For those who don't yet know - and there may be some - Madrid is one fantastic, gastronomic experience. Putting aside the Italian, Mexican, Chinese and Thai restaurants that most major cities have, Madrid offers some of the very best "Spanish" restaurants that you will find in Spain.
The costas of Spain may well be renowned for frozen, packaged and processed food but in Madrid some of the only places that dish this sort of food up are the
foreign, American burger and fast food joints. Interestingly, one of Spain's top chefs, Ferrán Adriá, opened a new fast food concept called "Fast Good" just over 2 years ago - the idea being to offer fresh, quality, fast food.
I don't have much experience of other capital cities but I do know that Madrid offers a very broad selection of regional food from around the country: from Basque and Galician to Valencian, Andalucian and Madrileño.
Here are some starting points for those who want to sample 'local' cuisine.
EsMadrid offers its guide to Madrileñan cooking, though admittedly it is all in Spanish. Here you can find some of the Madrid region's favourite dishes: Cocido Madrileño (stew), Callos a la Madrileña (sort of tripe with beans), Sopa de Ajo (garlic soup), Tortilla de Patata (no need to translate), Bacalao a la Madrileña (Salted Cod in a sauce) and Potaje de Garbanzos (chick pea stew). The guide even includes recipes and points you in the direction of some typical Madrileñan bars/restaurants, like Malacatín, La Bola, La Posada de la Villa, Don Cocido, Casa Carola and L a Taberna de Daniela.
This site also has some good suggestions about 'asadores' (grill houses) where you can eat the culinary delights of the Basque-Navarre and Castilian regions. Some of suggestions are plain mouth-watering: suckling pig, bream, Basque Hake, sardines and cod, with many of the suggested restaurants frequented by film, sporting and political celebrities.
NOTE: Some of EsMadrid's pages don't work too well in Firefox (like the one above) and you will have to use Internet Explorer to view them!!!
Spain.info is the Spanish Tourist Board website, and a very good one it is, too. The site offers its guide to both food products and dishes from the Madrid region, including:
and some popular dishes from the region:
It also has some suggestion, taken from the Campsa Guide of places where you can eat.
By the way if you'd like to try out some of the recipes of Spain's most famous 'TV' chef, Karlos Arguiñano, I would suggest you visit his website: La cocina de Karlos Arguiñano, where you will find at least a few hundred Spanish recipes - be aware it is all in Spanish!
Try not to eat or drink in any of the international chains: Mc Donald's, Starbucks, Burger King, Pizza Hut, etc. The food will be much better and at least you will be immersing yourself in the local culture and food.
Fast Good a new fast food concept opens in Madrid