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Madrid’s culinary scene is on the verge of taking off, and top-tier restaurants like La Terraza showcase the latest in Spanish gastronomic achievements. Still, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as two longtime local favorites: roast suckling pig and rabo de toro (bull’s tail). Tapas are, obviously, a main attraction as well. Most restaurants don’t start serving dinner until at least 9pm.

Top Restaurants in Madrid

Bar Tomate

Expect all the style and swagger of Spain’s Mediterranean coast at this Barcelona import from Grupo Tragaluz, which owns 15 restaurants throughout Barcelona, Girona, and Madrid. Dishes encompass classic tapas like pan con tomate (toasted French bread smeared with tomato, olive oil, and garlic) and ham croquetas, as well as flatbread pizzas and enticing fried bites of artichokes and potatoes; don’t miss the tomates enteros, two ruby red, roasted tomatoes served whole with a semi-sweet sauce.

Calle Fernando el Santo 26, 011-34-917-023-870,
Tags: moderate | spanish


This historic spot from 1725 has two claims to fame: first, The Guinness Book of Records lists it as the world’s oldest restaurant; second, its suckling pig was favored by Hemingway, who frequented the place in his day. The ambience and the fantastic food still draw crowds.

Calle Cuchilleros 17, 011-34-91-366-4217,
Tags: expensive | wine

El Chaflán

It’s worth catching a cab out of the center to this award-winning restaurant where Mediterranean-inspired fare is prepared with fresh market goods and served in a stylish sky-lit space.

Avenida Pío XII 34, 011-34-91-345-0450,
Tags: expensive | smart splurge | wine

La Casa del Abuelo

Grab a spot by the bar and savor the superb tapas at this tiny restaurant that dishes out superb shrimp either a la plancha (grilled) or al ajillo (fried in garlic and oil).

Calle Victoria 12, 011-34-91-521-2319, (Spanish only)
Tags: budget

La Musa Latina

Imaginative tapas-inspired creations and trendy decor have made both branches of this eatery immensely popular.

Manuela de Malasaña 18, 011-34-91-448-7558,
Tags: moderate | editor pick | small plates

La Terraza del Casino

Snagging a table at Catalan chef Ferran Adrià’s elBulli (near Girona, in Catalunya), widely considered to be the best restaurant in the world and set to close July 30, 2011 (reopening in 2014 as a gastronomy center), is an exercise in patience and luck, but this opulent, one Michelin-starred Madrid restaurant claims the same master’s stamp of approval, with a slightly more accessible vibe. Since 1988, Adrià has guided the menu alongside head chef Paco Roncero, so expect a dressed-to-the-nines crowd for playful spins on traditional Spanish cuisine. Although many of the dishes fall into the molecular gastronomy genre, they do so without veering too far onto the smoke-and-foam side of things – think liquefied ham croquetas and codfish cheek with black olive tempura. In the summer, request a table on the namesake outdoor terrazza, which claims 360-degree views of the cityscape.

Calle Alcalá 15, 011-34-91-532-1275,
Tags: expensive | editor pick | smart splurge | wine

Mercado de la Reina

This restaurant draws chatty weekend patrons for its riffs on traditional Spanish market food and affordable wines (glasses of vino go for as little as $3). For a smart splurge, order a spread of hearty starters and main courses; expect buttery cured olives, tangy garlic soup, and portions of spicy chorizo.

Calle Gran Vía 12, 011-34-915-213-198,
Tags: moderate | spanish

Viuda de Vacas

Gather up the courage to try rabo de toro (bull’s tail), the house specialty at this cozy tavern that specializes in home staples from Spain’s Castilla y Leon province.

Calle Cava Alta 23, 011-34-91-366-5847
Tags: moderate | great value

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