Sobrino de Botin, Madrid


The world’s oldest restaurant. Goya worked as a waiter there. Their famous cochinillo asado or roast suckling pig was mentioned in Ernest Hemingway’s book The Sun Also Rises. Yipes. That’s a pretty impressive pedigree to live up to. Simply surviving 285 years of operations should be awe inspiring! Located just around the corner from Casa Hernanz and close to the Plaza Mayor, Sobrino de Botin is an absolute legend. And dining at “legends” can often be disappointing, but that was not the case at Botin…


We showed up before two in the afternoon without reservations and luckily they had some tables free. We opted to stay on the ground floor, to avoid the stairs, but I later had a look upstairs and noted that the dining areas there were quite boisterous and lively, filled with lunch time diners.


The menu was straightforward enough, with just a few (presumably tried and tested) dishes on offer. Appetizers include plates of freshly sliced jamon iberico, a few salads, anchovies, peppers and croquetas. Several dishes of scrambled eggs. Gazpacho and Sopa de Ajo. Several fish dishes, with the priciest dish on the menu being baby eels at Euro95 per order. Then of course the famous roast suckling pig and baby lamb. A few other roasted meats and several vegetable side dishes.


We took note of the serving portions on nearby tables and for once, ordered in a rather restrained manner. One order each of baby roast pig and baby roast lamb and a dish of white asparagus.


The baby roast suckling pig was very good. Crisp, nearly wafer thin skin, extremely moist and succulent meat, served au jus and with some roasted potatoes on the side. This pig had been oven-roasted, basted every so often, and if I could take a wild guess, using both olive oil and possibly butter. The piglets couldn’t have been more than 6 weeks old at most, and they were well seasoned and a joy to eat.


But the surprise was that the roasted baby lamb was possibly even BETTER than the roast pig. Superb flavor, tender meat and the most amazing bones. Also served au jus and with some roasted potatoes as well.


The white asparagus didn’t hold a candle up to the roasted meats, and we were hard-pressed to consume all of the massive spears that appeared overcooked and frankly, just on the “gross” side, if you know what I mean. We weren’t that hungry so while we nearly finished this modest order, we left a piece or two of meat and some of the asparagus. Together with some drinks and bread, this lunch came to a total of Euro65 or so, a relative bargain considering the food, history and longevity of the place. But the best tidbit of all? Once we had paid our bill and left the restaurant, I turned around to take a few photos of the facade and noticed the doors to the kitchens of Sobrino de Botin, and as if on cue, who should emerge from the kitchens to go to a building (probably owned by the same folks) across the street? A Pinoy chef or sous-chef (one of several in the kitchens of Botin, I am told). Now you know, even in Madrid, Pinoys cook some of the best roasted suckling pig in the world. :) Heeheehee.

Sobrino de Botin
Calle de los Cuchilleros 17
Reservations highly recommended.


22 Responses

  1. I love Botin – one of my favourite restaurants – am impressed you managed to take good pictures – it was a struggle for me! The cochinillo and cordero are just the best!

  2. Yes, we were there about 4 years ago and we went for the evening setting and the placed was packed upstairs and downstairs. Reservations for the evening is a must as they have two settings only. We had the menu of the cochinillo asado and loved it!! So tender and tasty! I wonder if there was a Pinoy cook already at that time?

  3. i used to work for a food service firm in dubai, i did my training in Madrid and one of the chef trainor is a Pinoy :) both of us were really proud :)

  4. Unexpected places I have ran into Filipinos. Anchorage, Alaska a regular maintenance stop for Cathay Pacific, a brigade of them burst into the aircraft speaking Tagalog. Porto Alegre in the southernmost tip of Brazil, a well-dressed smart looking Filipina vied with me for the possession of a an antique tortoise shell cigarette case in a flea market stall. I let her win. Aparecida de Goiania deep in the Brazilian interior, I approached two Franciscan acolytes for direction and they turned out to be Filipinos who knew the place a lot less than me. Not Filipino but tenuously connected, in Salvador de Bahia a working girl sidled by me as I walked and offered her services in very good Tagalog. Turned out she acquired it from docking Filipino seamen. I complimented her language skill but declined her services.

  5. Mouth watering photos! :D

    @Footloose: I’ve never been anywhere where I DIDN’T run into Filipinos, lol! I even saw a Filipino band in Ulan Baatar, Mongolia.

  6. Aaaahhh Botin…. a memorable place to have been to. It was one of our last dinners in Madrid on our honeymoon. Gotta go back to Spain!

  7. Yes Footloose, Pinoys everywhere, now no longer in what used to be unexpected places and circumstances, in restaurants or cruise ships or small towns in Scandinavia, or roaming the streets of Havana, or seamen dropped and stranded at a port in Portugal. And just yesterday, a door to door student peddling health food books trying to earn funds for schooling in the US and working on the side to help his family in the homeland, supposedly on a partnership program with the US government to disseminate information on healthy eating and healthy lifestyles as he peddles books published by a Seventh Day Adventist publishing company.

    My heart cries out to many of them especially those we will probably not bump into because of their unfortunate circumstances.

    Here’s the big challenge to Noynoy on what he can do for the country to provide decent jobs for a lot of our people so they don’t have to leave home and family.

  8. In Madrid I’ve seen Filipinos who speak straight Visayan language to their kids then speak to them in very good Castellano, amazing! In California, Filipinos speak straight their native dialect, funny Tagalog and a funnier English, ayayayayay!

    Anyways, MM you just missed the World Cup Celebration in Madrid heheheheheeh

  9. Yes the lamb is their signature dish. All the roasts are still done in the original 17th century ovens. I wonder if that Filipino chef is the one who has a segment on Youtube showing how to cook cochinillo. He gives a good show, very self assured. He added thyme to the seasonings.

  10. i saw this restaurant in a food network show. thanks for writing about it. I’ve been struggling to recall the name of the place. i remember when I watched it I told myself that Cebu cooks lechon de leche the same way.

  11. Wasn’t too impressed with their cochinillo. I’ve had much better lechon from Cebu or Iligan. I thought it was a bit overpriced for the bland pig with its not so crunchy skin. The ambiance was great though and the location excellent, right in the middle of old Madrid. The dinner entertainment was good. A guy was playing a Spanish banduria that night, it looked and sounded much different than the Philippine version, more like a small guitar, almost ukelele like. I never realized that Spain was the origin of that instrument. When I asked him about the octavina, he just stared at me and had no clue what it is, so I’m guessing that that’s more indigenous Filipino than the banduria. FYI the churros y chocolate in the Reina Sofia is to die for.

  12. Most restaurants in Madrid have Pinoy camareros as well. They’d occasionally throw in an extra plate of tapas for their kababayans, gratis.

  13. As a little sidestory, the Pinoy sous chef there works exclusively in the ovens where the cochinillo de cerdo and suckling pig are masterfully done. He’s been at it for 23 years



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