Restaurants in Madrid
We've just returned from Madrid, and I wish we'd had JuanDoe's fantastic report below when we were there! But I had used the Chowhound boards before we went and enjoyed some great tapas. We were staying in the Recoletos area and in general we found that the tourist disappeared as we moved east from there. In particular, we had wonderful tapas and seemed to be the only foreigners in the bustling bars of BIOTZA, Calle Claudio Coello, 27 (in the Recoletos/Salamanca area) and ARZABAL, Calle Doctor Castelo 2 (facing the NE corner of the Retiro).
Sights & tapas
MUSEO DEL PRADO. Located in the heart of Madrid, nowadays the Prado Museum houses more than 7.000 paintings, sculptures, illustrations and drawings as well as a wide number of decorating art works and historical documents. The museum is housed in two different buildings, located very close together: the Villanueva building, in the Paseo del Prado, and the enlargement building where you can visit other master pieces. At the Prado Museum you can see exceptional examples of paintings by Spanish artists: Goya, Velázquez, Zurbarán; but also works an expansive survey of Western painting, from the Middle Ages to the 19th Century: Bosch, Rubens, Tintoretto or Roger van der Weyden. My highlights are Velázquez's Las Meninas and Goya's The 3rd of May 1808 in Madrid: The Executions on Principe Pío Hill.
* Tapas nearby: Maceira at Calle de Jesús 7 and Taberna de Conspiradores at Calle Moratín 33.
CENTRO DE ARTE REINA SOFÍA. The Reina Sofía Museum and Arte Centre is located in the Glorieta de Carlos V, also known as Atocha. This collection is considered as an extension of the Prado Museum, because it goes from the XIX Century to our days. The collection is divided in three stocks and if we visit all the rooms we will be able to see the first contacts between the Spanish modernity with Europe and also we will be able to admire the new artists’ contributions to Cubism and Surrealism with artists like Picasso, Miró, Dalí, Juan Gris, María Blanchard… and their repercussions over the so-called School of Paris. The abstract movement has also its space at the Museum. One of the most outstanding paintings that we can see at this Museum is the huge “Guernica”, a work by Picasso. This is one of the most emblematic images of the contemporary world. It represents the Legion Condor attack over the city of Guernica in 1937.
* Tapas nearby: El Brillante at Plaza de Atocha and Los Zuritos at Calle Atocha 110, corner with Calle Doctor Mata.
MUSEO THYSSEN-BORNEMISZA. Located in the Villahermosa Palace, the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum was opened as an art gallery in 1992. The baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza acquired paintings from the XIX and XX centuries: impressionist, post impressionist, fauvism, German expressionist, avant-garde movement and paintings from the European and American post war paintings. You can find all these movements and waves at the Museum. The building has three stocks, where you can do a real walk through the occident painting from the XIII Century to the XX Century: Renaissance, Mannerism, Baroque, Rococo, Romanticism or Pop Art are among the nearly thousand paintings at the Museum Works by Durero, Edgar Degas, Pablo Picasso, Caravaggio, Claude Monet o Vincent Van Gogh, among many others, are some of the master pieces that you will be able to admire at the Thyssen Museum. My highlight: Portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni.
* Tapas nearby: Cervantes at Calle Jesús corner with Calle Cervantes. Seafood tapas. Taberna de la Daniela at Calle Jesús 7.
PALACIO REAL. The Royal Palace was in the past the residence of the Spanish monarchs but nowadays the kings use it no more and it has turned into an interesting tourist place, where sometimes take place State events and international and diplomacy meetings. In your visit at the Palace you will see interesting fresh paintings and discover different rooms, where you will know the legacy from artists like Giaquinto, Tiépolo, Mengs, Bayeu y Maella. Furthermore, the Changing of the Guard takes places there every Wednesday. The Royal Armoury at the Royal Palace is considered one of the most significant collections of its kind. It houses a valuable collection of weapons and armour worn by the Kings of Spain and other members of the Royal Family since the 13th century. Subway: Opera.
* Tapas nearby: El Anciano Rey de los Vinos at Calle Bailén 19 and La Botillería del Café de Oriente at Plaza de Oriente.
PLAZA MAYOR. This rectangular square is located in the centre of Habsburg neighbourhood. This opened space was thought as a social and civic area for the people of Madrid and was finished in 1617. From this year it’s been reformed several times due to different fires. The Plaza Mayor conserves the bricked buildings, the nine gates (among them, the Cuchilleros Arch), the Casa de la Panaderia (Bakery House) and the equestrian statue of King Felipe III. This plaza housed, centuries ago, all kinds of markets, bullfighting, popular spectacles and 'autos de fe' (public penance of heretics by the Inquisition in medieval Spain). Subway: Sol. Close to Plaza Mayor, the Mercado de San Miguel is a temple to gastronomy, home to 33 stalls selling mouth-watering products and select ingredients, offering food to take home or to consume right there on the premises.
* Tapas nearby: Según Emma at Calle del Conde de Miranda (behind the Mercado de San Miguel) and Bodegas Ricla at Calle Cuchilleros 6.
EL RETIRO. This is the most important park in the city and it has a wide number of statues, fountains and commemorative monuments that have turn it into a real open air sculpture museum. There is one curiosity in one of the fountains: the one dedicated to the devil (El Angel Caído). The Glass Pavilion (Palacio de Cristal) is one of the most outstanding place in the park and so is it the artificial lake. Here you will find a huge monument dedicated to the King Alfonso XII. At the lake you can rent a little boat and enjoy your free time. Every weekend or holidays the madrileños and visitors come to the park to meet their friends, walk, enjoy, listen to the street musicians, see the painters or let the fortune tellers read your future in the Tarot cards. Subway: Retiro or Príncipe de Vergara.
* Tapas nearby: Carlos Tartiere at Calle Menorca 35 and Taberna Arzábal at Calle Doctor Castelo 2.
SANTIAGO BERNABEU STADIUM. It is the stadium of a great football team, the Real Madrid F.C. and it opens its doors to its fans on a daily basis, with the aim of showing them the corners and scenario in which their idols have played out so many great triumphs. The Santiago Bernabéu Stadium has housed a wide number of sport and social events, among them, the World Final Match in 1982 and several Spanish Football Cups or the Champions Final in 2010. Through a guided tour its is possible to visit the Real Madrid players changing room, the stadium, the tribune, the VIP zone and of course, the trophy hall, a real luxury for the supporters. Subway: Santiago Bernabeu.
* Tapas into the stadium: Barra Cibeles-Puerta 57 (Gate 57) at Calle Padre Damián.
CHUECA. This neighbourhood is the gay & lesbian community's mecca in the world, as the Castro's zone in San Francisco. Chueca is the most carefree, tolerant and alternative neighbourhood in Madrid. It's not only the gay area, its streets are brimming with art galleries, many nice shops, terrace cafés, restaurants and bars for all kind of people. Subway: Chueca.
* Tapas nearby: Baco y Beto at Calle Pelayo 24 and Bocaito at Calle Libertad 6.
MALASAÑA. In the 80ies, Malasaña lived an authentic cultural movement known as La Movida Madrileña. Not only in music, films, books and so on, but also in the way of the night leisure and in the way the young people had fun. In this moment hundreds of bars and locals were the meeting point of the new artists: musicians, bands, film directors like Almodóvar, singers, photographers….This was the moment when legendary locals opened their doors: the Pentagrama, known as ‘El Penta’, or La Vía Láctea, locals that nowadays are still a reference of the night panorama in Madrid. In the last years, Malasaña has developed a new trendy and 'alternative' face, but it hasn’t forgotten its origins. Subway: Tribunal.
* Tapas nearby: La Blanca Paloma at Calle Espíritu Santo 21 . Free tapas with your drink. La Ardosa at Calle Colón 13.
LAVAPIÉS has become in a multicultural neighbourhood, that keeps its soul alive: the humble one. Muslim butcher’s shops, wholesaler shops of Chinese people, arab tea shops, indian restaurants, call centers of Senegalese people, they live all together with the local typical bars or with the shopkeeper that stays here since forever. In the central square a lady’s grandchild, that’s passed all her life in Lavapiés, runs and shouts with the sons of an Ecuadorian couple that came to Madrid ten years ago. In a bar in a corner you can eat a tapa of fried calamari and in the next bar a dish of chicken and rice with peanuts sauce. In Lavapiés bars is possible to listen stories from far lands and also two Guinean discuss fervently about Real Madrid vs Barcelona match of the passed night. Subway: Lavapiés.
* Tapas nearby: terrace bar Achuri at Calle Argumosa 21 and La Aguja at Calle Ave María 25. Tapas and good music.
SALAMANCA. If you’re looking for luxury and glamour you should to go to Salamanca area. You’ ll find the most prestigious fashion, jewellery or decoration’s brands walking around one cubic kilometre, called “the golden mile” (la Milla de Oro). It is situated in the middle of Salamanca neighbourhood. Around the streets Serrano, Ortega y Gasset, Velázquez, Lagasca, Ayala y Claudio Coello, you can buy exclusive jewels or trendy accessories at Bulgari, Cartier, Tous or Tiffany shops. While, if you know the novels that parade up and down the Madrid’ catwalks you can see the shop windows of Manolo Blahnik, Victorio & Lucchino, Custo, Bimba & Lola, Purificación García, John Galliano, Castañer, Adolfo Domínguez, Pura López and Agatha Ruiz de la Prada. Vivid colours, printed fabrics and new creations will discover you the other face of the Spanish art. Subway: Serrano or Núñez de Balboa.
* Tapas nearby: Jurucha at Calle Ayala 19 and El Cantábrico at Calle Padilla 39.
Eateries nearby Calle Huertas
Arrocería Marina Ventura at Calle Ventura de la Vega 13. Rice dishes.
La Cabaña Argentina at Calle Ventura de la Vega 10. Argentine meat.
Casa González at Calle León 12. Deli with atmosphere. Array of wine and cheeses.
Chocolat Bar at Calle Santa María 30. Hot chocolate and churros.
DOCC at Calle del Prado 28. Breakfast, snacks, charcuterie to take away.
Eateries nearby Teatro Real
El Abrazo de Vergara at Calle Vergara 10. Creative cuisine.
La Platea at Calle de la Amnistia 6. Intimate dining.
Casa Marta at Calle Santa Clara 10. Home-style cuisine.
Café de Oriente at Plaza de Oriente. Outstanding sidewalk terrace.
El Mollete at Calle Bola 4. Tiny tapas tavern.
Los Amigos at Calle de las Conchas. Tapas bar with local atmosphere.