A Brief Introduction to San Gines: Madrid's Oldest Chocolatería

Lori Zaino

Madrid’s most famous chocolate shop, San Gines, serves one of the city’s most popular breakfast combinations: chocolate and churros. The building dates back to 1890, when it was originally built as a restaurant and inn, but in 1894, San Gines began serving their famous chocolate and churros.

Decorated in green panels with lots of mirrors, green chairs and old-fashioned tables, the San Gines feels authentic right off the bat.

Cristina Candel /

The churros are long sticks of dough created from water, salt and flour. Typically, dough is poured into a vat of hot oil, deep-fried and stirred with a very long stick, which helps the dough form into long spiral sticks – similar to a donut, but not round. The sticks are then cut down and a bit of sugar may be added on top. The hot chocolate is served the authentic Spanish way: thick and steaming, perfect for dipping churros into. If you’ve already tried churros, porras are a thicker, more doughy version and well worth a try. This delectable, calorie-filled treat may not seem like it would be that addictive, but it really is – once you start dipping, you may eat several churros sticks without even realizing it.

Cristina Candel /

The cafe also sells coffee, tea and various pastries if you’d like something different, but really the best thing to order is the typical chocolate and churros. The chocolate shop is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so you can get your chocolate and churros fix at any time of day or night. You’ll see plenty of tourists around 10 or 11 am, but the Spanish locals usually pop in between 4-6 am after a long night of partying. While churros may not be the ideal hangover cure, they’re worth a try!

Cristina Candel /
Cristina Candel /

Besides enjoying the cafe, you can pick up some San Gines souvenirs, like chocolate bars or mugs. In 2011, San Gines opened a branch in Tokyo, which only lasted a year before closing, unfortunately. However, in 2013 the cafe opened two locations in Bogota, Colombia, which are both doing well.

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