Madrid’s Most Surprising Michelin-Starred Restaurants
Madrid’s restaurant scene must be seen to be believed. With 15,000 establishments dedicated to food and drink, the possibilities are truly endless. More astonishing than the sheer number of restaurants in Spain’s capital is their quality, with a versatile scene that is equally abundant in hole-in-the-wall tapas bars and avant-garde, sophisticated cuisine, including a wealth of Michelin-starred restaurants. Whether due to their eclectic influences, exceptional wine lists, the unconventional path taken by their chefs or the unique narrative woven through their dishes, here are some restaurants that are sure to take you on an exciting and unexpected culinary trip.
The Iberostar Las Letras Gran Vía, a 4-star hotel in the center of Madrid, was built over a hundred years ago. As you wander through this age-old building, keep an eye out for details such as its grand antique staircase and the Sevillian tiles that decorate several of its walls. Imagine the stories they could tell!
In 2013, chef Diego Guerrero stepped down from his uber-successful Club Allard to start a new project that would afford him more freedom and room for experimentation. Now with two stars under its belt, DStage does not cease to amaze. Each of its tasting menus—DTaste, which features twelve creations, DStage, with fourteen, and DEnjoy, with 17—takes patrons on a trip that begins before they are even seated, starting with an introductory bite at the bar. Once seated, relax and enjoy the numerous surprises that emerge from the open-view kitchen. Its striking industrial décor is the perfect setting for experiencing the magic of its small plates.
A’Barra serves avant-garde cuisine that displays a profound respect for tradition. Its striking circular grey marble bar is a feast for the senses: creations are prepared right before your eyes, with textures, temperatures and flavors that are sure to surprise and delight. If you prefer a more traditional experience, head to the dining room, where you can dine à la carte or try the tasting menu. Standouts include the foie gras waffle with coconut foam and the stuffed partridge with cinnamon, orange and corn. In the wintertime, ask to be seated by the fireplace for a cozy yet elegant meal.
Álbora’s strength lies, undeniably, in the quality of its ingredients, its menu punctuated by game and seasonal vegetables. Its two prix fixe menus vary seasonally, with sample dishes including anchovy eclairs, mushrooms with egg yolks and toasted bread, gammon with glazed chestnuts and artichokes in an eel broth. Hot on the dual-space trend, Álbora also offers the option of enjoying a more informal meal at its bar. During the week and for only €16 you can also try its set menu, which features hearty yet sophisticated stews and changes daily. Don’t leave without trying it’s Joselito-brand jamón serrano, considered the best in the world.
LA CANDELA RESTÓ *
La Candela is the newest addition to Madrid’s substantial roster of Michelin-starred restaurants. Visit the Royal Palace, only three-minutes away, and then walk to La Candela and prepare to dine like royalty. Be warned, however: this is “wild cuisine”, completely devoid of rules, so leave your expectations at the door. Chef Samy Alí, born in Madrid to a Sudanese father, honed his skills in restaurants in Barcelona, Sudan and Shanghai, a diverse training evident in the freedom that permeates his creations. La Candela is an experience for the tastebuds but also the eyes, with beautifully presented concoctions that at times border on the sculptural.
EL CLUB ALLARD **
Located in the modernist gem casa Gallardo, Club Allard began as a private club in 1998. For ten years it was directed by chef Diego Guerrero, who elevated the restaurant and snatched two Michelin stars. When he left, the position of chef was taken over by none other than María Marte, who learned the business in her native Dominican Republic before immigrating to Spain, where she began as a dishwasher in the kitchen she now runs to great critical acclaim: the epitome of the self-made woman. Enjoying Marte’s Caribbean-inspired haute cuisine in the beautiful 1900s dining room is an experience not soon forgotten.
The legacy of Coque spans forty years and three generations of the Sandoval family, currently run by Mario, Rafael and Diego Sandoval. Now in the city for the first time after a much-anticipated move from the town of Humanes, its new space spreads out for 3280 ft2, with a cocktail bar, a wine cellar with a capacity of three thousand bottles, a kitchen with a wood stove and of course, a dining room. The Sandoval brothers are passionate about healthy eating, research and innovation, working closely with the Spanish National Research Council to develop new culinary technology and techniques.
PUNTO MX *
Punto MX burst onto Madrid’s culinary scene in 2012 and immediately became one of the hottest restaurants in town. In 2014, it became the first Mexican restaurant in Europe to receive a Michelin star. Mexican chef Roberto Ruiz riffs on his family recipes and takes diners on a trip through the many regions of Mexico with three different tasting menus containing dishes such as grilled bone marrow with lime or pork tacos served in a blue corn tortilla. For a more laid-back experience go to the Mezcal Lab, a cozy cocktail lounge on the first floor where you can order à la carte while sampling their wide range of mezcales.
A day-trip to San Lorenzo de El Escorial—a UNESCO World Heritage Site about an hour’s drive from Madrid—is worthwhile for many reasons, not the least of which is a visit to the rustic yet modern Montia. Chef Daniel Ochoa uses mainly products from Madrid’s Guadarrama mountain range and its surrounding towns to bring local flavors to the foreground. Its prix-fixe menu comes in three different lengths and varies from week to week, always with a selection of artisanal bread and a cheese board with cheese from Madrid’s mountains. Make sure to try their drink pairings, which include craft beers and organic wine, before ending with coffee and a shot of liqueur.