I love Madrid and I think the reason I love it so much is that it’s just Un-Spanish. That particularly applies to the food. There’s so much variety of food in this city so eating out is never boring. That been said, there are certain places I frequent more than others. Usually because they’re yummy, but also because they are super cheap! Here are my favourite budget restaurants, all different cuisines, so there’s something for everyone.
The Meal: thiebou (€7)
Senegalese food is not something I’d tried before moving to Madrid, but damn. Baobab is in Lavapies, right by Plaza Nelson Mandela, and you’ve probably noticed it if you’ve walked that way through the barrio. It doesn’t look much from the outside, but isn’t that how you find hidden gems? This place is particularly great in warmer weather, ’cause their outside terrace has such a great vibe. Service is fast, although do expect them to tell you that you can’t have whatever you try to order on your first attempt. It’s pretty hit and miss in that retrospect. But if you can, get the thiebou, an amazing rice dish with either fish, chicken, or vegetables. The portions are huge, I’m not sure I can even get halfway through the plate. If you’re looking for good food, and lots of it, with a chilled out vibe, then Baobab is for you. Just be sure to get there early, as otherwise you’ll be waiting in line a long time to get a table. Yeah, it’s that good.
The Place: Shapla (Calle de Lavapies 40)
The Meal: menú del dia vegetariana (€8)
Possibly my most visited restaurant in Madrid and for good reason. As both a vegetarian and a Brit, I love Indian food. And Shapla is my favourite place for it in Madrid so far. Their menú del dia is a steal (you can pay €9.50 for the meat version, but let’s be real, vegetarian is the way to go for Indian food), and once again, I can never finish the damn thing. For €8 you get a starter, main, side, dessert, and drink. My usual combination is onion bhaji, chana masala with pilau rice, and mango lassi. Also vino blanco, something they’re very liberal with. This is another place where eating on the terrace is the best way to do things, as something is always going down on Calle Lavapies. Admittedly this backfired once when some sort of drumming and dancing thing was happening, but one bad experience out of 500 doesn’t sway me. Shapla forever.
The Meal: menú vegetariana (€7.90)
If Senegalese and Indian aren’t for you, definitely head to El Azul. There’s also no terrace here, so I was going all out with this one. El Azul is just a cute little cafe nestled in the labyrinth of Barrio las Letras and I love it. Not only do they have a great selection of vegetarian food, but they have hummus! Do you know how hard it is to find hummus in Madrid? I had almost given up. I love coming to this place for coffee, tea, or cake, but if I’m going all out I’ll get the menú de dia. I’m a fan of the hummus and pita bread, and either the veggie burger or the vegan sandwich. At this point I usually want to burst, so I’ll switch the dessert for coffee. It’s often pretty busy in here, but if you can grab a seat, take it. Cafe culture lives on.
My vegetarian tendencies make eating out in Madrid a little difficult, so I’d like to think I have a slightly more unique take on dining here. Maybe I’ll keep adding these little tidbits of my food tastes to the blog. I’m currently on a mission to eat all of Madrid’s veggie burgers, so maybe blogging it will make me feel less guilty. Let me know if you’ve tried any of these or have any other budget eats for me to try