the tasting dishes with cava, local wine and vermouth. After at least 3 breakfast and 5 or 6 lunch courses we decided to skip lunch and walk off our calories around the palace and more exploration of the city – stopping for drinks in various rooftop haunts, a must when in Madrid. The evening called for yet more food, first up we tried the San Anton market with plenty of various tapas stalls offering up delights combined with a rooftop bar. The atmosphere here was good but we were in search of something even better. Finding ourself at the top of yet another El Corte Ingles we were transported up to one of David Munoz’s creations, Street XO, he’s casual eatery and an aside to he’s (and the only) 3 Michelin star restaurant in the city. The ‘street’ atmosphere, the open kitchen and waiters donning straitjackets is partnered with tapas style portions in the form of Asian fusion and daringly creative gastronomy – everything was amazing and nothing here is run of the mill.
After our satisfyingly delicious day yesterday, we started a new (and our last) day in the city with what else but another breakfast. Today we headed to the palace after a café recommendation and sat down to coffee and tomato bread, a staple Spanish breakfast to set us up for the day ahead. After walking through more of the palace gardens, admiring the Templo de Debod, hitting the Gran Via again and then taking the cable car across we decided it was time for a well deserved ice cream whilst overlooking the city’s skyline. With a busy morning conquered we decided to indulge in a relaxing afternoon of cheese and wine at the Poncelet cheese bar – after reading that it had its own wall of cheese, we weren’t going to miss it. A cheese board and a few red wines later it was well worth the visit. To end our mini break in Madrid on once again, another food and drink high, we headed to Restaurant Lua and divulged in a 7 course tasting menu paired with wine. Using local and seasonal produce their menu isn’t published, changing on a weekly basis. We had a great meal and to round things off for the final night we headed up to another rooftop bar – this time at the top of the city hall overlooking the bright lights of the city.
This 3 day sensory taste journey around Madrid was extremely satisfying, with lots to offer and diverse gastronomy, you will run out of time before you run out of places to eat and drink here – a great foodie city break leaving you wanting more (and perhaps a detox)
June, 2016 (Madrid)