After you are done reading this post you will be able to have inexpensive lunches at the the best restaurants in Madrid Spain.
After 17 years running Madrid tapas tours I say that no other Spanish tradition is more wrongly ignnored than the MENU DEL DIA/MENU OF THE DAY, the key locals and a few smart tourists use to eat on a budget at the best restaurants in Madrid.
MENU DEL DIA/MENU OF THE DAY
is a fixed-price lunch restaurants offer from Monday to Friday (as long as it is not a holiday). The price ranges from 10 to 15 euros and covers: starter, main, dessert or coffee, one drink and bread.
The Menú del Día is either written on a piece of paper, you must ask the waiter for, or on a blackboard outside the restaurant. It is not translated into English (tourists are not supposed to know about it). Google Images is the best tool to decipher it. Most Menu del Dia are average but after months of research, I found 10 that are OUTSTANDING. (Warning: these places are so popular that I recommend you to be at the restaurant at 1.45 pm, that is, before everybody arrives at 2 pm):
1 La Tragantua, the best restaurant in Madrid for lunch (opens at 13.30)
Calle Verónica, 4
A dream come true. It is in the city center but in a street off the beaten path. Cozy and small, great local atmosphere. Lovely white wine. Outstanding food. I had goat cheese salad, ribs and Pionono (traditional Granada dessert), all for 14.80 € They also offer the menu del día during the weekend at 16,50€
These people are so amazing that they upload their menú del día on the internet every day.
2 Los Galayos, one of the best traditional restaurants in Madrid
Calle Botoneras, 4
Founded in 1894 and one of the best traditional restaurants in Madrid. You will see the menu del día written in a small paper outside the restaurant. You can also ask the waiter for it but they are not used to foreigners doing so, you may have to insist. I particularly like going upstairs, it is so beautiful up there (picture). Los Galayos has two terraces, one in Botoneras street and the other in Plaza Mayor. Their menu is pretty good considering it costs only 11.7 euros. If you see “cochifrito” and you like pork, order it, this food will make your day. They speak English. They don’t offer the menu del dia during Christmas. Red wine with the menu very good.
3 El Cucurucho del Mar
Calle del Postigo de San Martín, 6
Fast without rushing, professional and vibrant. All the food I had was outstanding including one starting tapas. I had gazpacho (tomato soup), beef stew and tarta de Santiago. Even though I was by myself they gave me half a bottle of very good white wine! perfect if you are on a budget 11.9 €!
4 Restaurant Cibeles
Calle Marques del Duero, 5
It is not the most beautiful restaurant in Madrid but the food was superb, I ordered gazpacho and beef stew (Rabo de Toro). Crazy inexpensive, 11 €
5 Restaurant Gabriel
Calle Conde Duque, 10
THE MENU DEL DIA IS SERVED FROM 2PM ON. Be there at 1.55pm. The menu is outside on a blackboard. I had a great pumpkin soup and barbecue beef, yes! They have a barbecue. You will know what dish is barbecue because it has the word “brasa” in it. Good red wine. Outstanding chocolate cake. The only flaw is that they are slow. Be patient.
6 Vi-Cool, the bar of two-Michelin star Sergi Arola
Calle de las Huertas, 12
This is the bar of 2-Michelin starred Sergi Arola. This is the only restaurant in the list that was somehow empty at 14.30. Their menu del día costs 13.90€ and covers 3 dishes but it doesn’t include a drink. I ordered a caña (small glass of beer) 2.90 €. This is the best food I have ever had in a menu del día. The menu has a confusing design I have to clarify.
7 Taberna Dnorte
Calle Mesonero Romanos, 8
BEAUTIFUL restaurant and bar, I love it upstairs. Very good food, I had the chickpea salad and the cachopo (beef, ham and cheese). This is real great value, 10.9 €!
8 Palacio de Bellas Artes-La Pecera
Calle Alcalá, 42
The restaurant is inside the Fine Arts Palace, needless to say how beautiful it is. It aslo has a terrace in Alcalá st. The menu del dia is 15 euros in the restaurant and 17 in the terrace. The food is not as good as Tragantua or Vi-cool but the location is unbeatable.
Calle Juanelo, 23
This is the restaurant the second chef of Juana la Loca opened a few weeks ago. Their menu del dia is the best thing you can do in Madrid with 11 euros.
10 Posada y Fonda
( Out of the city, in the village where the most important Spanish Palace is, El Escorial)
El Escorial is a village 50 miles away from Madrid and famous for its palace, the most important XVI century one in Europe. The name of the restaurant in the train station is Posada y Fonda and every time I go to El Escorial I have lunch there. The steak and the gazpacho are my favorites.
11 Cafeteria La Selva
Plaza de los Monstenses, 7
This is interesting, a decrepit bar in the city center that makes up for it by offering a very good menu del dia at only 10.5 €
12 Fiaschetteria La Saletta
This tiny bar is inside the Antón Martin market. You will not see the name anywhere but you can right away see it is the only italian bar in the market. It is run by young italian people and I found their menu del dia delicious. Very good italian carbenet into the bargain. Also very inexpensive, 9 euros.