The heart of Madrid's city centre district is known as 'Centro', simply meaning 'centre', and covers just over five square kilometres. The district is one of the city's most popular thoroughfares and is home to some of the capital's best eateries; ideal for re-energizing after a day of sightseeing. From tapas bars to cosy traditional restaurants, there's plenty of choice to be had in the heart of the city.
1) Sample traditional Madrid cuisine in the world's oldest restaurant
Restaurante Sobrino de Botin is officially recognised as the oldest restaurant in the world, but there's more to this 18th century eatery than a name check in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The dining area is nestled within a vaulted cellar, complete with wine racks and candle-lit tables. There may be a high novelty factor associated with a meal here, but the food on offer more than holds its own. Roasted pig or lamb form the heart of the restaurant's signature dishes, but other delicacies such as stewed partridge, veal cutlet and baby eels are equally impressive.
Located just a stone's throw south of the Plaza Mayor, Restaurante Sobrino de Botin can be busy with tourists at peak times, so make a reservation to avoid disappointment. Or, if you prefer, tag along on 'The Botin Experience' instead and receive a full guided tour of the age-old eatery which has featured in literary pieces by the likes of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
2) Casa Lucio
If you feel like adding an extra touch of glamour to your dining experience, then look no further than Casa Lucio. Not only will you enjoy one of the city's most traditional and best loved restaurants, but you may also rub shoulders with some of the country's most prominent politicians and artists. The King of Spain himself has dined here, whilst there's been no shortage of Hollywood royalty and famous musicians dropping by through the years either.
The restaurant's classic, low-key interior is happy to play second fiddle to the delightful dishes on offer. Take your pick from oysters, white beans stew or the house speciality; scrambled eggs. The rice pudding dessert is a firm favourite with patrons, whilst the wine list is everything you'd expect from an established Madrid institution.
3) Al Natural
The likes of roasted lamb and veal can be a bit heavy for some, so if you're in the mood for something light but big on flavour then check out Al Natural – one of the city's finest vegetarian restaurants. Located just a couple of minutes from the Museum of Modern Art, it makes for the perfect pit-stop before or after a museum tour.
The menu comprises a range of salads and pastas, as well as flavoursome paella dishes, pizzas and burgers – all 100 per cent vegetarian friendly, of course.
4) El Asador de Aranda
El Asador de Aranda is a much loved restaurant chain across Spain specialising in delicious dishes of roast lamb cooked in clay ovens. There are six restaurants in Madrid alone, but the establishment located just a short distance from The Radisson Blu Hotel, Madrid is often favoured due to its cosy, traditional décor.
From the outside the restaurant looks like an old house, but a warm welcome and a sumptuous meal awaits within. The rustic style fits perfectly with El Asador de Aranda's signature lamb and pork dishes, available in a variety of different styles.
5) Casa Labra
There's no shortage of tapas bars in and around Centro, but few can match Casa Labra for authenticity and taste. This traditional tapas tavern enjoys a regular stream of local customers, many of whom enjoy a few tapas dishes and a quick drink whilst standing at the bar. Expect everything from serrano ham and olives to grilled cod, meat pasties and traditional rice pudding.