As in life, there are small, unsophisticated pleasures when it comes to food that makes us enjoy the simple things enormously. Perhaps the first dish that springs to mind is fried eggs and potatoes, or maybe a well-seasoned chopped tomato, but in Madrid, one food is king above all, the legendary calamari (squid) sandwich. Today we’re going to tour the capital in search of the best places to eat a bocadillo de calamares. Will you join us to try Madrid’s most humble sandwich in one of these 10 places?
1. Cervecería Plaza Mayor
If there’s one particular place that can be linked to the tradition of eating a calamari sandwich it has to be Madrid’s Plaza Mayor. The smell is sure to hit you once you enter the square and walk next to the arcades.
You’ll find Cervecería Plaza Mayor located in the middle of the square, making it perfect for tourists as its central location is easy to find. Considering they boast of having the freshest calamari from the Cantabrian Sea fried in olive oil, it’s not bad in terms of price and quality. You can take the opportunity to sample other typical Madrid tapas like tripe or anchovies while sitting at the beautiful terrace with exceptional views.
2. Cervecería Sol Mayor
This is a typical Spanish bar where you’ll find the true spirit of Madrid, where waiters sing out the orders and fried specialities. You can try the calamari in a sandwich or as a portion, either way, they’re delicious, and if you’ve got a good appetite you might even be tempted to repeat! Cervecería Sol Mayor is on Calle Postas, close to Plaza Mayor.
3. Los Galayos
This is undoubtedly another of the great classics in Plaza Mayor. Its distinctive sandwich in chapati bread will surely set your taste buds alight. The squid comes from Galicia and is fried in mild olive oil. You can also find gourmet sandwiches with squid rings, red onion and chive aioli, but make sure to order a nice cold beer to wash it all down. You can find Los Galayos on Calle Botoneras.
Arriba is located on Calle Goya and offers an entirely different but equally tasty option. In the “Bao Castizo de calamares“, the two Michelin star, Ramón Freixa, replaced the traditional bread of the classic calamari sandwich with bao, an Asian bread that gives the sandwich a more exotic and lighter air. In a word, delicious!
5. Casa Rúa
This has become a popular spot where you need to visit to try the typical calamari sandwich, and the price is not bad, especially if you eat at the bar. They claim that they can sell up to 3500 sandwiches in a single day and there’s sometimes a very long queue, but don’t let that put you off. You’ll find this long narrow bar on Calle Ciudad Rodrigo.
6. La Campana
La Campana has been winning hearts with its squid sandwiches for generations. This quirky bar on Calle Botoneras will surprise you with its decoration both indoors and outdoors, and also when you order a sandwich as they’re quite generous in size and reasonably priced. You can order to take away or have it in the bar, but if you choose the latter, make sure to accompany it with some of their delicious olives.
7. El Porrón Canalla
With the Porrón Canalla, you must look beyond the humble squid sandwich, which, by the way, comes with a gourmet touch as it is seasoned with lemon zest. You’ll also find many other delicious “mother’s sandwiches” made with delicious artisan bread. We recommend trying the veal and pepper sandwich or the tuna belly with red peppers. You can also get them delivered to your home or office.
8. El Brillante
Opened in 1952, El Brillante is one of the most typical bars in Madrid. It’s famous for its calamari sandwich that’s served with different bread options. You’re sure to find a tender and juicy result with a good squeeze of lemon, which the locals say gives them such a special touch. As it’s close to the city’s main train station, Atocha, it’s also a recommended stop whether you’re going to or coming back from Madrid. The only thing to keep in mind is that the price is somewhat higher than in other places.
9. Sergi Arola
On Calle Zurbano, one of Spain’s most internationally recognised chefs offers another interpretation of Madrid’s favourite sandwich. The squid sandwich here is coated with a tempura batter, seasoned with a splash of mayonnaise and lemon cream and served between two slices of crispy bread with squid ink. This is in a different league to the traditional classic calamari sandwich. Though, if you decide to try it, make sure to order it with a good vermouth at SOT, the vermouth bar on the ground floor of the restaurant.
10. Celso y Manolo
Its different character and the bohemian decor have made this restaurant one of Madrid’s favourite places for many. They’re big fans of the slow food movement and aim to recover lifelong recipes with quality ingredients. Their calamari are battered in organic flour and fried in olive oil. Experience the classic air of authentic, pure Madrid. And their sandwiches taste delici