Category Archives: Madrid Food

7 Places Where I Get My Paella Fast and Cheap

I love paella! It tops my list of favorite traditional Spanish delicacies. It’s a dish fit for the gods and that I can claim to be as my ultimate comfort food. I swear I could eat this divinely palatable rice concoction all day, every day.

Paella swept me off my feet immediately after I had it as my primera cena de la tarde at Restaurante Museo de Jamon, in Puerta del Sol Madrid almost three years ago. It goes without saying that I savored my first ever paella to the fullest.

I can attribute my great fondness to the dish to the aromatic saffron, the Middle Eastern Mediterranean spice that caused the rice to turn yellow, and the rich mix of a variety of sea foods such as clams, squid, prawns among others, without which paella would not be the delicious food that it is.  It is Spain’s version of the Italian risotto, and so, so much more.

I must say, however, that the dish isn’t cheap since restaurants typically require diners to order at least two raciones, the combination of which is equivalent to one filled-up large, wide and shallow pan. A racion ranges from 15 euros to as high as 50 euros. It’s surely quite an amount, and so it is ideal that you come with a friend or two with whom you can split the bill to avoid serious dent on the pocket.

Paella Tapa, anyone?

Spain is the land of tapas, and so I was almost certain that there are also places that serve this dish on a plate. And indeed, there are restaurants that do offer them. It must be that these establishments make paella available to those who are on the go, and needed a quick fix.

So, why go for tapas?

Fast

It takes arroceria restaurants some 30 minutes to serve an order. On the other hand, you can have and relish your tapa in no time at all.

Cheap

Can you imagine dining on a 5-euro plate, and chances are, it’s a heaping one? Never mind if it’s reheated, for especially if you’re a shoestring traveler like me, paella tapas are a great option to keep your hunger satisfied and yet be able to spend within your budget.

While clearly, the paellas from the establishments in this list may not be straight fire like those from genuine paella restaurants, and connoisseurs might frown or even be appalled by the existence of a tapa version of Spain’s beloved classic dish. But in my case, but they do satisfy nonetheless. Whether it is cooked upon order or reheated, I’ll take it gladly anytime.

While there must be quite a number of restaurants and food joints around Madrid that serve these tapas, the following are my most frequented ones:

1. PAELLA Y OLE (Mercado de San Miguel, Plaza de San Miguel, cerca Plaza Mayor)

17474080_10155154154059605_1650055860_o2017_040120_0019_347Make a quick stop at Mercado San Miguel and pass by Paella y Ole, a food kiosk that boasts of the  main varieties — mixta (with rabbit and chicken) and sea foods. I always opt for the latter as it tastes great albeit the dish is a bit less in quantity and wanting of ingredients. A small plate can be had for only 4 euros

2. BAR POSTAS CERVECERIA, Calle Postas 13

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2017_052111_1258_159Bocadillo de callamares is Bar Postas’ main fare, but it also serves arroz tapas, among others. For just 4 euros, you get a plate of heaping rice delight, made more delectable by its generous sea food and vegetable bits ingredients

3. RAYPI, Mercado de Maravillas

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2017_052111_0148_075Raypi’s paella excites me to no end, extremely amused that it is served on a mini paella pan. The food bar complements it with a small plate of tapa that consists of bits of potato, chorizo, and bread. I ordered media racion, which costs me 4 euros

4. DP TAPAS, Mercado de San Ildefonso

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2017_052111_1835_809According to DP Tapas, it serves only “100 percent Spanish food;” this is surely why paella tapa is included in its menu. Most food kiosks in Mercado San Ildefonso sell tapas, and DP is one of only two that serve paella. A bit soupy and mushy for others (this is how I like mine), but a plus is that the shrimp is aplenty. An order sells for 7 euros.

5. EL SABROSO, Calle de San Joaquin 16, near Tribunal Metro

C360_2017-05-23-23-08-30-212Its logo says comida para llevar, but a few of its shops, including that in Tribunal, have tables and side bars to offer a dine-in option. I shell out 3.80 euros for an order

6 ABANDA, Plaza Mayor

2017_052100_2604_452The restaurant got its name from paella abanda,  a seafood variety that originated from Valencia. Here, the tapa is 7 euros
2017_052100_2612_047Paella negra’s rice turns black because of the ink of the squid. The waitstaff advised us to visit Abanda during lunch time, when all paellas are freshly cooked

7. CARDEÑO,Calle Alfonso Rodríguez Santamaría
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Thursday’s paella day at Cardeno, the only day of the week when the restaurant includes the dish in its menu del dia. Ingredients are various sea food, chicken and rabbit. Lunch can be as early as 1pm, when the piping hot rice dish is ready to be served. Menu del dia costs 13 euros

Craving for Tapas or Just About Any Other Food? Visit Chueca’s Mercado San Antón

imageClean. Gastronomic. Inviting. These are the adjectives that fittingly describe Mercado San Antón as a market that’s worth a visit, and many revisits after. Located in the middle of the hip and diverse neighborhood of Chueca, right in the corner of Calle Augusto Figueroa, did you know that the San Anton Market wasn’t always the roofed establishment like it is now?

Once, it resembled any other traditional Madrid market, complete with the usual wooden drawers, shelves and containers upon which various wares are put and displayed. The St. Antony’s Market in English, it’s so-called because of its proximity to a neighborhood of the same name. It has taken a modern look after undergoing a major renovation in the early 2000’s, much to the approval of Chueca locals as well as regulars coming from all over Madrid.

imageEntrance/lobby of the market along Calle Augusto Figueroa. Displayed on the wall is a directory of the tenant-establishments, indicating where they are located on the three floors

What to find in Mercado San Anton, Madrid

San Anton Market has three main floors, each with specific designations on what it serves or sells to the public.

1. First Floor: The Market

imageThe first floor is filled with stalls that sell “wet” and “dry” produce such as fish, meat, cheese, fruits, and vegetables.

imagePeas, beans, spices, and grain products

imageNicely stacked up in shelves are mangoes, persimmon, avocados, grapes, and many other fruits of bright and even hues, indicating their premium freshness and quality

imageThis floor isn’t strictly selling fresh produce, but it also has its share of food kiosks and bars

2. Second Floor: Comer y Llevar

imageFood kiosk serving all sorts of tapas with bacalao and sea foods as main ingredients. The second floor of the market has become a watering hole of sorts for tapa lovers and food connoiseurs

Spanish tapas at San AntonBelow the kiosk’s sign that says Tapa Espanola are an array of mouthwatering options. Not only does the second floor serve the popular Spanish delicacy, but other food varieties as well such as pescado (fish), hamburgers, Greek and Japanese food, postres and gelado, and vino

imageAsador de Manuela serves a variety of hamburgers

imageOccupying a part of the second floor is the Trapezio, the activity area of San Anton Market. From time to time, the exhibit and sale of novelty and eclectic items are held here. It also serves as a venue for cooking and tasting demos and shows.

3. Third Floor: El Restaurante

Much of the top floor of the building is La Cocina de San Antón, the market’s own restaurant. According to the esrablishment’s website, it assures the customers that it cooks and serves only the freshest and highest quality food ingredients, most of which come from the market’s own products. On the menu are popular, traditional Spanish cocidos, some of which are fused with the cuisine of other countries to afford customers uniquely international flavours.

Terrace at Mercado de San Anton RestaurantThe La Cocina de San Antón comes with a rooftop bar and a dining terrace, which I thought is the restaurant’s inviting feature, since Madrilenos do love to to eat el fresco, whether alone or with family and friends. Such a setting affords the diners to relish the best eats, engage in endless chats while under the blue city skies, and enjoy the fascinating views of the immediate surroundings of the barrio below

Tapas

Fancy Spanish tapas like I do? Let me tell you what I love about them. They’re bite-sized and so are easy to eat, but just a few pieces are enough to satisfy. To the shoestring traveler, they are top choice for food, being easy on the pocket.

But above all, tapas are full of taste. Bonafide lovers couldn’t be faulted for their unsatiable craving for these Spanish foods – they are just gastronomically divine. And when it comes to my first encounter of San Anton’s tapas, everything was sumptuous, to say the least. All that I ordered — the bacalao, pulpo, and cheese — they created an explosion of flavors in every bite.

Here are the tapas (and hamburguesa) I tasted at Mercado de San Anton:

imageBacalao Ajoarriero (Ajoarriero codfish), 1 euro

imageBrandada de Bacalao con cavier de lumpo (codfish brandada with lumpfish caviar), 1 euro

imagePulpo a la Gallego (Octopus Galician style), 1 euro

imageQueso de cabra con mostaza y miel y cebollas fritas (Goat cheese with mustard, honey and fried onion), 1.5 euros

imageQueso brie con frutos rojos (Brie Chees topped with red fruit jam), 1.5 euros

Hamburguesa

imageAsador La Manuela takes care of customers looking to dine on grilled food items. I decided that I must have a taste of its hamburger (selling for 6 euros, without fries). How was it? The Crema de Casar spread over the hamburger lends quite an intense taste, which only complemented the patty’s succulence and meaty flavor. Overall, it makes for a delightfully delicious meal.

Location

Mercado San Anton
Calle de Augusto Figueroa 24B Madrid 28004

Nearby Madrid attractions

Museo de Historia de Madrid, Gran Via, Plaza Callao, Plaza de Cibeles

Map

The Market’s Website: San Anton

My Top 25 List of Delightful Spanish Tapas

The word “tapa” is derived from tapar, which means “to cover”. It is said that during the early days in Andalusia, supposedly the origin of the Spanish tapa, locals covered their glasses of wine or beer with a piece of bread or slice of ham to keep away pesky flies. Hence, this delectable Spanish food served in little plates was born.

Nowadays, you see locals and tourists eat tapas anywhere, not just in Madrid, but all over the country. Whether it is simple olives, or an exquisite dish like rabo de toro, every tapa is a gastronomic delight. Now if you’re a tapa lover, the good news is that there are tons of them that you can try.

Most are eaten according to their purpose – as Spanish appetizers or starters to the main course. Also, the Spaniards love to drink their vino or tinta de verano, and often, they take this with their favorite tapa. The latter’s popularity is so immense that it brought about the proliferation of more food establishments in Madrid that serve nothing else but tapas.

Needless to say, you can never claim to have been in Spain if you didn’t taste even one of these tasty appetizers. Don’t worry, if you stay in Madrid, you won’t miss them since every café must serve these culinary delicacies.

In my case, I am proud to have created my own list of Spanish tapas that I have already tasted from all over, in various Madrid barrios like Lavapies, in nearby towns such as Toledo, and even in much farther regions like Barcelona in the north of Spain, and faraway Granada, which is down the country’s southern part.

Here is my list of favorite tapas; they not in any particular order. But I’m sure many, if not all of them, are also your favorite:

1. Lacon

Lacon is one grilled Spanish food I could eat everyday. It can be a filling snack or light lunch, eaten without bread or as a bocadillo. With powdered paprika added on top, it’s perfect with iced-cold beer or refresco.  Also, lacon is usually drenched in olive oil for added taste. Where to eat: Restaurante el Jamonal, Calle Jacometrezo, Callao
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2. Grilled Sardines

As a fish lover, I wouldn’t mind going to El Rastro just to have a taste of what I thought is the finest grilled sardines in town. Grilled perfectly and sprinkled with sea salt before serving, it’s quite a filling tapa and eaten best with a trozo of pan and chilled beer or coca cola. I recommend Bar Sarturce, Plaza Gral Vara de Rey Madrid

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3. Morcilla de Burgos

If you have an aversion to blood-based food, I suggest you have some morcilla de burgos, and perhaps this Spanish tapa might change your mind. This is a delicious sausage that dark color of which is caused by it’s main ingredient, pig’s blood. The grainy feel as you chew it must be caused by the rice ingredient, or the perhaps some bits of coagulated blood. Paprika, salt, pepper, oregano complete the ingredients. I had this at Cafeteria El Sueno de Gonzalo, Gral Moscardo 9 Madrid

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4. Aros Cebolla

I love the aros cebolla at 100 Montaditos — it’s firm, crispy, not soggy nor oily that all you want to do is pop one after another into your mouth until your plate is done. Not to worry, aros de cebolla one costs 1 euro every Wednesday and Sunday at 100 Montaditos.

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5. Jamon serrano

This Spanish ham is thinly sliced and cured, and made from the meat of a white pig. It is less expensive than the Jamon Iberico. My very first dinner in Madrid includes Jamon Serrano, at Museo del Jamon.

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6. Boquerones Fritos

This is a popular tapa that’s not just served in Madrid but anywhere else in Spain. For me, boquerones is one of the sea food dishes to die for, together with calamares and gambas. A squeeze of lemon enhances the savory flavor further. Museo del Jamon serves some of the best Boquerones.

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7. Salmorejo Cordobes

Salmorejo is a soup, or to be specific, a purée of tomato and other ingredients such as bread. And like gazpacho, salmorejo is also served cold; but instead of croutons, diced jamon is added. Originated from Cordoba, the salmorejo took off and is now found in every region of Spain. Tasted my first salmorejo at El Nuevo Templete, Ave. de Francia, Valencia.
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8. Chorizo

Chorizo tapa goes well with cerveza, which you can order at any Spanish bar or cafe. In my case, I had my first taste at Museo del Jamon branch in Paseo del Prado, near Atocha station, Since then, I prefer Museo’s thin chorizo over ones served in other bars, which are often thicker. I love to pair this tapa with a bocadillo de queso.
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9. Croquetas

Another common Spanish tapa is the croqueta. It’s known for being tasty, and for me, the best I’ve tasted is at Bar Melo’s at barrio Lavapies. Each croqueta is such a delight because of its hot, melted ham-cheese filling. When eaten together with the equally delectable zapatillas (humongous lacon sandwich), my occasional late-night trip to Melo’s means a hearty, heavy meal.
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10. Salpicon de Marisco

Salpicon is spicy and full of flavor, and eaten best with a copa, which is why it is the perfect tapa during summer. It is a fine mix of various sea foods like mussels, clams, gambas (shrimps) and fish, with veggies like bits of tomatoes and onion added. I had my first salpicon de marisco at Santiago de Compostela, O Paris.
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11. Pimiento de Padron

Your own tapa list would not be complete without a plate of deep-fried pimiento de padron At Bar Sarturce. it is grilled or fried, and sprinkled with sea salt to taste. It’s called the Russian Roulette tapa because at least one in a heap will be spicy hot.
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12. Brochetas

The name is derived from the French term brochette, which is skewer. Here in Madrid, not a few restaurantes serve skewered meat, and include it in their list of regular tapas. I ordered grilled brocheta de pollo, or skewered chicken at O Paris in Santiago de Compostela. A dish that’s full of flavor.

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13. Palomitas de Pollo

This one’s simply chicken pops, and also considered as a tapa or appetizer. Usual spices are added to the mix for a truly delicious and spicy pops like paprika, black pepper and soy sauce. Try some of these palomitas at 100 Montaditos — the dish is 1 euro a plate during Wednesday and Sunday.

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14. Gazpacho

Gazpacho is cold soup made of tomato, and so you get that tangy, sour taste, which is a delight to those who love tomato-based food. A refreshing appetizer on a hot afternoon. My gazpacho had croutons added, but other gaspacho dish have bits of veggies instead. Enjoyed this soup-tapa at Restaurante La Cava, Valencia Spain.

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15. Salchichas

Hotdogs are great fillings for sandwiches, albeit that from Spain known as salchichas are served in bars in Madrid as tapas in cocktail form. I relished my first plate at 100 Montaditos at the corner of Bravo Murillo and Plaza de Castilla on a Sunday; hence, had it for only 1 euro.
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16. Albondigas

If you want a tapa that can satisfy your hunger but won’t cause serious dent on the pocket, try Albondigas. Many Madrid restaurants and bars offer this Spanish tapa, which is simply meat balls in tomato sauce. One of the best-selling appetizers in town, it goes well with copas, although I had mine with coca cola and pan. Try some delicious albondigas at Cerveveria Don Simon, Hernani 57 Madrid.

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17. Callos

A must-include in your list of Spanish tapas to taste, I had my first Callos at Museo del Jamon. A bit on the salty side, it was nonetheless a delectable dish. The main ingredient, the callos meat or tripe, must have been boiled for hours as it was so tender. Every piece just melted in my mouth. A must-have tapa!

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18. Oreja a la plancha

I had this rich-tasting dish along Bravo Murillo. I swear the pig’s ear was so tender, and I love that it was served with a generous spicy sauce on top. Serious advice for those who want to taste as many Spanish tapas as possible — include this on your list. Enjoy some orejas at Casa Aurelio, along Bravo Murillo in Tetuan.

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19. Chistorra

I had this tapas on my first night in Madrid, at . and that was 2 years ago. Chistorra is such a divine treat, whether eaten on its own with beer or with bread. It is similar to chorizo, although it is smaller and fattier. The chistorra at Museo del Jamon deserves to be on your top 5 list of Madrid tapas.

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20. Alitas

Alitas is fried chicken wings, and is one of my usual orders at 100 Montaditos. While most tapas at Montaditos are priced at 1 euro during Wednesday and Sunday, alitas cost 2 euros. Still, it is affordable, and great to chomp on with cold beer.

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21. Tortilla de Patata

Spanish omelette is a simple dish with eggs and potatoes as its main ingredients. While many tortillas are a bit dry and firm from too much potato, the one served at a cafe near home at Capitan Haya is creamy, which for me is just perfect.

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22. Gambas Pritas

Another rich and flavorful tapas served at Bar Sarturce. Gambas are fried, with skin (shell), and served with a liberal sprinkling of sea salt. I enjoy having this with pan, consuming everything, meat, shell, and all.

gambas fritas

23. Rabo de Toro

A traditional Spanish tapa — I would order this Oxtail stew dish if served in the menu. Rabo de toro is from Andalucia, in Cordoba, and the tail ingredient is either from a bull or ox. Of course, it’s now available in many restaurants and bars all over the country. Had my first rabo de toro at Barcelona.

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24. Torreznos Fritos

One of the typical tapas, and popularly requested as tapa in Museo del Jamon, Torreznos is pork cut in small cubes and fried to perfection, which means crispy on the outside and tender and moist on the inside. I would just love to have some Mang Tomas (a Filipino sweet-sour-spicy liver sauce for roasted pig) on this.

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25. Gambas al Ajillo

My salmorejo at El Nuevo Templete came with Gambas al Ajillo, and together with a trozo of pan, I finished everything off with a large glass of ice-cold cola, more than enough to cool myself down during my hot afternoon visit of Valencia. The gambas dish is oily but not too much, and has a strong garlicky flavor that made me love it all the more. Overall, a tasty Valencian tapa.
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Bocadillo de Calamares: That Spanish Sandwich Goodness I Had Come to Love

Squid is an essential ingredient of that tasty rice-seafood-chicken dish beloved in Spain known as paella. There’s no perfect paella without calamari. It’s the same case as concocting this dish without saffron – don’t ever be caught doing that in Spain or risk the scorn of true-blooded paella lovers. That’s how important squid is to paella. But, are you aware of another popular Spanish dish that uses calamari? It’s that sandwich drenched in gustatory divineness – bocadillo de calamares.
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My delicious plate of bocadillo de calamares (also called bocata de calamares) costs 2.50 euro at Museo del Jamon Restaurante, located at Calle de San Jeronimo, Puerta del Sol

Jamon owns the title of Spain’s premier food – there’s no doubt about that. But, being a big sea food lover, I’m glad that the spotlight’s also on this squid sandwich fare. In fact, calamares is among the top choices as far as bocatas are concerned.  At first, I thought it’s an odd combination, calamari and bread. But after the first bite, I fell for it instantly. Since then, my palate has been pestering me in a regular fashion, making me crave incessantly for this wonderful deliciousness of a sandwich to which I have no choice but to satisfy – to my own utter delight.
imageBocadillo de Calamares is traditionally paired with a copa of chilled local beer (Mahou), but I’ve grown used to eating it with cold cola, which for me is the perfect wash-down beverage. Here, we dined at Cerveceria Plaza Mayor Bar, where a meal of bocata de calamares and cola is worth 5 euro. We paid an extra 10 for dining on its terrace.

Fried to perfection

The squid is dipped in batter and deep-fried just right to ensure that the meat isn’t tough or rubbery. Bocadillo restaurants in Madrid always cook their squid to perfection, and rightly so, unless they want their diners to endure prolonged mastication for naught (and lose valued patronage as a result). In the end, it is a simple bread-and-fried-calamares affair; but no doubt everyone will agree it to be exquisite gastronomically.

Overflowing goodness

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My fill for the day from La Ideal bar, located at Calle Botoneras. It serves some of the tastiest squid bocatas around, giving “next-door neighbor” La Campana good competition. The restaurant seems serious about its quick-service mission; always got my takeaways in a jiffy the few times I was there – whether there were huge crowds or not.

I veer away from those fancy restaurantes that offer hours-long dining consisting of multi-course meals (well, you have no choice really but to shun them if you lack the necessary ‘efectivo’), and rather eat bocadillo de calamares at my favourite sandwich bar. But what I really love about these establishments is that despite wanting on frills and refinement, they compensate with a generous amount of calamares. Yes, this is true every time. I like how my favorite bars like La Campana and Cerveceria Plaza Mayor fill my baguette plenty with these squid rings like there’s no tomorrow.

imageBocadillos at Plaza Mayor are usually overstuffed  with calamares to the point that pieces spill onto the plastic bag (which is totally fine with me since I’d have more to munch on). Prices range from 2.50 to 3.50. The popular La Campana Bar also found at Calle de Botonelas sells them for 2.70 euro each.

It’s common for calamares restaurants in Madrid to serve it baguette-and-squid plain – and nothing else on. This way, customers can appreciate fully the taste of the squid meat. Hence, don’t go looking for condiments spread over the squid rings – like mayonesa, aioli, lemon, or the other usual. Still, they are available upon request; restaurants readily accede knowing that some customers would want tweaks on their sandwich’s taste once in a while. But for me, the bare calamares-bocata combination always works just fine – it’s more than enough to satisfy my hunger.
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You might think that a sandwich as delicious as this might be complicated to prepare. On the contrary, it’s never rocket science. Once, I’ve seen a sandwich guy fry the squid rings, stuff them onto the baguette, wrap it, and hand it to the customer faster than you can say Jack Robinson.

Suffice it to say that even if bocadillo de jamon is hands down the one sandwich to beat here in Spain, calamares holds its own, and is an equally favorite option of many. It’s a must-eat bocadillo, one that shouldn’t be missed by any first-timer in Madrid. In my case, if I were to choose between jamon and calamares, I’ll go for the latter any time of the day.