Restaurante Botin (Madrid)

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El Botin Exterior

Cuchilleros, 17
28005 Madrid (Spain)

5 Second Summary:
Price Range- Appetizers €7-25, Entrees €$17-130 (at time of posting)
Ambiance- Historic, traditional
Cuisine- Castilian (heavy on meat and fish)
Hits- Roast suckling pig (the restaurant’s specialty)
Misses- Although it can’t be helped, it is a tourist spot.  Be prepared to eat with the crowds.

Should you find yourself in Spain and only on year two of your 8-year wait for reservations to Chef Ferran Adrià’s El Bulli, have no fear.   You will be able to eat in fair España.

Although very touristy, Botin off the Plaza Mayor in Madrid is the world’s oldest restaurant.  According to the Guinness Book of World Records, French chef Jean Botín and his wife opened the inn in the mid-1720s among Madrid’s urban sprawl and employed the teenaged Francisco Goya as a dishwasher in 1765.  Since then, the restaurant served as a dining room for the military during the Spanish Civil War and has withstood two world wars.  Now expanded to four floors, some of which were once quarters for the family who owned this family-run business, the restaurant is a labyrinthine maze of rooms off of rooms, low ceilings, and unexpected staircases.

While in Spain, we sought out eateries prized by locals, but how could we come to Madrid and not eat at the world’s oldest restaurant? Why pretend I’m above the average tourist… when, in fact, I am a tourist???

We started our meal with pitchers of red wine sangria and morcilla, black sausage, from Burgos.  Crisp, tart fruit and pork blood, fat, rice, onions, and salt? How could you go wrong?

My sister, Allison, enjoying sangria.

We also had to try the house specialty, roast suckling pig from Segovia.  (The other specialty is lamb.)  Truth be told, it looked like a crispy version of something I had dissected in high school biology, but all intellectualizing ended when the salt of that soft, fatty pork belly hit my taste buds.

For dessert, we had homemade flan de huevo, creme caramel, and the Tarta Botin (a creme layertorte).

This Spanish-style comfort food wasn’t the best we had in Spain.  The service, although aiming to be of the highest degree, was cool and professional.  But these things aren’t Botin’s main draw.  You eat here to say you’ve visited the world’s oldest restaurant… and now that I have that out of the way, only six more years ’til El Bulli!  🙂

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