Dining at The Oldest Restaurant in the World – Sobrino de Botin, Madrid

with 27 Comments
Having dinner in the oldest running restaurant in the world had been on our bucket list for years. And though we visited Madrid in the past, it was before knowing an ‘oldest restaurant in the world’ even existed. So when we decided to go on a culinary tour of Europe, we included Madrid as our first destination not because we weren’t familiar with Spanish food, but because we wanted to pay a visit to Sobrino de Botin.

Sobrino de Botin was founded in 1725 and its incredible wood fire oven where the famous suckling pig is roasted, dates from back then. The place has a rich history and rumor has it that for a while Goya himself worked as a dishwasher here. It used to be Hemingway’s favorite restaurant during his days in Madrid, and he even mentioned it in ‘The Sun Also Rises‘. Of course, back then, Sobrino the Botin didn’t hold the title of ‘the oldest restaurant in the world‘… And throughout the years, both Spanish and international personalities made their way to this restaurant and soothe their hunger at its tables.

Sobrino de Botin is located in Calle Cuchilleros, a couple of minutes away from Plaza Mayor and Mercado de San Miguel. We arrived around 7pm for an early dinner (yes, that’s possible in Madrid, in spite of what you might have heard). The facade impressed by itself and definitely stands out from the nearby businesses. It is made out of beautiful sculpted wood, with big windows. In the windows the most outstanding moments in the restaurant’s history, as well as its credentials as the oldest restaurant in the world accorded by the Guinness Book of World Records are on display.
At the entrance we were welcomed by two gentlemen who opened the door for us and invited us in. Honestly, we weren’t expecting this kind of courtesy, but as we soon found out, Sobrino de Botin is deeply rooted in traditions and its own fascinating history and the service they provide is of the highest quality, fit for a king I might say. No wonder so, since personalities from the political scene and even the King himself are regular patrons of the place.

We were shown to a table at the first floor, which in my opinion is the most beautiful one too. The walls are decorated with old azulejos (tiles). The paintings and decorative objects are in abundance. And the wood beam ceiling is simply beautiful. Sobrino de Botin is a typical Spanish restaurant with four floors (including the cellar), and each floor has it’s own personality.

The manager proudly explained to us that the title of ‘the oldest restaurant in the world’ came to them in an unexpected way. That the restaurant that previously hold the record of world’s oldest actually moved location during it’s long history, so a regular client decided to bring Sobrino de Botin to Guinness’s attention. And so, fame came upon them. Sobrino de Botin might not be the oldest restaurant in the world, but according to the Guinness Book of World Records it is the oldest running restaurant in the world that never closed and never changed location.

We ordered sangria and for starter we went with melon con jamon (melon with ham), a Spanish classic and a favorite of mine. We also ordered ensalada Botin (Botin salad), since we figured it would be a lighter and healthier option. We were at the beginning of a one month culinary tour of Europe, mind you, so we better watched out what we ate. Both proved to be delicious options, and the servings generous. The salad in itself could have been easily shared. It was made with a great variety of fresh ingredients, and seasoned with extra virgin olive oil. Anyways, truth is, after starter, we didn’t feel hungry anymore.

Melon and ham
Botin salad

For the main course, we opted for the signature dish. Sobrino de Botin is famous for its cochinillo asado (suckling pig) and cordero asado (lamb roasted in the old Castillian way), and these dishes, along a few more others, are highlighted on the menu in capital letters. My husband and I shared the suckling pig, a dish completely new to us, and the solomillo Botin (steak). We simply loved the attention the waiters were paying to every detail. Serving each client was a ritual followed with the utmost respect and consideration. Both our dishes were brought from the kitchen in the original recipients they were cooked in. They were cut in front of us. And then transferred on clean plates. They looked mouth-watering!

Suckling pig

Botin style steak with mushrooms

As far as we could tell, every single ingredient used on the menu was fresh, carefully chosen and prepared with love. But I have to dedicate a few lines here to the suckling pig. A suckling pig is a piglet, barely a few weeks old, fed on its mother’s milk. It is a delicacy, for the obvious reasons. I won’t say I could have this dish every day, because the immorality of eating baby pigs it would finally get to me, but I have to admit it was an interesting experience. The meat of the suckling pig is almost white, very tender, I would even say gelatinous in texture, while the roasted skin is crisp and sweet. I liked the crispy skin best, very delicious. It also went well with the roast potatoes on the side.

Suckling pigs

The wood fire oven dating back to 1725

The dishes served at Sobrino de Botin are rooted in the traditional Spanish cuisine. It’s a place where se come bien as the locals say (the food is good), serving healthy, typical Mediterranean cuisine, though some dished can be heavier than others, under the influence of the inland culinary trends. The menu is inspired from typical Castilian plates, though it doesn’t shy away from including dishes like gazpacho (originally from Andalusia). However, morcilla de Burgos (blood sausage typical from Burgos), jamon Iberico de bellota, a selection of huevos revueltos (scrambled eggs), fish dishes and a comprehensive section of asados y parrillas (roasts and grills) is included. It has reasonable prices too, with starters around 10EURO (some ham dishes go over 20EURO though) and main dishes around 20EURO.

We ended on a sweet note, with cheese cake with white chocolate and a mascarpone cup with mango. It was the perfect ending to a perfect evening!

Cheese cake with white chocolate

Mascarpone with mango

Given its credentials as the oldest restaurant in the world, Sobrino en Botin could have been a tourist trap. But it wasn’t, in spite of being popular with tourists. We both loved everything about it from the moment we stepped inside, till three hours later when we left. The food, the service, the place, the history, all create a perfect ambiance. And it simply became one of my favorite restaurants.

Before we left, we asked to be shown around. We visited the upper floor, the ground-floor and the old cellar, as well as the kitchen. We had a look at the old wood fire oven which has the year ‘1725’ engraved on it. The thought that it worked for nearly 300 years is fascinating. But the whole experience was a magical one. And I can’t wait to go back to Madrid and eat there again. The experience of eating in the oldest restaurant in the world was one of the best souvenirs I could have picked from Madrid. A must stop!

You can follow Sobrino de Botin Restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.

27 Responses

  1. Evielily
    | Reply

    this is awsome i'm so takeing my parents there the pics are so cool thx

  2. catherine
    | Reply

    why did the Guinness Book of World Records recognizes Cafe Botin in Spain as the oldest eatery in the world and not the ma yu ching’s bucket chicken house?

    • Laura
      | Reply

      Hi Catherine,

      as I say in the article, Sobrino de Botin is the oldest running restaurant in the world that never closed and never changed location and had the necessary papers to prove it. There might be older restaurants in the world, but if they don't have the means to prove it, the Guinness Book of World Records can't take them into consideration.

  3. Marina K. Villatoro
    | Reply

    I always thought the oldest restaurant would be in France. Love visiting places that are more like destinations in themselves.

    WE dined at the oldest restaurant in the US, it was a great experience too.

    • Laura
      | Reply

      Oldest restaurant in the US… sounds interesting. I would definitely give it a try! 🙂 It's great when a restaurant is more than just a place where to eat, isn't it?

  4. Jade
    | Reply

    This is super cool and something I never considered before- the oldest running restaurants- fun! I'll definitely be adding it to our bucket list.

    • Laura
      | Reply

      Definitely worth of a bucket list!

  5. Good lord all that amazing food and drink has my mouth watering and stomach gurgling. Talk about succulent meat and veggies and wine and oh my oh my oh my 🙂

    Amazing spot, definitely going on the list of places I must visit on my next trip 🙂

    • Laura
      | Reply

      The food served at Sobrino de Botin was indeed amazing. What can I say, the place is perfect!

  6. Fiona Maclean
    | Reply

    How fascinating! I have to say I went to Spain for the first time with a vegetarian, discovered suckling pig and ate it pretty much daily, much to his horror for the entire holiday! That relationship was doomed!!!

    • Laura
      | Reply

      I can see why 🙂 I don't like the idea of eating animals very much myself, nevertheless, I do eat meat (ok, maybe not every day) and I am very curious about the different cuisines and always ready to try a new recipe. The suckling pig was delicious, I have to admit it.

  7. nicole
    | Reply

    I have to stop reading these food posts. It's making me even more hungry. All that food looks soooo amazing.

    • Laura
      | Reply

      Haha 🙂 Food posts always make me hungry too. It's even harder when I have to write them and process the photos myself 🙂

  8. Quirky Travel
    | Reply

    That food looks magnificent. This place is definitely going on the list for out next trip to Madrid. Gorgeous photos, too.

    • Laura
      | Reply

      Thank you! It surely is a place worth of a bucket list.

  9. Mary @ Green Global Travel
    | Reply

    I am amazed at the thought of a three hundred year old restaurant and floored to think that there are others that are older still! Amazing! The images are wonderful and I love the shots of the cellar! Gorgeous!

    • Laura
      | Reply

      It is impressive, isn't it? Especially in today's economy when many restaurants close after only a couple of years of activity.

  10. Lizzie
    | Reply

    Wish I had eaten here when I was in Madrid. I think I was on a very tight budget so had to give it a miss 🙁 Next time, though!

    • Laura
      | Reply

      The fact that it's recognized as the oldest restaurant in the world and that it has been there for almost 3 centuries, make it a must visit. Fingers crossed you won't miss it next time 🙂

  11. Lauren Aloise
    | Reply

    Such a great post! We will be sending this to all the clients that ask about Botin! We love it too!

    • Laura
      | Reply

      Thank you, Lauren! Much appreciated!

  12. Kristy
    | Reply

    Now I am very envious about your dining experience with the oldest running restaurant. The suckling pig dish looks very delicious. My mouth is watering right now while typing my reply here.

    • Laura
      | Reply

      Before eating at Sobrino de Botin I was like, suckling pig? It's still pig, right? But then it was so different! An amazing surprise. In a good way.

  13. A
    | Reply

    Looks really great. Love love love your photos!!!

    • Laura
      | Reply

      Many thanks, Agnes! We loved it so much!

  14. What a fabulous experience! I love Spain and am kicking myself for not eating here yet! It looks absolutely gorgeous and your pictures are lovely. I just finished dinner and am now craving that cheesecake so thanks a lot 😉 Great post, thanks for sharing.

    Happy travels!

    • Laura
      | Reply

      I totally know what you mean. I visited Madrid twice before learning about the existence of this restaurant. Over 3 years passed before I finally managed to get back to Madrid again.

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