Spontaneous city breaks are becoming somewhat of a regular occurrence for me, finding any excuse to jet off to sunnier climates and escapethe British weather. However, on this occasion, my boyfriend’s birthday really was the perfect excuse to get away for a few days. Although not the most popular destination for a city break compared to the likes of Paris, Rome or Amsterdam, Madrid was somewhere that both me and Josh had never visited but had heard nothing but good reviews. So, we booked our flights and off we went!
Day 1: Typically, thanks to the delight that is the English weather, our holiday didn’t get off to the best of starts.Our 7.30am flight was cancelled due to a dumping of snow the night before, so we hopped on the next available flight in the afternoon. After a two-hour flight,we arrived in sunny, albeit bitterly cold, Madrid.
After a quick power-nap when we arrived at the hotel, it was time for dinner. I had booked my carnivore of a boyfriend’s birthday dinner in advance at La Cabana Argentina, an Argentinian restaurant that claimed to do the best steak in Madrid; how could I say no to that? We arrived to the smell of grilling steak wafting out of the door and I immediately knew that we’d come to the right place. As soon as we sat down, one word sprung to mind – fancy. You know it’s posh when there’s more than one knife and fork and multiple wine glasses on the table. I decided to go for the sirloin steak and Josh went for the ribeye, both cooked medium-rare, with a side of sautéed vegetables and baked potatoes. The steak was cooked to absolute perfection and cut like butter. We both agreed that it was up there with one of the best steaks we’ve ever eaten. To top off the night, we were given a free shot of limoncello which certainly kept us warm for our walk back to the hotel.
Day 2: Our first morning in Madrid started off with our favourite meal of the day – breakfast. I suggested a nearby café which was only a 10-minute walk from our hotel, pretending that I hadn’t already looked at the menu multiple times and browsed their Instagram account for some breakfast inspiration. Federal Café, an Australian inspired café situated in the backstreets of Madrid, was the perfect spot for our first morning. When we arrived, we were met by people queueing out of the door (it looked like I wasn’t the only one who had been stalking their Instagram account). As Josh let out that ‘I’m hungry, can we go somewhere else?’ sigh, I insisted that we waited. Let me tell you, that 20-minute wait was worth it. My breakfast of scrambled eggs on sourdough toast with a side of spinach, halloumi and chorizo was divine. Topped off with a glass of fresh Spanish orange juice; it’s safe to say I was in my element.
For dinner, we decided to give Josh his first taste of paella. After scouring google reviews for the best paella in Madrid, Rosi La Loca came out on top. Yet another restaurant with people queuing outside, (I know how to pick them, don’t I?) Rosi La Loca offered a quintessentially Spanish seafood and chicken paella. However, picky old me,asked “Can we get the seafood and chicken paella without the seafood...?” to which the waiter smiled and accepted. Lucky for me, they must be used to getting a lot of picky tourists. Half an hour later, a huge paella dish arrived with the aromas of saffron, thyme and fresh lemon filling the air. The rice was cooked to perfection and the chicken was falling off of the bone. It was deliciously fresh and gave us an authentic taste of Spanish paella.
To end the evening, we took a wander to Chocolateria San Gines, Madrid’s most famous chocolate shop which has been serving their famous churros and chocolate sauce since 1894. The chocolate shop is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so you can get your chocolate and churros fix at any time of day or night. We went at around 11pm and it was absolutely heaving with both locals and tourists. After getting a taste of the sweet stuff, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. The churros were light and perfectly crisp and the chocolate sauce was rich and creamy. Put them both together and it really was a match made in Spanish heaven.
Day 3: Sunday morning consisted of another trip to Federal Café, once again met by people queuing out of the door. Although, this time, we knew why and happily waited. Though I was very temptedto go for the same breakfast as before, I decided to opt for something different. A croissant with serrano ham, emmental cheese and fresh basil, topped off with a fried egg (because let’s be real, everything is better withan egg on top). Josh went for poached eggs on sourdough toast with a side of feta, asparagus and chorizo which looked equally as amazing. We also had a side of delightfully fluffy pancakes with caramelised banana and praline thrown infor good measure.
For our last dinner in Madrid, in true British style, we went to an Italian restaurant. Oven Mozzerella Bar answered all of our pizza and pasta prayers. I went for the tagliatelle bologna – a rich Bolognese sauce infused with red wine and garnished with fresh rosemary. One word – dreamy. How do the Spanish manage to make something so simple so delicious? Josh went for the BBQ pizza – a thin base with chicken, red onion and coriander with lashings of BBQ sauce. He wolfed it down so I can only assume that it was as equally as delectable as mine.
Before we knew it, our 3 days had come to an end and it was time to go home and return to the reality of British winter. If you’re looking for a city full of culture and authentic Spanish food, Madrid is well worth adding to your bucket list.