Considered one of the oldest restaurants in the world as well as the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records, Sobrino de Botín has been open since 1725. However, the building’s history goes back even further when it was built in 1590.
The restaurant was named after French cook, Jan Botín who had moved to Madrid and opened the establishment. Back then, it was more of a tavern. In the 18th century, only food brought in by patrons was cooked as selling food was banned at the time, but it eventually became a full-fledged restaurant.
This famous historic place was passed through generations of the Botín family until the González family took over in 1930 and expanded operations. Today, it is run by Antonio González.
Sobrino de Botín has had its fair share of notable guests including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway even mentioned it, by name, in his book “The Sun Also Rises.” The appearance of Botín in famous works of literature just adds to its allure.
Other than its age, it’s best known for serving roasted suckling pig, or cochinillo asado. The suckling pig is dressed in salt, pepper, water, lard, white wine, bay leaf, onion, and garlic before it is cooked in the old oven that has been in operation since its founding in 1725. The oven uses firewood and embers to cook this local Spanish delicacy.
Cordero asado, or roasted baby lamb is another dish famous at Botín and is made in the Castilian style. The restaurant gets the Segovia suckling pig and lamb from Sepulveda-Aranda-Riaza, a region considered the magical triangle for these meats, and is located 100 miles north of Madrid.
Not in the mood for sucking pig or lamb? There are many other dishes on the menu worth ordering. Chicken Fricassee in an almond sauce may suit your fancy. Or perhaps the Cantabrian hake which comes with roasted potatoes. When I visited, I had ordered the delectable flaky cod which was cooked in a tomato pepper sauce – I definitely recommend it! Bread may be ordered on the side. The sangria is just divine and save some room to end your meal with a lovely dessert such as the chocolate mousse cake with fruit coulis on the side.
The food is just one aspect, albeit an important one, to Botín. The other thing of note is its historical ambiance. When you walk into the establishment, you will note how old it is. The floors and ceiling are uneven, which is what happens to buildings that are centuries old. Stairways are narrow and doorways are low. A visit here will transport you back in time and it’s a glorious place to be! You will see gorgeous blue and white tiles adorning the walls in some areas. Make sure to walk around the four floors to look around and take it all in. It is all part of the broader experience of eating a meal at Botín.
Sobrino de Botín is located at Calle Cuchilleros, 17, 28005 Madrid, Spain. A visit here will likely be one you will remember!