The best way to explore a new country is through a guide. Having a local show you around is a completely different experience than seeing it by yourself. I wish that I had a guide for every new place I visited but now I know, I can just book a food tour! Devour Food Tour in Madrid was the highest rated tour group in Spain so my group and I decided to give it a try. Let me say, this experience was worth every penny. If you're planning on visiting, I highly recommend this tour group. Here's a look into our afternoon exploring the city.
We met our tour guide at 10 am sharp at Plaza Mayor. After introductions, we immediately started the tour with breakfast: pastries and chocolate. One of the reasons we chose the Devour Food Tour was because they take you to establishments that have been open for more than 100 years. Sure you can visit these places on your own but why bother with the long wait when you can have reservations with a group?
Madrid gives a special golden plaque to eateries that have been open for more than 100 years. Our first stop, El Riojano, is a popular bakery that offers traditional baked goods. One look into their pastry case and I wanted to try everthing.
We started with a simple cookie with hot chocolate similar to the one served with churros. Our guide mentioned that all of the businesses we will visit that day, including the bakery, are ones that she visits on a regular basis. As I looked around, I saw families and only locals sitting around enjoying their cakes. I could already tell this was going to be a good day.
Next on the list was a jamon tasting. Now, this I was truly excited about. Mercado Jamon Iberico had different levels of jamon including the best of the best, iberico jamon. We were able to taste three different types of jamon with a glass of wine and was even able to try their olive oil. What's great about Devour Food Tour is that the guide gives you the background behind the dishes and the establishment. I now am a knowledge expert about jamon (maybe).
We moved on to the third stop, El Anciano Rey. It's funny, I passed this restaurant at least twice while walking around Madrid and never even noticed it. That's the thing about Madrid. There are so many shops and restaurants that you may have just missed an amazing one. Another reason why a guide is so great.
El Anciano Rey is popular for two things, vermouth and bull's tail. Unlike other places that make bulls tails as a stew, this restaurant encases the meat in puff pastry and serves it with au jus on the side. It was mouthwatering delicious as was the sherry.
We quickly moved on to the fourth stop (out of 7) to La Bola Taberna. La Bola has also been open for more than 100 years and gets extremely busy. Their signature dish is a chickpea-based stew called cocido madrileno. They cook large batches of this stew on a daily basis, serving it first with noodles then with all the meat and fillings. A comforting dish in winter.
Amazingly, all of these restaurants are within walking distance to one another. It just goes to show you how much Madrid has to offer!
The fifth stop was at La Botijeria. I tried Spanish tortilla for the first time the previous night and thought it was quite delicious. I was wrong. La Botijeria's Spanish tortilla was on another level. According to our guide, if a restaurant can make a Spanish tortilla correctly, they can make almost anything else.
Stop #6 was at possibly one of the most popular restaurants in Madrid, La Campana. Before arriving in Madrid, I have seen at least 3 different videos showcasing this eatery. Simply put, it's fried calamari in sandwich bread. No condiments, no toppings. I was a little perplexed as to the craze behind this sandwich. When we arrived, there was a crowd of people outside waiting in line and another crowd gobbling up their sandwich. The verdict? It's good but perhaps not my cup of tea. To be honest, I rather just the calamari by itself.
No food tour would be complete without dessert. We end our Devour food tour at Turrones Vicens. This store sells almost every type of turron you can imagine.
What is turron? Turron is a nougat made from honey, sugar, and egg whites. We were able to try different types of turrons and I loved every single one. You can see why the store is full of customers; their turron is so addicting! Needless to say, I bought several bars for myself.
That concludes our 4-hour Devour food tour in Madrid. Overall, the experience was so much better than I had expected. We were able to learn about Madrid and some of it's most popular restaurants as well as historic landmarks. In fact, we loved the tour so much we booked another one for Seville! Thank you Devour Food Tour!
*I was not paid for this post. These opinions are my own and I stand by them!
Next up: 4 day Seville itinerary