Los Artesanos 1902: This Family-Run Café Makes Some of Madrid's Best Churros

| © Cristina Candel / Culture Trip
James Fenn

Photography Commissioner

Crunchy, golden churros are a staple throughout Spain and a beloved snack in Madrid that is usually enjoyed by being dipped into thick, hot chocolate. We sat down with Juan Gabriel, one of the brothers and fifth-generation owners of Madrid’s most historic churrería and chocolatería, Los Artesanos 1902, to learn all about Spain’s sensational snack.

How long has Los Artesanos 1902 been in your family?

We are a family business [currently being managed by] the fifth generation. Everything started in Madrid in 1902. (The family business was founded in 1902 by Don Florencio, the great-great-grandfather of Juan Gabriel, who, as well as opening a churro shop, sold his fresh churros around the streets of Madrid with a portable stove he had designed himself, which used wood and coal to heat the oil. Don Florencio passed on his expert churro-making knowledge to future generations, who have preserved the craft.)

Juan Gabriel

For those who have never heard of them, what are churros?

A churro is something that you have for breakfast, lunch or a late-night snack. We eat them [at] all hours of the day.

How do you make churros?

It starts with a secret family dough recipe, which we have passed down from father to son for the last 116 years. We use the finest quality flour from Spain mixed with water and a pinch of salt in accordance with our secret recipe. We use fresh oil every day when we shape and fry the churros. The most important part of making churros is to ensure the highest quality process and ingredients for our customers. Everything is made fresh daily, which ensures a great overall taste and experience.

Churros are most commonly served with hot chocolate. How is it made?

We use three different blends of natural cocoa from Colombia, Peru and Brazil, [which give] us the finest blend of chocolate in Spain. Everything is then made daily with fresh milk. We have seven different types of chocolate sauce, including those free of lactose and sugar, to satisfy every taste.

How did churros become so popular in Spain and Madrid?

The churro started in Madrid because of a war in the 19th century. During difficult times, food was scarce and churros were easy to make and required very few ingredients. Over time, especially in Madrid, it ended up becoming a tradition to have churros every day of the year with your coffee or chocolate. Nowadays, it is a staple in the breakfast of any Madrileño. Many different origins of the churro exist, [but] our story is specific to Madrid.

What do churros taste like?

They taste crunchy and [have] just a slight amount of salt. When [the churros are] mixed with our chocolate sauce, you have a unique flavour experience of sweet and salty.

What other foods do you serve?

We have porras (loop-shaped churros) which are the big brother of churros—less dense but still crunchy. We also have pestiños, which are fried dough [pieces] with a touch of honey and [are] very crunchy. Mari Carmen, the mother of the fifth generation, invented our signature ‘flowers’ covered in chocolate, honey and cinnamon. They are crunchy and in the shape of a flower.

Where is Los Artesanos 1902 located?

We are located in the heart of Madrid, next to the Royal Palace and the historical centre. Our closest historical building is the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales (Monastery of the Barefoot Nuns), built in 1559, which you can see from our front doorstep. [We are] quite easy to find as we are the largest chocolatería in Madrid.

Aside from visiting your restaurant, what else do you recommend when visiting Madrid?

Be sure to check out the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, walk down the Gran Vía, check out the Plaza Mayor and see a show at our famous Royal Opera House. [You can] gaze at world-famous paintings in the Prado and don’t miss visiting the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium to watch Real Madrid, which was founded the same year as our chocolatería Los Artesanos—[in] 1902.

Hector, the fifth generation of his family making churros
Juan Gabriel (left) and his brother Hector (right) are the fifth generation to run Los Artesanos since 1902
A customer enjoying a plate of churros

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