24 Hours in Madrid - Calamari Sandwich, Churros, StreetXO

The next leg of my trip is to Spain! I flew into Madrid via the new Cathay Pacific route where I had 24 hours before taking the train up to San Sebastian to begin my gastronomic eating trip. It was my first time in Madrid so I spent the day exploring the city and trying the various foods it has to offer so read on below to see what I ended up trying in this vibrant city!

Hanso Cafe

We landed in Madrid early in the morning so we wanted some coffee to refuel our energy for the day. J always love to check for quality coffee shops whenever we visit a new city and Hanso Cafe is one of the top cafes in Madrid that serves third wave coffee. The owners are Korean and besides the usual coffee offering, they also serve matcha latte. The coffee was pretty good albeit a bit too sour for my taste and they also have nice pastries to go along with it!

Calle del Pez, 20, 28004 Madrid, Spain

Free Walking Tour with SANDEMANs

Whenever I visit a new city, I always love to do a walking tour and one of the most popular company is SANDEMANs which offers free walking tours in many cities throughout Europe. The tour guides are usually very enthusiastic about what they do and the tours are entertaining with a lot of background stories about the city. Obviously they don't really work for free and rely on tips at the end of the tour so you can tip them as much as you want depending on how much you enjoyed the tour. The walking tour lasts for 2.5-3 hours and you can expect to visit a lot of famous landmarks like the Royal Palace, Mercado de San Miguel and the world's oldest restaurant while regaling in stories on the origins of tapas and the Spanish Inquisition.


Bar La Campana 

After our walking tour, we were famished so we headed back to Plaza Mayor to try one of Madrid's most famous food - Bocadillo de Calamares (calamari sandwich)! La Campana and La Ideal are two of the most popular places to try this creation and they happened to be located right next to each other. Since the restaurants were really full, we just grabbed the sandwiches to go and enjoyed them on the streets. Aside from the calamari which tasted really fresh, we also tried the one with bacon which was very flavorful as well.

Calle Botoneras 6, 28012 Madrid, Spain

Chocolatería San Gines

Churros is one of my favorite snacks to eat in Spain so I went to check out Chocolateria San Gines which is an iconic cafe that's been serving churros since 1894! We managed to get some seats on the outside of the cafe and got an order of chocolate con churros to try. To be honest, I've had better churros in Barcelona but the hot chocolate dip was quite nice and not too sweet. 

Pasadizo San Ginés, 5, 28013 Madrid, Spain


Initially I wanted to book DiverXO for dinner which is the only 3 Michelin star restaurant in Madrid but since it was fully booked, I decided to try Chef Dabiz Munoz's more casual restaurant - StreetXO. StreetXO doesn't take any reservations and apparently has a long queue everyday so one way around it is to go for drinks on its terrace before the dinner service starts at 8:30pm and you will be guaranteed a seat.

The cocktails were very creative here and my refreshing "Chocolate Blanco Basileno" with yuzu and mango chutney (12€) arrived in a plastic bag while I also saw others drinking out of a fish bowl sized cocktail glass!

When the restaurant opened for dinner, we were asked if we wanted to stay on the terrace or sit at the counter and we opted for the latter. Most of the seats in the kitchen were at the counter which surrounded the open kitchen where we got to watch the chefs prepare the dishes. With the music thumping, the energy was high and the vibe was quirky - check out the chef's uniform which is a straitjacket!

The cuisine served here is Asian fusion and while the dishes were very creative, some of the flavors just didn't really work for me. In hindsight, it probably wasn't a good idea to try Asian fusion in Madrid but I can see why it's so popular with the locals because the food is really exciting and different.

I loved the artsy presentation of Pekingnese Dumpling (12.5€) with crunchy pig's ear and strawberry hoisin sauce which arrived on a piece of paper. The chef used the sauce as paint and splattered it all around the trio of dumplings. While I liked the strawberry hoisin sauce, I thought that the dumplings could have been more crispy while the fillings needed more flavors.

The Korean Lasagna (15€) with old Galician beef, wontons, shiitake mushrooms, spicy marinated tomatoes, goat milk and cardomom bechamel was the one that baffled me. It was certainly very bold to combine goat milk and cardomom (two very strong flavored ingredients) but I just didn't like the flavors here and I'm not sure what the vision for this dish is as I couldn't find any Korean elements to it. 

The Peruvian "Saltado" (16€) with Iberian prey grilled at robata and mojito dressing with yellow "Aji" cream was probably the most successful of the 3 dishes that we tried as the flavors were nicely balanced and had a hint of Southeast Asian spices to it. 

Calle Serrano, 52 | Corte Ingles de Serrano, 28001 Madrid, Spain

That's it for Madrid for now - stay tuned for my other eating adventures in Spain in my upcoming posts!

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