Photo by Calihan Huntley
An odd array of my favorite restaurants in Madrid.
I have what some people may call a wide palate. I say ‘some people’ because most people would not say that about me. What they would say about my eating tendencies is that they are quite finicky, very cheap, and oftentimes obsessive. When I find a place that I like, by the end of that period of obsession, every employee will know me.
Since I had a really nice kitchen in Madrid, I cooked most of my meals at home. Whenever I would go out for dinner with friends, or not want to turn on the overly powerful stove one night, I had my bank of favorite places to go. It is time that I impart my wisdom on you.
C. del Prado, 16, 28014 Madrid, Spain
Specifially, Lamucca de Prado. On the first day I arrived in Madrid, a week before my study abroad program started, I ate at Lamucca de Prado, completely unaware that I would be living just around the corner for the next five months.
Their menu was all-encompassing, but truthfully I only ever had the burger. In my defense, it was a fantastic burger and fries.
I ate inside the restaurant a few times, but it was awfully fancy for chowing down on a burger. A majority of the time, I would wander into the restaurant after one of my classes that ended at 9:15pm, and sit at the bar while they prepared my takeout order. I would then turn the corner, walk 40 yards, and be back at my apartment to eat the burger at my own kitchen table as if I cooked it myself.
Greek & Shop
Corre. Alta de San Pablo, 9, 28004 Madrid, Spain
The first time I ate at the Greek & Shop it was under the recommendation of Naia. She knows I get very suspicious of different foods as we went to high school together, but she texted me, “just trust me”. So I did, and I will never be able to repay her for that.
I thought I had found the best gyro place in the Midwest, but it did not even compare to Greek & Shop’s grilled chicken gyro. One of the best parts of the meal was the hummus, which is their own recipe. Greek & Shop became an obsession of mine and Naia’s. Whenever we needed a place to eat dinner, catch up, and drop first and last names loudly without regret, we went to Greek & Shop.
If the food is not enough to get you into Greek & Shop, then the very attractive workers should push you over the edge. I swear, Naia and I used to meet up at Greek & Shop at the most horridly late hours, wearing our pajamas only to be greeted by the most attractive men we had ever seen. They served us with a smile on their face, and during our final trip to Greek & Shop we told them, “We’re going back to the states next week, we will miss you and your gyros dearly.”
La Casa Del Abuelo
The tapas restaurant doesn’t have an address on Google Maps, but it’s right next to a pharmacy with an address of C. de la Cruz, 13, 28012 Madrid, Spain.
Prior to coming to Madrid, I wasn’t a big fan of shrimp or tomatoes and I had never tried sangria before. La Casa Del Abuelo changed all of that. I made almost all of my friends come to this tapas bar just to get the shrimp that came out in boiling water.
There’s not much to this restaurant that sits on the corner and generally sits people exclusively outside, but it’s fun and it’s Spanish and you have got to try the shrimp.
Alamalibre Acai House Madrid
C. de la Libertad, 17, 28004 Madrid, Spain
If you’re ever feeling homesick, the employees at Alamalibre will fix that right up for you. Not only will they serve you the best acai in the world, but they will do it with a comforting smile and always go the extra mile.
My favorite thing to get was the “I’m Different” bowl with bananas, granola, and peanut butter. I know peanut butter on acai sounds a bit out there, especially for people from the States, but peanut butter in Spain is exponentially different. In the States, it has so many preserves that the spread is usually thick and watery at the top of the jar. In Spain, there are fewer preserves making the peanut butter more liquidy (which also sounds a bit gross, but like Naia said, “just trust me”) which makes it blend perfectly into the acai.
I had a really bad entire 24 hours one day and woke up the next morning still in a complete funk. Instead of eating my usual avocado toast for breakfast, I decided to walk the short way to Alamalibre. I ordered an acai bowl and banana bread, which the employee told me had chocolate chips in it. I sat down at the table and put my headphones in.
One of the employees, who by this point knew I was a regular, brought my meal over. She told me, “I originally told you the banana bread had chocolate chips in it but they were actually nuts so I put a few chocolate chips on top for you.” I almost started crying on the spot. It’s always the little acts of kindness that go the farthest. The woman was probably fretting that I would be mad that there weren’t actually chocolate chips when in reality it didn’t really matter to me. The fact that she took the time to drizzle chocolate chips on top just to make sure I was thoroughly taken care of was what made all the difference. It was also tremendous banana bread.
C/ Gran Vía, 7, 28013 Madrid, Spain
Honest Greens succeeded in having a complete death grip on almost every single study abroad student from the States. I’m not exactly sure why some people liked it so much, but I do know that at the end of the semester one of my roommates ordered delivery from Honest Greens every single day for a month.
I only ate a real meal at Honest Greens about three times, and every time only got the lemon chicken. Most of their meals were bowls or plates with lots of different ingredients, and I have a very strong aversion to eating food that is touching other foods.
There was a time period where I did some of my best studying early in the morning, at the Honest Greens at Gran Via, eating an acai bowl (I’m a big fan of them). I couldn’t regularly study at my apartment as there were four of us living there and only one table which sat in the middle of the shared living space. So I had to find places outside of the apartment to study.
The Honest Greens at Gran Via is exceptionally large which is not something you normally find in Europe. Cafes and restaurants generally only take up the exact amount of space they need to take up, and no more. The size and dim lights in the restaurant made it extraordinarily easy for me to buy a small bowl and proceed to sit in the corner for five hours undisturbed.
C. de Barbieri, 4, 28004 Madrid, Spain
You do not generally find real breakfast places in Madrid. La Desayuneria specialized in pancakes and even served my favorite blueberry-flavored ones. Enough said.
Brown Bear Bakery
C. del León, 10, 28014 Madrid, Spain
Sometimes I lay awake at night and wonder if someone were to ask my parents, “What was your favorite part about visiting Madrid?” they would name the Brown Bear Bakery before they named seeing me.
To be fair, it was an exceptional bakery, and for some reason, the owner really took a liking to my parents despite neither of them being able to speak the other’s language. I can’t complain though, as when I told the owner the following week my parents went back home, she gave me a free brownie.
Brown Bear Bakery was my go-to breakfast stop after waking up late on Saturday, a stop I would make before changing for the day, so it always looked like I just rolled out of bed. The bakery was right on the corner of my street, so I didn’t see a point in changing… except for the judgemental looks from the tourists on my street.
They also have a sit-down area and the most fantastic strawberry pancakes. If you’re looking for a quick grab, always the blueberry muffin.
Santagloria Coffee & Bakery
C. de San Bernardo, 58, 28015 Madrid, Spain
Not only did the restaurant have the best food, but it also was a place that let me sit in the corner and study for hours as long as it wasn’t during the rush.
I would get the chicken sandwich (and pull off the cheese) and a kale smoothie. Then, I would proceed to sit at a table in the back of the restaurant, each of which had a plug for my computer right under the seat.
Halfway through the semester, the two main workers who were always there when I came decided to put me to work. They let me sit in the restaurant for six hours at a time despite only spending $10, so I could do a bit of work for the restaurant. Despite ordering and communicating in Spanish, it’s obvious that I come from an English-speaking country. As Lennon likes to make fun of me and always reminds me of, my accent is horrible and I sound like a Southerner trying to speak Spanish. So whenever someone would enter the restaurant and not know any Spanish, the woman would yell at me to come translate. They do not allow any English in Santagloria, so make sure you know at least a bit of Spanish before entering through those glass doors.
C. de Atocha, 63, 28012 Madrid, Spain
I didn’t eat at a Levaduramadre until my last week in Madrid when Naia made me stop at one on our way home from watching the World Cup Final. They have them everywhere, so chances are if you’re in Madrid you’re less than one mile from a Levaduramadre. We stopped to get dessert before going home to study, meaning they’re always open late and still have good food even near closing.
I had the best chocolate chip cookie of my entire life. It tasted almost as if it wasn’t cooked at all, which is exactly how I like it. I ate half on the metro ride home, and the second half upon getting out of the shower despite telling myself I would save it for a study break the next day.
I may not be the best foodie on the block, but these staples in Madrid served me well.
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