Worldwide cuisine: 4 of Madrid’s finest and most affordable restaurants


One of IE’s best elements is its international experience. To the many international students, living abroad in Spain, meeting students from all over the world and possibly learning a new language are all enriching experiences. To those of us who are from Spain, being in Madrid and studying at IE allows us to take a bite from each corner of the world, figuratively and literally. One of the advantages of living in Spain’s biggest city is the variety of experiences one can have–the people one can meet and the many cultures one can learn from.

One of the best ways to experience a culture is to bless your tastebuds with the various dishes, desserts and beverages unique to each of them. The experience can often be pricey, and as students, we are constantly restrained by our sometimes small budget. Luckily, Madrid has its generous side and there are a handful of affordable restaurants that offer food from various corners of the world. Take this article as an introduction to some of the many hidden gems in Madrid that you can enjoy anytime.

Gyozas Chun Li

If you’re a fan of gyozas, find yourself near Plaza Mayor, the Royal Palace or Madrid’s Opera, and are hungry you may want to check out this great restaurant. Named after the iconic Street Fighter character, Chun Li offers an unforgettable Asian cuisine experience. Although the restaurant’s speciality is their handmade gyozas, you can find other delicious items on the menu such as shrimp tempura or edamame. You can also decide whether they want their gyozas steamed or fried, although I personally recommend them steamed. Their menu also offers several Japanese, Chinese and other popular beers.

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via Gyozas Chun Li

Chun Li is often full, as the experience is unmatched and the establishment is rather small in comparison to other restaurants. However, the prices are extremely affordable, the rations are very generous and the experience is unforgettable. You’ll want to come back again and again! The bill per person is usually about €8.50, which can get you a ration of 10 gyozas and a drink. This place is more enjoyable with friends, as you can order a larger variety of gyozas and still end up paying the same per person.

Tiki Taco

The well-known chain of Mexican restaurants all over the western side of Madrid’s centre is a must-try for everyone in Madrid. If their bite-sized tacos, delicious quesadillas and varied set of drinks are not good enough reasons for you to try it out, their low prices should do the trick. Although it seems too good to be true, the vast majority of their tacos are €1; there really is no excuse not to go. If you are not hungry, they also offer several traditional or original Mexican alcoholic beverages such as Margaritas, Agua de Jamaica or imported Mexican beers such as XX or Sol.

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via Tiki Taco Clavel, Foursquare

The way to order in these establishments will be very familiar to a lot of locals, as it is reminiscent of 100 Montaditos. The food is made on the spot, and you can also consider the cook to be part of the tiki taco experience as their kitchen is exposed to the customers. Their 6 locations ranging from Lavapiés to Chamberí are not only great restaurants to eat and drink, but also shops where you can buy your own ingredients, spices and sauces from Mexico so that you can make your own Mexican food at home.

Pez Tortilla

Although we are in Spain, it is not often we find an affordable and delicious traditional restaurant where you can have a classic Spanish bar experience. Luckily, Pez Tortilla exists. The chain of bars has 4 establishments across Madrid, two of which are in close proximity to each other in the street of the same name as the bar: Calle del Pez. There are two other establishments around Barrio de las Letras and La Latina. In comparison to other bars and restaurants, their menu is quite limited, offering a handful of variations of Spanish omelette (or tortilla de patata), a generous variety of other traditional Spanish food and a few sweet breakfast/dessert options such as crepes, french toast and a variety of yoghurts.

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Pez Tortilla’s establishment in Calle del Pez 36, Mahoumadrid

Although the eating experience at the many establishments of Pez Tortilla is fantastic, the social environment and experience of the place are what makes this bar so charming and appealing to many of us. The staff is super friendly and everyone goes there to enjoy some time with friends: the overall vibes in these establishments are positive and energetic. The total bill for a person after ordering something to eat and something to drink out of the large catalogue of beers and non-alcoholic beverages usually is about €7.5. As a personal recommendation, Pez Tortilla is enjoyed better with a group of friends to accompany you. But beware, as the establishments usually get full at night and there is no option to book a table!


If you want one of the best price-quality Italian dining experiences in Madrid, you need to visit Salutteria, in Calle de Velázquez. Even though this restaurant is the most expensive on this list, it is one of the best. The decoration and ambience are amazing, the quality of the food is spectacular and the establishment is in a perfect location for any date, as it is next to the Retiro Park. Moreover, it’s an excellent restaurant, you can also go there to enjoy a drink prepared by the skilled bartenders at your service.

Although it is an Italian restaurant, you will find a rather specialised menu that puts an emphasis on the Chef’s creativity, the quality of the ingredients and most importantly aims to give you an experience unique to Salutteria. Additionally, the restaurant offers a wide range of Italian wines perfect to accompany your dish of choice. The average bill per person averages €16, but don’t let the relatively high price tag scare you, as the experience at this establishment is completely worth it. The restaurant is very compact, so the ideal group size is 4-5 people.

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Salutteria Velazquez

Eat the World!

These years of our lives are meant to be lived to the fullest and to explore the world around us. The easiest and most effective way to learn is through doing something you enjoy, and who doesn’t like eating? In order to enrich your knowledge of the world, you must leave your comfort zone in order to step into the “growth zone”. In the context of this article, we will never grow if we limit ourselves to eating Five Guys and Papa John’s. Take this article as an invitation to try new things and to learn more about the world around you, in case you haven’t already done so. 

As my father used to tell me: “Cómete el mundo”, or “Eat the world!” I invite you to “Eat the world”, both figuratively and literally.

Dario Esteban
Dario Esteban
Little solace comes to those who grieve when thoughts keep drifting as walls keep shifting and this great blue world of ours seems a house of leaves moments before the wind.

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