Best paella I have ever had in Madrid. They bring the ingredients every day from the coast and the seafood is fantastic.
The rice needs to be shared (it's for two people and the shellfish paella is about £17/person), if you order a paella they will bring to the table the paella special pan and they will serve you directly from the pan.
The restaurant is located in Huertas street, a beautiful area to walk around and discover the history of Madrid.
Calle de Las Huertas, 15, 28012 Madrid, Spain
+34 914 29 50 44
Google map: bit.ly/1akw9HF
* Esther is our Been there local for Madrid. You can read her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/madrid-local-esther-almena.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/madridsensations.jsp
Just an hour's drive north-west of Madrid is the ancient city of Segovia, which stands proudly beneath its splendid cathedral. Nestled under the city's imposing roman aqueduct sits Meson de Candido, a family owned restaurant attracting food-lovers from far afield. Upon the recommendation of our local friends we dined, like everybody else that afternoon, or so it seemed, on the house's speciality, "cochinillo" or roast whole suckling pig. The waiters and chefs alike are proud of this dish, and so they should be. Cooked in vast, traditional ovens (ask nicely and you may get treated to a tour of the kitchen, as we did), the pork is a delight. Start with Granja, a local white bean soup, and savour the surprise "sorpresa" pudding, a gorgeous cakey, eggy, ice-creamy affair. If you're in Madrid and have a spare day, then Segovia is a glorious city of romance that you must visit, especially in late summer: potter, enjoy the sun and most importantly, make the most of what Meson de Candido has to offer. You won't regret it! Food and wine all in for around 35 euros.
The Train de la Fresa (Strawberry Train) is a historical, cultural and gastronomic route between Madrid and Aranjuez which runs from the end of June until mid- July and from the 1st of September until the end of October. This journey, which started in 1851, transports you to an old age of train travel on an early 20th Century coal engine train trough scenic countryside. Ideal for families or for an interesting day out to Aranjuez.
It leaves from the Museo del Ferrocarril (Train Museum) at Atocha Station (Paseo de las Delicias 61) and takes about an hour to arrive into Aranjuez. During the trip, stewardesses dressed in period costume go round the train distributing boxes of strawberries for passengers to taste. The views from the train are of the beautiful countryside outside Madrid. Travellers are then taken by coach to Aranjuez for a guided visit to the Royal Palace, its beautiful gardens and the Museo de Faluas. Travellers can choose to remain in Aranjuez and return back to Madrid on a normal service train using the same ticket.
Aranjuez has many interesting sights, including the Royal Palace with its Royal gardens and the "Casita del Labrador" (Farmer’s House) a Royal pavilion built by King Charles IV.
Tren de la Fresa (return) tickets are around €29 for adults and €21 for children between 4 and 12 years old. Children under 4 years old travel free if they sit on their parents’ lap. The ticket includes the free guided tour of the palace and museum.
While in Madrid you can take a train to Aranzuez, around an hour's trip on which they celebrate and eat strawberries each spring, served by staff in costume, stopping in Aranzuez, a charming town that was a royal residential palace. You can tour this, or if preferred go to the Aranzuez gardens, the place that inspired Rodrigos' 'In the Gardens of Aranzuez' classical piece. On the same line you can continue your day trip to Toledo, around 40 minutes train ride or so, a fascinating fortified citadel on a lovely hill with a beautiful blue river in the valley below. Toledo has a history dating back to the Visigoths. Both Aranzuez and Toledo offer lovely resaurants and caffes and children are always welcomed as is delightfully usual. The same train line will return you to Madrid central station via Aranzuez. Fares are low, a little higher on the specific strawberry train, with strawberries provided of course! Allow a longish day as the trip really is interesting for all tastes and preferences. Madrid will still be open and buzzing when you return, into the small hours.
This world famous Madrid institution has been serving its famous chocolate con churros since 1894 and trying it is a must do experience when you are in Madrid. Dip your churros in the hot chocolate. Chocolate con churros is served all day and night (including during the early hours of the morning as is traditional for the clubbers of Madrid). It is a great cure for a sore throat and cold symptoms. A chocolate con churros costs three euros 80 cents which is actually very cheap.
Pasadizo de San Ginés, 11, 28013 Madrid
+34 91 365 65 46
Google map: bit.ly/W6LQtW
I can rightly claim the "hombre más baratas en Madrid" crown after surviving a weekend on €38.
The Madrid Metro – the Orient Express compared to the London Underground – runs from the airport to city for a paltry €2. Visit the Parque del Retiro and explore the Crystal Palace art installations, monuments including the beautiful but sinister El Angel Caído, go boating by Alfonso XII's grandiose statue, then watch free street performers and puppeteers. Sip your sangria and toast the Madrid teleférico's 40th anniversary at the terminal bar: the skyline's not as exciting as Barcelona but it's relaxing and cheap.
Window-shop the Gran Via and continue to Plaza de España, Teatro Real, Palacio Real and Plaza Mayor for some classic Spanish architecture. Don't miss the El Rastro fleamarket on Sundays: calling it a flea market is a disservice to the sprawling city of stalls filled with delicious food and exotic crafts. It covers several blocks and gets very crowded so mind your valuables.
Madrid's gloriously rowdy tapas bars were out of my budget so I made do with the supermercado for flavoursome food. Ubiquitous Carrefour City and Express stores stock tasty Iberico ham, chorizo and other Spanish treats at unbeatable prices.
From horrific realisation to splendid sunny weekend of exploration, Madrid is perfect for a Spanish holiday on the cheap.
Metro - €2 one way from airport to central city, daypass tickets available. www.metromadrid.es/en/viaja_en_metro/tarifas/billetes/contenido07.html
Teleférico - €5.10 round trip, Paseo del Pintor Rosales, nearest metro Arguelles. www.teleferico.com/tarifas
El Rastro - start at Puerta de Toledo metro from 10am on Sundays. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Rastro
Parque del Retiro (and other locations) - madridspain.ca/attractions/retiropark.html
Carrefour store finder (use Google translate) - www.carrefour.es/
Fabulous market, recently revamped, brimming with good vibes + interesting crowd + food/drink of all descriptions, from morning cafe con leche to long after midnight. Reasonably priced. Brilliant site for people watching round the clock, not to mention the food - one of the most amazing places in the entire city!
Just a minute off plaza mayor
Great food at a great price. No main was more than €10! Wine was about €8-€9 a bottle.
We don't normally go to the same restaurant twice when we are on holiday, but we came here three times when we were here in Madrid in summer 08.
There were queues into the place on some evenings.
Plaza El Ángel 12
28012 Madrid, Spain
+34 913 691 059
It's a reliable online restaurant guide that also has background info e.g. a recurring piece on Spanish food and wines. Useful for general info and also for making online reservation. Check it out.
Slap bang in the centre of Madrid near to many of the major attractions, the old town, main shopping areas and a block from the Plaza Mayor is 100 Montaditos. It's your best bet for cheap lunch on the run in the city. Take a ticket and wait for your turn to order from the extensive menu of bocadillos (small Spanish sandwiches), starting from just a Euro, there's something for all tastes.
Calle Mayor 22, 5 mins from the Sol metro station
Madrid isn't necessarily the cheapest city in the world in which to eat out, and if you're on a budget, and fancy hitting the town too but don't know how you can afford to do both, this is the answer: do as the Spanish do and drink and snack all evening in the multitudes of Tapas Bars throughout the city. Placa Santa Ana is one of the liveliest and most celebrated places in which to do this, though prices can be higher than in more up and coming districts such as Chueca or Lavapies - though both these areas have a wide range of trendy places serving quality food and drinks. Avoid the Placa Mayor and its immediate environs as you pay vastly inflated prices which don't equate to value for money. If you're not sure which bar to choose, just check out the menus and prices, ask one of the (usually friendly and helpful) locals or as a rule of thumb head for somewhere that looks busy. Not only are you eating and drinking for far less than a restaurant or cocktail bar, you are getting a real taste of what Madrid life is all about. Enjoy!
Across central Madrid
Calle Cuchilleros, is a beautiful old Madrid road next to the Plaza Mayor. It has lots of great underground mesones (inns), for when it's too cold to sit out on the terrazas.
The Meson de la Tortilla only has four things on the menu (tortilla, garlic mushrooms, cheese and ham) - order one of each and enjoy, occasionally with live music.
C/Cuchilleros, Leave the plaza mayor from the south-west corner.
The hotel Laura in Madrid is a great place for families in the very centre of this wonderful city. Modern and comfortable design, friendly staff and affordable. It's just a B&B so you have to explore the city for food. Go to the Latina district for tapas and avoid the Plaza Mayor for overpriced and badly cooked food.
Don't join the long line of people waiting to get in the Prado. If you are with your kids go to the Reina Sofia instead and see some marvellous contemporary and modern art paintings like Picasso's 'Guernica'.
After, go to the café/restaurant for some great food and of course a bottle of wine from the Ribera Del Duero region, superb.
Teatriz restaurant in Madrid is a fantastic restaurant designed by Philippe Starck, converted from an old theatre. I had lunch there on Christmas Day with my family to celebrate my wife's birthday and it was one of the best meals I have ever eaten.
Calle Hermosilla 15, Tel.91-577-53-79
Restaurant serving dishes from the País Vasco
(Basque) region of northern Spain.
Brilliant food, and that's why I am taken here by my hosts in Madrid who seek a change from the usual.
The most popular delicacies are patatas con bacalao, cocochas de merluza y centollo, zortziko de almejas, solomillo dantxari -al vapor, bacalao al pil-pil, con aceite de oliva virgen y pimiento, and tarta fina de manzana.
You could avoid these and try the more innovative dishes. I appreciated the excellent use of seasonal products and dishes such as 'pil pil' and their cod croquetas.
Ventura Rodríguez 8, 28008 Madrid
Tel: 915 423 524
A great restaurant chain for tapas and larger raciones. They don't do just ham, as the name might suggest, but all sorts of food. Calamares, Tortilla and gambas al ajillo are excellent. Prices are very reasonable. You can eat at the counter or in the salon (waiter service is a little dearer). They have restaurants in Puerta del Sol and on the Gran Via. They also do excellent three-course menu for under 10 Euro.
La Puerta Del Sol
or La Gran Via
This tiny and historic tiled bar in a sidestreet near Sol serves up sensational cod croquettes and battered fish pieces fresh from the fryer, as light and fluffy as deep-fried cloud.
Wash them down with glasses of house wine if you can get to the bar. A Madrid institution.
Calle Tetuán, 12
There are plenty of sidrerias (cider bars) in Madrid, but this one in the gay-friendly Chueca district is a huge stand-out for the quality and, especially, the quantity of the complimentary tapas. 1.50 a 'caña' isn't cheap, but you'll get a steaming pile of piggy, bready delights along with it, and that's every time you take a drink.
Also a great place for vast filled 'bocadillos' (baguette sandwiches), and various other tasty 'raciones'. Just watch out for complimentary paella - myself and others have been laid low by food poisoning for some time after a visit. The fact that I'm still recommending the place tells you just how good it is.
One final thing - get there early if you have any kind of designs on a table.
c/ Infantas, metro Chueca
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