One of my favorite Spanish staples is the tortilla. For my American friends: this is not the Mexican flat bread you’re accustomed to. The closest approximation in words would be a potato egg omelette, but like language itself, some things don’t directly translate. Tortilla is more like a quiche with mostly sliced potato held together by a binder (originally egg). Meaning this tradition is at least vegetarian, and always gluten free (here I’m only sharing vegan, of course).
Making tortilla can be labor intensive, so eating it out is quite typical. Many restaurants will advertise tortilla para llevar, a whole tortilla for takeaway and even supermarkets stock plastic sealed tortillas.
If there’s one thing for certain about vegan tortilla is the surprising amount of options available. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve eaten these. While some are better than others (one is my clear favorite) there’s only one criterion I have – that I foresee myself eating it again when the tortilla craving strikes – which can happen anywhere, anytime.
Distrito Vegano (100% vegan restaurant)
Calle del Dr. Fourquet, 32
Pretty sure that this is the best traditional tortilla you can find. It’s housemade and you can tell – incredibly rich and savory with the perfect texture. The proprietors, reluctant to share any secret recipes (I don’t blame them), admitted that it takes about 4 hours to make. They use a chickpea based binder which captures the richness that eggs have, and they slow cook the potatoes, confit style.
My Madrileño friend Juan ordered a second piece – after our entire meal.
At 3.50, it comes with bread and housemade mayo and isnly served on Saturdays. If you’re into slightly gooey warm tortilla, go right when they open. The tortilla may still be warm and not completely holding shape – a wonderful welcome.
Chillin Café (100% vegan restaurant)
Calle Estrella, 5
They have not one, but TWO tortillas.
The tortilla de jamón y manzana, (vegan ham and apple) has just that extra bit of texture and flavor to make it stand out over the other typical entries. The same can be said of the champiñón y perejil (button mushroom and parsley). The texture is very good as well.
At 3.50 with mayo and bread, we’d say this is a super close second to Distrito Vegano. The major differences are that the tortillas at Chillin Cafe come with extra ingredients – there is no regular one. Also, Chillin Cafe has tortilla anytime they’re open. This is a smart move.
B13 (100% vegan restaurant)
Calle de la Ballesta 13
This perpetually crowded all vegan favorite slings a solid, all around decent piece of tortilla. The tortilla at B13 gets high marks for portion, as this piece would be more aptly called a giant slab. The texture is mashed potato thick – likely due to the low binder, high potato ratio. Cut this tortilla with a fork and the piece is likely to stay intact.
At 3 euros and this big, you won’t be disappointed. It always seems to be available. Be forewarned – I’m not kidding about how crowded this place always is. A line usually starts forming outside the door at half an hour before opening time. When they open, everyone rushes in and all tables are immediately filled!
Viva Chapata (flexitarian with vegan options)
Calle del Ave María 43
In the heart of Lavapies, the tortilla portion at Viva Chapata rivals the one at B13. Where it falters, however, is in the texture. Rather than sliced, layered potatoes, this is more like a crumble, and it comes served with tomato sauce – not typical, but it works.
Also the tortilla here does vary noticeably in quality. I’ve eaten it many times, but one time has eyewitnesses to prove it. Several friends and I shared two pieces – the last piece from one pie, and the first from another, and we all agreed the latter was considerably better.
At almost 4 euros (Ed note- can’t remember exact price, or can find online), it’s more than the others. Every time we’ve been to Viva Chapata they’ve had tortilla on offer. And there’s never a bad time for tortilla, in my opinion.
El Perro Gamberro (100% vegan restaurant)
Calle Segovia, 16
Want a twist on the tradition? Look no further than Perro Gamberro. Instead of the egg imitation route, these Gamberros opted to use squash as a binder. The result is an interestingly delicious piece of tortilla. Juan, our born and bred Madrileño, even ordered another piece at the end, just like he did at Distrito Vegano.
At 3.50, this is appropriately priced and well portioned. Just don’t come here expecting a traditionally tasting tortilla, which is not a bad thing!
There are places we’ve tried that didn’t make the cut (Loving Hut and La Encomienda). There are also places we’ve been to many times and their tortilla is never available (Vivaburger).
For my partner Sam, our fellow Madrileño Juan, and I, we have an internal tortilla clock. Too much time passes and we’ve got to scratch that tortilla itch. Any tortilla worth its salt takes significant time to prepare. Given the energy cost and delicacy of the prep, we’ll leave it to the professionals.
Interested in more vegan Madrid? Check out the Alternative Travelers’ Ultimate Vegan Guide to Madrid.
Are there places we’ve missed that we need to try? Let us know!