If you wish to try Spanish cuisine while in Madrid, then perhaps it doesn’t get more traditional than the dishes found at Sobrino de Botín. Considered the oldest still-in-business restaurant in Spain, and one of the oldest in Europe, Botin (as it is affectionately called) is a destination you’ll want to both see and sample.
The restaurant’s roots date back to 1725, when, in the years to follow, it was simply considered a tavern, and served diners on its main floor. Its humble beginnings originate with a French cook Jean Botin, who, with his Spanish wife, began the establishment just off of the relatively newly bustling Plaza Mayor. After the couples’ passing, and with no descendants, the restaurant was taken over by their nephew, or sobrino, hence its official name today. These days, however, it is in the hands of another family—the Gonzalezes—who have managed it for three generations now.
Botin isn’t just famous for how very old it is but also for its notable history, during which it has been graced by a host of important figures, and mentioned in many pieces of both English- and Spanish-language literature. The artist Francisco de Goya worked there for a time as a dishwasher, and Ernest Hemingway—who had become friendly with the then owners (the father and grandfather of the current owners)—even mentions the restaurant in The Sun Also Rises, in which he refers to Botin’s famous suckling pig (cochinillo).
Sobrino de Botín is located just down the street from Plaza Mayor. Given its popularity, it is advised that you call in advance for reservations. Add to the unique ambiance by reserving a table in the bodega-like basement.