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Madrid Food Tour – The Ultimate Spanish Cuisine Tour

Madrid Food Tour – The Ultimate Spanish Cuisine Tour

FOOD + WINE, LUXURY TRAVEL, SPAIN, TOURS

Food is an essential part of the culture of any society. As societies evolve technically and become more urban, the foods change and become remote from local production and traditions. However, in Madrid, tradition guides modern cuisine. Here, ancient food establishments remain within the modern city. They are evidence that the Spanish people are a mixture of modern and traditional culture Madrid Food Tour is responsible for displaying the city of Madrid from the point of view of typical dishes and drinks, it tells a fascinating story.

The tour begins at 10:30 am in the Plaza Mayor, in front of the tourist office. Carmen, Jill, my mom and I identified our guide very quickly. The tour guide carried an umbrella with the logo of Madrid Food Tour, typical in most tours. After a brief explanation, we are off to enjoy the best of Madrid cuisine.

A Madrid Food Experience In 9 Stops

1.  CONFITERIA EL RIOJANO (Calle Mayor, 10)

Confitería El Riojano was founded in 1855 by Dámaso Maza, who worked as a pastry chef at the Royal Palace and decided to start a business.  It seems that the Queen Maria Cristina even helped him establish himself. Having no children, the baker left the business to his employees. The business has passed down from one generation to another trying to preserve their distinctive characteristics.

 

Madrid Food Tour - Confitería El Riojano
Madrid Food Tour – Confitería El Riojano
Madrid Food Tour - Confitería El Riojano
Madrid Food Tour – Confitería El Riojano

 

The narrow storefront windows, filled with delicious sweets, are very striking and have whetted the appetite of more than one visitor. All their pies, cakes, cookies and chocolates are homemade and are made ​​daily in the oven, which is right behind the tea room.

 

Confitería El Riojano - (Madrid Food Tour) displays of desserts
Confitería El Riojano – (Madrid Food Tour) displays of desserts
Confitería El Riojano - (Madrid Food Tour) freshly baked desserts
Confitería El Riojano – (Madrid Food Tour) freshly baked desserts
<strong> Confitería El Riojano (Madrid Food Tour) desserts, bread, cookies
Confitería El Riojano (Madrid Food Tour) desserts, bread, cookies

 

With the tasty breakfast that included a home-baked biscuit dunked in warm chocolate and a choice between coffee or tea, we were ready to continue the tour.

 

Madrid Food Tour - Confitería El Riojano - Home-baked biscuit dunked in warm chocolate
Madrid Food Tour – Confitería El Riojano – Home-baked biscuit dunked in warm chocolate
Madrid Food Tour - Confitería El Riojano - Amarilis and Jill sipping some coffee
Madrid Food Tour – Confitería El Riojano – Amarilis and Jill sipping some coffee

 

We continued the walk through Calle Mayor until we reached Plaza de La Villa, around it are the main facades of three buildings of great historical and artistic value, built in different centuries (Los Lujanes House and Tower, Cisneros House, Town Hall of Madrid).

 

Plaza de La Villa, Madrid
Plaza de La Villa, Madrid

 

Then we took a turn off to a small street called Calle del Codo, and we arrived at a hidden door which wasn’t included in the itinerary: A Secret Stop, where you’ll witness a century-old culinary tradition.

 

Madrid Food Tour - El Codo Street
Madrid Food Tour – El Codo Street

 

It was a convent where the nuns have been selling homemade cookies for centuries, and they allocate the money to the needy. However, the strangest part of this tradition is that the nuns have never been seen by the people buying the cookies or anyone else. They put the cookies into a kind of rotating turntable passage and receive the payment the same way. It is one of the most unusual things I’ve ever seen, but the cookies were delicious.

 

Man buying cookies from the nuns at convent on Madrid Food Tour
Man buying cookies from the nuns at convent on Madrid Food Tour
The Secret Stop - You cannot see the nuns. Cookies are bought through this passage doo
The Secret Stop – You cannot see the nuns. Cookies are bought through this passage door
Madrid Food Tour - The Secret Stop - Homemade cookies made by nuns
The Secret Stop -Madrid Food Tour – Homemade cookies made by nuns

 

2.  EL MERCADO DE SAN MIGUEL (Plaza de San Miguel)

Just around the corner was EL Mercado de San Miguel build in 1916.  One of Madrid’s oldest and most beautiful markets, EL Mercado de San Miguel was renovated and bills itself as a ‘culinary cultural center’.  It’s a great market to try various dishes, wine and treats from around Spain under one roof.

 

Madrid Food Tour - San Miguel Market
Madrid Food Tour – San Miguel Market

 

We stopped at one of the counters and sipped sweet red Reus vermouth on tap accompanied by some tapas and skewers with quail egg, anchovy, olive, and pickled pepper. The Campo Real olives and Marcona almonds were the best.

 

Madrid Food Tour - San Miguel Market - Tapas and skewers
Madrid Food Tour – San Miguel Market – Tapas and skewers

 

El Mercado de San Miguel is the place where, in addition to the buying food, its entertaining simply waking around and trying all the great food and drinks.

 

El Mercado de San Miguel - Madrid
El Mercado de San Miguel – Madrid
El Mercado de San Miguel - Vermouth on tap
El Mercado de San Miguel – Vermouth on tap

 

3.  EL ANCIANO REY DE LOS VINOS(Calle Bailén, 19  Madrid)

Luis Montón opened El Anciano Rey de los Vinos (Elder King of Wines) in 1909, our next stop. It is very close to the Cathedral de la Almudena  and a few steps from the Royal Palace in Bailen St. The specialty is vermouth on tap and it is made right there.  We walked passed the beautiful bar area and headed to the back where they had a restaurant area.

 

El Anciano Rey de los Vinos (Madrid Food Tour)
El Anciano Rey de los Vinos (Madrid Food Tour)
El Anciano Rey de los Vinos Bar (Madrid Food Tour)
El Anciano Rey de los Vinos Bar (Madrid Food Tour)

 

The bar has remained the same with its original decor from over a century ago.  The facade, with its red color quickly brings red wine to mind. You can choose to sit on the terrace, the bar, or the restaurant as in our case, where we were seated and waiting for our next wonderful tasting.  Our waiter brought vermouth for each of us to taste along with Bull tail.  In the past I never liked it, yet here I was enchanted with the presentation of the dish and the various sauces accompanying it. After tasting it I would have to say it was magnificent. They also served it with Marqués de Griñón Rioja red wine.

 

El Anciano Rey de los Vinos Restaurant -  Madrid Food Tour
El Anciano Rey de los Vinos Restaurant – Madrid Food Tour
Bull tail at El Anciano Rey de los Vinos
Bull tail at El Anciano Rey de los Vinos

 

4.  TABERNA LA BOLA, Calle Bola, 5

Taberna La Bola restaurant is over 145 years old and has been in the same Verdasco family for (4 generations).  It is known for its signature dish, the Cocido Madrileño (The Madrid stew).  It is cooked very slow in an earthen jar over low flame, and they throw in many tasty ingredients (which they let us watch a demonstration in the kitchen).   It is hands down the best broth and stew we ever tasted.

 

Madrid Food Tour - La Bola Tavern
Madrid Food Tour – La Bola Tavern

 

To prepare the Madrid stew, they put potatoes, beans, bacon, ham bone, chicken, beef shank, and Asturian sausage in a clay pot. Each clay pot contains one ration per person, and must be cook for six hours over the fire.  For cooks, this is hard work in the kitchen because the temperature can get as high as 40 degrees celsius (104 fahrenheit).

 

 La Bola Tavern - Madrid Stew ingredients
La Bola Tavern – Madrid Stew ingredients
La Bola Tavern - Madrid Stew at the fire for six hours in a clay pot
La Bola Tavern – Madrid Stew at the fire for six hours in a clay pot
 La Bola Tavern - Madrid Stew finished
La Bola Tavern – Madrid Stew finished

 

The walls are decorated with the pictures of all the famous people who have visited the tavern.

 

La Bola Tavern Restaurant - Madrid
La Bola Tavern Restaurant – Madrid
Madrid Food Tour - La Bola Tavern Restaurant
Madrid Food Tour – La Bola Tavern Restaurant

 

5.  LA DESPENSA DEL CARMEN (Calle Santiago, 14)

After that, we continued discovering more hidden little places in Madrid.  La Despensa de Carmen, whose name was a source of much laughter since it’s the same as my cousin Carmen. They prepared take out food with fresh and natural products. The place is very small but has a great variety of dishes on top of the amazing prices, especially considering the quality of food. We ate their delicious meat balls, which remind me a lot of the ones my aunt in Cuba makes. The tuna empanadas were finger-licking scrumptious!

 

La Despensa de Carmen entrance - Madrid
La Despensa de Carmen entrance – Madrid
Madrid Food Tours - La Despensa de Carmen - Take out food
Madrid Food Tours – La Despensa de Carmen – Take out food
Madrid Food Tours - La Despensa de Carmen - Tuna empanada
Madrid Food Tours – La Despensa de Carmen – Tuna empanada

 

 

6.  FERPAL (Calle Arenal , 7)

Our next stop was Ferpal, located near Plaza del Sol where they probably sell the best hams in the city.  It’s a deli which you can buy all types of Spanish hams, cheeses, and other products.  You can also order a sandwich.

 

In Ferpal people waiting to buy ham - Madrid Food Tour
In Ferpal people waiting to buy ham – Madrid Food Tour
Ferpal - all types of hams for sale
Ferpal – all types of hams for sale
Ferpal - cheeses of all kinds for sale (Madrid Food Tour)
Ferpal – cheeses of all kinds for sale (Madrid Food Tour)

 

Our guide purchased three types of hams for us to try (Serrano, Ibérico de recebo, and Ibérico de bellota) each have very distinctive flavors that becomes more intense.

 

IMG_0081

 

7.  BAR CERVERIZ (Plaza de San Miguel, 2)

Bar Cerveriz is a tapas bar that serves Spanish hams and good cured Manchego cheese (my favorite).   Another speciality is the homemade tortilla de patata (egg omelet with potatoes).  They brought out a few dishes for each of us to try, and served a glass of the traditional Trabanco Asturian cider (Spanish cider).   The owner even demonstrated for us how cider has to be poured.

 

Madrid Food Tour - Cerveriz Bar
Madrid Food Tour – Cerveriz Bar
Madrid Food Tour - Cerveriz Bar - This is how cider must be served
Madrid Food Tour – Cerveriz Bar – This is how cider must be served
Madrid Food Tour - Cerveriz Bar
Madrid Food Tour – Cerveriz Bar

 

8.  LA CAMPANA (Calle de Botoneras, 6)

I personally don’t like squid, but if you do La Campana is where you get the best calamari sandwiches served in a fresh roll in Madrid.  The rolls are heaping with deep fried calamari, hot from the fryer.  Our guide went inside and purchased a few sandwiches for all of us to try.

 

La Campana - Madrid
La Campana – Madrid
La Campana - deep fried calamari in a roll
La Campana – deep fried calamari in a roll

9. TORRONS VICENS (Calle Mayor, 42)

 

Our last stop of the tour ends in Torrons Vicens. Since 1775, the Vicen family has been mastering the art of making turron following the original recipes of Agramunt, Cataluna.  In Spanish we called it “turron”.  We couldn’t miss out on a good turron. Turron mostly consist of marcona almonds, honey and egg white.  While turron’s are available all during the year it is a treat that everyone eats during the Christmas season.  There are many different kinds of turrons.  Examples of different kinds of turron are Turron de Almendra (almond), Turron de Cacauete (Peanut) and Turron de Avellana (roasted hazelnut).  The two most famous kinds of Turron come from Alicante and Jijona.

 

Madrid Food Tour - Torrons Vicens
Madrid Food Tour – Torrons Vicens
Madrid Food Tour - Torrons Vicens - You can find soft, hard and yolk turrons
Madrid Food Tour – Torrons Vicens – You can find soft, hard and yolk turrons

 

Recommendations:
– Make sure to arrive 10 minutes before the start time.
– Wear comfortable shoes, and clothing.
– Bring sunscreen, or an umbrella to block the sun.

For bookings and more information, check out Madrid Food Tour’s website.

Disclaimer:  We were guest of Madrid Food Tour, but these are all my personal opinions.

 

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About the author

Alexandra Hernandez is a young and passionate writer from Cuba who now lives in Madrid, Spain where she studies journalism, mass media and film. She loves traveling and writing about her experiences on Carmen's Luxury Travel as well as other blogs and web pages such as Vocabulary Spelling City.

32 Comments

  1. Suze The Luxury Columnist
    July 24, 2015 at 10:24 am
    Reply

    I like this quaint tradition of buying cookies from the nuns that you cannot see!

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

    • Carmen
      July 25, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      I found it very interesting, that you’re not allow to see the nuns. They bake and people come by and buy their cookies through this turntable in the wall.

  2. Lydia C. Lee
    July 24, 2015 at 5:25 pm
    Reply

    Good thing it’s breakfast here because those photos made me hungry!! Looks fab!

    • Carmen
      July 25, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      They told us not to have breakfast for a reason. I was so full by the time we finished the tour after tasting all the wonderful food.

  3. Ruth - Tanama Tales
    July 24, 2015 at 9:33 pm
    Reply

    Oh my! How you guys fit in so much food? Thanks for the suggestions. I am going to Madrid in October and I am seriously considering a tour like this. Even if I do not do this specific tour, I would like to visit some of the establishments mentioned here.

    • Carmen
      July 25, 2015 at 5:35 pm

      We got to taste a little in each stop. I would highly recommend a few of these restaurants. The food was phenomenal. Enjoy your visit to Madrid in October.

  4. Carolann - One Modern Couple
    July 24, 2015 at 9:41 pm
    Reply

    Wow! I was in Madrid YEARS ago and didn’t get a chance to have this kind of food experience! We’ll definitely be putting this food tour on our list! These places look and sound amazing!

    • Carmen
      July 25, 2015 at 5:37 pm

      I took my cousins who lived in Madrid and they got to go and experience it with me. Some of these restaurants were new to them too. The tour is so worth it!

  5. Paula McInerney
    July 25, 2015 at 1:45 am
    Reply

    We were in Madrid in June this year and went to some of these places. I didn’t know about buying cookies for the nuns, but I think that is so special

    • Carmen
      July 25, 2015 at 5:50 pm

      You wouldn’t know that nuns live there. It’s not marked outside. I really enjoyed seeing the old man buying the cookies in front of us. He told us that he buys them everyday.

  6. Monica @wtraveltogether
    July 25, 2015 at 2:31 am
    Reply

    We’ve never been on any food tour before, but maybe we should? It sure looks like a great experience!

    • Carmen
      July 25, 2015 at 6:16 pm

      This was my first food tour and it won’t be my last. It was a great experience to try in Madrid by tasting its best cuisines and learning about the history behind it.

  7. Constance - Foreign Sanctuary
    July 25, 2015 at 6:05 am
    Reply

    Everything looks very delicious but the secret shop definitely caught my interest. Cookies sold by nuns in such an unusual way.

    • Carmen
      July 25, 2015 at 6:34 pm

      They are cloistered nuns at a Madrid monastery who are located off the beaten path. I just posted a video on Facebook showing how it’s done.

  8. RobRob@TravelLatte(.net)
    July 25, 2015 at 9:31 am
    Reply

    I think that Secret Stop – El Convento de Corpus Christi – is the worst kept “secret” in Madrid! But that’s okay because it’s really cool and helps a good cause. We saw it on a Samantha Brown show, and it immediately became a Must Do for us. In fact, I’m thinking this whole food tour is a good idea! #yum!

    • Carmen
      July 25, 2015 at 6:41 pm

      I saw the video after you pointed it out. It was exactly what we saw and experienced. I would highly recommend the food tour when you go to Madrid.

  9. Anda
    July 25, 2015 at 5:09 pm
    Reply

    I visited a couple of these eateries when I was in Madrid. While I am not quite crazy about Spanish dishes (I don’t eat pork and paella) I have to say that their tapas are great. Thanks for reminding me about this great city. I loved Madrid.

    • Carmen
      July 25, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      I love tapas too. My favorite are prosciutto and manchego cheese. Pork is a very popular dish even in Cuba. Since they can’t eat beef they mostly eat pork.

  10. Zoe
    July 26, 2015 at 5:36 pm
    Reply

    Wow, this is a pretty epic food tour of Madrid! I haven’t ever tried a food tour but will certainly put it on my list.

    Zoe | Love and Limoncello

    • Carmen
      July 28, 2015 at 9:40 am

      It was my first food tour and I can’t wait to go on another one. We had a great time walking around Madrid and tasting all the different types of food.

  11. Packing my Suitcase
    July 28, 2015 at 3:31 am
    Reply

    Amazing!! I love Madrid, and still haven’t done a food tour, I will certainly do that next time I go!
    Sooo many interesting typical things, would love to try them all 😀

    #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • Carmen
      July 28, 2015 at 9:57 am

      When you go make sure you don’t eat anything. It’s very filling, but the end of the we were stuffed.

  12. Linda Bibb
    July 28, 2015 at 12:42 pm
    Reply

    You’re right: Food tours are a wonderful way to familiarize yourself with a culture.

    Like Anda, I don’t eat pork or shellfish. Unfortunately I also have to avoid wheat so I can’t even enjoy those wonderful empanadas and cookies. That said, it’s nice to know that some food tours offer customized experiences for people with dietary restrictions, so there’s a food tour for everyone.

    You know what I say? Bring on the cheese and wine – Spain sure knows how to make great ones!

    • Carmen
      July 28, 2015 at 7:28 pm

      I also have a dietary restriction, I’m allergic to all types of peppers. They were aware of it because it was one of the first questions they ask before the tour starts. They made sure that all the restaurants had something prepared for me to taste if the meals contained pepper. I’m with you on the Spanish cheeses and wine.

  13. Shikha (whywasteannualleave)
    July 30, 2015 at 4:38 pm
    Reply

    I totally love the idea of deep fried calamari in a roll – never heard of that before but what a great idea and it all sounds so fresh! I love taking food tours – such a great way to explore a city aren’t they?!

    • Carmen
      July 31, 2015 at 8:10 pm

      Calamari isn’t one of my favorite, but everyone who tried it on the roll thought it was the greatest thing they had eaten. I’m definitely sign up for another food tour when I get the chance. We had a great time!

  14. Mary {The World Is A Book}
    August 1, 2015 at 12:52 am
    Reply

    I am hungry after reading this post now. This brings back some great memories of eating some delicious food in Madrid. We’ve visited three of the places here including Confitería El Riojano and the Mercado. We loved the market so much we ate there three days in a row 🙂 I love the variety of places that Madrid Food Tour took you guys. I’ll definitely keep them in mind when we return to Madrid.

    • Carmen
      August 7, 2015 at 11:01 am

      El Mercado was one of my favorite places because it had a large selection of food items for sale and drinks. I bought ham croquettes and it was one of the best ones I had ever eaten.

  15. Valentina
    August 7, 2015 at 2:28 pm
    Reply

    I really need to visit Madrid soon. I will take your tips with me. 🙂

    XoXo
    Valentina | DAILY SUIT

    • Carmen
      August 7, 2015 at 3:32 pm

      Madrid is such a fun city with so many great places to go and eat. We found a lot of great places on this food tour that I wouldn’t of otherwise.

  16. Carmen Everywhere
    January 28, 2016 at 4:07 pm
    Reply

    I loved the way you put it all together in photos and text. I think the tour was very complete. Some of the foods I didn’t even know but I’m from the south east so I guess there’re differences. You portrayed Spain’s food in a neat and structured way. Thanks for that and glad you enjoyed.

    • Carmen
      January 28, 2016 at 4:28 pm

      My family is from Tenerife, Canary Islands. I love Spanish food, and really enjoy trying new dishes everywhere I go.

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