Whatever you had for breakfast this morning was rubbish compared to Madrid’s breakfast of champions – “churros con chocolate”, or deep-fried donuts dipped in hot chocolate.
Sometimes, stopping at a hotel which doesn’t provide breakfast can be a blessing in disguise. My recent trip to Spain’s capital city, Madrid, is a case in point. While my friends, who had booked into a luxurious 5* hotel in the suburbs, were tucking into an international buffet breakfast, we left our central hostal hungry and in search of a taste of the real Spain.
We were staying just off the busy Plaza de la Puerta del Sol, where a plaque in the pavement marks the very centre of Spain (kilometre zero). I always like to stay as close to the action as possible, so before heading for our breakfast date, we had the chance to do a bit of sightseeing in Sol, and came across one of the city’s most photographed icons – the statue of a bear and strawberry tree, below, which is the symbol of Madrid, and is on the club badge of Atlético Madrid.
We crossed the square and headed for Chocolatería de San Ginés. My guidebook told me that this 24-hour joint, which is over one hundred years old, is the best place to come to see madrileños enjoying churros con chocolate. Apparently, locals come here and eat their churros con chocolate on the way home from a night out, in the way that Brits might go to a kebab house.
After eventually finding it tucked down an alleyway (Pasadizo de San Ginés), I was gutted to see a huge queue spilling out of the café and into the unshaded street. The temperature was pushing 40C, my belly was rumbling, and I didn’t get the best night’s sleep – yes, I was hangry. There was no way I could wait thirty minutes or more for my brekkie here.
Disappointed, we turned the corner and found ourselves on Calle Mayor, and next to a large café, La Rollerie. Despite being less than a minute from San Ginés and on a busy main road, the place was practically empty so we decided to grab a table. Obviously, I ordered the chocolate con churros, while Kat chickened-out and went for scrambled eggs on toast.
I waited patiently, and was literally like a kid in a sweet shop until the waitress brought over my heart-attack breakfast. One cup of proper thick, gloopy hot chocolate that actually tasted and smelt of chocolate, with a plate of five greasy Y-shaped donuts. In case all that wasn’t calorific enough, I was given two sachets of sugar – one for the drink and one for the donuts. The idea is to dunk the donuts in the hot chocolate.
The verdict? I’d give the churros 6/10 and the chocolate 10/10. Would I have it again? Probably not to be honest, although I’d definitely have the hot chocolate on its own. I can’t remember the exact price, but I’m guessing €5. That’s €65 less than one couple were charged for breakfast back at their 5* hotel – ouch!
Madrid is quite a walkable city, and I probably had over a thousand calories to burn-off, so off we waddled to the city’s most beautiful spot, the nearby Plaza Mayor (below), before eating a seafood tapas lunch at the Mercado San Miguel in what is surely the world’s most fattening city.