Embracing the Sprunch: why brunch in Madrid isn’t like the brunch back home

by Klara Nordström

As a semi-hipster millennial with an appetite and an Instagram obsession – of course I brunch.

While I would never describe myself as a ‘foodie’ – in fact the mere thought makes me cringe – the truth is that finding the perfect brunch in Madrid is somewhat of an obsession of mine.

I even have a Madrid bucket list dedicated to new brunch places to try, and I’m constantly yelping for more (this sounds sadder than it is, promise).

When I moved to Madrid from a small but smug country further north in 2012, brunch had yet to really hit it big in the Spanish capital. To be fair it was only about two years old in Sweden, but that’s another story.

Life without hollandaise

My first few months here were spent in a brunch-less haze, trying to find a place with decent eggs Benedict and complaining about the lack of hollandaise sauce in my new home country.

brunch in Madrid

Eggs benedict. Very, very tasty. Photo by Jon Mountjoy.

Since then, Malasaña, Chueca and Huertas have become the corners in a golden triangle of brunch, with every other establishment trying to cash in on the (let’s face it) mostly guiri-led craze. 

Yet, almost every non-Spaniard I know has an strong opinion on the offer:

“Brunch from 12 to 8PM? Are they crazy?”

“No mimosas? What is this?”

“Bread for starter and second? It just ain’t right”.

Basically, the general guiri consensus seems to be that while the sign outside may say brunch, Spain does not really get it. And then we laugh a little bit, shrug our shoulders, and secretly rejoice in our superior brunch knowledge.

But, my waffle-loving friends, I have seen the light, and it is time to stop whining. Spain knows how to brunch better than any of us.

Oh yeah…

How can I claim such a thing? Let’s break it down:

First of all, brunch is a concept that is pretty hard to nail even among self proclaimed aficionados, simply because it is more easily defined of what it isn’t (breakfast or lunch) than what it actually is. However, few would deny that brunch is about indulgence.

We are talking about a substantial meal, preferably topped off with some alcohol, dragged out for a couple of hours (no one does a “quick brunch”). Also, there is usually some kind of egg-based dish on the menu.

Do you see where I’m going with this? Yes, I would indeed claim that the Spaniards brunched all along.  In fact, they may be the ultimate brunchers (or Sprunchers, if you will). They just happened to call it weekend lunch, cause they were too busy not caring about Anglo-Saxon culture.

Brunch in Madrid: Embracing the Sprunch

True, horario-wise it is a stretch pretending that Spanish lunches have anything to do with breakfast.

When your meal starts at three, there is nothing top o’ the morning about it.  Nevertheless, their seemingly endless love for egg and potato combinations more than make up for the time lag. And jamón is really just low-fat bacon. And seriously, who does boozy lunches better than Madrileños?  Sprunch, it is a thing!

My main point is: stop the whining, guiris.

Who can blame a bar for adding a bagel and some mimosas to the menu and putting up a colourful “TENEMOS BRUNCH” sign outside the door?

It is certainly a good way to boost business. At the end of the day, who needs hollandaise sauce anyway?

You just keep doing you, Madrid.

Where to go?

For brunch: I recommend Carmencita Bar, the place that inspired a thousand others still has the best brunch offer in Madrid (c/ San Vicente Ferrer 51). Or, check out The Toast, at c/ Fernando el Católico, 50.

For Sprunch: Every place with a decent tortilla and a licence to serve alcohol. For a deluxe cañas + tortilla experience, try Juana la Loca (Plaza Puerta de Moros 4).

Do you have a favorite brunch – or Sprunch – in Madrid? Tell us all about it in the comments!

Klara Nordström
 

Accidental madrileña since 2012, I believe in feminism, the internet and aircon. Oh, and also ABBA.

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