FOOD! Everyone needs it. Everyone loves it. Everyone has different taste and needs. Not every place caters to everyones needs.
All I heard about before moving here was how wonderful the food was in Spain, and how jealous everyone was of the options in Spain. I have yet to understand what everyone is talking about. I've decided it must be different depending on where in Spain you go. I haven't travelled far from Madrid, so the food is all about the same in the areas I have been, and I'm not going to pretend I like it.
I am a pescetarian, have a bad reaction from MSG, and am lactose intolerant. This means all of the jamon and cheese are not really working for me. What do I eat then? A lot of potatoes, eggs and pasta (no surprise). There are plenty of vegetarian/vegan places and options close to the center of Madrid, but they are very expensive. Now, this doesn't mean that there aren't some places I've found that are great! The Federal is a cafe that does really great brunch! It is expensive and there is usually a long line for brunch, but that doesn't stop me from going once a month. There is also a really fun milkshake place called Cookies and Dreams that is far too fun not to try once, but bring your lactaid if you need it (or Nutira which is what the brand is here in Spain).
Another place I really enjoy going is VIPS. Its not pronounced V-I-P-S, but just vips. I randomly happened into the place one day because nothing else was open, hola 'siesta'. So the best things about VIPS? Falafal burger option, burger toppings including egg and brioche bun, and free pitchers of water without getting dirty looks. There are a lot of VIPS around and they aren't very expensive, they have English menus, and they are always open during the day! That's even their slogan "muy abierto" which translates to very open.
Another place I really like is J and J Books. It is owned and run by English speaking people so there was a comfort there, especially when first having moved here. They have a bagel brunch that goes until 6 pm on the weekends, or something like that. They also do sell books in English and have intercambios. I've never done any of the intercambios there, but friends have and it fills up real quick. Back to the food- its really great! Its a small venue, and its very busy, but I really enjoy the food there.
Last place I can mention that is wonderful is Tasty Poke. There are a few different locations. It is just a quinoa and rice bowl place but it has only fish and tofu as the protein options so it is ideal for me, and its delicious! When in doubt, there is always pizza with tuna. So good.