“God worked six days, and rested on the seventh. Madrileños rest on the six, and on the seventh… go to a bullfight.” ~ H O’Shea
Madrid is a bustling city so full of life and such a great atmosphere. In the heart of Madrid, the streets are lined with restaurants, pubs, shops, hotels and so much more. The metro system is easily accessible therefore you don’t need to rent a vehicle to get around.
We quickly learned to stay away from the tourist area when eating out and headed towards where the locals ate. Our first breakfast was at a place close to the Plaza Mayor. We had the “Pincho de tortilla” (potato omelet), bread, coffee, and freshly squeezed orange juice. Breakfast for two was 15€. It was a good thing we spoke Spanish and were able to interact with the staff. They were very polite and provided us with good advice on where and what to do.
Cafeteria Neila at Calle Santa Maria 41 was about a 10-minute walk from the Plaza Mayor. It’s not a fancy place. It is a small café with not much appeal to it, but the breakfast was good. We had the same as the previous day at the other “touristy” café – “Pincho de tortilla,” bread, coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice for a cost of 7€ for both! I highly recommend it.
Another meal we enjoyed was at Ciudad de Tui Restaurant on Calle Montera 22, right off of Puerta del Sol Plaza. One of the things I really wanted to eat in Spain was “Caldo Gallego,” it’s a delicious broth native to Galicia – which I didn’t know until we arrived in Spain. That’s why it was so difficult to find in Madrid, not all restaurants serve it. Anyway, while searching around for a place to eat we came across Ciudad de Tui which was running a lunch special consisting of an appetizer, soup, salad, bread, main course, dessert, and wine for €10.95 per person. The “Caldo Gallego” was the deciding factor of us eating there and I don’t regret it because it was delicious. The environment was clean and inviting and the decor was just a tad fancy but very nice. The service was great. I would definitely recommend it.
We could not leave Madrid without eating their famous churros at Chocolate Y Churros – Los Nuevos Alpes, on Calle Mayor 54, close to Mercado San Miguel. This was one of the first places we stopped at and had churros with chocolate dipping sauce, coffee, and hot chocolate. It was good and less than €10 for both. It was the perfect complement to end the night.
Restaurante San Cristobal, at Calle Marques Viudo de Pontejos, 4 was a small quaint place offering tapas and paella. We had paella and wine (of course). It was not the best out there but it was good. It seemed popular among the locals because it was full. The atmosphere was nice and the service was okay. Dinner for two was somewhere around 20€ with wine included.
We also tried Restaurante Puerta de Vigo, on Calle Ferraz 44 in Madrid, just a few steps away from Templo del Debod. Our breakfast consisted of Pincho de Tortilla, bread, coffee, and fresh orange juice for about 8€. They had other breakfast items on the menu as well but we really liked these items. The service was not good, and the staff was neither helpful nor polite. We didn’t return after the experience and personally don’t recommend it. But it’s up to you.
La Mallorquina Bakery was established in 1894. It is located at Puerta del Sol 8 in Madrid and only steps from the Puerta del Sol Plaza. La Mallorquina specializes in delicious sweets and pastries and it was fully packed to the point where there was barely any standing room during our visit. It was busy we ended up leaving without buying anything.
Plaza Mayor is one of the most famous places in Madrid. It is surrounded by three-story residential buildings with over 230 balconies facing the plaza. Plaza Mayor is home of restaurants, vendors, locals dressed as characters and live music, as well as a lot of tourists. It is also a hangout for locals.
Puerta del Sol is another famous plaza where you will find the statue of The Bear and the Strawberry Tree. The statue is Madrid’s official symbol. It represents the official Coat of Arms of Madrid. At Puerta del Sol you’ll find famous name brand stores, restaurants, the metro train station, souvenir shops and lots more.
The very famous Mercado San Miguel is a stylish covered gastronomic market located just a few steps away from Plaza Mayor. From café, bakeries and meat markets to a beer house kiosk – you’ll find delicious and varied gourmet cuisine. However, don’t expect to be seated and waited on because seating is limited. You can buy what you want and if you’re lucky, you might find an empty chair at a table. Otherwise, enjoy your meal while walking around.
Mercado San Antón is a three-story building with an open atrium in the enter that comprises a full traditional vegetable, fruits, seafood, meats and bakeries market where you can shop for your favorite foods. The second floor is a mix of culinary café which includes Spanish and Mediterranean foods among others. The third-floor terrace is their prized architectural restaurant, La Cocina de San Anton, which overlooks Madrid. At La Cocina de San Anton, a traditional Spanish restaurant, you are able to buy your choice of meat in the first-floor food market and take it up to the restaurant where they will prepare it for you as you like.
We wanted to visit places where the local’s shop. That is how we ended up at Plenilunio and the Alvaro Mendez shopping malls. Both are huge shopping malls in Madrid. They are very modern with a good variety of shops and some exclusive ones too. They are both very close to the airport – a great option if you have a few hours to spare before heading to the airport.
We enjoyed a visit to The Templo del Debod (Temple of Debod) on Calle Ferraz 1 in Madrid. It is an ancient Egyptian temple donated by the Egyptian government to the Spanish people in 1968 as a “Thank You” for the aid given by Spain.
We spent some time at Parque del Retiro, on Plaza de la Independencia 7. The park belonged to the Spanish monarchy until the late 19th century when it became public. It is one of the largest parks in Madrid and it’s free. There’s a lake for rowing, palaces that are now exhibition halls – one of them being the glass palace. It is beautiful and very peaceful, perfect for meditation. The park is lined with many beautiful Mediterranean Cyprus trees which seem as if they were carefully landscaped. I’ve never seen them anywhere else and don’t know if it’s trimmed to look this way or if it’s the natural form of the tree. Here’s a photo, what do you think?
The official residence of the Spanish Royal Family is the Royal Palace. It is actually used for state ceremonies. Campo del Moro is the beautiful garden surrounding the palace. It has a large attractive fountain and perfectly landscaped grounds. You will probably see a wedding photography session in this area as it is a perfect place for it.
Madrid is a beautiful, vibrant city. Its narrow streets and architectural structures make a perfect backdrop. I love that pedestrians are far more important than vehicles. You will see there are many lighted cross-walks with traffic lights exclusively for pedestrians. This is very important to me being that I am a grieving mother who lost a son in a pedestrian accident. I will definitely visit Madrid again.
Have you been to Madrid? If so, what places have you visited and what was your experience like?