Sometimes our travel arrangements require us to either catch an early flight out in the morning or arrive tiresomely late at night. In these cases, we often like to spend the night near the airport allowing us to get a fresh start in the morning or a reprieve in the evening.
Before a recent early flight out of the Madrid–Barajas Airport, we decided to spend the night at an airport hotel. It was particularly important to get a good night sleep given that we were making a 10 hour journey to Miami the next morning. That gave us an evening to kill near the airport in the district of Barajas.
There are dozens of airport hotels in Barajas. We stayed at a 4-star hotel called Tach Hotel Madrid Airport. An English speaking front desk staff and free airport shuttle made it very convenient. The clean, modern room was large enough for a comfortable night sleep with great amenities.
We took the opportunity to explore the area and seek out sustenance. Searching the neighborhood for restaurants online proved disappointing. There is surprisingly little information about this area online in English. However, a walk around the neighborhood for an overview revealed enough interesting restaurants that we found ourselves having difficulty choosing between them.
It shouldn’t be surprising because Barajas has been around long before the airport opened in the 1930’s. The district of Barajas originated from a historic village called the Villa de Barajas that was integrated into the municipal district of Madrid in 1949. As the airport site grew, Barajas was joined together with other neighboring small villages which now make up the different neighborhoods of Barajas.
The Casco Histórico de Barajas, the historical center of Barajas, is a small area sandwiched between the airport and the Avenida de Logroño. At the heart of the historical center is the Plaza Mayor, which just celebrated its 400 year birthday in 2016. This Renaissance era rectangular public square, buildings with columned galleries was the center of daily life. The plaza now contains restaurants and shops surrounding a green wooded park with a bronze fountain. (The Plaza Mayor was previously called Plaza de las Hermanos Falco y Alvarez de Toledo and this is the name still found on Google Maps.)
I wouldn’t consider Barajas a destination area and we probably wouldn’t come here other than to use the Madrid airport, but the layover doesn’t have to be boring. We found interesting restaurants clustered in two areas: around the Plaza Mayor and along the Ave. de Logroño. This main street that separates the historic area from the modern side of town is lined with restaurants and bars. We stopped into a few places for food or drinks and received a free tapa with our drinks at each place. We also noticed that most of the restaurants were open and serving food throughout the day.
You can only eat so much in one day. Since we were only able to try a few of these restaurants, this is not really a list of recommendations, but more of a confirmation that there are actually many restaurants and bars in Barajas. These are the ones that caught our interest. They are all within walking distance to the nearby hotels, so you can easily walk around and pick the ones that look most interesting to you. I don’t typically publish photos of menus (they don’t make pretty pictures and menus change), but make an exception here since some of these restaurants do not have websites.
Plaza Mayor Restaurants
We arrived in Barajas starving and were excited to see this restaurant serving food at 4PM. La Caprichosa’s menu has a little bit of everything (salads, vegetables, seafood, meat, eggs) and the full menu was available. We sat on their large terrace, where a futbol match was playing on the outdoor large screen TV. We ordered two of their tostas and some beers. Only after ordering did we realize that the beers came with complimentary tapas, something we no longer expect after living in Valencia. The tostas themselves were more substantial than expected – one was topped with large slices of hot, grilled Iberico pork loin and brie; the other with slices of beef tenderloin and shaved parmesan. Why don’t I have photos? Rookie mistake of thinking there was nothing here to write about.
Plaza Mayor estaurants we didn’t get to:
Argentinian restaurant with a nice terrace and an upscale atmosphere inside. The list of starters looked good and their menu is huge. Check out the full menu at La Torina’s website.
The case of beef outside of Cafeteria El Principe Restaurante was enough to catch our attention at this steak house. There is no website and I didn’t catch a photo of their menu, but they get great reviews online for their paella and big cuts of meat.
This restaurant is just plain cute, inside and out. The menu is loaded with seafood (including 4 versions of octopus!) and other traditional Galician dishes.
Avenida de Logroño Restaurants
Taberna Ciento Un Vinos (101 Vinos)
We pulled up to a barrel outside on the terrace for some vermouth. It was served with a little sandwich, which was nothing special but it was tasty and appreciated. We loved the atmosphere of this wine bar and the many wines available by the glass listed on chalkboards around the bar. The boards also announce delicous sounding tapas and empanadas in addition to a full menu.
I am surprised that Gastrobar La Latina does not have a website and doesn’t show on a Google Maps restaurant search, considering the modern gastrobar atmosphere. We ordered some white wine and were again given complimentary little tapas to go with it. We really needed a salad and found a delicious one here with arugula, duck ham, burrata cheese, basil and truffle oil. It was exactly what we were looking for.
Ave. de Logrono restaurants we didn’t get to:
This bright green spot had a cool creative vibe and was very popular. The awning-covered terrace would be a nice place to waste some layover time.
These two restaurants belong to a Basque restaurant group called El Txoko out of Bilboa. The two sit side by side and share a nice big terrace. La Viña de Nerea serves mostly tapas and small plates while Okela serves a fuller menu of traditional Basque dishes.
La Consentida is a large place with a dual personality. There is a contemporary bar in the front where you could sip a cocktail or glass of wine. In the back is an indoor/outdoor terrace with a big screen TV and a sports bar atmosphere that would be perfect for catching a futbol game while waiting out your time in Barajas. They serve a full menu of tapas, salads, sandwiches, etc.