Centro Specialty

Establishment neighborhood
Mercado San Ildefonso
Calle de Fuencarral, 57, Centro
In a city of great markets new and restored, it's tough to stand out, though this hipster concept does a pretty good job of it with an edited selection of distinct street food stalls. Don't expect any banh-mi though, the furthest you'll get from tapas here are the Mexican tacos and the Peruvian ceviche. Located in Malasaña, the market is packed at work lunch hours and then again late at night when the offices close. With plenty of cocktail and wine bars dotted throughout, this also makes a fun late night destination for groups.
Panic Bakery
Calle Conde Duque, 13, Centro
Unlike other European cities, Madrid didn't boast much of a bread scene until graphic designer-turned bread baker Javier Marco came along with his artisanal sourdough and opened Panic in 2012. To this day, he sells six basic loaves, for which people continue to line up around the block, complemented by some incredible cakes baked by HomeCake. You'll occasionally find some pretty epic sandwiches (bocatas) here too, along with his magic touch on the traditional Pan Tomate. Make sure to ask about their occasional bread baking workshops.
Café del Jardin del Museo del Romanticismo
Museo del Romanticismo, Calle San Mateo 13, Centro
While we wouldn't recommend spending a ton of time at the Museum of Romanticism itself, the tea salon and garden are another story altogether. This teensy cafe is something of a local's secret: Set in a lush, and yes, sweetly romantic courtyard behind the museum, it's an idyllic spot for an afternoon break. Make sure to snag a seat outside at one of the tables around the fountain and order a slice of the famous home-baked cake.
Queseria Cultivo
Calle Conde Duque, 15, Centro
While the Panic bakery next door brings artisanal bread into focus, the Queseria is all about artisanal cheeses from Spain and beyond. In their vast and heavenly vault you'll find a surprising variety of national cheeses across the spectrum, along with the very best of the rest of Europe. The shop is the work of three pioneering cheese producers coming together to raise awareness of their craft in Madrid. Not only do they bring rare regional varieties here, they also teach classes on everything from cheese-making to photography.
Mercado de San Miguel
Plaza de San Miguel, Centro
As the last of the 19th-century iron markets in Madrid, this beautifully preserved monument operates just as it has for almost two centuries. Because it's such a fixture on the scene for both foodies and tourists, the prices at some of the stands are a little higher than at other local markets, but the quality and variety is pretty stunning. You'll find all the classic Spanish pantry necessities along with international gourmet goods, from fresh pasta to Russian caviar. If you don't mind the crowds, the best day to head here is Sunday, when locals head to the tapas stalls after a day strolling the nearby Rastro flea market.