Nate and I spent a week exploring Madrid, Spain and loved it. I studied abroad in Italy in college and the city reminded me so much of Florence: modern with ancient charm, beautiful architecture, and picturesque streets. Aside from Spain's love for Jamón (seriously, you could buy a prosciutto pig leg at every grocery store), we loved Spain's food culture. Big, filling, late lunches, and lengthy, simple, late dinners filled with tapas, cheap chilled red wine, and good food. Perusing from tapas bar to tapas bar all evening allowed us to try dozens of restaurants. Here were are favorites:
Chocolatería San Ginés is touristy but so so good. Made to order churros with a pot of bittersweet melted chocolate.
Pez Tortilla was the best meal of our entire trip. If you go no where else, go here and try and many tortillas as possible as their menu is filled with all different interesting flavors with great wine, croquettas, and tons of vegetarian options.
Vega is the loveliest vegan restaurant I've ever been to. For a table, definitely make a reservation because this the secret is out and this place fills quickly. We sat at the bar and watched as each dish came out of the kitchen looking like a work of art. Colorful vibrant plant based food with great service, this place made me feel right at home in the best way possible.
Bodega de la Ardosa is an old charming bar that made us feel like locals. Also they serve THE BEST Tortilla de Española, it was so good we went twice in one week.
Rayén Vegano is another lovely vegan cafe I wish we had time to have a full meal at, but alas we just went for dessert where I ate some of the best vegan chocolate cake I have ever had. Again, super popular so make a reservation.
La Pizzateca serves delicious affordable pizza by the slice with many veg options. Emphasis on the affordable. There are a couple throughout the city.
Our favorite dishes were Tortilla de Española - an amazing undercooked egg and potato omelet, each restaurant makes them slightly different, so you can never try too many. Patatas Bravas - potatoes with creamy aioli, and Tinto de Verano - the local's version of sangria, a perfect mix of lemon soda and cold red wine. And of course churros con chocolate!
Parque del Retiro is like Madrid's version of Central Park. We rented row boats which were surprisingly affordable.
Menu de la Dia - many places offer super affordable 3 course menus for lunch Monday - Friday called menu de la dia. Unfortunately we didn't find many of these menus with veg options but they're usually a great deal.
Dinner doesn't start until 9pm, most places that serve dinner earlier are geared towards tourists.
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is a fantastic museum that offers FREE admission everyday except Tuesdays from 7-9pm. It makes the perfect date before heading out to dinner.
We loved El Rastro is lovely Sunday flea market with tons of great finds, including Spanish made pottery which I wished I'd bought more of!