Madrid is a wonderful mix of Spanish culture, food, music and design with a metropolitan edge. The city is perhaps less visited than the likes of Barcelona or the Costa del Sol but it offers visitors the best of Spanish cuisine, tradition and energy.
My heart lies in the Spanish capital and every time the plane touches down in Barajas airport I get butterflies of excitement in my stomach. There is something magical about Madrid. I can’t quite put my finger on it but all I know is I am always, without fail, drawn back to the city.
I have just moved back to Dublin after the most wonderful year working in Madrid – my days were filled with exploring the diverse neighbourhoods dotted across the city, exploring beautiful coffee shops and discovering the best tapas restaurants.
I happily ate and blogged my way through the city and as I boarded the plane back to Dublin I felt a little ache in my heart. My love affair with the city will continue no doubt, but for now I would like to share some of my favourite places with you so that you can discover the magic that lies at the heart of Spain.
To eat like a local visit Sabor in the beautiful neighbourhood of Salamanca. Enjoy pan con tomate with a coffee for €2.20 or why not go wild and add a glass of fresh orange juice bringing your bill up to €3.00. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner this is a great spot whatever the hour.
If you’re looking for a healthy delicious breakfast before a day of sightseeing – RAWCOCO is the place to go. Their porridge with honey, apple, banana and nuts is divine and paired with a coffee your bill will come to €4.95. Raw Coco is a sure sign that the health and wellness trend that is taking over the globe has hit the Spanish capital. This gorgeous café offers breakfast, lunch and some delicious cakes with a healthy focus. Their meal deals are very attractive and the staff is really friendly.
My all time favourite hidden gem in Madrid is La Merendona. ALL of their cakes are divine but my personal favourites are the carrot cake and bizcocho de limón (lemon sponge). A slice of their cake paired with a creamy coffee makes this beautiful cafe the perfect place to sit back and relax after a busy day of sightseeing.
Note: La Merendona have recently introduced breakfast bowls to attract those looking to lead a healthy lifestyle and on my final day in Madrid I made it to the café to try their blueberry breakfast bowl with almond milk and banana. It was incredible and so filling – the perfect final breakfast after my amazing year.
Mama Framboise is a must visit if you are a cake fan. They have various cafes across the city but my favourite is located in Platea in Plaza Colon. You have your choice from a divine selection of classic patisserie options along with a nice spacious and cool café to rest your feet for a few minutes.
Check out the videos they have playing on the large plasma screens showing you how they make their incredible cakes. My personal favourites include their chocolate & raspberry cake and their raspberry tart – if you can’t tell I am a big raspberry fan!
Choose from a range of delicious sandwiches and wash it down with a glass of champers – can life get any better? I love the novel concept behind Bocadillo de Jamón y Champán and the food does not disappoint.
A favourite amongst the madrileños, the tortilla served at Lateral is one of my favourites in the city. Affordable but high quality with a great variety of options to suit everyone’s taste buds this is a solid spot to hit for lunch or indeed dinner.
My favourite place for dinner in the capital is Taberna del Chato. Located a stone’s throw away from the madness that is Puerta del Sol, this gorgeous restaurant offers divine food in a really relaxed setting.
Opt for their menu for 2 – at €16 per head it includes either a jug of sangria or a bottle of vino plus a generous variety of their tapas dishes to enjoy, a bargain considering the quality of food and central location! The group have two restaurants both located on Calle De la Cruz, both tend to be filled with locals and at times the odd tourist.
Platea is great place to hit on a Friday night. Enjoy exploring the various tapas on offer and then sit back and enjoy the show… we’re talking gospel singers, an acrobat and a DJ all in one night! Tip: head to their cocktail bar on the top floor for a great view of the show plus delicious cocktails.
Plaza Santa Ana is a great spot for some after dinner drinks with a variety of bars and seats outside.
I’d also recommend checking out The Vinoteca in the square for a nice glass of wine, visiting the Hawaiian bar for some fun or heading to the roof terrace of the ME Madrid Reina Victoria Hotel in Plaza Santa Ana
A foodie heaven located very close to Plaza Mayor and the royal palace.
A little less known when compared to San Miguel, this food market is located in the bustling neighbourhood of Chueca – head to their rooftop terrace to enjoy some nibbles and drinks.
A great street filled with tapas bars where the locals enjoy a few beers and tapas after work no matter the day of the week.
Stunning peace in the middle of the bustling city. Grab a coffee or cold drink in one of the cafes overlooking the water and take some time out to people watch and enjoy the Spanish sunshine.
Perhaps not as popular as other neighbourhoods, Barrio de las Letras owes its name to the important role it played during the Siglo de Oro (Golden Age) of Spanish theatre and literature. Writers and playwrights such as; Miguel de Cervantes, Fransico de Quevedo, Luis de Góngora and Lope de Vega, all lived in Barrio de las Letras at some stage during their lives.
Discover the gorgeous litte cafes and old streets of this neighbourhood whilst noticing the influences and homages to the famous figures who once walked these streets – check out Cervecería Cervantes located in Plaza Jesús, or Casa de Lope de Vega, the former home of Lope de Vega.
Originally from Dublin but having grown up in Málaga, Kim has always considered both Spain and Ireland “home”. A keen baker, blogger and travel enthusiast she has just completed the Bord Bia Marketing Fellowship.
Based in Madrid for the past year as part of the Fellowship Kim was working with four leading Irish food companies helping them to market and sell their products in the Spanish market.kimdeirdrehogan.com