After 20 years running the famous Old Town Madrid Tapas Tour🍷 I can safely say that the biggest mistake travelers make is not knowing what MENU OF THE DAY/DAILY MENU is.
What is menu del dia? What is menu of the day?:
⋅ It is a fixed-price-lunch restaurants offer from MONDAY to FRIDAY (as long as it is not a holiday). The price ranges from 12 to 16 euros and covers: starter (primero), main (segundo), dessert (postre) or coffee, one drink (bebida) and bread (pan).
⋅ It is not translated into English. Restaurants want travelers to order á la carte, more profitable.
These are my favourite: (Warning: these places are popular, I recommend you to be at the restaurant at 1.45 pm, that is, before everybody arrives at 2 pm)
Casa Parrondo, Seriously Good
There is one in Calle de Trujillos, 9 and another across the street. The menu del dia is the same.
Casa Parrondo is run by two brothers, 300 pounds each. You just have to look at them to tell how seriously these two take food. IMO the best place in Madrid to have lunch for 12 euros. Awesome dishes are: Ensaladilla rusa, cochinillo, cordero, puerros, cabrito and many more.
Calle de la Moreria, 8
The setting of this restaurant has been used several times in Spanish movies. Atmospheric old house under a bridge and very good food into the bargain. They have a 13.5 € and a 19.5 € 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/
This restaurant is perfect if you visit the Royal Palace of Madrid since it is minutes away.
Casa Ciriaco, Grandma’s Cuisine Next to the Cathedral and for only 12 €
Calle Mayor, 84
Ciriaco has the charm of the restaurants that have not changed in decades. Right next to the cathedral it offers traditional dishes cooked with expertise. You will find the menu outside the restaurant, printed on a paper. Be there before 2 pm.
Terramundi, Delicious Suckling Pig
Calle Lope de Vega, 32
The menu of the day is 14.9€ . If you want the suckling pig (Paletilla de cochinillo) you have to pay 4 euros more and there has to be at least two of you. It comes with a cup of gravy you have to pour over the pork. The crunchy skin of the pork and the gravy are to die for.
Opera Victoria, never lets you down
Calle de los Caños del Peral, 2
It is very close to the Royal Palace. It has an outdoors area. I have been to it several times and it is always very good.
La Malontina, cozy and sophisticated
Calle Verónica, 4
A dream come true. It is in the city center but in a street off the beaten path. Cozy, small, great local atmosphere. Lovely white wine. Outstanding food. These people are so amazing that they upload their menú del día on the internet every day.
Santa Rita, Outstanding Cuisine and Barbacue!
Calle Santa Feliciana, 16
Unusually good cooking, everything is delicious. They have a charcoal (brasa) oven and there is always a roast dish in their menu del dia, look for the word “brasa”. We had the roast hake (merluza a la brasa) and we all agreed it was the best we had had in our lives. The charcoal oven gives a delicious flavor to the dish. Menu del dia price: 13.9 euros.
Vi-Cool, the Bar of Two-Michelin Star Sergi Arola
Calle de las Huertas, 12
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 €.
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 12.8 €!
Los Galayos, Classy
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 12.9 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.
Taberna Dnorte, Beautiful Upstairs
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, 11.9 €!
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 great but the location is unbeatable. Last time I visited the online menu did not coincide with the real menu.
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 since 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 cabernet into the bargain. Also very inexpensive, 9 euros.
OUT OF THE CITY
El Casino de Alcalá de Henares, good and elegant
Plaza de Cervantes, 9
Elegant restaurant with an outdoors terrace and very good dishes
Parada y Fonda, El Escorial
( 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.