Madrid Institutions: The Churrería

Weird : Quirky : Fun

by Katie Goldstein


Photo: Antonio finishes a long morning of churro-making.

There are few things more castizo—authentic—in this city than a breakfast of chocolate con churros. Though these fried delights are a staple at neighborhood bars around Madrid, they are rarely made in the bar itself. Instead, bars depend on regular deliveries from the diminishing number of churrerías around the city for their supply.

According to Antonio, one of my neighborhood churreros, the number of these tiny fried dough factories has dropped from 1,600 to less than 200 in the last 15 years. And that’s because the churreros are a dying breed. Of the four churrerías that operate in my barrio, most of the churreros are over 70. Antonio, who is a sprightly 35, is already training one of his delivery guys in the art of churro-making. He himself started 18 years ago. He says it was just like becoming a mechanic or a plumber: a vocation.

His bright little churrería, a relative newbie in the barrio (it’s been around for 10 years) shows no sign of slowing down. But, as Antonio says, it’s “slave” work: the hours are grueling (he opens from 5 to 11 am every day, holidays included). In another miniscule old-timey churrería two blocks from my house, the older woman who runs it with her husband refused to even answer my questions because she was too exhausted and busy. She said she’d been up since 2 am.

It’s clear, though, that the madrileño love for fried dough hasn’t wavered. Even Antonio says he still swears by a desayuno con churros.


Comment from Richard
Date: April 18, 2008, 2:13 pm

Quando fue en Madrid en 1996 mi amigo y yo fuimos a un churreria. Hubo muchas personas – muchos familias – ahi. Mi gusta mucho. Pero en 2006 – no fue ahi.

Comment from Katie
Date: April 18, 2008, 3:22 pm

I believe it! How sad.