So let’s cruise back to February 3rd, 2018 when I moved from the US with a big suitcase and no plan. Like I officially moved (don’t have plans to go back) but I’m still traveling the world. I landed in Madrid because I have many friends there and I scored a really cheap flight (but do not fly TAP Portugal because they charge $90 for a checked bag!!). In 2015 I spent 2 days in Madrid, but it wasn’t enough time to experience the city. This time I stayed for 10 days and soaked it up.
Madrid totally won me over. It might be somewhere I would consider living more long-term. There are vegan options galore, cozy coffeeshops with plant milk, a wonderful mix of people, and plenty of things to do. It doesn’t have the serious tourist vibe that Barcelona has and felt way more safe. And the weather is normally great but I did arrive in a snowstorm that was decades in the making.
Here are just a few things you should know about Madrid along with some of the food I ate. Granted, the food isn’t mind-blowing but you will not be without choices! Unfortunately, I was working night and day on a new course so I didn’t get to explore much or do my usual walking tour. I definitely want to spend more time there!
Madrid is clean except one thing
I was surprised at how clean the city was seeing as it’s a large metropolitan city. I didn’t see much trash on the ground, the subways were clean enough, but one thing was really disturbing. People don’t pick up after their dogs! There was shit all over the ground, and you have to walk looking down so you don’t step in it.
Public transportation is awesome
The subway system is amazing, fast, and affordable. You can buy a card and 10 trips in zone A for 12.20€. There’s a great bus system but I never took it. Taxis aren’t cheap, but are totally safe and the cars are nice and clean. Some taxi drivers know a little English. Unless you are taking a ton of luggage just take the subway.
Everything is closed 3-7pm (mostly)
Don’t try to go to any offices or go to dinner between 3/4 and 7/8pm or you’ll be very frustrated. I kind of knew about siesta but Google Maps doesn’t always have the hours correct so I was led on. Or a place will be open but only with a limited menu or drinks only. I left the house kind of late to go to Vega at 4:30pm; they stopped selling the menu del dia at 4. Wha wha wha. Thankfully I found one vegetarian place open about a 10 minutes walk away. But literally everything else in a half-mile radius was closed. So plan accordingly and adjust to the Spanish way of life: eating meals later than usual and taking a siesta mid-afternoon.
So much vegan food your head might explode
Barcelona is now known as the place in Spain for vegan food but Madrid is right there with ’em. You will have no problems eating at a number of places. I even saw random places with a vegan option clearly marked on the menu! Granted, the food might not be what you are used to; it’s often simple with little seasoning or spices. So you might not be blown away with every meal, but you will not starve.
One of my favorite meals was the weekend brunch at La Colectiva Café. Probably because I got together with three other amazing women and the meal had so many courses. I love courses. You get tea or coffee, orange juice, a granola yogurt parfait and then the main was a lovely tofu scramble with toast and kimchi. This was one of my most expensive meals at 15€ ($21 USD). I went back here many times to work on my computer because they have a large basement for that and great matcha lattes.
Another meal I really enjoyed was the menu del dia at Bunny’s Deli. It started with a pea soup and I went for the veggie curry picture above for my main meal and finished it off with an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. This meal was also a bit pricy at 15€ ($21 USD) but I understand that making this high of quality of food is going to cost more. The flavors here were more like what I’m used to back home, which I didn’t find at many places in Madrid. I had some very odd dining experiences like at Yerbabuena where I didn’t really understand what I was ordering. And at Sanissimo where the food was just strange.
As usual in Spain, the best time to eat at is during lunchtime for the menu del dia. You get the most food for the best price so definitely explore those options (usually between 12 and 3/4pm) across town.
I couldn’t resist getting donuts at Delish. They had so many delicious flavors it was hard to just choose one! I went with one cream filled and the orange; both were really nice but I haven’t had a donut yet across the world that matches the deliciousness of Wheatsville’s Red Rabbit donuts in Austin.
A must while you are in town is the menu del dia at Vega. This place is always packed but they have shared tables for single people so you may be eating across from a total stranger who you can strike up a conversation with. The food is really good and wholesome and pretty affordable. I had a pretty good pizza at Pizzi Dixie (some of the best vegan cheese!), but they make you cut your own pizza which I found hilarious.
There were just too many places to try in my short ten days there. So I will definitely be back for more vegan food touring!
People are nice but in their own world
It was a regular occurrence to have people bumping into me in shops, restaurants, on the street, and people can get really loud in public with no care for the people around them. That was kind of annoying but you get used to it. People are generally nice and helpful when you need something.
Marid is very diverse and safe
One thing I love about big cities is the diversity. You can be in a shop or walking down the street and you’ll hear a number of languages being spoken. And yes, many people speak English but it’s always nice to learn a few phrases in Spanish just in case! It also felt really safe. When I was in Barcelona I felt like it was so touristy that pickpockets and creepy people were always around. Madrid doesn’t have that vibe at all.
Have you been to Madrid? What did you think about it? What was your favorite vegan meal? Share with me in the comments!