Madrid Food Tour: A Must-Do in Spain’s Capital

Madrid-Center

Beautiful Madrid!

When I first met my friend Lauren last year in Madrid, she told me how she was considering starting a food tour business in Madrid. For her, it was the perfect way to combine her passion for food with her budding entrepreneurship skills. A year later, the Madrid Food Tour is nearing its 1-Year Anniversary–and also happens to be ranked #1 on TripAdvisor for Things to Do in Madrid! I’m so proud of Lauren and how her business has grown, and couldn’t wait to try out one of her tours myself. So, when she invited me to check out her Ultimate Spanish Cuisine Tour, I enthusiastically agreed!

Churros with Chocolate

Chocolateria-San-Gines

The famous Chocolatería San Ginés in Madrid

We met Lauren on a day uncharacteristic of June in Madrid: rain showers taunted us throughout the tour, but we lucked out–most of the rain fell while we were indoors sampling Madrid’s epicurean delights! Our morning started off with a Spanish classic: Churros with Chocolate. While I tend to favor cinnamon-sugar Mexican churros, Spanish churros are delicious too; especially after a long night out. Lauren took us to Madrid’s most famous spot for churros: Chocolatería San Ginés. It’s been open since 1894 and is a Madrid churro institution. I was surprised to learn they’re open 24 hours a day–that’s a rare sight even in big Spanish cities like Madrid!

The chocolate itself needs its own mention, as I remember it intriguing me when I first tried it: it’s not like the hot chocolate we’re used to drinking with marshmallows in the wintertime. Instead, it’s thick–and perfect for dunking the churros into. 

Churros with Chocolate

Piping hot churros with chocolate!

 After we’d woken up our appetite with hot churros and chocolate, we moved on to see what else Madrid could offer, as Lauren gave us a fun Madrid history lesson. This girl knows her stuff–while the Madrid Food Tour focuses on showing guests the capital’s culinary scene, it’s also a great way to see the center of the city, and learn about its interesting past. 

A Modern Spanish Market

Our next stop was at a market that I had stepped into on a prior visit to Madrid, but had never actually eaten in. Lauren gave us a full tour of the market with stops for vermouth, stuffed olives, pintxos and more! Here’s a peek at some of the goodies we sampled:

Mercado-de-San-Miguel

The market’s interior

stuffed-olives

Delicious, stuffed olives!

Spanish-Vermouth

Vermouth

While I’ve had olives marinated in vermouth, I’ve never tried a full glass of it. Lauren described it as a fortified wine that’s flavored with herbs, spices and other botanicals and that it is super-trendy in Madrid to go out for a glass of vermú. El País, one of the nation’s biggest publications dedicated an article to the drink, shining the spotlight on its popularity. 

Pintxos & Tapas

What Lauren really emphasizes on her tours is how Madrid’s cuisine is distinct, while still embracing other Spanish regional cuisine. I was pleased to see a stop for pintxos and bacalao (traditional in Basque Country) included in her tour! I skipped the pintxos and savored a bowl of Salmorejo instead–one of my Andalusian favorites!

Bacalao

Bacalao bites

Pintxos-Madrid

Pintxos in Madrid? Yes!

Salmorejo

Salmorejo and Pintxos

Olive Oil and More Olives

Our next stop was my favorite of the tour: an olive oil tasting! We went to a specialty shop that sells Spain’s highest quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil to consumers. We were given four varieties to choose from, ranging in olive oil’s three positive attributes: fruitiness  pungency and bitterness. Lauren explained that olive oil that can be described as fruity will have a freshly-cut grass aroma, while more pungent oils can have peppery kick to them that can tickle your throat and make you cough. She also explained that in a traditional tasting you’ll have a small blue glass, similar to a votive that you’ll rub in your palm to warm up the oil, and release the aromas, prior to tasting. 

Spanish-olives

Spanish olives: the best of the best!

Next, we downed some Spanish olives–always a tasty treat. I never really liked olives until I came to Spain, but Spanish olives have the tendency to turn people into olive-worshippers!

Jamón y Queso 

I’ve proclaimed my love for Spanish ham many times on this blog, and Lauren’s tours give you a full lesson on the distinguishing characteristics between each type of ham, the pig’s diets, and the various curing periods. We sampled slices from Jamón Serrano to the ultimate: Jamón Ibérico de Bellota. The butcher also gave us samples of creamy Tetilla cheese from Galicia, and bubbly Cava to wash it all down. Mmm, ¡qué rico!

Carnicería-Spain

A Carnicería tucked inside a Madrileño market.

A Lunch Full of Spanish Classics

The tour included a sit-down lunch in a restaurant famous for its organ meats and fried pig’s ears. Thankfully, the group wasn’t too adventurous, and opted for some classic choices like patatas bravas, pimientos de padrón and tintos de verano.

patatas-bravas

Patatas Bravas+ Ali-Oli

Tinto de Verano

Tinto de Verano with a splash of vermouth.

 The Grand Finale: Spanish Pastries!

Lauren ended our wonderful tour on a sweet note; with Spanish pastries! She took us to an iconic pastelería that was bustling with customers in search of a sweet treat.

Spanish pastries

Spanish pastries

Lauren’s tour was wonderful, and I’m not just saying that because she’s my friend. After living here for 3+ years, I’ve learned a good amount about Spanish cuisine, but still came away from the tour with new bits of knowledge! I think a food tour is one of the best ways to not only learn about the city you’re in, but also to get an authentic feeling for the culture you’re in. Most tourists don’t venture into markets, or lack the language to get by, and joining in on a food tour is the perfect way to feel like a local! As I mentioned above, it’s not just a way to learn about food, it’s also the perfect way to get a sense of where you’re staying, and Lauren’s tours include a good amount of history and fun facts about Madrid as well.

Mil gracias to Lauren at Madrid Food Tour for the complimentary tour. All opinions are my own, and I can’t recommend this tour enough! It’s truly the perfect way to see (and devour!) the city.

To learn more about Madrid Food Tour, check out their website at http://www.madridfoodtour.com.

Author: Christine

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38 Comments

  1. All of that food looks so tasty. It’s great that your friend did this and has become so successful. I will for sure be adding it to the list of things to do once in Madrid. I can’t wait!
    Kimmy @ AfterGlobe recently posted…The Inn at Mama’s Fish HouseMy Profile

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    • You definitely should do it while in Madrid–there are so many different tastings and you come away learning a lot about Spanish cuisine and culture.

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  2. Wow, my mouth is watering! What an amazing tour! Can’t wait to go back to Madrid!

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  3. I agree, a food tour is a great way to experience a city. You can really learn alot about a city while wandering around the streets looking for and sampling great local foods and markets!
    Debbie @ European Travelista recently posted…To Market, To MarketMy Profile

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  4. Great blog Christine! We just spent 3 weeks in Spain sourcing out where we would like to retire. We did get a chance try most of the foods you have featured in this story. Now we need to get back to try the others and continue exploring this very diverse Country.

    Thanks for sharing.

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    • What a fun trip! Have you decided where you’re going to retire yet?

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  5. Patatas Bravas were my favorite when I was visiting Barcelona! I really need to try to find a recipe for them. The whole food tour sounds amazing. :)
    Danica recently posted…stopMy Profile

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    • Patatas Bravas are easy-peasy! You just need to find a recipe for the Bravas sauce and add some ali-oli!

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    • If only there were the same amount of tourism coming through Basque Country as in Madrid! Isn’t Basque food amazing?

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  6. A food tour – what a great idea. Well done to your friend for getting this original idea off the ground. I have travelled a fair bit of the globe myself (not Spain though unfortunately) and have never come across something like this before. Most popular tourist destinations are abound with companies who offer cooking classes in the local cuisine which are usually very popular. I’m sure others will be quick to copy your friend’s idea if they have not done so already! If I ever make it to Madrid I’ll certainly be checking this food tour out for myself.

    Joe.

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    • She’s done an excellent job! I have yet to try a cooking class, but I would absolutely love to!

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  7. This tour sounds so amazing! I definitely have to come back to Spain to visit the Spanish capital and try all these foods — especially the sweet treats!
    Julika recently posted…A Birthday in BrugesMy Profile

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  8. Hola Christine,

    Just recently discovered your blog, enjoying it very much!
    That food market in Madrid is amazing! I was there a couple of years ago, but unfortunately only discovered in on my last night (how typical :)…

    Greetings from Peru,

    Anna

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    • Thanks for reading! Haha, well it looks like you have a good excuse to come back then!

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  9. Many thanks, Christine, for travelling around our country and posting your adventures. I think you could have better pintxos in other places, because the market you visited is focus in tourists and you can hardly find a spaniard there. Here is MY list to recommend anyone to have a real pintxos & aperitives in Madrid: Taberna La Ardosa, Taberna Laredo, Juana La Loca (in La Latina district, a well-known area in the downtown where you can also have drinks&dance), Taberna Arzábal, el Cisne Azul (best pub for having mushrooms), Restaurante Asturianos, Samm (paella), etc.

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    • I wish I would have seen this comment yesterday while I was in Madrid! Thanks for the wonderful recommendations! The reason the tour goes to this market is because it’s centrally located, so there’s sight-seeing involved too. We were also taken to another market where we were the only guiris in sight! ;)

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  10. hey! deberías citar el nombre de los sitios donde estuviste ;)
    Enhorabuena por el blog!

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  11. Hi there,

    Stumbled upon your blog while doing research for our upcoming trip to Spain next month…if I wasn’t already excited about the trip, your blog posts have made me a complete spanish food fan even before visiting! Can’t wait to get there and sample the delicious food..would definitely be taking this tour in Madrid – only confused as to whether to take the ultimate spanish food tour or the wine and tapas tour! but can’t wait and thank you for very well written and informative blog posts!

    Cheers,

    Neha (from India)

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