Are you headed to Madrid and worried that, whatever you order, it's going to come sprinkled with ham? Relax. The vegan movement is booming in the Spanish capital, and vegan and vegetarian visitors will be spoiled for choice.
Whether you're looking for traditional Spanish tapas, a cheesy pizza loaded with toppings or a burger the size of your head, you will find it in a delicious vegan version in Madrid.
Your biggest dilemma will be deciding which of the wonderful vegan, vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants to try! Here are some top picks that you should definitely consider:
Address: Luna 9 (in Malasaña district), Madrid
Closed Wednesday. Outside meal times they only serve appetizers, soups, etc.
Food: 100% Vegan
A long-time favourite that Nick and I keep going back to whenever we return to Madrid. This 100% vegan restaurant does serve main dishes, but we invariably choose to share a collection of small tapas, because, you know, Spain. Their soups are particularly good, and other favourites include the focaccia and the mushroom croquetas (fried, breaded balls of shroomy yumminess). The one thing I didn't think much of was the lasagna, which is a raw, zucchini-based version of the dish and is rather small and poor value. The desserts here are awesome though! If they have cheesecake when you're there, don't pass it up.
Rayén Vegano - CLOSED
UPDATE April 2019: Rayén Vegano has sadly closed its doors. However, the owners still organize frequent popup events around Madrid. Check their Instagram profile for the latest events.
My good friend Kim, the recipe-creator extraordinaire at Brownble, brought me and Nick here for brunch on our most recent trip to Madrid. It's her favourite place to eat in the city, and it's not hard to see why.
She did such a good job of talking up the breakfast sandwich that everyone at the table ordered it, and none of us regretted it. Stuffed with tempeh bacon, tofu scramble and melted vegan cheese, this plant-based version of a breakfast sandwich eats Egg McMuffins for breakfast. Or maybe it doesn't, because that wouldn't be vegan, but you get what I mean.
The weekend lunch and dinner menu looked amazing too (Tibetan momos anyone?), but we had to be reminded that it was only noon, so of course lunch wasn't being served yet. This is Spain, after all.
Ah well, something to look forward to for next time! On weekdays lunch is limited to a changing meal of the day, so if you have your heart set on the momos then be sure to come for dinner or on a weekend.
Address: Costanilla de San Andrés 16, Madrid
Open daily. Breakfast is served from 11am and lunch from 1:30pm.
Food: 100% vegan
This was another one of Kim's top recommendations, and when she talks about vegan food I listen, because this woman knows her stuff (just check out some of her recipes and you'll see what I mean).
Excited to see that they opened at 11am rather than the typical 1:30pm, we arrived at noon ready for some serious burger eating. Apparently we should have known better. They were of course still serving only breakfast, and burgers would not be available until, you guessed it - 1:30pm.
So, with no particular place to be on a rainy, blustery February day, we settled in for the long haul.
The “breakfast menu” was basically any starter or dessert combined with a hot drink. Nick had already planned to order the vegan tortilla de patatas (a Spanish “omelette” made with potatoes, and normally eggs) as a starter, and I had already planned to order dessert, so all it really meant was that I had my dessert for breakfast. And what a dessert it was!
One of the biggest, richest, gooiest, most decadent hot brownies covered in chocolate sauce that I've ever encountered. Things were off to a good start.
Oh, the tortilla was amazing too, by the way, but no potato dish is ever going to win out over a brownie. Brownies eat potatoes for break....never mind.
After a leisurely cup of tea, when 1:30pm rolled around we were ready for round two. Burgers! Everything on the menu sounded delicious, making it really difficult to choose.
The patty in all the burgers (except for The Arab) is the same and is made with veggies, oats, peanuts and apples, plus all of them are topped with lettuce, tomato, onion and cucumber and served with thick and crispy potato wedges.
The only difference is the additional toppings that are particular to each burger. Needless to say, these burgers are huge! Eventually I decided on the Burger Queen with cured cheese, grilled tomatoes and caramelized onions, while Nick chose the Smoked (“La Ahumada”) with smoked cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. We both ranked them among the best burgers we've ever had.
And yes, everything on the menu, including all the different types of cheeses, is vegan, even though this is not at all emphasized in their messaging. I guess the idea is to attract unsuspecting people off the street who might not choose to eat at a vegan restaurant.
I imagine this happens quite a lot, as the restaurant is located on a lovely square in the La Latina neighbourhood, and the interior is beautifully decorated. They also have gluten-free options and are happy to adapt their dishes to suit food allergies.
Ay Mi Madre!
Address: Calle de la Palma 41, Madrid
Tuesday-Friday: 1pm-5pm, 8pm-12am
Food: Vegan-friendly, serves meat
I've been told this is the only restaurant in Madrid that offers pizza made with vegan cheese. While they do serve meat, Ay Mi Madre! makes a point of being vegan-friendly and has become a bit of a hot spot among vegan madrileños.
I probably would have overlooked it, because I tend to focus only on vegan or vegetarian restaurants in large cities where vegans are spoiled for choice. But my local source of insider tips (guess who?) advised me not to miss this one, for which I am eternally grateful.
This was the best. pizza. ever. While there are plenty of vegan choices marked on the menu (and more that can be made vegan by switching out the cheese), choosing was a no-brainer this time.
My favourite pizza topping of all time is artichoke hearts. I heart you, artichokes! So when I saw that there was a pizza called “The Artichoke”, that pretty much sealed the deal. Artichokes, black olives, asparagus, onions, vegan cream and vegan cheese. Oooh, yes.
I was blown away by the cheese. I swear that in a blind taste test no one would know it was vegan. The staff told me they use the Violife brand, which confused me a bit because I had recently had a pizza from Firezza in London that was supposedly also made with Violife, and I hadn't been terribly impressed.
True, it melted well, but it also had this unpleasant stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth quality about it. I didn't have that sensation at all at Ay Mi Madre! though, so I will definitely be looking into Violife more closely.
I didn't even notice until Nick pointed it out, but my Artichoke was actually a “pizza bianca”, meaning it didn't have any tomato sauce on it. This is quite a feat to pull off with vegan cheese, because the cheese (and the vegan cream, in this case) really has to carry the base flavour of the pizza all on its own.
Nick had the Veggie BBQ pizza and was just as impressed as I was, so I'd say it's pretty hard to go wrong when ordering at Ay Mi Madre!
Address: Calle Luisa Fernanda 27 (at the intersection with Calle Ferraz), Madrid
Hours: Thursday-Sunday: 2pm-12am
Closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Snacks and bar food only from 5pm-8pm. The hours above are their winter hours; check their Facebook page for the current hours when you're there.
Link: Facebook page
Food: 100% vegan
Punto Vegano is an inexpensive, cute little all-vegan café run by a sweet couple, Vero and Ronny, and it sits just across from the the Egyptian temple (the Temple of Debod).
If you're lucky enough to be there on a Sunday, that's the day they make fresh, homemade ravioli. We had the ravioli along with baba ghanoush and pita and some “meatballs” made from quinoa and topped with tomato sauce.
For dessert, I chose a slice of lemon and coconut pie, while Nick had the chocolate chip cookie. Of course I had to try a bite of his cookie too, and it was so good that I immediately went and ordered one for myself to eat later.
The dining area is pretty small, but if you can't find a seat and the weather is nice you could grab something to go and take it across the road to the temple and surrounding park for a picnic.
Address: Calle de la Ballesta 13 (near Gran Vía), Madrid
Hours: Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday: 1:30pm-4:30pm, 8:30pm-11pm
Friday-Saturday: 1:30pm-4:30pm, 8:30pm-12am
Food: 100% vegan
B13 serves vegan fast food at ridiculously cheap prices to a young, alternative crowd. The animal rights messaging here is very strong, and the place is frequented by local activists.
The prices were so low that we ordered several different things, thinking that they would arrive in small, tapas-sized portions. Not really! We had way too much food. There was the sandwich with vegan chorizo, tomatoes and cream cheese, which I had read great things about.
The sandwich by itself would have been a filling meal, but we also had hummus, patatas bravas (potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce), croquetas and a tortilla de patatas.
Just like with the tortilla de patatas at Viva Burger, I was amazed that it was made without eggs. Not exactly health food, and not exactly gourmet, but if you want Spanish comfort food with an inexpensive price tag then B13 is the place for you.
Le Pain Quotidien
Address: Calle Gran Vía 46 (next to Callao metro stop), Madrid
Open daily. There are other locations at Calle de Fuencarral 95 and at Calle de Serrano 27 with similar opening hours.
Food: Vegan-friendly (serves meat)
Le Pain Quotidien is an international bakery/café chain that, at least in its Spanish branches, has a very environmentally-friendly focus, which translates into a vegan-friendly menu.
It's a good option for breakfast, as they serve vegan croissants made from spelt and quinoa. Other vegan options include chia pudding, flautas (a type of sweet breadstick) with hazelnuts and raisins, and a "detox" banana split with goji berries, chia seeds and turmeric.
Vegan items are clearly marked on the menu with a green carrot (as opposed to the orange carrot used to indicate vegetarian items).
Address: Calle San Vicente Ferrer 28, Madrid
The couple that runs Sanissimo pride themselves on offering healthy fast food. And indeed, the menu here is certainly filled with healthier options than the greasy, fried fare at B13, like salads, bagels and freshly-pressed juices, as well as burgers and pastries.
The co-owner, Sonny, is a vegan himself and is dedicated to promoting healthy, plant-based living. A few of the bagels are already vegan, and those that contain cheese can be made with vegan cheese for a small supplement.
Sanissimo is quite a small place with just a few tables, so it's advisable to book for dinner. In addition to the small dining area, there is also a mini-market that consists of a few shelves with items like plant-based milks, crackers, spreads, etc.
When I stumbled on this place I had already eaten, but I really wanted to support Sonny, who had been very friendly and talkative, so I grabbed a spinach pie and a bagel filled with eggplant, tofu and black olives, which made for a lovely light dinner to eat on my flight out later that evening.
If you're looking for a more substantial meal, they also do "platos combinados" with a variety of small dishes.
Address: Calle Ave María 34, Madrid
Food: 100% vegan
Planeta Vegano is one of two all-vegan grocery stores in Madrid and stocks just about anything a vegan could possibly want. They carry a variety of plant-based meat products, including The Vegetarian Butcher brand, which has some amazing products that would fool just about any meat eater.
They also had some brands of vegan cheese that I'd never seen before, including Jeezini and Vegissimo, which come recommended as being good for melting on pizza, lasagna, enchiladas, etc.
Oh, and for those who don't have to worry about carry-on luggage restrictions on liquids, they have something else I'd never seen before - condensed soy milk! Speaking of sweet stuff, Planeta Vegano also carries a huge selection of vegan chocolate bars, along with raw bars, granola bars, etc.
Address: Calle San Vicente Ferrer 21, Madrid
Monday-Friday: 10:30am-2:30pm, 5pm-9pm
The other all-vegan food store in Madrid. I've tried to check it out a couple of times, but both times it was closed, even though according to the hours listed on HappyCow they should have been open. I've since updated those opening hours both here and on HappyCow, so hopefully you won't have the same frustrating experience.
I've been told that Veggie Room carries different brands from the ones found at Planeta Vegano, so it might be useful to try both of them if you get the chance. It's located on the same street as Sanissimo and is also quite close to Ay Mi Madre!
Mercado de San Antón
Address: Calle de Augusto Figueroa 24, Madrid
Some stalls may keep different hours.
Food: Meat-heavy overall, with some vegan options
The Mercado de San Antón is an upscale food market with stalls upstairs selling a variety of ready-made foods in addition to the fresh produce on the lower floor.
The Greek stall probably has the largest number of vegan options, including hummus with pita bread, dolmadakia (stuffed vine leaves), lentils, bulgur wheat and a beetroot salad. The Japanese stall has vegetable gyoza (dumplings), a cucumber sushi roll and some cold dishes of wakame and other sea vegetables.
And next door at the Canary Islands stand you can try papas con mojo – a local specialty from the islands that consists of potatoes lightly crusted with salt and topped with a couple of different sauces.
Address: Calle Hortaleza 3, Madrid
Food: Mostly vegetarian, some vegan options
This gluten-free bakery is insanely popular, and every time I passed by there was a gigantic queue of people waiting for a table. It was Valentine's Day weekend though, so maybe that had something to do with it.
While I never got a chance to try their cakes myself, I'm including it here for those looking for food in Madrid that is both vegan and gluten-free.
The vegan options at Celicioso include a chocolate cake and a choco-raspberry cake, both of which can be ordered either as an individual cupcake or as a slice of a larger cake.
Will your travels in Spain take you beyond the confines of vegan-friendly Madrid and out into big, scary ham country? Don't worry, I've got you covered. My Ultimate Vegan Guide to Spain will tell you everything you need to know to find delicious vegan food in even the tiniest Spanish village.
To view the map below as a web page, click here.