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Jan 14, 2012 11:44 AM

Madrid itinerary, dining hours help

First, thanks everyone for the advice I've gotten on where to eat and where to stay (Hostal Gonzalo). I have a few questions.

If I want to maximize the number of meals per day how should I go around doing that? If I were traveling in New York I would have breakfast, lunch, early dinner at 6 then another dinner at 10. But seems that most restaurants open from 2-3:30 then 9-12. is Cava Baja open after 12?

Also, what's a good site to find out opening hours of restaurants, I can't seem to find a directory with that information.


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  1. I don't know of a single site that has all the details. If you look at particular websites, they DO give you days and hours of operation. I think many places start lunch and dinner a bit earlier than 2 pm and 9 pm, especially in the Cava Baja area (since many of the eateries here are bars, where people go for a few tapas and then move on to formal dinner). A few examples:

    Casa Lucas: "DE 13 A 15.30 Y DE 20 A 0 H. V Y S DE 13 A 16 Y DE 20 A 1 H.
    (Think that means 1-3:30 pm and 8pm-midnight AND Fri-Sat 1-4pm and 8pm-1am)
    (closed on Wed lunch)

    Casa Lucio: H. 13'15-16 / 21'00-23'30
    (1:15-4 pm and 9 pm-11:30 pm
    )(closed in August and Sat lunch)

    Taberna Matritum: de Jueves a Domingo de 13:00 a 16:30 y todos los dias de 20:30 a 00:30

    1. Most of the spots on the Cava Baja are not open past 12 for food, especially in the winter or weekdays (schedules in the summer or holiday weekends tend to slide a bit later). Here in Madrid, most people start dinner around 10-11ish. If you get there after 11:30--even if the restaurant is full of people--you could be told that the kitchen is closing if you wanted to eat anything that isn't sitting out on the bar. Get there at 9pm or 1pm for lunch and you will likely find a restaurant just opening (or worse yet not open at all) or empty for a while.

      If you want to squeeze in an extra bite to eat, around 6pm is the merienda, snack time for a sandwich, pastry and coffee, or churros.

      Outside of restaurants, there are cafe-bars (cafeterías) all over the place that serve sandwiches (tostas, montados, bocadillos, bocatas), ham, cheese and other snacks all day long. Fast food, Madrid style.

      7 Replies
      1. re: butterfly

        Thanks guys, this is my plan so far, see if it's too ambitious, mind you I'll be by myself.

        Thursday, arrival:
        Montecastela lunch
        Estado Puro dinner (looks like they're open from 12pm-2am so I can do early dinner)
        Afterward walk across Retiro park and hit the tapas places

        Friday, day trip to San Sebastian:
        Arzak for lunch, then I'll do pintxos and cider houses.

        Saturday, back to Madrid:
        Casa Benigna lunch, should I make reservation?
        Sudestada dinner (they open at 7:30pm, I'll aim for 8)
        Cava Baja after dinner

        El Rastro
        Los Asturianos lunch
        Botin dinner
        Maybe one of the two tapas strips again?

        Monday, day trip to Segovia:
        Jose Maria for lunch
        Should I stay in Segovia or return to Madrid for dinner?

        So that's the whole trip, all the choices are from this board. In addition I'll have to sneak in a churro here, a squid sandwich there, and chocolates and hams and what not. I'm expected to gain 20lbs in 5 days.

        1. re: Inkou

          If you plan to walk back from tapas or dinner through el Retiro, make sure to note the closing hours so you will not get locked INSIDE the park gates as I did last winter.

          1. re: Inkou

            Suggestion: a bit of seafood before lunch in a hole-in-the-wall near Los Asturianos, on calle Vallehermoso 79. "El 79" is a neighborhood bar with good stuff: oysters, goose barnacle, razor clams… The owner's family also run a fishmonger's…

            1. re: Inkou

              Well, I'd do La Cesta de Recoletos instead of Estado Puro…

              Other recs near El Retiro park:

              Daytrip to Segovia: I'd return to Madrid for dinner.

              1. re: JuanDoe

                Wow Erica, what did you do then? And was it dangerous walking through the park at night?

                JuanDoe I actually saved your map from a previous thread you started on my phone already! I'll definitely take your advice and swap Estado Puro for La Cesta. Looks like they take 4:30pm reservation, so I would assume their kitchen doesn't close until 5:30, I can have a meal at that time. Also will add El 79 to the list.


                1. re: Inkou

                  We neglected to notice that the park closed at night; we were there last January, when if I remember correctly, the gates close about 10 or 10:30 pm. We had gone to the Retiro area on most nights that week, so we knew the route. It is not at all dangerous,as far as I could tell, but a local could tell you with more accuracy.

                  We entered the park from the eastern side after an early (by Madrid standards) dinner. We crossed to the western side to our "usual" gate nearest our hotel and found it locked. We walked clockwise round the perimeter of the park and found every gate to be locked. I even called out to pedestrians outside the gates for help, with no luck. Those gates are spectacular, by the way!

                  Finally we saw a police patrol car and ran after them and they directed us to the one gate that remains open at night, at the corner near Atocha.

                  It was quite an adventure. Madrid is a fabulous eating city and a fabulous city all around and I hope you enjoy your stay a fraction as much as I did mine.

                  1. re: erica

                    Gad, Erica, what an adventure! At least you got to walk off those calories, LOL! And you didn't get caught doing what a nun at my high school did one evening. My dad was driving by the school and we saw Sister Margaret (actually the round part of Sr Margaret) trying to climb over a 10 ft metal and brick fence.

          2. Inkou,
            Madrid is one of my favorite cities. Just came back from a trip. Advice... Don't stick to the restaurant schedule but embrace and enjoy. When you have no worries about the places to eat at and think of how many hours you have before your next meal, things will go much smoother and you will see much more Madrid can offer. Madrid is a city of culinary heights without a doubt. Good food is everywhere and number of gastrobars is growing. Estado Puro, Vi Cool, Quri Bar, Dassa Barr, Distinto. If you are looking for the best, you will be disappointed. They are all great! And can be very expensive. But why break the bank if you have Tortilla de patata (potato omelette) readily available almost anywhere?! You can have it for breakfast, dinner or both ☺ My favorite place for that is Serrania de Montanera. I just love the lady that owns it and they make it fresh every day. It’s a little café-market and you can enjoy hearty cheap breakfast or great inexpensive lunch there. c/Corazon de Maria, #7. You can also try a variety of great Spanish wines. This is a local hangout place.

            Of course Casa Labra is a 150 y.o. bar/restaurant and have great cod croquettes. This place is always busy. Expect to stand in line to get in (bar) but if you get in, those croquettes are so good! (Sol is the subway stop).

            You have only two days in Madrid. Out of all the restaurants you listed choose two or even one. Put a checkmark beside it when you are finished and head to San Miguel market. It turns into one huge tapas bar. Hours: Sun – Wed 10:00 – 22:00, Thu – Sat 10:00 – 02:00. You can try anything from anchovy stuffed olives (2 euros) to a spoon of black caviar. All depends on your budget. Locals love to come there and social scene is just awesome! Don't miss it. There is no better place to get acquainted with tapas and fresh local ingredients. They can cook fish or meat right there for you as well. Cava Baja is an adjacent street if you are still hungry. But if you are… still hungry after trying out even the smallest percentage of all available gastronomic wonders of San Miguel, you should check into a local hospital. There is one near by.
            Promise you will like it so much that next time you are in Madrid you will go there again. And again.

            See a good flamenco show. It usually starts late. After all, Madrid is one big cultural center and flamenco dancing is part of Spanish culture.

            My favorite place to decompress in Madrid is Basilica San Francisco el Grande. It costs 3 euros to get in but the money is well worth it. You have to join a tour, which happens every 15 min. The tours are only in Spanish but persevere and you will be rewarded. Just walk with the group.

            Enjoy your trip.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Longroadahead

              Thanks Longroadahead! This is such an enthusiastic description! We're going to Madrid in May. I am looking forward to it.