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Restaurants in Madrid

We've reviewed Madrid's best places for eating and drinking and included bars, cafés, cervecerías (beer halls), marisquerías (seafood bars) and restaurantes . They have been divided simply between " tapas bars " and " restaurants ", depending on whether they concentrate more on bar food or sit-down meals. Sometimes this division is arbitrary, as many places have a bar area, where you can get tapas, together with a more formal comedor (canteen) or restaurant out the back or upstairs. At almost any of our recommendations you could happily eat your fill - money permitting - though at bars madrileños usually eat just a tapa or share a ración of the house speciality, then move on to repeat the procedure down the road.

As a rough guide, you'll be able to get a three-course meal with drinks in Madrid for:

Inexpensive Under ?12 a head
Moderate ?12-24 a head
Expensive ?24 and upwards
But bear in mind that the lunchtime menú del día often allows you to eat for much less than the price category might lead you to expect; check the listings for details. Most - but by no means all - of the restaurants listed as "moderate" or "expensive" will accept credit/charge cards ( tarjetas ). If in doubt, phone ahead to check.

Madrid's restaurants and bars offer every regional style of Spanish cooking : Castilian for roasts ( horno de asar is a wood-burning oven) and stews (such as the meat and chickpea cocido ), gallego for seafood, andaluz for fried fish, Levantine (Valencia/Alicante) for paella and other rice ( arroz )-based dishes, Asturian for winter stews like fabada and Basque for the ultimate gastronomy (and correspondingly high prices).

Over the last few years, dozens of foreign cuisines have appeared. There are some good Peruvian, Argentinian, Middle Eastern and Italian places and a scattering of enjoyable Indonesian and Japanese restaurants. With a few honourable exceptions, though, Indian and Chinese restaurants are fairly dire, as too, alas, are most of the Mexican and Brazilian ones. There has also been an unfortunate rise of franchised restaurant chains and coffee bars.

Madrid can be an intimidating city for veggies, given the mass of ham, fish and seafood on display in bar and restaurant windows and on counters. However, you can order vegetables separately at just about any restaurant in the city - Argentine steakhouses, perhaps, excepted - and there is good pizza and pasta to be had at a number of Italian places. You can even find the odd vegetarian paella.

More crucially, the capital now has half a dozen decent and inexpensive vegetarian restaurants , scattered about the centre. These include:
Al Natural , c/Zorilla 11 tel 913 694 709; Métro: Banco de España. Veggie and non-veggie food, including a very good mushroom and spinach pie. Excellent wines and a good-value menú del día at ?7.50. Closed Sun night. Inexpensive to moderate.
Artemisa , c/Ventura de la Vega 4 tel 914 295 092; Métro: Sevilla; c/Tres Cruces 4 tel 915 218 721; Métro: Gran Vía. A popular place (you may have to wait for a table), best for its veggie pizzas and an imaginative range of salads. No smoking - even more of a novelty than veggie food in Madrid. Closed Sun night. Moderate.
Elqui , c/Buenavista 18 tel 914 680 462; Métro: Lavapíes/Antón Martín. Excellent vegetarian venue in the heart of Lavapíes. Light and very tasty main courses, imaginative soups and some great fruit-based drinks. There's a self-service lunch-time menú for ?6.60. No smoking. Open Tues-Fri for lunch and Fri and Sat evenings.
El Estragón , Plaza de La Paja 10 tel 913 658 982; Métro: La Latina. Good vegetarian tapas, leek pie and chocolate cake. Economical menú del día at ?7.20 (dinner menú is over double the price) and a fine setting on the edge of this ancient plaza. Inexpensive to moderate.
La Granja , c/San Andrés 11 tel 915 328 793; Métro: Bilbao/Tribunal. Good-value set menu that changes every day, offering a choice of soup, salad, a main dish of vegetables, rice and fruits topped with sauce, dessert and drinks. Open Mon-Wed 1.30-4.30pm & 9pm-midnight, Thurs-Sun 1.30-4.30pm. Inexpensive.
Vegetariano , c/Marqués de Santa Ana 34 tel 915 320 927; Métro: Tribunal. Excellent salads and Mediterranean vegetables. No smoking. Closed Sun night & Mon. Inexpensive.

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