Does tradition have a price? In Madrid yes, and one increasingly higher. With record inflation, never seen in 40 years, the vast majority of the capital’s most traditional establishments head off it, doomed to raise prices. The employees and owners agree in their statements to Somos Madrid: they did their best to maintain the values, until expenses skyrocketed so much that the situation became unsustainable.
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Thus, any tourist route through the city has become a journey due to the rise in prices in recent months, synthesized in the star dishes of the great culinary references of Madrid. An inflation menu with starter, first course, main course, dessert and drink.
Let’s start with breakfast. Who wants to have a chocolate with churros in San Gines, one of the most traditional establishments in the center, will have to spend a few cents more. A chocolate with six churros or two batons, for example, now costs €4.90. In December, the price was €4.50.
A worker at the mythical chocolate shop explains the reasons: “The price of oil has risen a lot and, as is logical, we use a lot.” Even more traumatic has been the rise in the price of cocoa: “It hasn’t skyrocketed so much, but while with oil we have looked for alternatives, in the case of chocolate we cannot afford to give up a minimum of quality.”
Lovers of pastries are not spared either. The iconic manolitos have been the protagonist of a fever in Madrid in recent times. In Manolo Bakers, a chain specializing in these mini croissants, all versions of this sweet temptation have cost five cents more per unit since January, as confirmed in the Alonso Martínez store. The basic manolito has gone from €0.65 to €0.70. The boxes of sweet and savory manolitos have also become more expensive, although the price per unit is still cheaper.
Clients of both businesses are resigned to the price increase and even understand it. “For how expensive everything has become, I would expect that in a place like this they would go up even more,” Alicia says as she waits patiently to order in the line at San Ginés. She is surrounded by tourists who don’t seem to care too much about inflation, at least during her vacations.
Putting aside breakfast or snacks and hugging the lid, the situation does not change much. The essential and irresistible tortilla skewer from Dani House (inside the Mercado de la Paz, in the heart of the Barrio de Salamanca) has risen almost 17% in just a few months: from €3 to €3.50. In farm house, the temple of cod in the center of Madrid, the croquette of this fish is almost 9% more expensive than in December: from €1.15 to €1.25. And the patatas bravas The Braves, in the central Pasaje de Mathéu, are almost 8% more expensive than last year. Where before you paid €5.10, now you have to leave €5.50.
Of course, inflation does not forgive more generous and forceful dishes either. The ration of broken eggs Pike House, tradition in vein and cholesterol in arteries in La Latina, has risen from €12.50 to the current €13.90. Now the customer pays 11.20% more. The roast chicken mingo house, in Moncloa, costs €12.15 for the €11.60 that was paid for this delicacy before the price escalation intensified. And with a summer that is already heading to the final stretch to make way for cooler months, it is advisable not to lose sight of the price of Madrid stew. In Malacatín (near Tirso de Molina) it is €22, one euro more than its price in December.
Beyond the things of eating, we do not forget the beer. In the Ponzano Restaurant, located on this street full of hotel options, both the beer and the double rose in price in January: from €1.70 to €2 and from €2.50 to €3. They tell us that most of the places around have done the same.
If we change beer for coffee with milk, we find a place that is reluctant to increase the cost of one of its star products. The very Malasañian Lolina Vintage Café maintains the prices of 2021: the latte stays at €1.50.
Freeze prices, an unsustainable Ideal
Lolina Vintage vermouth is one of the exceptions that confirms the rule of inflation. Another case is that of The Ideal Baralthough it may not be for long. It is a centennial emblem of Madrid’s gastronomy, attached to the Plaza Mayor, where they can barely take time to talk to this medium. Fry, serve and charge; fry, serve and collect. We are attended by Santos, who confirms that business is going well and that is why (“because of the people”) they have maintained prices. The squid sandwich, a dish in which they are a reference, does not move from €3.50.
At least for now. Santos acknowledges that they cannot continue like this for too long: “It will stop being profitable” no matter how much pull they have. “I don’t think we can last long. Expenses have gone up a lot: electricity, oil, beer…”, he laments. Until this price increase is consumed, his squid sandwich remains one of the last bastions of gastronomy cat in the face of inflation.