Historic, modern and vibrantly European — Madrid is the perfect summer getaway in terms of vegan options and beautiful sights to see.
#9 Vega – Vegan
We had high hopes for this restaurant due to all the good reviews, but we’re pretty disappointed by the lackluster dishes. Their ceviche was watery, too citrusy and tasted like wilted salad greens. Their black rice artichoke was bland, had hard bits of rice in it and had no real flavor profile. Their satay kebab was decent, nothing special but tasted much better than the black rice dish. Maybe we went on an off night? Coincidentally it was our last dinner in Madrid, so the bad flavors became even more memorable.
#8 La Encomienda – Vegan
Rustic, homey digs combine with trendy vegan dishes at sepia-toned La Encomienda. While the vibes were tight, the food didn’t #sit right – most of it was heavy, carby and tasteless. The mac & cheese was a wad of clumpy elbows in cement-like cheese, and the rigatoni, while texture-wise was more acceptable, was nothing special. The only high point was their cheese plate, which had multiple types of cashew, mushroom and almond based cheeses. Perhaps they should spend more of their attention on the menu instead of their wallpaper.
#7 Federal Café – Vegan options
Heavy on the design and low on flavor, Federal café failed to impress me but seemed to be a favorite for laptop-toting locals who take up nearly all the bar-style seats by the windows. The service is friendly enough if a bit lax, as waiters did not pass our tables too many times. I ordered their winter salad, a pesto risotto dish with pumpkin and sunflower seeds that was very bland and dense. A good last resort if there are no other open spots, but not recommended.
#6 La libre – Vegan options
1950s-style retro-hip grandma vibes give La Libre an inimitable charm. Mismatched chairs and old starlet portraits keep you company as you dine. Their menu, which consists of items named after famous writers, has only a few vegan-friendly choices, but it’s worth a quick stop to rest tired feet. Their standout was a horchata special called Tiger Lily milk, which unfortunately was a seasonal item. We also had an open-faced sandwich, which was equal parts healthy fresh and filling. We did wait a long time to be attended, as the staff seemed backed up and their counter was full of trays.
#5 Ecocentro – Vegetarian, vegan friendly
Budget-conscious customers can pick their plate at Ecocentro, a vegetarian-friendly grocery store/cafe/restaurant. Choose from a variety of pre-plated dishes or scoop some warm plant-based goodness from the hot bar. They also have rotating dessert choices, teas and coffee at wallet-friendly prices. Best of all, you can refill your water bottle with a fountain, a rarity in Madrid! We picked a veggie curry, quinoa buffet plate, a vegan meatloaf and finished with a raw red velvet cheesecake.
#4 Hanso Café – Vegan options
A trendy millennial-style café with samurai-decor flourishes, Hanso Cafe was recommended to us by the owner of Chilling Cafe (thanks Felipe!!). Hanso is the perfect morning fuel-up for discerning diners. The few of their menu items that are vegan or vegan-adaptable are substantial in hunger-banishment and their drinks are on point in terms of taste and quality. We loved the bagel sandwich and avocado BLT, which filled us up without the weight of too many calories.
#3 Bite Me Cafe – Vegan
For sweet tooths, Bite Me is practically heaven on earth! Using high-quality ingredients, this hipster-vibe cafe crafts outstandingly delicious donuts. Flavors change every day depending on seasonal ingredients. We had a blueberry whipped cream (garnished with fresh blueberries) donut, a mint chocolate-filled donut and a tangerine creamsicle filled donut with citrus peel jelly. Their coffee is also on point and comes with cinnamon-powdered sugar munchkins. It’s tough to eat only one!
#2 Tiwoyeh – Vegetarian, vegan friendly
For our very first proper meal in España, we had a much needed respite in the yogic interiors of Tiwoyeh. If free people opened a café it would probably look a lot like Tiwoyeh — calming color scheme, healthy-ass menu and sustainable dining. We ordered their daily Tiwoyeh dish and an assortment of freshly cooked veggies that included roasted eggplant, curry chickpeas, fresh apple salad, lentil patty topped with sour cream, squash soup, potato corn hash and freshly baked bread. They also have excellent tea infusions with free hot water refills!
#1 Chilling Cafe – Vegan
Classy, cute and quirky — these three descriptors personify the unique vibe of Chilling Cafe, a hidden vegan gem in a quiet thoroughfare. Though unassuming at first, Chilling Cafe offers a completely vegan set menu, something that is already awesome — but the even awesomer thing? IT’S OPEN IN THE MORNING! It’s no surprise that we visited it exclusively after discovering it on our second morning in Madrid.
Included in the set menu is soup, daily sandwich, fresh orange juice and dessert, what a great value! Every single item was impeccably delicious. There are also plenty of outlets by the tables, so you can peruse the internet while enjoying your fluffy BBQ bao.
The only complaint was the long wait time we had during our first visit for a sandwich — which only happened once — so we forgave them!