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!
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).
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.
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.
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.