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Food in Madrid

There are plenty of tasty tapas available at bars and restaurants throughout the city. So many, in fact, that it's easy to forget that Madrileños (people from Madrid) are known across the continent for their skill in transforming unappetising cuts of meat (tripe, pigs' feet) into hearty meals. The Spanish capital is also home to surprising holiday concoctions like almond soup, and San Isidro cakes.

For the carnivores - meat dishes

 Cocido-Madrileño-by-Salvatore-G2.Cocido madrileño - This hearty stew is made with beef, chicken, pigs' trotters, charcuterie, chickpeas and vegetables. It's traditionally served in three separate courses: soup, vegetables, and meats. Non-meat eaters can order up potaje madrileño, a similar stew prepared with cod for Lent. Tip: enjoy this historic dish dating back to the 17th century in Lhardy, the first restaurant in Spain to offer a printed menu.

Cochinillo asado - You'll want to share this specialty with friends who don't mind looking their meal in the eyes - you'll be served a roasted suckling pig, head and all. Tip: binge on baby pork at El Botín, the oldest restaurant in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records.

Callos a la madrileña - Made with beef, sausage and smoked paprika, the Madrid take on tripe is mentioned in texts dating back to 1559. Tip: fill your stomach with well, stomach, drenched in spicy tomato sauce in a building where Cervantes lived at Casa Alberto.

Jamón (ham) - Ham is standard throughout Spain, but Madrileños are particularly enamoured with it in all of its incarnations - serrano, de país, jabugo, ibérico - it's everywhere. Tip: sample Spanish charcuterie and cheeses on site or buy vacuum-packed versions to cart home at five Museo de Jamón locations.

El Brillante by LWYLighter fare - chicken and fish

Bocadillo de calamares - Fried squid and mayonnaise on a baguette is the local fast food of choice. Tip: while this sandwich is sold everywhere, El Brillante, across from Atocha Train Station, claims to make the best.

Boquerones en vinagre - These white anchovy filets are ‘cooked’ in vinegar and served in garlicky olive oil with crusty white bread. Tip: since boquerones are eaten raw, they must be frozen before serving for safety, so stick to reputable establishments like Casa Santoña.

Besugo a la madrileña - A Christmas tradition in Madrid since the Middle Ages, baked bream seasoned with wine and olive oil is now served all year round. Tip: try it at any of Taberna La Daniela's four locations - there's even one near the Real Madrid Stadium.

Soldaditos de pavia - ‘Pavia's soldiers’ are fried cod strips topped with red peppers, named after the red-helmeted soldiers that helped dissolve the Spanish court in 1874. Tip: snack on this colourful appetiser at Casa Labra near Puerta del Sol.

Pollo en pepitoria - This historic recipe for saffron chicken stew was originally made with hen. Tip: feast on chicken at Casa Ciriaco near the Royal Palace, and end your meal with your choice of cognacs dating from 1892.

For herbivores - vegetables and soups

Sopas de ajo by Óscar PalmerSopa de ajo - Garlic soup is one of a few typical vegetarian dishes. Ingredients include bread, garlic, eggs, olive oil, paprika and salt. Tip: sip garlic soup in Restaurante La Bola, a Madrid institution since 1870.

Lombarda estofada - This dish of red cabbage, potatoes and apples cooked in butter is traditionally served at Christmas. It’s pretty easy to make so would be a good option to cook in your apartment. Tip: with simple dishes like this one, quality ingredients are key - buy yours at Antón Martín Market.

Sopa de almendras - This slightly sweet soup made from almonds appeared as a starter for Christmas dinners during the Hapsburg regime. Tip: order this dish year round at El Estragón Vegetariano, a cosy vegetarian restaurant in the Austrias neighbourhood.

For sugar junkies - desserts

churros con chocolate by Omar ParadaChurros con chocolate - Tube-shaped dough fried and dipped in chocolate is great for breakfast or as a late-night snack. Tip: Chocolateria Sant Ginés near Plaza Mayor is Madrid's most famous Chocolateria.

Bartolillos - These small but succulent pastries are filled with cream and then deep fried. Tip: scarf down bartolillos at Antigua Pastelería del Pozo, which has been on the go for more than a century.

Violetas - Clear packaging shows off the pale purple colour of violet candies in bakeries around the capital. Tip: head to La Mallorquina Bakery on the Plaza Mayor to buy this fragrant treat.

Rosquillas de San Isidro - Made to celebrate Madrid's patron saint, Saint Isidore, in May, these cookies are served smart (with icing) or stupid (without). Tip: savour a sugary treat for San Isidro at Casa Mira, Spain's first house of turrones (nougat).


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