One of my favorite things to do in Madrid is eating out! I am always on the lookout for good restraunts that serve authentic Spanish food as well as vegetarian options although typical Spanish meals do contain meat. Before the study abroad program, I was skeptical about the food options for vegetarians and was worried it may be difficult to get around, however that is not the case. Madrid being the capital city of Spain, attracts a lot of tourists, making it’s food options friendly to everyone’s taste palate. Although, when I had travelled to smaller cities in Spain like Segovia and Marbella, most restraunts had little to no options for vegetarians. That is why, before visiting a new city, I now look online for restaurants in that city, that have a generous vegetarian menu. I have listed a few of my favorites that I have tried so far during my time in Madrid.
My first meal in Madrid was Tortilla de Patatas, which is a Spanish Potato Omlette. It is made of eggs, potato and cheese and usually served with red sauce. Every Spanish household has a different way of cooking it by varying proportions of either the egg or cheese. I have been trying out different places to find the best version of Tortilla de Patatas. So far, I liked La Carmela, which is in Calle de la Victoria, Sol.
Empanadas are another one of my favorites. They are a great snack and usually 2-3 euros. It is very easy to find vegan or vegetarian options in any empanada store. Initially, I thought emapnadas were only a savory snack, however I tried sweet (nutella and banana) emapanadas for the first time and they were great!
A famous Spanish dish that is known and savored worldwide, Paella, is also one of my favorite dishes I have tried in Spain. Mostly every Paella restaurant offers a vegetarian Paella option which I have heard is equally as good as the seafood Paella. My professor for Spanish Culture class had told me that the Paella in Madrid is usually a tourist trap, and that Paella is the best in Valencia, since that is where it originated. So, I had to try Paella in Valencia and it was amazing!
And of course, you have to try tapas in Spain. Tapas are savory sautéed vegetables and meat typically served as appetizers. My personal favorites are Patatas Bravas and sautéed mushrooms. my go to Tapas bars are Casa Toni and Taberna San Lucar.
Churros with hot chocolate is another one of Spain’s favorite deserts. I come accross so many churros spots in every street, however, the one place that stands out in Madrid is Chocolateria San Gines. Prior to moving to Madrid, I heard this was a must try place for Churros and I definitely see why! There was a very long queue for this place but it was worth the wait.
One of my favorite places in Madrid is Mercado San Miguel. This food market has all sorts of food options from various cuisines and will always have several options for all diet restrictions, and is reasonably priced. There are many more food markets like Anton Martin Market and Yatai market that have many ethic food options too.
Apart from Spanish food, I have also been able to find several other vegetarian options from different cuisines – Peruvian, Italian, Indian and Middle Eastern. I had tried authentic pizza Napoletana from Trattoria Popolaire and it was one of the best I have had!
Being in Europe, I am definitely taking advantage of cafes to get some fresh croissants and fresh bread in the morning! Madrid has some great cafes with a variety of croissants, pastries, palmier etc. On the weekends, I love to go to a Pasteleria called Panem (or bakery) near my apartment as soon as it opens to get warm croissants and I usually find a park to sit at and enjoy them!
Overall, I would say it is very easy to be vegetarian in Madrid because of the variety of options. Although I have not been able to try authentic Spanish meat based dishes such as Jamon (cured ham), or Bocadillos de Calamares, I have been able to introduce myself to most of their cuisine.