For a while now, I’ve been seeing posts about Madrid Food Tour on quite a lot of blogs, and all of them had pretty much nothing but good things to say about the tour (and the food). After seeing all their pictures of mouth-watering Spanish dishes, I was pretty excited to try the tour for myself.
The tour we did was the Tapas, Taverns, & History tour, which is a nighttime tour that takes you through some of the highlights of both Madrid’s food and history. Oh, and wine. There was lots of wine.
Tour guide Luke kicked off the night of wining and dining right in the heart of Madrid, and gave us a nocturnal walking tour of the city center, starting at an old royal tavern for plates of olives and Spanish ham, accompanied by vermouth and an explanation of the Spanish love for all things jamón.
We wound our way through the top sights lit up at night while listening to the history of the city. There are also smaller stops that you might otherwise pass by but are actually associated with interesting parts of Madrid’s history and culture.
Then we would stop again for tapas (and wine). Then history. Then tapas…you get the idea.
We finished the night at a sit-down tapas restaurant to share a selection of raciones that you might not have ordered otherwise, like mollejas (sweetbreads, which sound kind of gross but are actually very tender and delicious), plus a dessert of sweet muscatel wine and some very special cookies.
Along the way we indulged in some really, really tasty tapas. You get to try cold olives and classic Spanish ham, vinegary fish in olive oil, salty Asturian cheese, homemade albondigas, rich chorizo sausage…I could go on and on, because there were tons of dishes. Basically, you get a delicious and varied selection of tapas staples and traditional Spanish food, as well as a few things that I hadn’t tried before in all my time eating in Spain.
My favorite part of the tour was the fun little legends and historical facts Luke told us about. You’ll get to find out about:
- A statue of a horse that did what nobody thought was possible.
- Why some of Madrid’s statues have quite odd expressions on their faces.
- A bar where you’re banned from taking pictures (there’s a good reason for it!).
- Where the Spanish tradition of the ‘terraza’ was invented.
- Why Madrid locals like to call themselves cats.
And of course, lots, lots more about the history and the culture of Madrid.
My other favorite part of the tour was trying gambas al ajillo – garlic shrimp – at the place where the recipe was invented. They were delivered to our table sizzling hot off the grill. It was my favorite dish of the night and one of the tastiest things I’ve eaten in Spain, period.
The only downside to the tour? The price. The tours range from €65 – €95 per person for adults.
Of course, running a tour like this isn’t cheap, especially with the large amount of high-quality food and wine we got. I’m not saying it’s overpriced. It’s just that I’m not typically in a position to spend that kind of money for an activity while I’m traveling – no matter what the activity – and I want to be honest about that (as it feels unfair not to mention something that would factor into my own trip planning).
If you’re on a budget, then doing this tour might not be possible. But if money isn’t as much of an issue for your trip, then this is a really, really fun way to spend a night out and learn about Madrid’s food culture at the same time.
I honestly don’t have any negatives about the actual tour itself; I can’t think of anything I didn’t like about it. The food was fantastic, the tour guide Luke was excellent, and I found out a lot of fun tidbits about Madrid that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I went home with my stomach full to bursting of wine and tapas, and my brain full of some new secrets about Madrid (finding out about cities’ secret stories is the best!).
Plus, doing the nighttime tour meant that we got to explore the city’s incredible nighttime culture. Spanish cities stay up late, and getting to see how local people enjoy Madrid’s culinary offerings was very cool, and a bit different from your usual tour.
We visited everything from teeny tiny bars barely wider than a hallway to sit-down traditional tapas restaurants, so you really get a feel for the different styles of eating you can do in Spain. I feel like they covered all the types of places I might choose if I were going out to eat with my friends.
And that’s really what the tour felt like by the end of the night – going out to eat with your friends. Only in this case, you get to take along that one foodie friend who knows exactly where to get the tastiest tapas in Madrid.
Thank you again to Madrid Food Tour for a wonderful night out! Just to be clear, Madrid Food Tour very kindly invited me on the tour in exchange for a blog post. All opinions are completely my own, don’t worry – I really DID like it this much!