One of the best things about living in Spain is undoubtedly the country’s famed Mediterranean diet, and for a number of reasons. First of all, Spaniards take eating very seriously and dedicate a great deal of time and effort to preparing and enjoying quality cooking. Also, meals in Spain are ritualistic and almost sacred, and the idea of a quick bite to eat is almost nonexistent. Furthermore, much emphasis is placed on fresh ingredients. Spain is known as the ‘huerta de Europa’, or ‘garden of Europe’, and is famed for the freshness and abundance of its produce.
Despite the grandeur of Spanish cuisine, however, as an American living in Madrid, one will certainly feel the need to have some American food on occasion. Prior to the early 1980s, it was difficult to find a good American restaurant in the capital. Nowadays though, due to globalization and Spaniards’ recent-found love of hamburger joints, you may even find that while living in Madrid you can taste the best of both worlds.
Fast Food in Madrid
When Americans visit Spain, they almost inevitably wind up eating at one or more of the American fast food restaurants that litter the center of the city. Just like in America, there is McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Subway, Starbucks and others. Although it seems a bit silly to eat a Big Mac or fried ‘chicken’ when oversees, there is a time and place for everything. If you decide to venture into one of these places, however, you will be pleasantly surprised at the cleanliness and quality of the establishments. The staff is generally clean-cut and pleasant-looking, with clean, pressed uniforms and very intelligible language. Ironically, due to the stricter food preparation laws in Spain, even fast food joints are required to uphold a standard that the American government does not demand. Service and quality come at a price, however, and you’ll most certainly notice the higher prices.
Burger Restaurants in Madrid
Fast food not your thing? We thought you might say that. If you’re looking for a good place to have a burger in Madrid, but not interested in following the ‘golden arches’, no problem. Due to the recent boom in burger joints in Madrid, there is a plethora of options to choose from:
Every American has eaten at a TGI Friday’s at least once in their lifetime. If you haven’t, there is a first time for everything! If you’re in the mood for American food, but also all that comes with it, such as air conditioning and free refills, then Friday’s is a great option. The burgers are of course the main attraction, but in Spain they also have all of the other menu items you’re used to. What’s more, there is a relatively new location right near the center, which is located on c/ Virgen de los Peligros, 1 (stay out of the one on Gran Vía if you can).
The first chain of American food restaurants in Madrid, Foster’s is a classic. With a similar menu to what you would expect from any American restaurant, you won’t be disappointed. Due to the amount of locations, there’s bound to be one close to wherever you are. They also due take out if you’d rather eat at home.
Another classic in Madrid, VIPs is a diner-style restaurant which offers not only burgers and fries, but also American breakfast items, such as pancakes and milkshakes. The service is generally good, especially when it comes to refilling your drink. Although it can be a bit pricey at times, there are always offering discounts of sorts, making it an economical option.
A newer establishment in Madrid, stepping into a Tommy Mel’s is like going back in time to a traditional 1950s diner. The tables are complete with period styling, including a jukebox, and the wait staff wears traditional uniforms which are reminiscent of the time. The food is good, but be aware that just like in a 50s diner, you have to order everything a la carteI, so make sure not to forget the fries!
Also a new arrival, SteakBurger is perhaps the best choice for a burger in the capital. The beef is top quality and comes in a variety of sizes, ranging from 250g to 500g of meat. You are also given the option as to whether or not you want cow meat or ox meat, which is a nice added bonus. Although there are no free refills, the food certainly makes up for it.
Authentic American Cooking
If a chain burger place is still too ‘plastic’ to fulfill your craving for American food, then head to Alfredo’s Barbacoa. Founded in Madrid in 1981, it is by far the most authentic American experience you can have in the capital. Now boasting several locations, it is still recommendable to make a reservation in advance, otherwise the wait can sometimes be a bit excessive. Beyond burgers, Alfredo’s serves other traditional American dishes, whether it be barbecue chicken, corn on the cob, buffalo wings, or Cajun Pudding.
No Place Like Home
Next time you’re in the mood for some American food you know where to go. Whether you’re craving processed chicken nuggets or down-home cooking, there are plenty of options to choose from. After all, there’s no place like home!