Where to eat in Madrid: The ultimate foodies guide of the best restaurants in the city

Fixing our hungry eyes on the Spanish capital, we find out what gastronomic delights await amongst the world-class museums, lively plazas and artful neighbourhoods of Madrid. With so many lively barrios and their bars to explore, finding a preferred spot for dining and nightlife in Madrid can seem like a gargantuan task. Thankfully, Mr Hudson is here with some secrets to share, pinpointing where to get your chops around the best food in Spain as well as the best locally sourced Madrid foods. Read on for our top pick of Madrid restaurants.

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Photo: DiverXO

1. Sacha Restaurant

An institution among both Madrid foodies and international chefs, Sacha Restaurant is an intimate bistro simply decked out in monochrome print, wooden chairs and white tablecloths. Its food is also modest, showcased across a menu of elevated comfort dishes, including onion soup and steak tartare as well as more decadent meals like faux lasagne layered with crab. Putting Sacha Restaurant ahead of its competition is its flawless attention to detail as well as the friendly staff – helmed by Sacha himself – all experts at pairing a wine.

2. Triciclo

Madrileños know where to find the hottest food in Madrid and we follow them down a side street in the old city to find Triciclo, a restaurant often spilling over with queues of casual yet chic locals. Inside, antique doors and the odd tricycle adorn the walls, while wooden flooring and concrete features bring a modern-industrial vibe. Like the space, the menu is divided up into sections from which you can mix and match or do a 6- or 9-course tasting menu. All that – plus the 15 or so specials – are all seasonally chosen for the freshest results, spanning a wide variety of cuisine from Spanish and Italian to Peruvian and Chinese. Book well in advance to see why the Michelin Guide and Guía Repsol go crazy for this place, as one of the best ‘restaurantes centro Madrid’ with traditional and gourmet meals served in any number of portion sizes.

If you like the taste of Tricyclo, know that the team operate several establishments in the same barrio. Tricyclo’s Italian little brother, Tandem, lies just down the road, while Taberna Elisa across from Tandem brings traditional Madrid ‘aperitivos’. SUA on the next block is great for families meanwhile, specialising in charcoal-grilled meats.

Photo: Triciclo

SUA by Triciclo | Photo: Yasmina Rodríguez

3. Sala de Despiece

Another restaurante en Madrid worth your time is the meat-focused eatery of Sala de Despiece. Based on Calle Ponzano, home of the best tapas Madrid has to offer, Sala de Despiece is a little different than most. The aesthetic is based on the city’s cutting markets, making for a slightly unexpected and industrial atmosphere to remind diners where their food comes from. Don’t expect to be seated at a table when arriving here, instead, order at the long counter and collect your food on a metal tray. Sweet Tudela artichokes, red Murcian tuna and blistered green piparras all feature on the seasonal menu, alongside deconstructed classics and table-side pyrotechnics. Performative presentation is one of the main lures of Sala de Despiece, as is the remarkable wine menu, covering Ruedas, Riojas, Albariños and even some offbeat varieties to fit the modern crowd.

Photo: Sala de Despiece

Photo: Sala de Despiece

4. DiverXO

There are as many as 19 Michelin star restaurants Madrid, but none are quite so enthralling as DiverXO, an establishment with three Michelin stars of its own, from the imagination of chef David Muñoz. An artsy menu takes pride of place within DiverXo’s futuristic setting atop the Eurobuilding hotel, surprising VIP diners with intense flavours and avant-garde presentation capped by dry ice, acidulated parmesan and truffle shavings. Tuck into each work of art from underneath UFO-shaped light fixtures and psychedelic wall art, or, for something a little less full-on, try StreetXo, Muñoz’ take on casual dining inside El Corte Inglés department store.

Chef Dabiz Muñoz | Photo: DiverXO

Photo: DiverXO

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There are as many as 19 Michelin star restaurants in Madrid, but none are quite so enthralling as DiverXO, an establishment with three Michelin stars of its own, from the imagination of chef David Muñoz

5. Toga

Our next piece of foodie Spain comes in the shape of Toga, within the eclectic neighbourhood of Lavapiés. Despite its small scale and low-key industrial design, Toga has charmed the whole of Madrid through its Latin American and Asian fusion menu. Of the best entrees and mains, the flambé noodles with Kimchi mayo sauce and tuna tartar is a must-try, on recommendation from friends! Make sure to book in advance for both lunch and dinner.

Toga Restaurant | Photo: Yasmina Rodríguez

Toga Restaurant | Photo: Yasmina Rodríguez

6. Bel Mondo & Villa Capri

Now our foodies guide to Madrid leads us to Barrio Salamanca, for two romantic trattorias in atypical Italian stylings. First up, Bel Mondo surprises diners by scraping the Vichy-tablecloths for neon-lit design edged by antique lamps and an impressive store of vinyl records in the adjacent lounge. Also featured is a men’s room watched over by a photo of Berlusconi and a yellow dining room backed by both an open kitchen and flowering terrace. Pull your attention to the menu to discover original dishes with quirky names, featuring fresh homemade pasta, Neapolitan pizzas and heavenly calzones, finished off by the ‘bomb pavlova’. The little brother of Bel Mondo is Villa Capri, bringing the Amalfi Coast to Madrid with colourful, flower-filled design. The height of glam beach aesthetic, Villa Capri feels totally different from Bel Mondo, while also championing local produce through Spanish-Italian fusion dishes such as gazpacho San Marzano, and giant ravioli carbonara topped with guanciale.

Bel Mondo | Photo: Yasmina Rodríguez

Bel Mondo | Photo: Yasmina Rodríguez

7. Ramón Freixa

Ramón Freixa is another fine option in the northeast neighbourhood of Salamanca, garnering two Michelin stars and three Repsol Suns for its creative approach to traditional fare. Catalonian chef and owner Ramón Freixa builds his menus in line with the seasons to include new dishes such as cured monkfish, Charolais beef wellington and Majorcan sausage, shaking things up come Sunday brunch with prawn rigatoni and tuna carpaccio with wakame. Based in Hotel Único, Ramón Freixa features an elegant marbled dining room made all the brighter by a glass-covered terrace and open-air space, welcoming both lunch and dinner guests.

8. Josefita Bar

Dressing up local ingredients from across Asturias, Galicia and Andalucía in fashionable yet simple dishes is Josefita Bar, the offspring of La Gloria tavern, on Valverde Street. Here, traditional pinchos, tapas and house wine are enjoyed in laid-back surroundings, with photos and decorations harking back to family memories shared between owner Sol Pérez-Fraguero and his grandmother, Gloria. Among the small dishes, Josefita Bar does molletes as well as more substantial options such as the marinated dogfish with piparra mayo or meatballs in marrow sauce with potato chips.

Josefita Bar | Photo: Yasmina Rodríguez

Photo: Kindel Media

9. Roostiq

If you like fire then you’ll love Roostiq, Chueca district’s own fuego-centred Spanish barbeque house, otherwise known as an Asador. Though traditional, Roostiq is made for 21st-century diners who want to enjoy their smoked meats with 150 types of champagne in chic but relaxed environs. Dine with creatives and business types at lunch or couples and groups come nightfall, allowing the vibe to colour the restaurant’s minimalistic backdrop. French wines dominate the wine list at Roostiq, complex and earthy burgundy and limited-release pinot complemented by thin and crispy torreznos and main dishes such as Basque txuleton steaks and grilled turbot alongside chewy pizzas topped with fior di latte (truffled pecorino) finished off indulgently with Basque-style molten cheesecake.

"Torreznos" Roostiq | Photo: Yasmina Rodríguez

Roostiq | Photo: Yasmina Rodríguez

10. La Posada del Nuncio

Deep inside the labyrinth that is La Latina, La Posada del Nuncio stands out among the large terraces of Nuncio Street thanks to the restaurant’s charismatic owner and tastefully kitsch décor that draws the eye. The food itself is modern, suited to taverna junkies and bohemians who will bond over both vegetable art and vegetable dishes, marinated in international flavours from the local orchards of Carabaña, León and Navarra. La Posada del Nuncio gets through seven hundred kilos of home-ripened tomatoes each year to create simple yet authentic bites including omelettes, ensaladilla, salmorejo and torreznos. As for meat and fish, Asturia’s cheesy cachopo steak sandwich and the baked fish on confit peppers will serve you well.

La Posada del Nuncio | Photo: Yasmina Rodríguez

Madrid | Photo: Yasmina Rodríguez

Mr. Hudson highlight image

Downstairs, the Trilero speakeasy and its sublime cocktails await, but stay a while to watch masterful chefs prepare food in the open kitchen

11. La Burlona Bar

For all the more innovative food Madrid has in store, check out La Burlona Bar based in a former theatre café in Lavapiés, now a great place for a (boozy) light lunch or dinner with friends. La Burlona takes on elevated Spanish fare with a slight twist, serving up classic small plates alongside an impressive wine list in stylish yet cosy redbrick surroundings. Downstairs, the Trilero speakeasy and its sublime cocktails await, but stay a while to watch masterful chefs prepare food in the open kitchen, across appetisers such as oysters with Bloody Mary and croquettes, chased by mains that include classic garlic shrimp with egg (gambas al ajillo con huevo frito) and creamy mushroom rice (arroz cremoso de trompeta de los muertos).

La Burlona Bar | Photo: Yasmina Rodríguez

Trilero club at La Burlona | Photo: Yasmina Rodríguez

12. Numa Pompilio

Our third name in Barrio de Salamanca is Numa Pompilio, the brainchild of Italian husband-and-wife team Sandro Silva and Marta Seco and one-sixth of El Paraguas, the couples’ small group of high-standing Spanish restaurants. Refined Italian cuisine that draws on the Italian nomadic spirit is at the centre of Silva and Seco’s concept, and the restaurant’s décor evokes this through elements bought from New York, London and Rome. One of the key selling points of Numa Pompilio however is its open-air patio space, reminiscent of romantic vacations in Tuscany. While we come back to Numa Pompilio time and time again for its classic stylings and lobster tagliatelle, other El Paraguas names worth visiting include the Ten con Ten gin bar and African-inspired Aarde restaurant, alongside the namesake El Paraguas kitchen.

13. Papúa Colón

Sounding more like the nickname for my gastroenterologist, Papúa Colón is in fact one of the best examples of haute cuisine in Madrid. Don’t let the name fool you because this is where you’ll find yourself plied with drinks, cocktails and great local food right in the heart of Madrid, within a fresh, Art Deco space that moves outside amongst tropical plants and plaster animals on warm evenings. Chef Andrés Castaño preps an extensive menu with exotic touches, with everything from passion fruit stuffed with caramelised foie mousse and Caesar rolls with parmesan and lime to poke-paella and Papua Colon potatoes. Sweet treats are also a reason to stay, starting with the baked papaya cheesecake and finishing with the ice cream and brownie-filled chocolate pastry.

Papúa | Photo: Yasmina Rodríguez

Papúa Colón | Photo: Yasmina Rodríguez

BONUS: Madrid Food Markets

After all that dining out, you may still be in search of a proper ‘cocido garbanzos’ at a price point acceptable for lunch. If that’s the case, fret not because outside of its restaurants and sit-down eateries, Madrid still has a whole lot more in store. Traditional markets are one of the best ways to see Spanish food culture at large, offering a fun experience sampling and scouting out fresh local produce. Make your own Madrid cocido back at your apartment, using the quality meat, cheese and vegetables bought at any of Madrid’s food markets, though, you should note, Mercado de San Miguel is more set for tourists and pricier because of it. As an alternative, head to grocery markets in residential neighbourhoods, such as La Latina’s Mercado de la Cebada. Come on Saturday afternoon to see this market at its liveliest, when the mariscada transforms from seafood stalls to pop-up bars that serve both fresh tapas and cold drinks.

Huertas’ Mercado Antón Martín meanwhile is another spot for fresh produce, in an area also known as the Literary Quarter for its picturesque streets of wine and tapas joints, sided by al fresco dining spots and small markets. Those looking for something a bit more specific can get an award-winning tortilla de patatas at Casa Dani in Mercado de la Paz, or natural wine and cheese tasters at Bendito Vinos y Vinilos at Mercado de San Fernando. For an off-the-beaten-track experience (where you might finally find the Madrid cocido of dreams) is the Mercado de Chamberi’s La Chispería, a space marked by six restaurants, collectively serving up modern Latin American, Italian and Spanish dishes.

En route between markets, perhaps you’ll also want to try the city’s latest culinary trend of food truck dining. Retrotrucks in Arganda del Ray is an international addition while Baden-Baden brings a motorised version of little Germany to the area. Our favourite food truck Madrid however is El Perro Salvaje, bringing Chicago-style hotdogs to the people of Malasaña.

San Miguel Market, Madrid

San Miguel Market, Madrid | Photo: Andres Alagon

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Photo: Sala de Despiece

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