Nestled in the heart of Madrid’s buzzing tourist center lies Restaurante Sobrino de Botín, a restaurant known for being Ernest Hemingway’s favourite. An interesting fact to note here is that this also happens to be the world’s oldest restaurant (it’s almost 300 years old!) So don’t be surprised when all “to do lists in Madrid” speak of eating suckling pig, roast lamb and sangria at this iconic establishment.
But is it really worth the hype?
The Guinness Book of World Records has recognised this as the world’s oldest restaurant, which is why you’ll see a long line of tourists waiting to get seated inside. We joined this queue in May 2019, and impatiently waited to grab a seat. Thankfully the management is used to this kinda rush so we didn’t have to wait for too long because the process was really organized. But there’s a lot to keep you entertained even as you wait in line- a model of the interiors at the window display will most definitely keep you fascinated for a few minutes.
For those who’re wondering why this old restaurant is so famous, here’s a small story-
It was opened in 1725 by French Chef Jean Botin, and was primarily run as an inn. After the original owners died childless, the restaurant passed to their nephew who named it Sobrino de Botin which translates to “Nephew of Botin” The restaurant continued cooking through these years, and even today the cuisine has stayed true to its Spanish roots. A mention in The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway contributed to another surge in popularity. Today, Sobrino de Botin is famous for its rustic Castilian cuisine, and covers four floors of seating. The brick-oven that is used to roast the star of the menu, the suckling pig, is close to 300 years old!
So, is it worth it?
I’d say yes, to experience the great taste. The dining ambiance does not really lend too much to this experience, and be prepared to share tables or sit really close to each other since the restaurant management tries their best to accommodate as many people as they can. It can turn out to be an underwhelming experience mostly because of the hype created around it. I’d say the best thing to do is to go with 0 expectations, and be pleasantly surprised 😊
Expect this to be a fancy affair, and be prepared to shell out close to forty Euros per person for a meal.
Cost- 40 Euros per person
Their operating hours are 1:00 PM- 4:00 PM and 8:00 PM – midnight.