Sobrino de Botin, Cuchilleros 17 Str, 28005 Madrid
Open daily 1-4pm 8pm-midnight
About Sobrino de Botin
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Sobrino de Botin is the oldest restaurant in the world. It was founded in 1725 and still retains its original 18th century firewood oven. Traditional dishes such as roast suckling pig and roast Castilian style lamb are two of the most recommended dishes to order.
When the Botins passed away, their nephew inherited the restaurant. Sobrino de Botin literally translates to nephew of Botin. Its’ current owners kept the name when they later took over.
Ernest Hemingway and others…
Writers such as Ernest Hemingway and Graham Greene dined here. It appears that Hemingway visited on a number of occasions and was friends with the father and grandfather of the current owners. His book ‘Death in the Afternoon’, published in 1932 quotes
““…I would prefer to dine on suckling pig at Botín than sit and think about the accidents which my friends could suffer.”
Hemingway’s first novel, The Sun Also Rises, published in 1926 quotes…
““We lunched upstairs at Botin’s. It is one of the best restaurants in the world…”
The restaurant is located approximately 5 minutes walk from La Latina, Opera or Sol Metro stations. I walked from La Latina but lost my bearings so using my best Spanish, I asked a lady in a shop for directions. She understood what I meant even though I told her it was the oldest travel in the world, rather than the oldest restaurant! She whisked me through a maze of backstreets and escorted me to my destination! Crowds of tourists stood outside with their tour guides explaining about its history.
Reservations are recommended to avoid disappointment. It is a very busy restaurant and visiting on a Tuesday didn’t seem to make it any less busy. I booked a few weeks in advance and the only evening slot they could offer me was 11:15pm. I therefore chose to eat at lunchtime instead.
As the restaurant opened, I was led down a narrow, winding staircase to my table for one in the old wine cellars with exposed brickwork. I could feel the air becoming cooler as I descended the stesp. The seating area was furnished with ornate, dark wooden benches with red padded seats and soft lighting from small lamps. It felt rather cave-like! It was a fascinating place to look around and wasn’t like anywhere I had ever dined before. There were no distractions… no music, no wifi just soaking up the ambience, the traditional surroundings, anticipating the great food to come ….
Complementary crusty bread was served at the table…
Prices range from Euros 11.15-24.85 and included…
- Roast red peppers with codfish
- Cured ham (Iberian)
I chose cheese to start, Manchego, a delicious, rich, Spanish cheese with an intense flavour. They kindly offered me a half portion as I was dining alone. There was still rather a lot!
Roasted & Grilled
Prices range from Euros 18.25-26.90
- Stewed partridge
- Grilled fillet mignon with potatoes
I chose one of the speciality dishes – roast suckling pig…
Firstly, I am not a massive meat eater and I would never go out to dinner and order pork. However, I felt as it was highly recommended, I should try it. It had an incredible flavour, succulent, tender and I now understand why so many people rave about pork crackling, it was delicious!
Prices range from Euros 20.70-105.25
- Baby eels
- Fried or baked Cantabrian hake
- Baby squids in their own ink with rice
Desserts are all priced a little over Euros 6 and included …
- Tarta Botin
- Catalan creme brulee
- Rice pudding
Waiters spoke excellent English and they were patient while I ordered my food slowly in Spanish. Service was outstanding with complementary bread being served promptly and drink orders taken swiftly. They were attentive throughout the meal, checking everything was OK and if there was anything else I wanted to order.
Would I Return?
I would definitely return to this restaurant for the following reasons..
- Locals as well as tourists
- Outstanding service
- Exquisite food with large portion sizes
- Traditional Spanish dishes
- Felt comfortable dining alone
Small tours of the restaurant can be pre-booked together with a dining experience via Sobrino de Botin’s website. These are currently priced at Euros 75 per person and give you the opportunity to learn about its history, as well eating some superb dishes.
Suggested Further Reading:
Norwegian Air – flight review from London Gatwick to Madrid
Solo Travel Destinations – other countries I recommend for solo travel