The 4 Best Gourmet Experiences in Madrid from a foodie (2023)


Greetings friends and readers! Are you ready for a culinary adventure in Madrid? In this post, I explore some of the most incredible gourmet experiences in Madrid. Starting with the world’s oldest restaurant, known for their incredible roasted suckling pig. Next, onto the oldest chocolateria in Madrid to enjoy the city’s signature chocolate con churros. For a truly unique experience, I had to savor the tastes and delights of the world’s only Michelin-starred restaurant with award-winning flamenco show. And the true piece de resistant – an off-the-beaten-path hidden gem with no website, no social media, and no printed menu. This list truly encompasses Madrid for foodies!

And while I wouldn’t call this a Madrid Food Guide per say, it definitely goes beyond the normal food experiences and highlights some of the extremely cool places to eat in Madrid. So, without further ado, here are some exquisite Madrid food experiences!

Table of Contents

1. The Oldest Restaurant in the World – Sobrino de Botín

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Let’s start at the oldest restaurant it the world, shall we? It would be rude not to.

Located near Plaza Mayor, Sobrino de Botín is the longest continuously run restaurant in the world (and Guinness World Records holder for oldest restaurant). Opened in 1725, Restaurante Botin stayed in the Botin family until 1930, when the González family took over. The original González family endured hard times during the Spanish Civil War, narrowly evading a terrible fate, but they managed to stay open and continue roasting its most famous dish. Over the last 300 years, Botin has only been owned by the Botin and Gonzalez families, which is truly incredible if you think about it!

Botin is known for their roast suckling pig (cochinillo asado). The suckling pigs need to be at a minimum weight of 4 kg (8.8 lbs) or be at least 19 days old before it is roasted to perfection. The roast takes only about 2 hours in the same open door 300-year-old wood-fired oven (with the tile hood in the photo) that Botin has used since it opened its doors on day 1 in 1725.

Holm oak firewood is used in the oven for roasting. The acorns of holm oak trees are fed to the pigs which produce Jamón ibérico (Iberian, or Iberico ham). The circle of life of acorn, oak and pigs.

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Throughout the last 300 years, Botin has had its fair share of celebrities and admirers. But no one more beloved by Botoin than American-writer and war journalist, Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway dined there often and even had his own table at Botin – the most unassuming spot in the whole restaurant. Tucked away in a corner, Hemingway was said to be paranoid about being under enemy surveillance and preferred the unassuming corner. I guess I always thought of Hemingway’s would have been more outspoken, or rambunctious, rather than preferring to be sitting quietly in the corner. But what do I know?

Hemingway loved Botin so much, it features in two of his books: Death in the Afternoon, and The Sun Also Rises (one of my favorite books!)

In the last scene of the novel:

We lunched upstairs at Botin’s. It is one of the best restaurants in the world. We had roast young suckling pig and drank rioja alta. Brett did not eat much. She never ate much. I ate a very big meal and drank three bottles of rioja alta.

– Final scene, The Sun Also Rises.

For those super foodies, you can sign up for a 45-minute tour of the restaurant before lunch or dinner that includes a 7-course tasting menu. Guess who did that?

Botin tour*

82 EUR per person
Lannie taken & recommended!

  • 45-minute tour of the world’s oldest restaurant, including seeing it’s 300 year old (original) wood-fired oven
  • Hear stories about old Madrid when the restaurant was first founded;
  • See (and possibly dine at) Ernest Hemingway’s table hidden in the back corner
  • Then, settle in for a 7-course tasting menu (family style), which includes either their famous roast suckling pig or roasted lamb!
  • includes: guide, set lunch or dinner, drinks

Art + Botin tour

(aff link) – 149 EUR per person
an art and foodie tour in Madrid!

  • Experience the Prado Museum, Madrid’s best art museum with an art history guide
  • See Francisco Goya’s paintings (which connects to your lunch spot, where he worked as a dishwasher and waiter)
  • Tour of the world’s oldest restaurant, including seeing it’s 300 year old (original) wood-fired oven
  • 3-course lunch at Botin (famous roast suckling pig, market fresh vegetables, and dessert)
  • VIP small-group tour, max 12 people

The tour I took (yellow) includes every floor of the building, from the crypt and wine cellar dating back to the 1500s, up to the top floor, a former boarding house. Rumor has it that Spanish artist, Francisco Goya, worked at Botin in the late 1700s as a dishwasher then waiter.

After the tour, I settled in with a couple for the 7-course family style tasting menu. This was fantastic, as we got to try a spread of their most famous dishes! We could also select whether we wanted the famous suckling pig or an equally famous roast lamb. Not surprisingly, we all opted for the suckling pig.

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My 7-course family style dinner at Botin, the oldest restaurant in the world:

  • Cured Manchego cheese
  • Iberian ham (jamon iberico) & chicken croquettes
  • Roasted red peppers with tuna belly
  • House scrambled eggs with morcilla blood sausage & potato
  • Segovian mushrooms with ham
  • Suckling pig (or roasted lamb)
  • Dessert – homemade caramel flan for me!

Oh my goodness, what an incredible meal! So many things stood out – the roasted red peppers with tuna belly was phenomenal. The tuna belly was so incredibly tender, and it went wonderfully with the soft texture of the roasted red peppers. The scrambled eggs with blood sausage and potatoes were simple, but delicious. (but then again, I’m not one to shy away from a blood sausage!). The Segovian mushrooms with ham was an unexpected delight. I’m not sure what Segovian mushrooms are, but they reminded me of a fresh and juicy shiitake mushroom. Loved the flavor mixed with the ham!

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And then of course, the star of the show, the suckling pig. We didn’t have a whole suckling pig for ourselves, but we all got a more than generous portion. The skin was so light and crispy, not like the thicker pork belly skin you may be used to. The meat, beyond tender and flavorful! And for dessert, I closed with a homemade caramel custard flan. Jiggly, sweet – perfection!

Botin is absolutely one of the most unique restaurants Madrid, and a must if you are hunting gourmet experiences in Madrid!

2. Oldest Chocolateria in Madrid – Chocolatería San Ginés

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Visit the oldest chocolatería in Madrid for a quintessentially normal breakfast snack! (is that elevenses?) Ok, I wouldn’t consider this breakfast, but it seems that locals do! Deliciously hot and fried churros and served with a Spanish hot chocolate.If you don’t know what a churro, think of a fried donut, except thin and elongated in shape!

Chocolateria San Gines has been making their churros and chocolate combo at the same location since 1894! Nowadays, Chocolateria San Gines basically owns the whole corner, with different indoor/outdoor seating locations, and an ice cream takeaway window. You can still enjoy your churros and chocolate in the original building, which dates back to 1890, but be prepared to queue up for that! For me, it was a lovely morning, so I opted for outdoor seating.

Churros and chocolate is the normal order (in Spanish: chocolate con 6 churros o 2 porras) and that sets you back 5.50 EUR. For 1 person, I didn’t finish it all. For 2 people, it’s probably perfect! Don’t forget to try dipping your churro in your hot chocolate!

Added benefit – Chocolateria San Gines is open 24-7 / 365 days a year! Since it’s open literally 24-7, you really have no excuse on visiting the oldest chocolateria in Madrid, do you?

3. World’s only Michelin-starred restaurant with a flamenco tablao

Honestly, who doesn’t love a dinner and a show? This gourmet experience at Corral de la Moreria takes dinner and a show to the next level, pairing a one-Michelin star awarded restaurant with an award-winning Flamenco show.

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Photography is only allowed during the first 5 minutes of the show, and although my view for the show was fine, the photos/videos did not turn out. The photos of the show were provided by Corral de la Moreria with permission. Muchas gracias.

What is a tablao?

  • A tablao isa place where flamenco shows are performed
  • A tablao is also the term used for the platform floor in which a flamenco dancer dances.
– Wikipedia: Tablao

The show costs 47.95 EUR, and there are a number of different tasting menus to select from. If you have specific food allergies or preferences, don’t worry – Corral de la Moreria offers gluten free and vegan tasting menu options, as well!

  • If you want to book a dinner and a show, note that you’ll first pay 47.95 EUR for the show booking, and then after the show, you’ll pay for your meal.
  • There is also a show + a drink option, for 49.95 EUR, which includes both.
  • It’s a bit confusing, but there is also the option to dine without the show, but that is in the Restaurante Corral de le Moreria, which hosts 4 exclusive tables for dinner. The dinner and show are held at Restaurant Tablao (where the Flamenco stage is). I think it’s the same location, but in separate areas. I couldn’t figure out how to book this option on the booking website, just as an FYI!

Since I am an early bird, I went with the 19:30 pm show, with an 18:30 dinner seating. For the menu, I selected the 5-course tasting menu for 79.95 EUR. The meal is paid separately after the show.

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  • Cream of Glazed Chestnuts, Marrow of Vegetables, Duck and Chinese Artichokes
  • Scallop Carpaccio with Tomato Tartare, Dates and Cold Garlic and Almond Soup with Coconut Milk
  • Wild Sea Bass with Creamy Stewed Spring Onions and Smoked Iberian Bacon, accompanied by Grapefruit Emulsion and Fried Capers
  • Roast Rack of Lamb Rested in its Caramelised Gravy and a Creamy Ragout of Winter Vegetables
  • Caramelised French Toast Made With Fresh Milk and Served with Banana Ice Cream

What a truly wonderful evening at Corral de la Moreria! Each course was delicious with interesting flavor combinations, but not one course stood out as absolutely incredible. For me, the sea bass was probably my favorite, as it was expertly cooked to perfection with a light and crispy skin.

Following the meal, the lights dimmed and we were treated to an incredible flamenco show. If you’ve never watched a flamenco show, there would be one word I would use to describe the performers – powerful. Both the male and female performers were so intense and had a great command of their movement and the accompanying songs. The guitarists and singers accompanying the performers were also integral parts of the magic.

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Because of the show, the majority of people who choose the dinner and show option are tourists. Let that guide you as to what type of experience you will be having at Corral de la Moreria. Is it off the beaten path and a hidden gem? No. Many travelers flock to Corral de la Moreria for this flamenco dining experience and it is definitely one of the most famous restaurants in Madrid.

That didn’t hinder my experience, but if you’re one of those Michelin-star hunters, it’s definitely not like any other Michelin-starred restaurants! As the world’s only Michelin-starred restaurant with a flamenco tablao, Corral de la Moreria is definitely a one-of-a-kind Michelin-starred dining experience!

– My Experience at RavioXO –

Before I move onto the last exquisite foodie experience in Madrid, I need to set up the story which brought me there.

For those who didn’t follow my social media stories about being snubbed as a solo diner, a little context. I made reservations for famed Madrid-chef David Muñoz’s RavioXO restaurant several weeks before my trip. Chef David has a number of restaurants in Madrid which have multiple Michelin stars and often ranks at the very top of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Some might say that he’s arguably, Madrid’s hottest chef.

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To set the stage, 9 out of 10 meals, due to circumstances of life and travel, I often dine alone. I am fine with this and aside from a handful of annoying experiences, it’s generally not a big deal.

I made reservations online, and although they did not have the option for 1 person, that often happens due to the booking system. Normally, I just email the restaurant afterward and tell them it’s just me. I did just this. Emailed, not once, not twice, but actually three times before someone actually acknowledged me, the day before my lunch.

In that first acknowledgement, they told me to email my reservation modifications to That was the exact email address that I had sent all 3 emails to. Eye roll, but fine. I’ll try again.

RavioXO had a cancellation fee, and I was afraid I’d be charged the cancellation fee for the 2nd person, who was not going to join me. After a brief “misunderstanding,” I was told that the reservation system doesn’t allow tables of 1 person,

“because in our restaurant we do not make reservations for one person. Our availability is only for tables of 2 people or more. In case you finally cannot find a person to accompany you, we could cancel the reservation and we will not charge you any cancellation fee.”

What’s actually wild is, RavioXO has bar seating available in the restaurant, so they could have just sat me at the bar or in a sad corner hidden away from humans. Really anything. But no, Chef David Muñoz’s RavioXO denied me the chance to eat there.

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Many people on the internet have tried to suggest to me that solo diners cause a “restaurant to lose money.” To that, I say… have you ever seen me eat?

Had they allowed me to dine that day, quite possibly because I felt bad over the hassle, I would have definitely overcompensated and treated myself by ordering more. A wine or two at lunch, starters, desserts – who knows? The sky could’ve been the limit. If only they served solo diners.

Dear Chef Muñoz and the team at RavioXO,
Being a solo traveler (and a woman at that) is hard enough as it is. People stare at me and harass me all the time simply because I’m a woman alone. And your restaurant? Doesn’t even allow me to eat. I simply can’t fathom why I wouldn’t even be allowed to take one seat at the bar. If you would like to have a honest and frank conversation about how your “more than 2 people only” policy is not inclusive, I would be happy to engage in a discussion offline with you about that.

4. Best hidden gem in Madrid – Restaurante Barrera

After being snubbed for being a solo diner at one of Madrid’s hottest restaurants, I was left scrambling to find an alternative. Granted, Madrid is full of excellent restaurants, but how do you choose from 100 fantastic ones? Following the snub, I really just wanted a homey, off-the-beaten path, cozy restaurant – something that would embrace me with Spanish warmth and hospitality. So, who did I turn to in that instance? None other than Phil Rosenthal, who you may know from Somebody Feed Phil.

Restaurante Barrera is a restaurant with no website, no social media, and no written menu. There are barely any reviews online either. Don’t let that deter you, it’s probably one of the best food experiences in Madrid you could hope for!

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When I walked into the Calle Ponzano tapas bar and restaurant, I wasn’t sure what to expect. In all honesty, I didn’t watch Phil’s episode (didn’t want to ruin the surprise) and I was still feeling a little shy from my rejection the day before. Ana Barrera, proprietress, greeted me as I walked in.

Ana and I exchanged some pleasantries, when she asked me about dining alone. I said that sometimes I want to travel and eat nice things, but if no one can accompany me, I choose to go alone. She expressed that she could never have done that back in her day, and that she thought I was very full of “valor” to do so. At least that’s what I could pick up from my poor-Spanish and her (much better) English. I don’t know that anyone has ever referred to me as brave for continuing on in my solo experiences in life, but I appreciated it both in the moment and after.

Without further ado, and without a menu, Ana began listing off the tapas I could choose from.

  • amuse bouche – egg salad with toasted pumpkin seeds and marcona almonds
  • light and crisp gazpacho soup, with micro greens (not shown)
  • crispy fried artichokes tossed in sea salt
  • the cabrito (baby goat)
  • an exquisite lemon tart for dessert
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If I had more of a stomach, I would have tried their famous crispy pork belly with (mashed) potato, but I think I had a wonderful variety with the above! Despite being tapas, these are definitely not small plates! But they are meant to be shared. With a second diner, you should definitely get all of the above and the crispy pork belly and potatoes! My whole meal cost 58 EUR which was a steal for the quality of the meal I had!

Notable standouts for the meal:

  • the texture of the pumpkin seeds and marcona almonds with the egg salad amuse bouche was an incredible addition to add variety in the egg salad texture. And marcona almonds are always light and crunchy and especially delicious.
  • THE FRIED ARTICHOKES. OMG. Expertly fried with gorgeous sea salt flakes. The sweet aubergine (eggplant) glaze was a nice contrast, but I’m not a hugely saucey person, so the artichokes were still perfect without
  • The cabrito (baby goat) – I didn’t quite expect the cut to look like that, but then again, I really didn’t know what to expect. The flavor was rich and velvety almost, and wonderfully tender. It seemed to be prepared very simply, roasted in a wood-fired oven for hours in its own juices. Sometimes the simplest ways are the best way.
  • the lemon tart was also a stand out. Calling it a lemon tart really doesn’t do it justice. The outer shell was a hard meringue, with a creamy and still warm, lemon cream/custard oozing out, covering a hidden lemon ice cream on the inside. So many different textures and temperatures, all coming together with a tart, lemony flavor. EXQUISITE in every way!

I wish I could tell you more about Ana and the restaurant, but communication was uneven and internet research for this truly off-the-beaten-path restaurant is scant. After the meal, I did watch Phil’s episode there (Season 5, Episode 5). His chef pal, Javier Bonet, explained “it’s a way – how you eat the food, sharing it with somebody. This is the concept of tapas.”

Well, despite tapas meant for being a shared experience, Ana and Restaurante Barrera made my lunch-for-1 incredibly special and memorable. Out of all the gourmet experiences in Madrid on this trip, Restaurante Barrera was the one that stood out the most.

So, thank you Ana for the wonderful meal, and I will be back for the pork belly and potatoes soon!

Parting thoughts on my gourmet experiences in Madrid

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I was a little surprised at how many unique and incredible culinary experiences Madrid had to offer! Yes, Spain is known as a foodie heaven, but I hadn’t actually heard anything specific about Madrid. I mean, to be fair, I’ve never had such a wide variety of experiences in the time span of a few days! It made Madrid just an incredibly delicious trip.

There were so many once in a lifetime food experiences wrapped up in this one short trip. Dining at the world’s oldest restaurant and tasting the suckling pig that’s been roasted in the same way, in the same oven as it was 300 years ago was so special! and not to mention delicious! The churros and chocolate were a surprise breakfast that I didn’t expect, and I wouldn’t eat such a sugar-heavy breakfast in the future, but hey – when in Madrid, do as the Madrileans would have done since 1894! But light and expertly fried (and who doesn’t love to dip a churro), and given that they are open 24-7, there’s no excuse not to swing by and try it!

The Corral de la Moreria flamenco and Michelin-starred dinner experience is definitely for those first timers to Spain, or for people who have never experienced the excitement of Flamenco! Normally at venues where a lot of tourists flock, the food is nothing to write home about. But with this flamenco tablao, food is just as important as the flamenco. Experience a truly unforgettable evening at the world’s only Michelin-starred restaurant with a flamenco tablao!

And to round out all the experiences, a wonderful meal at Restaurante Barrera. After being sad and rejected by the hottest restaurant in town, this unassuming tapas bar and restaurant swooped in and saved the day. With simple by powerful dishes and Ana’s soft smile and gentleness, this is by far the stand out of my trip. For a restaurant with no menu, no website, and a written receipt at the end, this was truly the best food in Madrid.

The list above are probably the most outstanding culinary and gourmet experiences in Madrid. If you are looking to supplement this list with the basics on what to eat in Madrid, why not consider:

For this trip, I stayed at the Thomson Madrid – a newly opened 5-star hotel located between the Grand Via and Puerta del Sol. While it was a lovely stay, there was a lot of construction around the property. But it had a phenomenal location and I walked everywhere during my trip from there! I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a bit of luxury.

For other nice hotels centrally located near Grand Via, consider:

If you’re looking for other unexpected foodie adventures outside of Madrid, how about these places for some food for thought:

  • Cheltenham – a Regency town in England with an unexpected food culture;
  • Shetland Islands – a place where food stories warm your heart and soul!

And that’s it for today folks! Until next time, stay healthy and safe!

Please note that many products or referrals in this post are affiliate links (in green) and if you go through them to make a purchase or booking, I will earn a commission. I share these product and booking links because they are related to the post and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours whether to click through and make a purchase through these links.

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Lannie is a perpetual wanderer and loves to share her travel adventures and the food she eats along the way with everyone. She works during the day and dreams about new places and faces at night! She is based on the magical Isle of Islay in Scotland, where the whisky flows freely and happily.

Click on the blue icons below to follow her on social media!


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