When the owners of Samm opened their doors almost forty years ago, it would have been hard to believe that one day their restaurant, which in those times only served drinks, would become one of the iconic paella locales in the city. The paella valenciana and rice with vegetables are two of the specialties that one of the sons of the original owners now cooks, whilst his brother is in charge of the friendly and efficient service. Most rice-based dishes here are only made if they have been ordered in advance.
Samm, Calle de Carlos Caamaño 3, Madrid, Spain,+34 913 45 30 74
‘Do you want rice Catalina?’ is a rough translation of this restaurant’s fun, quirky name. It was inaugurated in 2014 but it has become one of the staple restaurants for rice dishes in the capital astonishingly quickly – although when you take into account the quality of their plates and the ideal location, it is hardly surprising that it has become such a hit with the locals. Their star dish is the paella valenciana from Valencia, which is considered the original type of paella and the foundation for all similar rice dishes, composed of vegetables, white rice and meat.
The excellent El Garbí has more than a dozen different types of rice-based dishes; some are dry, some are creamy, some are just plain succulent. Their green paella with meatballs, for example, is a classic, and even though the owner is focused on making rice the traditional way, this recipe is astonishingly innovative in its choice of ingredients, if not in its method of cooking. Some other exciting types of paellas are those with rabbit or with pork ribs and peppers. Most of the paellas here also have to be ordered in advance, but are entirely worth the planning.
El Garbí, Calle Infanta Mercedes 92, Madrid, Spain,+34 915 70 63 86
Doña 59 has been active in Madrid’s paella scene for quite some time now, and it never ceases to disappoint. The dining area has been recently renovated to keep up with the fast-paced culinary business in the capital, and it is now a very distinguished and elegant space. Their arroz con bogavante, which means rice with lobster, is one of their most famous dishes, and has been eaten and loved by many important people. Another of their typical dishes is the rice with mushrooms and foie gras, and the fish here is also of top quality.
Doña 59, Calle de Zurbano 59, Madrid, Spain,+34 913 19 25 51
Rice Bar La Bomba is a rather new addition to Madrid, but it has quickly established its reputation as one of the best rice bars in the capital. The locale is anything but stuffy, and the informal atmosphere will add to the culinary experience that visitors will discover here. Their new technique of making rice halves the time needed for its preparation, speeding up the process swiftly and making this locale a great option for those who are in a rush.
Rice Bar La Bomba, Calle Augusto Figueroa 33, Madrid, Spain,+34 915 22 11 81
Another historic locale, La Barraca has been serving paella for about 75 years, and its past includes passionate tales of spies and military conspiracies, which adds a fun touch to a traditional meal in Spain. It is located in the center of the city, so it is usually full of tourists, but there are also numerous locals that keep coming back for the delicious rice and they assure that the standard has not gone down despite the new type of clientele.
La Barraca, Calle de la Reina 29, Madrid, Spain,+34 915 32 71 54