Botín Restaurant, which was founded in 1725, is the oldest in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records and one of the touchstones of Madrid’s traditional cuisine.
Actually that the first evidence of the building which today hosts Botín that located in the heart of Madrid near the Plaza Mayor was recorded in 1590.
In 1620 with the refurbishment of the Plaza Mayor (previously the Plaza del Arrabal) the area became the main commercial enclave in the city with shoemakers, tanners, cutlers, braziers, and blacksmiths.
It was on one of these streets where a French cook by the name of Jean Botín arrived in Madrid together with his wife a native of Asturias with the intention of working for a nobleman from the Court of Habsburg.
In 1725, a nephew of Botín’s wife,opened a small inn on the Calle Cuchilleros and carried out a refurbishment to the ground floor of the building, closing the existing arcade.
Evidence of this work remains in the form of a slab at the building’s entrance which features the date.
The wood oven also dates from that year and even today continues to attract diners with its tempting aromas.
An interesting fact is that until well into the 18th Century it was forbidden to sell meat, wine and other foodstuffs as it was considered an imposition which would jeopardise other trades.
As a result, you could only serve what the guest brought to be cooked. From here came the legend that “in Spanish inns you only found what the traveller brought”.
The artist Francisco de Goya worked in Cafe Botin as a waiter while waiting to get accepted into the Royal Academy of Fine Arts.
The restaurant is mentioned in an Ernest Hemingway novel and the book Fortunata y Jacinta by Benito Pérez Galdós (published 1886-1887).
Sobrino de Botín
The Botíns died without any descendants, and the restaurant was subsequently taken over by their nephew, Candido Remis…which explains the name coined by the business ever since: Sobrino de Botín (Botín’s nephew).
During the 19th century, the ground floor underwent more renovations.
Back then, Botín was considered as a type of tavern, since the term ‘restaurant’ was solely used for the few and rather exclusive places which attempted to emulate Parisian establishments.
With the arrival of the 20th century, Botín fell into the hands of its current owners, the González family.
When Amparo Martín and her husband Emilio González took hold of the reins, Botín was only a small family business with just seven employees, including the couple and their three children.
Spanish Civil War
The dawn of the Spanish Civil War served to dash the family’s hopes of expanding the small business.
Amparo and her children fled to the village of Segorbe in Castellon whilst Emilio stayed behind to look after the house, which turned into a dining room for members of the military.
After the war and the terrible period immediately following it, the couple’s sons, Antonio and José, assumed control of the business and gradually turned it into what it is today.
Currently, the restaurant is made up of four floors, all of which have preserved the charming atmosphere of a traditional tavern.
Situated at the heart of Madrid of the Habsburgs, Botín boasts a truly unbeatable location.
But of course, appearance is not everything: excellent customer service and delicious cuisine with top-quality ingredients take care of the rest.
Apart from using the original recipes, the restaurant has also kept the flame burning in the oven continuously, never to be extinguished .
Botín’s speciality is Castilian cuisine, with a special emphasis on roast lamb and suckling pig.
Three or four times every week, the restaurant receives suckling pigs straight from Segovia and lambs from Spain’s renowned magic triangle: Sepúlveda-Aranda-Riaza.
The lambs and suckling pigs are roasted slowly and carefully in the old wood-fired oven.
Nevertheless, this is by no means intended to deflect from the other tasty dishes offered: guests can also choose to sample delicious hake, fresh sole, clams with the house’s special sauce and many more irresistible delights.
Antonio, José and Carlos
Today, the business is being run by the third generation of the González family: Antonio, José and Carlos.
All of them are dedicated to achieving Botín’s age-old commitment to not only spoiling the stomachs of their guests, but also reaching their hearts for at least three hundred more years to come.
If you visit to Madrid one day, you must visit Botin like hundreds of other tourists.
We would like to thank Antonio González., the manager of Botin Restaurant, who gave us permission to use the videos.
Adress: Calle de Cuchilleros, 17, 28005 Madrid, Spain
Tel: +34 913 66 42 17