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A Slice of the Basque Country in Madrid Restaurants



Though politics sometimes puts Madrid and the Basque Country at odds, food is another matter entirely. Basque cuisine is appreciated in the Spanish capital, where there are many great restaurants in which to enjoy it.

Basque food is known for its use of seafood from the Cantabrian Sea, like cod, hake and baby cuttlefish, as well as more inland ingredients such as hams, sausages and vegetables like asparagus and peppers. Most Basque restaurants in Madrid serve the well-known Basque specialty cod with pil-pil sauce, so be sure to look for it.

Basque cuisine is also particularly famous for its tapas, referred to as pintxos. As pintxos in the Basque Country are often served in tavern-like tapas bars, a number of Basque restaurants in Madrid incorporate the Basque tavern theme and are quite enjoyable to visit with friends. Dantxari is one such traditional-leaning restaurant. For a complete, more modern Basque tapas experience, however, check out the creative scene at Txirimiri or even the Basque inspired masquepintxos.

If you want to put on your good shoes, though, you can enjoy relaxed, upscale Basque dining at Taberna Gaztelupe and Taberna del Alabardero. Or for something a tad trendier, Arce is also a good choice.


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José Luis


This restaurant features a casual dining experience that is conducive to conversation and long meals. The tapas and pinchos are the main draw, and diners have the option of just picking out the tapas they want in a buffet style fashion. Don't forget to get a slice of tortilla or perhaps a San Jacobo. You can just pick out the tapas, order a drink, relax at the bar while you enjoy the meal and conversation, and then tell the cashier what you had on the way out. In fact, Jose Luis has been a favorite for generations of Madrid's Salamanca residents.

Recommended for Basque because: Known for its tapas, Jose Luis is a long-time favorite among locals.

Local Expert tip: Try the tortilla.

Read more about José Luis →




Founded in 1963, this is traditional food Basque at its best. Great cream of crab soup, grilled shrimp and brill in a green sauce are just a few of the specialties Alkalde has been serving for decades. Diners can choose to sit and snack at the bar, eat in one of the two small dining rooms or enjoy Madrid's weather while sitting in the outside dining area. However, the downstairs resembles an old tavern with exposed beams and brick with hams hanging from the rafters. If you can, try to make reservations; however, you can do that online. The closest Metro stop is Retiro.

Recommended for Basque because: Alkalde has been serving Basque food in Madrid for a long time and will continue to do so.

Local Expert tip: Don't skip dessert.

Read more about Alkalde →




Modern interpretations of Basque country food are what Arce does best. Some of the freshest ingredients around are used to enhance each dish's natural flavors. Vegetarians should opt to eat elsewhere, but meat eaters will delight in the range of meat and fish. There is also a first rate wine list to complement your selections of game and fish specialties. If you're looking for something special though, try the tasting menu. You'll find that the decor at Arce is attractive and comfortable, modern but not too trendy. However, making advance reservations is recommended. The closest Metro to Arce is the Chueca station.

Recommended for Basque because: This comfortable Basque restaurant serves up great food in the Chueca neighborhood.

Local Expert tip: Opt for the tasting menu.

Read more about Arce →


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Pintxos are small snacks speared with a toothpick on a piece of bread. Good ones usually require attendance at a noisy eatery with overbright lights, screwed up napkins on the floor and a four-deep scrum at the bar. Although this has its charms, the minimalist décor and warm, comfortable atmosphere of Depintoxs is a more stylish way to enjoy the classic Basque delicacies. Try the tiny chunks of fillet steak with onion confit, smoked cod with garlic oil, ham croquettes or guacamole with wasabi. Savor breakfast on the sunny terrace or a sit-down meal of seasonal market cooking. METRO: Colombia

Recommended for Basque because: We like the combination of casual, comfortable but with a hint of upscale.

Local Expert tip: There's more than one location.

Read more about masquepintxos →


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Chamberi

This simple but inviting tavern and restaurant is very popular for a gathering of friends. Dantxari serves up simple Basque cooking such as grilled meats, simple and flavorful stews, as well as the house specialty of cod seasoned with garlic and parsley. They have a wider variety of Basque specialties than most restaurants. Upstairs and downstairs dining are available, although I find the the old clocks in the Relojes dining room are particularly interesting to look at. Go early if possible, for Dantxari is always crowded. Otherwise, reservations are recommended. The closest Metro station is Ventura Rodr�guez and parking at Plaza de los Cubos.

Read more about Dantxari →




Al Paseo features classic Basque and Spanish cuisine from all over the Peninsula, including roasted delicacies. The ambiance at Al Paseo is bright, cozy and upscale, though in an easygoing way. In warm weather the terrace is a good choice, although the tables can be a bit close together. The menu changes seasonally but often includes Basque favorites like angulas (little saltwater eels) in garlic and chili, and Spanish tortillas prepared in the Basque tradition. Their wine list is extensive. Located in Madrid's financial district, the closest Metro stop to Al Paseo is Santiago Bernabeu, although valet parking is also available.

Recommended for Basque because: Al Paseo is a good spot to eat Basque when you're in northern Madrid.

Local Expert tip: Popular with businesspeople.

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El Pimiento Verde (a name which means "The Green Pepper" in Spanish) is a favorite in the Arguelles neighborhood. Located a stone's throw from busy Princesa street, the restaurant-tavern serves up quality Basque-inspired cuisine like cod, lamb and mushrooms washed down with red and white Spanish wines. However, El Pimiento Verde is particularly well known for its artichokes. The décor is a twist on the classic Basque tavern with barrels as decoration and wood tables set amidst bright green accented walls, no doubt in homage to the vegetable lending its name to the restaurant as well as their expertise with artichokes. Metro: Arguelles.

Recommended for Basque because: El Pimiento Verde is both fun and classic with consistently good Basque and Spanish food.

Local Expert tip: Don't leave without trying the artichokes.

Read more about El Pimiento Verde →




Located next to the Royal Palace and owned by an ex-priest, the Taberna del Alabardero is known for its tasty food and fresh ingredients. Diners can choose to eat at the bar or in the cheery dining room. The décor is classic and very charming. There is also a five-course chef's gourmet menu that is very affordable. You will probably notice that the restaurant is proud of its past patrons: a long list of politicians, writers and bull fighters. Reservations are required at Taberna del Alabardero. The closest Metro station is Ópera, although an after meal stroll through the Plaza de Oriente is a must.

Recommended for Basque because: Taberna del Alabardero is an eminently charming Spanish dining experience. The Basque-style cod is particularly worthy.

Local Expert tip: If you can, order one of the special menus.

Read more about Taberna del Alabardero →


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Chamberi


Whether or not you've heard of creative Basque cuisine before, Txirimiri is where you can take it for a test drive in the Spanish capital. The combination restaurant-tavern-bar prepares gourmet, Basque style tapas and pintxos like codfish tempura, grilled foie gras with fig jam, and ham and truffle croquettes as well as more substantial dishes like pork sirloin with caramelized potatoes and wild mushrooms. The modern d�cor at Txirimiri is a mix of both Madrid and Basque sensibilities. The closest Metro station is Iglesia; however, in addition to this location in the Chamberi neighborhood, Txirimiri has three other restaurants in Madrid.

Recommended for Basque because: Txirimiri is a fantastic place to get Basque tapas outside the Basque Country.

Local Expert tip: You can make reservations online.

Read more about Txirimiri →




Taberna Gaztelupe brings traditional, upscale Basque dining to the Spanish capital. Here you'll find classics of northern Spanish cuisine such as cod, hake, squid and artichokes as well as some more local meat dishes like Madrid-style tripe. For the most part, the food at Taberna Gaztelupe is artfully presented. The list of Spanish wines is extensive, but there is a sommelier on hand if you need some orienting. Their dessert menu is also more extensive than most restaurants. The décor offers an elegant take on the old Basque tavern: the dark wood contrasting with the white walls and a selection of paintings and lamps.

Recommended for Basque because: Dining at Taberna Gaztelupe is a full experience in Basque cuisine.

Local Expert tip: Don't skip dessert.

Read more about Taberna Gaztelupe →


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Meet Sarah Rogers

Born and raised in northern California, Sarah grew up to become an expat, traveler and wordsmith. She spent seven years in Madrid, Spain and now calls Buenos Aires, Argentina home. She has had...  More About Sarah

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