World’s Oldest Restaurant: The Inside Scoop on Botin

Lots of visitors to Madrid are curious about Botin, and with good reason. This old eatery in the center of Madrid is famous due to its status as the world’s oldest restaurant!

Interior of a 300 year restaurant in Madrid, Spain, with red detailing and wood paneling
Devour nearly 300 years of history at Botin! Photo credit: katiebordner

Check the Guinness Book of World Records and you’ll see Botin listed as the world’s oldest restaurant. The restaurant is a hallmark of the Castilian style, and its food and atmosphere make it an establishment to be cherished through the ages.

Restaurante Sobrino de Botin: An Overview

Botin still roasts its famous meats in its cast-iron wood-burning stove—the same one used at its opening in 1725. Just under 300 years old, the oven still churns out delicious food—so delicious that the restaurant has attracted quite the clientele over the years.

Spanish painter Francisco Goya, American writer Ernest Hemingway, various European royalty and Spanish politicians have all passed through the doors of the world’s oldest restaurant. Today, the restaurant is a must-visit attraction for visitors to Madrid, but it’s also very popular among locals. Those who go feast on the restaurant’s specialties: roast suckling pig (cochinillo) and roast suckling lamb (cordero lechal).

Exterior of 300 year old cast iron, wood burning ovens with a fire inside.
The nearly 300-year-old ovens at Botin are still hard at work.

History of the World’s Oldest Restaurant

The first recorded mention of the building that now holds the world’s oldest restaurant dates back to 1590. This was a period of growth for Madrid, even when King Philip III temporarily installed his court in Valladolid.

Later, in 1725, after the area around the Plaza Mayor had taken shape as a commercial center of the town, the nephew of French cook Jean Botin bought the building and converted it into an inn. It was during that time that the famous wood oven was installed, and the restaurant received its proper name: Sobrino de Botin (literally “Botin’s Nephew”).

The restaurant came under new ownership in the early 20th century when the González family bought the business with the hopes of expanding it. However, they wouldn’t completely realize this dream until years after the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s.

Finally, the owners’ sons, Antonio and José González, turned the world’s oldest restaurant into the landmark attraction that it is today. They have preserved its appearance, its service and its cuisine through the years.

Today, Botin has four floors with wooden beams spanning the ceilings and tiles covering the floors. The ground floor is the bodega, or what used to be the wine cellars, and is lined with arched brick walls (make sure to go all the way down into the damp wine cave). The higher floors feature traditional Spanish artwork and you truly feel transported back in time.

Piece of roast pork in its sauce on a plate beside roast potatoes
The iconic roast suckling pig at Restaurante Botin.

Visiting the World’s Oldest Restaurant

Visitors to Madrid often ask the same questions: Should we go to Botin? Is it worth the price? Our answer to both is a resounding “Yes!”

However, there are a few things to keep in mind before dining at Botin in order to make the most of your experience.

  • Make a reservation! As the world’s oldest restaurant, Botin is at the top of many foodies’ bucket lists. Be sure to book your table ahead of time to ensure you get in.
  • Keep Spanish mealtimes in mind for the best experience. Lunch is the main meal of the day here in Spain, and can often involve multiple courses and hours of conversation that stretch on long after the meal has ended (a cultural phenomenon known as sobremesa). Don’t miss your chance to enjoy an authentic Spanish lunch at the world’s oldest restaurant!

Botin is a veritable Madrid institution and it should be a part of every traveler’s itinerary. When you walk into Botin and take in the art, the architecture, the aromas and the tastes, you will become a part of this restaurant’s 300 year history. Take a seat at a table where Goya or Hemingway dined before you and feel the legends of Madrid come to life.

Interior of a historic restaurant with framed pictures on the walls, dark wood details, and white tablecloths on the tables
History comes to life at Botin.

Update Notice: This post was originally published on April 16, 2013 and was updated with new text and photos on April 27, 2022. 

Want to experience a meal at Botin complete with a behind-the-scenes tour? Our Madrid Prado Museum Tour & VIP Botin Lunch is calling your name! After a morning spent exploring another one of Madrid’s local icons, settle in for lunch at the world’s oldest restaurant and see firsthand why it’s still going strong after nearly three centuries. 

6 Comment

  1. Craig says
    May 1, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    Interesting… We’re in Salzburg right now, and they claim St Peter’s is the oldest restaurant… founded around 800 AD. I wonder why Guinness disqualifies it?

    1. Lauren Aloise says
      May 1, 2013 at 11:36 pm

      Hmm, that is really interesting! I’d like to know too. By the way, thanks for our interview today!

  2. June 5, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Howdy Lauren and team! I’m super pumped to have found your blog from Nomadic Matt’s site!
    I plan on visiting Madrid the week of July 8 before going to Mallorca on July 12 and would love to connect with you guys. As I know nobody in Madrid, I would love to participate in everything you’ve got to offer: food tour, music, outings, etc.
    A little about me, I started the personal finance and lifestyle blog network called the Yakezie Network and also manage my main site at Financial Samurai.
    I love to eat and travel. Hope to hear from you guys!
    Best,
    Sam

  3. Allyson Harris says
    May 19, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    this was great information. it is useful to me! thank you!

  4. Norah Ohrt says
    September 29, 2020 at 10:39 am

    Botin is a bit over rated, the atmosphere is lovely and so is the pork. The lamb is soaked in brine for days before cooking and far too salty when roasted. They don’t tell you this when ordering! But if you complain they will tell you to telephone 4 days in advance and say you want unsalted lamb and they will have it for you! One of the best things on the menu are the clams [ almejas] with Chorizo, it is a house specialty and they do it superbly! Botin is a nice restaurant but overpriced and very “touristy”!

    1. Devour Tours says
      October 5, 2020 at 8:53 am

      Thanks for your comment, Norah! Botin is definitely on the pricier side for Madrid restaurants, but still a must in our book for curious foodies wanting a taste of history.

Leave a Reply