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Spaniards have a lively and individual food culture — producing the likes of José Andrés and Ferran Adrià — and Madrid sits at the center of much of it. Here are the five best food experiences in Madrid:
1. Wine. Oenophiles have more than a little to celebrate in Madrid; here you’ll find bottles from Rioja and Ribera del Duero, and cava from Catalonia, just to name a few Spanish standouts. Almost every bar or restaurant in the city stocks a few great bottles, and in many spots, even the house wine will surprise you. On a hot day, few drinks are as refreshing as a tinto de verano, red wine mixed with gaseosa (a low-sugar lemonade), or a classic sangria.
2. Jamón. Spanish for “ham,” jamón comes classified by breed of pig, what it’s fed and how it’s cured. Jamón Serrano is the more common type, a dry-cured meat similar to prosciutto, though cured longer. Then there’s jamón Iberico — made from a specific breed that’s fed only acorns. The smooth texture and rich flavor burst in ways you didn’t know ham could. Pop into a Museo del Jamón to marvel at the whole pig legs adorning the walls, even if you nosh elsewhere.
3. Tapas Tour. No need for gastronomic monogamy in Madrid — in the evening, stopping at multiple taverns, bars and restaurants is the way to go. Many locales have their specialties, such as patatas bravas or tortilla española (a sort of potato soufflé, not a Mexican tortilla), and you’ll receive a plate of food when you order a round of drinks. And the less touristy the spot, the better off you’re likely to be. Check out Cava Baja for a whole strip of bars.
4. Botín. The world’s oldest restaurant, open for nearly 300 years, serves a variety of traditional dishes. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend the cochinillo, a roasted suckling pig that’s so tender it’s sliced with a plate rather than a knife, and angulas, baby eels, which can easily cost 500 euros per pound.
5. Chocolate con churros. Nothing helps take the edge off a long night at the clubs quite like chocolate con churros, fried strips of dough similar to a doughnut, but aerodynamic enough to be dipped into your cup of chocolate. And this isn’t any old hot chocolate — if you’re in the right place, such as San Ginés, you can leave a spoon on top of the chocolate, and it won’t even break the thick liquid’s surface.