Where to eat in Madrid, one of Europe’s best culinary capitals.

Like any capital city, in the past, Madrid attracted workers from all over the country, bringing with them their regional recipes and ingredients. You can try anything and everything here, from Asturian ‘fabada’ (bean stew) to superb paella from Valencia.

Madrid’s own emblematic dish however, is ‘cocido Madrileño’, an ostensibly simple dish of chick peas and meat, which nonetheless requires a lot of slow cooking. It’s the signature dish in the stylish ‘Taberna de la Bola’, (www.labola.es), near the grandiose Plaza de Oriente and the Royal Palace, so why not try it for yourself?

If you’re heading to the Spanish capital with the idea of trying a good paella, the ‘Paella Real’ (www.lapaellareal.es) near the Opera metro station will not disappoint. It offers all different varieties of this iconic Spanish dish, including the wonderful ‘arroz negro’ (black rice), rice cooked in squid’s ink.

As the recession bites and the fashion conscious watch their weight, the ever-popular tapas bars, where you supposedly eat less, are fit to burst. If you fancy a local experience, and it’s such an ingrained tradition you really mustn't miss it, join the fray and head for the Cava Baja, near the Plaza Mayor. It’s full of bars and restaurants but two of the best tapas bars are the ‘Almendro’, 13 Calle Almendro and Juanalaloca, 4 Plaza de Moros, both just off the main drag.

And with both Ryanair and Easy Jet offering cheap flights to Madrid from a number of UK airports, it makes a great destination for a gastronomic weekend break.

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