Madrid is home to some of the oldest bakeries in Spain, as well as a host of new and exciting modern pastry shops. We take a look at some of the very best.
Bakery, Patisserie, Tea Room, Pastries, $$$
Walking into El Riojano is like stepping into an Aladdin’s cave of treats, its walls are lined with cabinets holding tempting sweets, biscuits and cakes. The bakery was founded in 1855 by Dámaso de la Maza, the personal patissier to Queen of Spain. Head to El Riojano’s hidden tea room (at the back of the store) for breakfast or a coffee and cake stop, or choose your baked goods to take away in the shop at the front. Specialities include Roscón de Reyes, or Kings’ Cake, a round cake typically eaten in Spain on the Epiphany.
Right on the central Puerta del Sol is La Mallorquina, one of Madrid’s most famous – and busiest – bakeries, founded in 1894. There is a café upstairs and a stand-up counter downstairs where you can have a quick pastry and cafe con leche, but do as most locals do and brave the crush at the two counters selling pastries to take away. La Mallorquina is famous for its napolitanas, pastries filled with either chocolate or a custard cream (€1.30 each), but also sells beautiful cakes, either whole or by the slice, as well as biscuits, sweets and chocolates. Ask for your order ‘para llevar’ (to take away) and it will be wrapped in La Mallorquina’s signature bright pink paper and tied with a string.
Just behind the Puerta del Sol is Madrid’s oldest pastry shop – Antigua Pastelería del Pozo. Its bakers continue to make pastries with the same methods used when the shop opened in 1830. Not much else has changed in the bakery, which has retained its old wooden counters and vintage till and scales – it feels like you’re stepping back a few centuries when you walk through the door. As well as its sweet pastries, it is famous for its empanadas, puff pastry filled with savoury ingredients like tuna and chicken.
Founded in 1855 by Luis Mira, Casa Mira specialises in turrón, a Spanish nougat popular at Christmas. One day Luis Mira decided to leave his home town of Jijona for Madrid with only a couple of donkeys and cart full of his homemade turrón. Legend has it that he had to restart his journey multiple times because he kept selling out before he could reach Madrid. When he eventually did reach the capital, he opened Casa Mira and the rest is history. Not just popular at Christmas, Casa Mira sells typical Spanish sweet treats all year round.
Those intolerant to gluten don’t have to miss out on Madrid’s most tempting pastries thanks to Celicioso, a completely gluten-free bakery in the cool Chueca neighbourhood. The bakery, which also has a café in the back of the shop, specialises in cupcakes, cookies and cakes, as well as Spanish classics like the Roscón de Reyes (Kings’ Cake).
This traditional bakery, opened in 1914, was saved from closure by Catalan pastry chef Oriol Balaguer in 2015. The result is a tantalising mixture of modern, inventive pastries alongside the Spanish traditional classics Balaguer was intent on preserving. La Duquesita’s specialty is its Texturas cake, with four different textures of chocolate – heaven! Its name, meaning ‘the little duchess’ comes from the statue on the wall that has been there since 1914.
Brown Bear Bakery’s offerings reflect its owners, who come from Spain, Ecuador and the United States. The bakery offers a mixture of Spanish and American classics, with typical Spanish napolitanas and palmeras sitting alongside brownies and cheesecake. The bakery also sells freshly made bread and has a little café in the back which serves breakfast, lunch and – at the weekend – a New York Brunch, complete with bagels, pancakes and French toast.