Tasting Tapas: The 5 Best Food Tours In Madrid To Enjoy

best food tours in Madrid
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This guide to the best food tours in Madrid is all about tasting your way through the Spanish capital. In a flurry of chili-topped tapas and patatas bravas, it works its way through a handful of top-rated tours and tour options that we think should satisfy even the most discerning of foodies out there.

It’s got a good mix of medium-sized and small-group tours that are all about homing in on the finest tapas places in the beating heart of the capital, along with a few locations where we think you can string together a pretty fantastic food tour all on your own.

We’d say you should book these as early as possible if you plan on traveling in the summer. Remember that these are up there with the best food tours in Madrid, which means they are often the first culinary packages to sell out when the tourist rush approaches in June, July, and August.

Devour Madrid Food Tours

Tapas in Madrid
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Devour Madrid Food Tours have established themselves as one of the leading providers of culinary experiences in the Spanish capital. That means they 100% deserve a spot on this list of the best food tours in Madrid, if only for the wide array of options that they bring to the table (no pun intended!).

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Mhmm…these guys don’t just field one standard foodie trip. They’ve got a whole tapas menu’s worth of them. You can pick a jaunt through the local markets to go shopping for the regional delicacies (ah Manchego cheese, you beauty you!). You can go for the classic tasting tour that whisks you through some of the city’s finest tapas joints. There are even packages that involve sessions of Spanish flamenco with food on the side.

The option with all the bells and whistles is the appropriately named Ultimate Spanish Cuisine Tour of Madrid. Ready for it? Involving 15 tasting plates across six individual establishments, it’s arguably the most definitive adventure through the city’s kitchens that you can get. You can even super-charge the experience by opting for the full drinks upgrade, which douses on sparkling cava and potent Spanish vermouth to boot.

Some of the highlights with tours run by Devour Madrid include a trip to the world’s oldest restaurant (the Casa Botín, which has been going since 1725 according to the Guinness Book of Records) and a walkthrough of the most central neighborhood in the city, right where the locals themselves dine out.

Madrid Tapas Night Walking Tour

Bar in Madrid at night
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Part local culture tour, part food tour, this walking route through the Centro part of the big city is a taste of how a real Madrileno lives their lives come the evening. You’ll get to feel the buzz and hubbub of the town center as the light fades as you hit the streets and sample cerveceria and tapas eateries that spill onto the sidewalks and hide down the alleyways.

Groups are always kept small on this one, so you can rest assured that you’ll get that personal treatment. In fact, one of the top highlights with the Madrid Tapas Night Walking Tour is that it’s intimate from the get-go, offering plenty of chances to meet and mingle with likeminded foodies in perhaps the best setting of all: The happening hub of downtown Madrid itself!

Each group is assigned an expert foodie guide. Things start in one of the city’s most famous tapas places, where you get to sample three tasting plates and a single drink of wine, beer, or a cocktail. From there, you head off to case out three more establishments, getting tips on the most quintessential Madrid staples there are and how they are supposed to be eaten.

Because there’s booze involved, the minimum age here is 17 years. This tour has a different starting and ending point, since it carves a route through the midriff of the city. You’ll begin near the Opera metro station and finish near the statue of Neptune on bustling Plaza Canovas del Castillo.

The 10 Tastings of Madrid With Locals: Private Food Tour

A tapas menu
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Calling the most dedicated foodies out there: The 10 Tastings of Madrid With Locals is one of the rare fully private options on the table. That’s right, you’ll get the guides and the menus all to yourself here. There’s no one else to distract your tour leader with questions you don’t want answered; no other travelers who you’re going to have to share those patatas bravas and honeyed Manchego slices with. Sounds good, eh?

The tour makes its home in the stylish and happening Chueca area. It’s actually one of the tapas hubs of the whole world, let alone just Spain, so you’re in the right territory. On top of that, you get to visit the local Mercado San Antón, which spreads over three levels to give one of the most comprehensive food shopping experiences in the whole city.

Guests who opt for this experience will get to sample up to 10 individual dishes. What we like is that they aren’t exclusively Madrileno in origin, but rather showcase the culinary prowess of the whole country. So, get ready for zingy ardoria soups made with Andalusian tomatoes and olive oil from the Sierra Nevada. Prep for deep-fried croquettes and deep-pan Spanish tortilla omelets. You get the idea.

In all, the tour lasts roughly three hours from start to finish. As with all With Local experiences, it’s run by a real Madrid native, which means you’ll often leave with some in-the-know secret tips and insights into the city.

Mercado San Miguel

Tapas plates in a Madrid market
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The Mercado San Miguel is the place to go if you’re looking to do a self-guided food tour in Madrid. It’s a homage to the local cooking in building form. Rising right in the heart of its namesake Plaza de San Miguel just a couple of streets over from the Plaza Mayor in the very middle of the city, it sprawls across a whole block with its endless array of sellers and stalls and kitchens.

There’s plenty of culinary heritage at the site. Originally opened in 1916, the structure was one of the very first in the city to use cast-iron architecture and quickly became one of the town’s go-to grocery bazaars. It was renovated in the early noughties and reopened as a gourmet food hall in 2007. It currently hosts nearly 30 individual establishments, all with the overarching aim to showcase the crème-de-la-crème of Madrileno tapas.

Yep, all you have to do it stroll in and you’ll be surrounded by all sorts of tempting eats. Some are on the more upscale side, like the offering from three-Michelin-starred Joan Roca, who offers artisan ice cream sundaes from his quirky stall Rocambolesc. Others are more hearty and down to earth, like the stacked burgers and meat cuts that are sizzled up at Prrimital.

You won’t be short on drinking choices, either. There’s a cocktail stand that specializes in that most-European of refreshers, the Spritz. There are wine bodegas with exquisite Rioja and southern Spanish labels aplenty. You’ve even got champagne bars that can rustle up the compulsory plate of oysters and lemon to boot.

Mercado Ildefonso

Madrid market
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The Mercado Ildefonso is up there with the best food tours in Madrid for those who want to go it alone. Yep, if you don’t think you need a culinary guide at hand to help you make the most of all the tapas and tipples, then this famous dining mecca could be the one for you.

It’s a touch more earthy and accessible than its haute compadre the Mercado San Miguel, something that’s reflected instantly in the looks and the vibe – no cast-iron balustrades here, just boho-looking timber tables and the surrounding buzz of the LGBTQ+ district of Chueca.

Once inside, the temptations will come thick and fast. In one corner, bakers cook up Parisian macaroons and buttery Spanish pastries for those breakfast treats. In another, maestro baristas broil coffees and pour the most mind-boggling latte art you’ve ever seen. You also get bespoke burger joints, Southeast Asian street kitchens, charcuterie menus – you name it!

The whole area is centered on a couple of bars that front covered terraces. They become the focus when the daytime turns into the evening. That’s also when the resident Justica crowds of students begin to show up. Frothy beers, Paulaner wheat beers, mojito cocktails, Spritz mixers, and a whole load more starts to be poured. Get ready at that point because your food tour is about to turn into a drinking bout. This is Madrid, remember?

The best food tours in Madrid – our conclusion

The best food tours in Madrid inevitably showcase the age-old cooking traditions of central Spain and tapas. But they also do a whole load more than that. These experiences can be about getting a feel for the lively, vibrant character of Madrid the city and the people who live there.

They will take you on whistlestop visits to ancient restaurants that are more than 300 years old, to bars where only the natives know what to order, and to markets that positively ooze cooking heritage (and even Michelin stars!).

It’s always a good idea to book yourself onto one of the packages listed above as early as possible. The best food tours in Madrid are in high demand and will fill up fast, especially the ones that focus on small group sizes, but also due to the summer rush – oodles more people come to Madrid on the hunt for tasty Spanish grub between May and August!

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Joe has been a freelance travel writer for over nine years. His writing and roaming have taken him from the colonial towns of Mexico to the chowks of Mumbai to the Southern Alps of New Zealand. When he's not putting together the next epic blog on the best Greek islands or ski fields in France, you can usually find him surfing or hiking – his two top hobbies.