Aye Yai Yai! Today we are talking about Vegetarian Tex-Mex food in Madrid. Madrid is so much more than Spanish food, and for this native Texan who is obsessed with variety and diversity in life, I am so happy to see more and more international options sprouting up in the city. Coming from one of the food capitals of the U.S., Houston, I crave food flavors from around the world, and being Texan I love our “national” cuisine, Tex-Mex. Top that off with being American, I expect large portions and for my food to come out fast. And that is just what we have in Madrid; 3 fast-casual chains that offer all the above. They pride themselves on using fresh ingredients and follow the U.S. Tex-Mex fast-casual restaurant chain model of Chipotle. Which is where you view an assembly line of options, make your selection, and have your food made right in front of you. Best part yet about all 3 places is that they have a variety of vegetarian Tex-Mex options that you can eat on site or order to-go. Let’s check them out!
The Tex-Mex OG. We have Tako-Away to thank for this trend of fast food Tex-Mex in Madrid. The founders, two guys from Mexico, brought the concept here 7+ years ago and over the years have inspired others to follow. In my opinion, among the three places mentioned in this post, Tako-Away feels most like a fast food joint. Their iconic blue, orange, and white decorated locations are generally small with limited space for seating, sometimes standing only, and most patrons seem to order and go. This was my place of choice for the late night/early morning walks home when I needed to curb my alcohol-induced hunger pangs. If you are looking for cheap, fast, and basic, then this is your place.
Where: 16 locations in Madrid
Price: 3,00€ – 8,00€
What to expect:
- Nachos – 4 different types of nachos
- Burrito – cheese, lettuce, pico de gallo, rice, beans, braised vegetables, and a sauce of your choice
- Urban Bowl – rice, beans, guacamole, cilantro, braised vegetables, and a sauce of your choice
- Fresh Bowl – lettuce, cheese, pico de gallo, crushed nacho chips, braised vegetables, sauce of your choice and dressing
- Quesadillas – cheese, pico de gallo, braised vegetables, and a sauce of your choice
- Tacos – pico de gallo, braised vegetables, and a sauce of your choice
- Menu del dia – Everyday! Choose from a burrito, a bowl, 2 quesadilla, or 3 tacos + a drink
What else: Everything is made right in front of you with fresh ingredients. Even the guacamole is homemade. There is a “Thursday Special” which consists of a free order of nachos with cheese with any purchase of 2 burritos, or 2 free bottles of Coronita with any purchase of nachos. They serve alcohol and have margaritas and a selection of imported beers: Corona, Budweiser, Pacifico, Modelo Especial, and Negra Modelo.
Hours: 12:30 pm – Closing time varies by location. Some locations are open until 8:00 am?!
After Tako-Away came Tierra. Tierra was made in the eye of Chipotle. Like Chipotle, at Tierra you customize your order by building your own dish as you move down the ordering counter. Tierra prides itself on fresh quality ingredients and mammoth portion sizes. The atmosphere and decor are warm and inviting, even more so than that of Chipotle, and attracts a lively, young, and social crowd. Most locations have ample seating and have both small and communal tables. Of the 3 places mentioned in this post, Tierra is my favorite!
Where: 8 locations in Madrid
Price: 6,00€ – 6,50€
What to expect:
First, choose from one of their main dishes:
- Tacos – 3 soft shell flour tortillas
- Desnudo (bowl)
Next build your order with the following: white or brown rice, black beans, 3 types of salsas that vary in spiciness, sour cream (regular or chipotle), cheese, pico de gallo, jalapeños, corn, and lettuce. All vegetarian dishes come with free guacamole.
They also serve Nachos, which are my personal favorite here. They are fantastic and filling as a meal for 1 and also large enough to share as a starter.
What else: As I mentioned above, they have quality ingredients, large portions, AND FREE REFILLS!! Tierra also has a daily Happy Hour special: a margarita by the liter for 9.95€ or margarita + nachos for 14,95€ (check store for hours). They have a massive selection of worldwide beers which include the U.S., England, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Mexico, the Netherlands, Singapore, and Australia. For dessert, they’ve got some yummy cookies.
Hours – 12:00 pm – 12:30 am or 1:30 am. Closing hours vary by location
Last but not least, is Jleo’s, pronounced “Jaleo,” which is a combo of the founder’s first names, José + Leo, as well as the “S” from another’s last name. Jleo’s is the newest fast-casual Tex-Mex kid on the block, although they consider themselves Med-Mex. What is Med-Mex? They describe it as “bringing together the best of the Mediterranean diet with the coolest Southern California style.” To me, it’s another Chipotle-inspired place offering similar plates to those above, with their little twist, and in a bright and inviting atmosphere.
Price: 5,50€ – 6,45€
What to expect:
Choose from the “Do It Yourself” options, first select one of the following:
- Burrito – flour or spinach tortilla
- Taco – 3 hard shell corn tortillas
- Salad Bowl
The vegetarian versions of all the above come with free guacamole. Next, select your toppings: brown rice with cilantro and lime or their special red + black + brown rice mix; black beans; vegetables (red onion, green + red bell peppers); lettuce; corn; shredded manchego cheese; and pico de gallo.
Last add your sauce: hummus, sour cream, mild salsa or hot salsa.
They also have Nachos! Choose from Nachos with guacamole, black beans, sour cream, pico de gallo, and salsa (ask for cheese) or just Nachos + guac/ Nachos + salsa/ Nachos + cheese.
What else: Fresh food that is made in-house (including the nachos!). Tuesday is “Taco Tuesday” where you can get 1€ tacos from 20:00 until close. There is a “Menu Mediodia” from Monday-Friday where you can choose a quesadilla, burrito, or bowl + drink + coffee/tea for 9,00€-9,50€. They also have a daily happy hour from 16:00 to 20:00 and 23:00 until closing. The happy hour consists of 4 half liter jarras of beer + nachos for 14€; 2 half-liter jarras of beer for 4,50€; 2 bottles of Mahou + nachos for 8€; or a copa for 5€. They serve margaritas and offer a variety of beers- Mahou, Modelo, Pacifico, Terra Latina, Budweiser, La Virgin, Alhambra, and Franziskaner. They’ve got desserts as well – try the oreo one, it is spectacular!
Hours: Sunday – Thursday 12:30 pm to midnight. Friday and Saturday 12:30 pm – 12:30 am
Let me know what you think about these Vegetarian Tex-Mex options in Madrid!