Madrid, in gastronomy as in all areas, draws the peninsula's finest chefs and raw materials to a nucleus of some four million residents and visitors.
In Madrid, you will be able to experience many different gastronomic pleasures: from typical "tapas" (snack) to the most delicious international cuisine, without forgetting the traditional "Madrilenian Stew". You will not have any problems when it comes to finding a restaurant, since there are more than 3,000 in the city, counting coffe houses, bars, taverns, etc., there are more than 15,000 establishments.
If you are not Spanish, it is important that you know our meal times, since they differ from most other countries. Breakfast is usually between 8 and 11 a.m., with typical "churros" and "porras" (dough deep-fried in batter). The "tapeo hour", or aperitif, is taken between 1 and 3 p.m. The main meal of the day is taken between 2 and 4, and dinner around 10 or 11 at night.
You need not worry if you are used to eating at other times. Madrid is a city that never sleeps, and this is reflected in the opening hours of our establishments: you can eat whatever you want whenever you like. Eating options in Madrid can be forced into four manageable categories: gourmet, popular, regional and snack.
Gourmet - The first and top category is obviously the most expensive, and - to some degree - rarefied, in the sense that tiny entrees will often be arranged on your plate in intricate patterns and colors that you may feel reluctant to disturb, as if you were consuming a work of art, which is exactly the point.
Popular - The so-called popular cuisine, the typical inns, taverns, and steak houses better characterized by rough wooden tables and tile floors than by tablecloths and Oriental carpets are - gourmet quality notwithstanding - Madrid's strength.
Large pieces of a wide variety of animals both wild and domestic, vegetables trucked in from places like Navalcarnero and San Martín de Valdeiglesias and beyond, and thick stocks and stews - cocidos and soups - accompanied by flagons or pitchers of inexpensive but adequate wines are the order of the day here. Some of these choices come close to making the leap to the gourmet category, but for now, you'll be guaranteed hearty dining, fine quality.
Regional - Despite the contemporary taboo on the use of "regional" in favor of "autonomous community", the word may still work best to describe the fare forthcoming from Spain's plurality of cultures and cuisines. Basque, Asturian, and Galician restaurants are the most popular of the peripheral offerings available in Madrid, although Andalusian, Valencian, and even Catalan cuisine are all represented.
Snack - Almost all of the establishments in the popular and regional categories double more than adequately as snack bars.
In general, the streets between Santa Ana Square and Sun Gate, especially through Alvarez Gato Street, Victoria Street and Pozo Street are filled with snack bars where a leisurely combination of tippling and "tapas" is a fine way to spend an evening.
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