|Asian/Spanish fusion at Tandem by Triciclo, Madrid|
For us, travel is about food. While we don't (always) pick a destination solely based on food options, we love to try out new foods and those little hidden gems. We avoid restaurants with pictures of the dishes on the menus. We'd rather order something unusual or unknown.
|PIN me to save for your next trip|
In Madrid, we do understand and speak the lingo. So that was not so much of an issue. But it was our first time there and .... well, Spanish food!
We stayed in the Bario de las Letras: a lovely up and coming area where many writers used to live (Cervantes in particular). Very central area for the museums, the train station and everything else we needed during those two days. And, of course, a perfect place for restaurants also.
Below, we have listed our favourite finds (mostly from that area).
Azul (calle del Fúcar, 1)
A small café/restaurant/bar serving salads, soups, and dishes of the day. But we went there for breakfast and it was the best we had. The husband had the traditional bread with ham and tomato pulp while I had the same minus the ham with cheese and pesto. It was delicious. The bread was fresh and amazing (I am French I don't say this lightly). Simple, cheap and friendly.
Brown Bear Bakery (calle de Leon, 10)
A simple bakery offering mostly American breads (muffins, bagels, etc) and pastries but they also serve the traditional bread with ham and tomatoes. You can take away or eat in the back at one of the 4 tables on offer. Very simple and cheap.
The three options below all work for lunch or dinner. Just remember the Spanish tend to eat late compared to other countries in Europe.
Mercado de San Miguel (plaza San Miguel)
This is where we went after dropping off our bags. A few minutes walk from the Plaza Mayor, it is a very pretty market hall (from 1916) transformed into a food/tapas place. There are no places to sit. You buy yourself a glass of wine and stroll and order little tapas to taste while you chat and drink. We had some chesses, cured meats, seafood. All rather fresh and delicious. The prices are not cheap. But it is better than the over-priced restaurants of the Plaza Mayor for tourists. Also, lots of food tours take people there.
Cervecería Cervantes (plaza de Jesús, 7)
Situated opposite a church (don't arrive at the end of the religious service as it gets packed), this is the place to get stuffed on simple and traditional Spanish tapas. We went there twice! You can sit (if you are lucky) and order different portion sizes of the classic tapas. We loved the calamares and the Spanish tortilla (the best we had tasted). The gambas (prawns) were good too but not cheap.
And finally, I have kept the best for last. Really.
Tandem (calle de Santa María, 39)
If you like eating good local fresh food. This is the place. This is your treat. It is not the cheapest place to eat but the prices are cheaper than in Triciclo (the sister restaurant next door). A modernised tavern serving very simple yet amazingly fresh dishes made with quality ingredients (often local). We ordered half portions of different dishes to try things out and share. All was amazing. my favourite was the fresh mozzarella with sardines and pine nuts. Simply scrumptious. I am running out of adjectives. This was one of the best meals I have had in a very long time. Really highly recommend it. Book though as there are few tables and they fill up quickly. They serve brunch on Sundays too.
|Guacamole and saffron hummus|
|Sardines and mozzarella on toast|
Last food-related tip: If you want to bring back jamón, chorizo or cured meats, head over to Museo del Jamón. The name is misleading. It is not a museum. It is a store. You can eat in too. there are several branches around the city and they have a big selection of regional meats. Everything we bought was delicious.