When traveling, the act of eating is far more than just the simple necessity of sustenance. Rather, food is arguably one of the most important aspects of visiting new places and is one that has the ability to make a far more lasting impression than any museum or monument can hope to achieve.
An example of how a simple snack can bring the sights of scenes of an entire city into better focus is perhaps best found in Madrid with the delicious churros con chocolate.
This commonplace snack for Madrileños is a think chocolate drink served with fried pastry or churros. Done correctly, this deceptively simple dish is heaven on a plate.
Most of the guidebooks will direct you to the Chocolateria San Gines in central Madrid, not far from the Calle Arsenal pedestrian zone. While certainly good, I would not recommend people visit this small café for truly great churros con chocolate. Perhaps a victim of their own success (and guidebook mentions) San Gines is little more than a churros and chocolate factory, pumping out as much as possible to appease the masses.
Rather, I would direct any visitor to Madrid to any of the city’s numerous, one-off chocolate houses OR to one of their chains, Valor. It may seem odd to recommend a chain chocolateria, but of all the ones we visited Valor was the best.
What makes for a truly great version of the sweet treat is the perfect combination of a well made chocolate drink and freshly made churros. The churros you find around the cafes at the Plaza Mayor have the texture of plastic while the ones at San Gines are made in such overwhelming quantities that it is very unlikely you will get a fresh one. However, each time we stopped at Valor, the churros were hot and perfectly made.
Ignore any concern for your waistline and do as the Madrileños do, sit back, enjoy a few churros and take advantage of some prime people watching.