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 the only Tapas Tour in Madrid specialized in Spanish wine I say that no other Spanish tradition is more wrongly ignored 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 15 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):
Terramundi, delicious suckling pig
Calle Lope de Vega, 32
The menu of the day is only 11,5 euros. If you want the suckling pig (cochinillo) you have to pay a supplement of 2 euros, do it without a doubt.
You can see all the dishes of the menu of the day by visiting the restaurant’s website and clicking on Menu.
Rayuela, romantic and great food
Calle de la Moreria, 8
The setting of this restaurant has been used several times in Spanish movies. Located in the most off the beaten path part of the city center. Atmospheric old house, very good food. They have a 11.9 € and a 17.9 € menu. They share the same first courses (primer plato) but the difference comes with the second ones (segundo plato). They change the menu every week, you can check it at: https://www.facebook.com/TabernaRayuela/
Los Galayos, classy and professional
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 dish will make your day. They speak English. They don’t offer the menu del dia during Christmas.
La Tragantua, very good food, local atmosphere and cozy (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 15.50 €. These people are so amazing that they upload their menú del día on the internet every day.
Taberna Dnorte, right in the city center and beautiful
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 €!
El Cucurucho del Mar, generous
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! and all for only 11.9 €!
Restaurant Gabriel, outstanding food, a bit slow.
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.
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, take into account that they offer three dishes insead of two.
Palacio de Bellas Artes-awesome street terrace
Calle Alcalá, 42
The restaurant is inside the Fine Arts Palace, needless to say how beautiful it is. It also 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.
El Huerto de Lucas, outstanding organic food
Calle San Lucas, 13
Right in the center of the Chueca neighborhood. It is a restaurant and a organic food market at the same time. It is in a courtyard and there is natural light, very pretty. The menu is a little bit pricey, 14.5 euros but you have to consider that all the food is organic and very good by the way.
Restaurant Cibeles, little atmosphere great food
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 €
Cafeteria La Selva, an adventure
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 €
Fiaschetteria La Saletta, great Italian food
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.
El Zagal, great food and local atmosphere
Calle Trujillos, 7
I have only been once. Great atmosphere and service. The Cocido, a traditional Madrid chickpea stew, was very good. I also noticed that the Codillo (pork knuckle) looked great. Only 12 euros.
Posada y Fonda, Escorial Palace
( 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.