How to spend a weekend in Madrid if you’re totally into food and want to try as much of it as possible? Well then you’ve to come to the right place! Madrid is a city full of people who love life and most certainly love food. We managed to cram in a museum stop, three food markets, an ice cream stop and even a food tour in our three short days. Madrid is a place where old meets new, traditions are strong and history is around every corner but the people are living in a modern city and are as obsessed with their dogs and good food as much as I am!
On this quick weekend between cities, I discovered what is quite possibly my new favorite dish, even though it is actually a very, very old dish. It’s Gambas al Ajillo, or baby shrimp swimming in a garlic butter chili sauce. Served in a clay dish with crusty white bread and red wine. Yes, it is in fact as good as it sounds! We had this for the first time at Casa de Abuelo in Madrid and I managed to order it as many times as possible while we were in Spain. We also found out that sangria? Yup, just for the tourists. The locals actually drink tinto de verano or red wine of the summer. Similar to sangria, its a red wine base with some fizz from club soda and a squeeze of lemon served over ice. It is hot, hot, hot in Madrid during the summer and this drink is super refreshing!
Fresh made Tortilla Espanolas or an egg dish with potatoes is my most memorable dish from my summer abroad in Barcelona in college. Luckily enough we had several of these on our trip that were delicious and I even made BMW a fan! Solomillo is a thick, chilled tomato soup that is often served as a tapa. We had to tried some, it is often flavored with spices and served with crackers.
Here is my quick foodie guide for how to spend three days in Madrid!
Parque de El Retiro– The big and beautiful park in the middle of Madrid! It’s not far from The Prado Museum and definitely worth a stroll around. Be sure to visit the fountain and the Crystal Palace! The park belong to the royal family until the 19th century and has been really well maintained for such a large, public park.
Devour Madrid Food Tours– This was such a fun night! We did the Tapas and History tour. If you’re into food, I would recommend this tour. We didn’t do anything crazy but it was nice to have a local taking us around and explain some local customs, like why it’s ok to throw your trash on the floor in a bar!
Prado Museum– A huge and expansive art museum and if you’re into Christian art, then there is certainly plenty here for you to see. Even if art isn’t your thing, it’s worth a look.
Royal Palace– I wasn’t expecting to like this palace as much as I did! Even though all the rooms were never finished, there was plenty of opulence to see. As I learned quickly in Europe, if there is any tourist attraction that you need tickets for, be sure to reserve ahead online.
Debod Temple– A gift from Egypt this ancient temple is a unique site to see in Madrid. It also happens to be a great place to catch a sunset!
Plaza Mayor– It’s exactly what it sounds like, the biggest Plaza in Madrid! It is a hub of the city and comes alive with tourist and locals criss-crossing paths and grabbing bites and drinks.
Microteatro de Madrid– This was a really cool venue for live theater. They host mini live plays that last about 15 minutes. You can purchase a ticket for an individual show or buy a pass for the entire evening. The venue is very intimate with each play in a small little room. It’s all in Spanish so be sure to brush up before you go.
Buy cookies from Nuns– No but seriously! The nuns at one the of church is a group of cloistered nuns, meaning they cannot speak to any outsiders. They do however make some delicious cookies you can buy! You walk into the church through a door on an alley that has a small bell. Walk down the hall, place money on the turn-table and it turns around and out come the cookies!
Food Market Halls:
One of our favorite things to do this summer was discover new food halls! And if Madrid does anything right, it is certainly food! We visited three of Madrid’s biggest food markets.
Located near lots of great restaurants in the central part of town, this market was our favorite of the three! BMW has his favorite of all jamon of the whole trip here, we sipped some great sangria, ate squid ink paella and saw some crazy fish displays. There was lots of fresh options and even a mozzarella bar!
Mercado de San Ildefonso– The second of the food hall we visited, this one was much more focused on food stalls, almost like a food truck court but inside with bathrooms, wifi and bars. Now that’s my kind of place! You can get everything from tacos to jamon to sushi here.
Mercado de San Anton– The last of our food market tour, Mercado de San Anton isn’t far from Mercado de San Ildefonso in the Chueca neighborhood. The bottom floor is filled with farmers market stalls with lots of fresh ingredients. The second floor has food stalls and bar and the third floor has a restaurant were we shared a cheese plate and sipped some wine before catching our flight!
Sala de Despiece– This restaurant was simply amazing! It is modeled after a meat locker. The menu reads like an ingredient list and the staff all wear lab coats. Each dish is exquisitely prepared with the careful attention to every detail. This incredible tapas bar is open late and perfect for dinner. It was buzzing with young professionals and people looking to have a good time. Get ready for incredible presentation and super fresh ingredients.
La Mallorquina– An iconic bakery located in the heart of Plaza del Sol. La Mallorquina has a sweet shop downstairs where you can pick up coffees, cakes and croissants to go. Head up a tight staircase to a cafe where you can order breakfast sandwiches and donuts.
Restaurante Sorbino de Botin– This place holds the Guinness Book of World Records spot for the longest continually running restaurant in the world! While it is in fact filled with tourist, we were surprised to find a delicious salad and generous cheese plate. Perfect for a quick lunch or afternoon snack.
La Mistura– Artisan ice cream shop in the Chueca neighborhood. They mix in fresh fruit and sweet treats into the ice cream. They’ve also got smoothies, wifi and coffee. Stop in for a cool treat from morning ’til night!
Casa de Asturias– We randomly picked this bar when we were walking around town. The food is nothing special but you do get the traditional tapa with each new round of drinks. BMW loved this place because they serve cider. We saw something pouring the cider over their head spilling it everywhere and only getting about half into the glass. We thought maybe he had has a little too much cider but turns out that is actually how you are supposed to pour it. And naturally we had to try for ourselves!