Heading to Madrid, Spain? How to Save Money, Time… and Eat Well!

Have you ever gotten a tip about a place you were about to visit that just didn’t make sense? I have. And it taught me a great travel lesson. When someone gives me tips about a place I’m visiting, I’ll always ask them, “When was the last time you were there?” I just prefer tips to be as recent as possible. So having recently returned from a really wonderful time in Madrid, Spain, I’ve got a variety of tips I think you’ll enjoying knowing about.

Of course, we start with food. Here’s a fun question for you. Do you like to throw your napkins on the floor after you use them? Then I’ve got a restaurant in Madrid to recommend! And not just because of the napkin routine :) Orio is a Basque style tapas bar in the Chueca area of Madrid. If you’ve never tried classic pintxos, you must! Orio is fun, delicious, and a great value. The fresh oysters may have been some of the best I’ve ever had. Don’t be shy about asking questions because the staff is warm and welcoming. And don’t forget to throw your napkins on the floor!

Pintxos at Orio in Madrid, Spain. Image source: http://gruposagardi.com/en/restaurant/orio-gastronomia-vasca/

When it comes to tortilla, everyone, including me, has an opinion. There are so many different ways a tortilla (Spanish potato omelette) can be made. Each one tastes a bit different and can have varying textures. Some people like more eggs, some like more potatoes, and how much the eggs get cooked also varies. I make tortilla at home in the states, so in Spain it’s a lot of fun for me to sample tortilla. I can easily recommend Pez Tortilla.

I went to their restaurant in the La Latina area of Madrid. The jamón, brie and truffle tortilla was delicious, as was the classic tortilla. The ensaladilla Rusa was also yummy and filled with shrimp. The vibe here is fun and the place is usually crowded. Everything was very well-priced and the service was good. Another plus is that their craft beer selection is big. It’s a wild and crazy place, so go prepared to rub elbows with your fellow tortilla lovers!

Pez Tortilla in Madrid, Spain.

If you’re in the mood for something different, La Hummuseria, in Chueca, is a great place to know about. The hummus is delicious and they have a set lunch offering for 10.50 Euro. It consists of a tapa, hummus plate, pita bread, and drink. Go with a few people so you can try the different tapas and hummus varieties. And don’t forget to order dessert… the halva is excellent!!

Halva from La Hummuseria in Madrid, Spain.

Artisan bread seems to be on the rise in Madrid. I walked a long way and got lost a few times, but my trip to Panic Bread was worth it. At Panic Bread, they bake eight basic daily loaves, including a baguette, and a large ciabatta. The breads are great and contain a variety of whole wheat flours, grains, seeds, and nuts. The owner, Javier Marca, began fermenting and baking experimental loaves from his home in Madrid, and now he sells out almost every one of his loaves every day. I didn’t know this. I entered the bakery, saw about SIXTY loaves on the table, and then went into PANIC mode when I was told every loaf had been reserved! Wow. We left the bakery, started walking down the block and then heard someone calling after us. The baker motioned for us to come back to the bakery, and sure enough they found a half loaf for me. And then another half loaf appeared. So whether it was my lucky day or they gave me some of the bread they were saving for themselves, I’ll never know. You’ll find some of the restaurants in Madrid using Panic bread or be sure to call ahead and reserve your loaf.

Panic Bread in Madrid, Spain.

When I travel, it’s always good to know where to find a supermarket. Though there are lots of smaller specialty shops around the city, my go-to supermarket is actually on the bottom floor of one of my favorite department stores, El Corte Ingles. I’m not much of a shopper and generally stay away from department stores, but for some reason, perhaps the way my favorite location is laid out over nine floors, I really like El Corte Ingles. It’s easy to find the supermarket because it occupies the basement floor. You might also enjoy the ninth floor, which is full of fun goodies and a food court. The views of the city are also worth the trip to the top. Here’s one quirky thing I found out. I wanted to buy some Ricola breath mints and found out that in Spain they are considered medicinal and are only sold at pharmacies. I think this is the only country I’ve been in where that’s the case.

Hope you find these Madrid restaurant and food tips helpful. If you’ve got some favorite Madrid restaurants, let us know. For sure, Madrid is a great city for eating well! Next up, some tips about the museums, public transportation, and using your credit card in machines.

10 thoughts on “Heading to Madrid, Spain? How to Save Money, Time… and Eat Well!

    1. Ted

      Mercado de San Miguel is a tourist trap, not recommended to eat. Waking through the building is not bad.

      If you want the classic Madrid food, it has to be myself del jamon, they are everywhere.

      1. Shelli Post author

        Museo del Jamon is a fun place, I agree. It’s a good place to try all kinds of Spanish deli.. Thanks for the recommendation, Ted.

    2. Shelli Post author

      HI Brian, I did indeed go there but only walked through. I had plans to meet friends for a meal elsewhere. It was a fun place to walk through, though. This trip was 16 days in Spain and only one bad meal, so it was hard to choose which eateries to highlight. Spain is easily in my top three countries for food. I try to recommend places to eat that tourists would not find, but aren’t too far away from where they might venture. Do you have any specific restaurants in Madrid to recommend? Thanks for reading and sharing your link!

        1. Shelli Post author

          Ok, Brian, I’ll hold you to that Madrid dining promise. Wow, good thing you have thick skin. Those coals you were raked over are a bit older now, though maybe not the oldest coals :)

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