Why is the calamari sandwich so typical in Madrid?

Madrid is located at least 360km away from the seaside but this doesn’t prevent us from saying that one of the star products of our gastronomy is the squid.

But not of any kind: in Madrid it’s common to eat battered squids as a sandwich, usually together with a ‘caña’ – basic size of a glass of beer in Madrid – and the perfect place to eat them is certainly one of the bars at Plaza Mayor, only a few minutes walking from Spaneasy, your spanish language school in Madrid.

This imported product is as popular (or even more) as any other native and it is perceived as an identifying symbol by Madrilenians. The reason is a mystery that deserves to be looked into the history of our city. It seems that the importation of fish and shellfish in Madrid started for religious reasons. The catholic reform of the XVI century imposed a restriction on meat during certain religious feasts, such as the Lent, and this caused the importation of products from other regions. The squid features, being without bones and easy to preserve, made easier its transportation to Madrid without any loss.

The clues we have about the calamari, lead us to Andalusian gastronomy, where the battered fish is very common and it is known there as ‘pescaito frito’. In the same way it is related to people from other coastal regions of Spain, such as Asturias and Galicia.

Calamari sandwich is considered within the context of the authentic bars of Madrid, as a cheap snack you can eat any time during the day and has nothing to do with sophistication.

The most authentic profile of Madrid (and it can’t be any other way) consists in Plaza Mayor and its surroundings, where you can smell the fried calamari as soon as you enter the square.

There you will see lots of bars and restaurants where you can try their calamari sandwiches like if it was a competition. According to the profile of the restaurant you will be able to see different modalities with a certain variety in prices and unfortunately some of them will try to trick tourists with exorbitant prices for a low quality.

If you want to go safe, many point out Casa Rúa or Los Galayos as places with a good value for money, besides being bars with an authentic Madrilenian charm. Anyway, you can perfectly try one between 2,90 and the 6,50 euros of the genuine and legendary El Brillante, the most popular place for a calamari sandwich.

If you say you don’t like calamari sandwiches, be prepared to the reaction of people in Madrid, who will probably take it as a sacrilege.

Best places to try Squid sandwich!


This bar is one of the great classics in the center of our city, located near the Plaza Mayor. For us, the calamari are delicious and the combination with the bread in which they make freshly every day, makes us to want to go back. We also recommend trying this sandwich with their famous patatas bravas, a drink to your liking and good company.


In Madrid when we ask for a calamari sandwich, many will recommend this place. El Brillante is a legendary place that since its opening in 1967, has helped to promote the popularization of this sandwich. It is located in front of the Atocha Station, so it is ideal to visit before taking the train to a new destination.


If you want to continue enjoying our city, you can’t miss this post in which we show you how to use Madrid’s public transport.

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