Churros y chocolate, you either love it or you hate it as the marmite ad says. But (as I suspect is the case for marmite too) if you hate it, it’s probably because you’re doing it wrong.
Bad churros is flaccid and stodgy. Good churros, served fresh and piped out piping hot, is crisp, light and almost crunchy. It comes with chocolate near thick enough to hold a standing spoon and finally (though this may just be me) it deserves to be consumed somewhere beautiful. And when it comes to atmospheric locations, Madrid is in no short supply.
Tucked away between the two iconic squares of Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol lives Madrid’s oldest churrería, the green and gold lettered San Ginés.
Recommended reading: 27 Ways Food and Travel Go Together (Not just for “Foodies”)
Opened in 1894, it harks back to Spain’s sparse days, to the dark and dull monobrown interiors that populate paintings across Madrid’s galleries. But the atmosphere inside defies dull: waiters dart and dive between the crowds with a wedding cake of white cups wobbling with wild abandon as the Sunday morning chatter bounces left and right and up and down and in and out and back again from mirrored walls and ceramic tiles.
In this, the chocolatería encapsulates the essence of modern Castilian Spain: to eat, to drink, to talk, to laugh, and to do nothing, absolutely nothing, with quiet restraint and moderation.
Yet the reality is, that while the service and sustenance are genuine, the dining companions are not. Not genuine madrileños that is.
No, fame and fortune have attracted friends to little old San Ginés and crowds of tourists queue at the door (that being the giveaway of tourists, you see, the idea of forming a queue.)
Still, the churros is crisp, the chocolate stiff and sweet and how can my ears and eyes grumble when my stomach and soul are so content?
Just come early, or even late, to try to beat the crowds – and enjoy crunching away at the oldest chocolatería in Madrid.
I love Spain and have visited many times and even lived there for a while. On this occasion, I visited in partnership with iAmbassadorand Madrid Tourism. As ever, as always, I kept the right to write what I like. And to eat my own churros at the chocolateria…
Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more. Find out more.
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