The best food experiences in Madrid 2022:
- Traditional Paella Cooking Class
- Authentic Street Food at Antón Martín Market
- Wine Tasting at Madrid & Darracott
- Tapas Tour on Madrid’s Tapas Street
- Dinner at a Traditional Spanish Tavern
- Cocktails at a Secret Speakeasy Bar
- Buy Biscuits From Nuns Through a Secret Hatch
- Eat at One of Madrid’s Michelin Star Restaurants
- Drink the Best Barista Coffee
1. Traditional Paella Cooking Class
A trip to Madrid is all about the food.
Many restaurants in Madrid do great paella, but if you want a really special experience, you need to make it yourself.
The best cooking class in Madrid is the Traditional Paella Cooking Class with Paloma.
First, it’s time to head to Paloma’s charming studio in the Chueca neighbourhood.
Once you arrive on Paloma’s street, you’ll see her waiting outside with a big smile and open arms, ready to welcome you into her space.
When the class begins, it’s time to prepare an authentic sangria to sip on during the cooking class.
Next, you’ll make the first course – tortilla (spanish omelette).
Paloma will teach you the secrets behind making a perfect tortilla española, including how to perfectly caramelise the onions, add seasoning and keep the eggs a tiny bit gooey.
As you enjoy eating the tortilla, Paloma (a true Valencian) will tell you about the history of paella, which comes from her home region.
For the main event, you’ll cook a traditional paella in a big paella pan and enjoy the meal with new friends.
After coffee and dessert, the wonderful afternoon comes to an end, and you’ll leave with a full belly and heart.
For a truly unique and intimate cooking experience in Madrid, Paella with Paloma won’t disappoint.
2. Try Street Food and Tapas at Antón Martín Market
All of the Madrid guides are going to tell you to visit the famous Mercado de San Miguel.
The market has been open for over 100 years, but it was turned into a gourmet food market in 2009.
Since then, San Miguel Market has become incredibly popular with tourists, offering dozens of gourmet food stalls selling local dishes, champagne and even lobster.
Due to the market’s proximity to Plaza Mayor (basically right next to it), the market is quite overpriced and very overcrowded.
You could spend a fortune during an afternoon at San Miguel (on iberian ham alone – which costs around €18 for a small tray).
My advice? If it’s your first time in Madrid, go to San Miguel, buy one drink, take in the atmosphere and the impressive cast-iron architecture, and then leave for Antón Martín Market instead.
El Mercado de Antón Martín is a much more authentic food market, with the same gourmet food stalls and tapas, only prices are reasonable.
Found in the Lavapiés neighbourhood, it’s just a short walk from the city centre yet it feels so much more local.
Don’t miss Garage Bar for refined Spanish gastronomic dishes and natural wine, Casa Jaguar for authentic Mexican and El Mono de la Pila for Peruvian ceviche.
For quick eats, choose La Yapa’s homemade empanadas or La Panadería de Elietta for cakes and pastries.
Whether you want a high quality table-service or a casual snack, expect chilled vibes and friendly staff at Antón Martín Market.
3. Wine Tasting at Madrid & Darracott
You’ll find the best wine tasting in Madrid at the wine shop Madrid & Darracott.
Found just off Plaza Mayor, the elegant glass-fronted Madrid & Darracott store invites you inside for an intimate tasting of Spanish wine.
The first thing you need to do is book onto a daily tasting for €15 and grab a seat inside around an old wine barrel.
Next, wine experts Luke & Roque will pour you three unique glasses of wine and spend the hour talking you through the flavour profiles and tasting notes.
Expect delicious wine, interesting facts about Spain’s wine regions and the opportunity to meet some other wine-obsessed travellers.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Madrid on a Thursday, you can do the ‘Inside the Bottle’ tasting for €20.
These themed tasting sessions focus on a different Spanish wine region each week, offering four glasses of wine from that area.
Major wine enthusiasts can also choose the premium tasting for €69, allowing you to choose your own three glasses of high-end wine and learn the history/ tasting notes.
For the best wine experience in the Spanish capital, Madrid & Darracott is your number one choice.
4. Self-Guided Tapas Tour on Madrid’s Tapas Street
Go to any website selling tickets & tours in Madrid and I can guarantee you’ll see tonnes of tapas tours advertised.
These tapas tours are well reviewed but quite pricey.
The thing is, you can actually do your own self-guided tapas tour in Madrid, which will be way cheaper and more authentic.
To do a self-guided tapas tour in Madrid, all you need to do is walk to Madrid’s Tapas Street.
Madrid’s famous ‘Tapas Street’ is called Calle de la Cava Baja, and it’s where you need to go for the most epic tapas in the city.
Calle Cava Baja is located in La Latina neighbourhood, the best area for tapas in Madrid and one of the best barrios to stay in.
The narrow cobbled street, lined with taverns and tapas bars, is just a few minutes’ walk from Plaza Mayor in the centre.
Locals and tourists enjoy spending hours wandering up the street, popping in and out of bars for an ice cold caña and a couple of tapas dishes.
You can get the full guide to Madrid’s Tapas Street here.
FYI, the best tapas bars on the street include Taberna LA CONCHA, La Perejila, Taberna El Tempranillo and Casa Lucas.
For me, visiting Madrid’s Tapas Street is definitely one of the best food experiences in Madrid.
5. Have Dinner at a Traditional Spanish Tavern
When choosing a restaurant to eat traditional Spanish food in Madrid, many guides will direct you to Sobrino de Botín.
Founded in 1725, Sobrino de Botín is the oldest restaurant in Madrid and the oldest restaurant in the world in continuous operation.
Unfortunately, whilst the 20th century writer Ernest Hemmingway may have raved about Botín in his novels, the quality of the food doesn’t seem to have withheld the test of time (and reviews these days are pretty average).
Instead, if you want to visit an authentic Spanish tavern in Madrid, I can recommend the highly rated Restaurante El Tormo.
Found tucked away on a side street near the Royal Basilica of Saint Francis, Restaurante El Tormo is a well respected veteran on the Madrid dining scene.
The family-run tavern focuses on Castilian dishes from the 16th century, along with regional wines.
My recommendation is to choose the degustation menu, which offers 5 or 6 different dishes from La Mancha region along with some coffee to finish.
From traditional stews to pisto with fried egg and the famous ‘las gachas’ (a delicious savoury porridge with garlic), expect to try food you won’t find in the other tapas bars around town.
The friendly waiters will explain the history of each dish when they serve it to you, and you’ll really feel like you’ve been welcomed into a family home in this restaurant.
For an authentic ‘Old Spain’ food experience in Madrid, you can’t beat Restaurante El Tormo.
6. Cocktails at a Secret Speakeasy Bar
Madrid is a city with brilliant cocktail bars.
But for the most unique and magical cocktail experience, you need to go to Bad Company 1920.
Named one of the best 50 cocktail bars in the world, Bad Company needs to be on your Madrid bucket list.
Bad Company is found down a backstreet near Gran Vía, and you need to hunt down the secret password on Instagram to enter the big wooden door.
Once you’re in, you’ll leave Madrid entirely and be teleported to 1920s New York during the prohibition era.
You won’t find mojitos or margaritas on the menu at Bad Company, because all of the drinks are inspired by historical figures and events.
Complex and creative, forget everything you think you know about cocktails and instead embrace the eccentricity of Bad Company 1920.
7. Buy Homemade Biscuits From Nuns Through a Secret Hatch
‘Palacio’ or ‘Los Austrias’ is Madrid’s most historical neighbourhood, where all of the city’s oldest buildings can be found.
It’s home to las Carboneras convent, an early 17th century convent where a female community of nuns still reside to this day.
But this convent is a little different, because it sells secret biscuits that can only be obtained by going on a little scavenger hunt.
The first part of the adventure is to find the big brown door to the convent, which is located on Calle del Codo.
Then, press the buzzer for the nuns (monjas) and wait for a voice to say ‘hola’.
Next, reply with the password ‘dulces’ (you can say ‘cookies’ or ‘biscuits’ in English too) and the door will open.
Once inside, make your way through the courtyard until you see the Lazy Susan or turntable with a dulce menu at the side of it.
Now it’s time to choose which biscuits you would like to buy (the orange biscuits and almond ones are popular), before placing your money inside the turntable and stating your order.
Seconds later, the turntable will start moving and your money will be gone, soon to be replaced by your chosen biscuits once the rotation is complete.
The nuns remain hidden from your view throughout the transaction, and you’ll never know who baked or served you your delicious treats.
8. Eat at One of Madrid’s Michelin Star Restaurants
Madrid has around 20 Michelin Star restaurants.
But which one should you choose during your foodie trip to Madrid?
Quite a few of the Michelin Star restaurants in Madrid are contemporary European or Japanese, so I would personally choose Ramón Freixa Madrid because it celebrates Spanish produce.
The fine dining restaurant in the upmarket Salamanca neighbourhood offers inventive tasting menus constructed by award-winning chef Ramón himself.
Three degustation menus are available each offering multiple courses, with the cheapest at €95 per person and the most expensive at €180 per person (excluding wine pairings).
A visit to Ramón Freixa Madrid certainly won’t be cheap, but it promises to be a culinary experience of a lifetime in one of the best cities in the world.
9. Drink Brilliant Barista Coffee in Madrid
Madrid is home to some unbelievable coffee shops that you need to try.
Feliz Coffee in the Literary Quarter is the best coffee in Madrid.
Other great specialty coffee shops in Madrid include El Perro De Pavlov in La Latina, Syra Coffee in Lavapiés and Camden Coffee Roasters in Malasaña.
I hope you enjoyed my guide to the best food experiences in Madrid, don’t miss the best cocktails in Madrid or the best luxury apartments and accommodation in Madrid.