Madrid restaurants are numerous to say the least, and they come in the form of tapas restaurants, informal cafes, fine dining establishments, and anything else you can think of. There are even a few American-style fast food joints in the Spanish capital, and you can always enjoy a meal at the Hard Rock Café if you please. Regardless of what you have a taste for, you can find it when dining in Madrid, as the city's restaurants specialize in all kinds of cuisines, with special attention to Spanish cuisine of course. You can surely sample all the Spanish favorites on a culinary tour of Madrid, including paella and churros, which any and all visitors to Spain should try at some point.
Paella, for those who might not know, originated in Valencia Spain and is a world-famous dish that features saffron-seasoned rice that is mixed with generous portions of seafood or meat. Local spices are often added, and the most common meats and seafood mixed in include shellfish, sausage, and chicken. After you finish indulging in some paella, you might treat yourself to some churros. Long and skinny doughnut-like treats, churros can be eaten as a dessert, for breakfast, or as a snack. They are often served with Spanish hot chocolate, which is sweeter and thicker than you might be accustomed to, and they are easy to fall in love with.
Madrid food is all about variety, and this has a lot to do with the fact that many an international restaurant can be found in this dynamic city. Mixing with the international restaurants are ones that specialize in Spanish cuisine, and there may be no finer dining experience than getting some tapas in Madrid. Tapas are snacks of sorts that typically accompany a glass of beer or a cup of wine. The word tapas comes from the Spanish verb tapar, meaning to cover, and it stems from the fact that the first tapas were used to cover alcoholic beverages in order to keep the flies out. These days, you can find tapas bars/restaurants all over the world, from Chicago to Shanghai.
When dining on tapas in Madrid, you will quickly notice that the options are almost endless. No longer relegated to serving as something to keep the flies out, tapas have become quite diverse, and since there are scores of tapas bars in Madrid, you will not be at a loss of opportunities to go tapas bar hopping. Some of the more typical tapas dishes that you will come across include gambas (prawns/shrimp), eels cooked in butter and garlic, stuffed peppers, slices of sultry Serrano ham and Manchego cheese, chorizo (sausage), meatballs, and potatoes with a slightly spicy red sauce, or papas bravas as they are locally known. Madrid food, as is true of Spanish food on the whole, doesn't get very spicy on average, so you might need to add some hot sauce to your papas bravas if they aren't fierce enough. Peppered octopus, crabmeat salads, and salted cod in butter and garlic are just some of the other options when it comes to tapas in Madrid. As you might expect in the largest olive-producing nation in the world, olives are also featured with regularity at the various tapas establishments.
Madrid food isn't all about tapas, however, and when you are in the mood for a more substantial meal, you might try some lechona or dine on chuletones. Lechona, which originated in nearby Segovia, is roast suckling pig that is about as divine as it gets in the pork world. While not cheap, it is worth every penny, as long as you are a meat eater. Chuletones are large beef cutlets that hail from the also nearby city of Avila.
When looking for Madrid restaurants that cater to meat lovers, you won't have to search very far. Should you be in the mood for seafood, a better destination there could hardly be. Fresh seafood from Spain's coasts is shipped to Madrid on a daily basis, and this means plenty of bacalao (salted cod), hake, prawns, mussels, tuna, squid, and octopus. Suffice it to say that seafood lovers who are hanging out in Madrid won't have to venture off to coastal destinations such as Barcelona and Malaga on the side to get a fix.
While many popular Madrid dishes, such as cocido, are meat based, vegetarians won't be at a complete loss when it comes to dining options. More and more vegetarian eateries are springing up all over town, with common vegetarian dishes including setas al jerez and tortillas. Setas al jerez are mushrooms that are cooked in world-famous Jerez sherry, while a Spanish tortilla is essentially a quiche-like concoction of potatoes and eggs that you can find almost anywhere. Cocido, in case you are wondering, is a Spanish stew that features chickpeas, lamb, veal, and a relatively copious amount of lard. In other words, it's not for vegetarians.
Madrid restaurants offer a great variety of food, and wine and beer are common accompaniments. Spanish wine is renowned for its quality. Even if you pick up a cheap box of wine at a grocery store, it is likely to taste better than a more expensive bottle back home.