When I travelled to Madrid recently on a girlie weekend, I'd read an article in the Telegraph just before heading there on how difficult it was to exist in the city as a vegetarian.
Travelling with committed carnivores, one who'd already said to me that when we got to Madrid, she was “all about the meat, meat, meat” and that she loved Spanish ham, I was a little concerned.
So the idea of seeking out some bone fide veggie eateries where maybe we could have one meal without me having to gnaw on bread, seemed a long-shot. I thought Madrid would be pretty damn difficult to eat in.
I was wrong.
If you know where to look, carnivores and meat-eaters alike can be happy.
Day time eating
Breakfast is easy (even at 2am!). Head straight for Chocolateria San Gines and tuck into their utterly delectable chocolate con churros. A cup of thick, hot, oozing chocolate and a stack of deep-fried churros - a type of Spanish doughnut – is yours for €3.70. And while okay, it may not be the healthiest of options (you are on holiday though!), it's certainly a filling meal.
Of course, you can buy chocolate con churros from many places in Madrid, but Chocolateria San Gines only closes for 2 hours a day (7am until 9am), so it's good for whenever you have a sudden hunger attack.
Another good breakfast or lunch option is the tasty tortilla sandwich - Spanish tortilla between crusty toasted bread - and the Faborit chain is a nice place to buy it. They sell good value, high quality food and lots of healthy choices including fruit, and hot matcha tea and vitamin juices.
There are numerous pizza take-outs dotted around Madrid too, with slices for as little as 2 Euros. I know it's the vegetarian traveller's stand-by, but I did find a couple of places that did more interesting choices such as spinach and ricotta calzone (folded pizza)
Night time eating
You can't come to Madrid without trying tapas but vegetarians are not to be able to eat in most tapas joints. Or so they think. If you find places that serve the little 'toasts' with toppings that seem popular in Madrid, there are a few veggie choices to try.
Spanish omelette, or tortilla, I've already mentioned. Patatas bravas – potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce – is ubiquitous, and obviously filling, especially if you eat it with a serving of manchego cheese, bread and salad.
More unusually, you may find dishes like nachos with guacamole or spicy sauce, which is what I found at a restaurant at the end of Cava Baja called La Potente. You'll also find a rather sinful option of baked, melted cheese with caramelised onions served here too. Oh yum.
The popular wine and tapas restaurant on Cava Baja called El Tempranillo serves an excellent selection of little tapas toasts, such as goats' cheese and roasted vegetables. And they also do plates of different cheeses with bread.
Finally, you'll be sure to find something to eat for dinner if you head to the wonderful culinary market that is Mercado de San Miguel, open until very late at the weekends.
There are a lot of fishy and meaty choices, to be sure – but there is a paella stand here that serves a vegetarian version (and how many places in Madrid can you find veggie paella?) and you'll also find things like fried potato and cheese balls.
Get stuck in.
Travel tip shared by Butterflyist