There’s a sandwich – fillings placed between two slices of sandwich bread – and then there’s a bocadillo – fillings placed between a Spanish-style baguette (crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside) sliced length-wise.
While you’ll run across sandwiches in Madrid (go to sandwich chain Rodilla for lots of choices about what to put on your white bread), bocadillos are the heavy hitter around here.
In fact, calamari sandwiches (bocadillos de calamares) are a Madrid specialty you can find in the eateries surrounding the Plaza Mayor and the Reina Sofía Museum. Other popular Spanish choices are ham sandwiches (bocadillos de jamón), ham and cheese sandwiches (bocadillos de jamón y queso) and potato omelet sandwiches (bocadillos de tortilla española).
Any local Madrid café can produce a decent sandwich so don’t be afraid to explore the city and pop in for a bite to eat anywhere that looks interesting. However, if you’re in a hurry, Pans & Company does bocadillos fast food style.
If you love ham or simply want to understand Spanish ham better, grab a ham sandwich at the Museo de Jamón, where hams decorate the walls. Then Cervecería 100 Montaditos is a good place to have lots of little sandwiches and beer when with friends or a group.
No Need to Hold the Mayo
Before you go out and order a bocadillo, you should probably be aware that with a Spanish sandwich, what you order is exactly what you get (ham + cheese + bread = a ham and cheese sandwich). If you must have something else than what is listed, like mayonnaise or tomato, you must order it. The exception to this rule, however, is the bocadillo vegetal, which usually consists of slices of hard-boiled egg, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and sometimes tuna fish.
When I’m hankering for a good sandwich in Madrid I admit that I will often buy a Spanish omelet bocadillo from an unlikely place – the sandwich shops at either Atocha train station or Chamartín train station. I prefer the softer bread they tend to use there.
[Photo: Melissa Galvez]