The Posada del León de Oro

Posada de León, Madrid

The Cava Baja in Madrid is one of my favourite ‘night-time’ streets. It is full of great little bars and restaurants and has a lot of character. The street is one of the oldest in Madrid, in the La Latina area and was known in the past as the pony in Madrid where post entered the city and where muleteers brought in coffee, hay, coal, wheat and much more. The street has quite a few posadas and one I particularly like is the Posada del León de Oro.

This place was totally refurbished in 2010 and the building itself dates from the 19th century. It houses a smart hotel, restaurant and bar (I have never stayed here but the bedrooms look fabulous). On entering the place it is well worth having a hick look around – notice the how the balconies look down on the restaurant and the glass floor displaying the old walls and an assortment of wine bottles!

Head over to the bar and view the wines that you can buy by the glass from all over Spain. Whatever your favourite Spanish tipple, you will probably find your needs catered to in here. Like much of Cava Baja it is also an ideal place to order some ‘raciones’ to share with friends or family. I would definitely recommend the croquets – they are delicious.

Directions

Address: Cava Baja 12, 28005 Madrid
Telephone: +34 91 119 14 94

Google Map

New Year’s Eve in Madrid

I have been asked this question so many times now, that I thought I would display the answer on the site. I would also welcome suggestions by other people on the subject, which is:

What can I do and where can I go on New Year’s Eve in Madrid?

This is what I normally end up doing if I find myself in Madrid with my wife, her family and our friends.

Many places in Madrid have private parties on that night – especially the nightclubs. Tickets are not that bad – around 40-60 Euros. However, I have only once been to one of these places and I would
personally recommend that you do the following:
Have a late dinner in a nice restaurant, preferably near the centre of the city as you don’t want to be catching the Metro (I do believe it closes for an hour or two). Try and finish around 11.15  – 11.30. Head as near to the Puerta del Sol as you can. Make sure you buy yourselves a bottle of Cava (Spanish champagne) – I would personally ask the waiter in the previous restaurant to keep it chilled for you. You also need to buy twelve grapes and make sure that you eat them on the stroke of each chime at 12 midnight.

I would then head over to Plaza Santa Ana where you will find plenty of nightlife – and in the nearby streets such as calle Huertas. Try the Moderna, Cerveceria Alemana and Naturbier. You may want to explore the bars around c/ Principe, such as Viva Madrid.  Don’t be alarmed if the bars are closed – this does happen as it gives waiters and bar staff the chance to celebrate with their families. They will open at least by 1 am!

And finally, try and have a cup of chocolate in Cafeteria San Gines – preferably around 6 or 7 in the morning.

These are just some quick thoughts and I would welcome suggestions from other people on where to go in Madrid on New Year’s Eve. Simply add a comment below.

Angelika Cinema Lounge Madrid

Angelika Cinema Lounge
There’s a bar/cafe down on Madrid’s Cava Baja that I have walked past on a number of occasions – never actually going into it, until now. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it – a video selection as you walked in, high stools around a bar, a smart Apple monitor also behind the bar and plasma TV screens showing popular films (last week they were showing Volver).

Well, last week I went out for a few drinks with my wife, her brother-in-law and his wife and we ventured in. Angelika Cinema Lounge is very different to your typical Spanish bar – firstly, there is a no-smoking policy (don’t get me started on the ridiculous no-smoking policies in Madrid!), secondly, you can hire a DVD from their superb selection of films and thirdly, the bar staff at Angelika are acting professionals, who you can ask film advice of.

Though we went in there late I can still remember that they were playing the Bill Murray film Lost in Translation! Films are projected on plasma screens around the bar and, from what I can gather, they all use the original soundtrack (no dubbing). Angelika offers a wide range of drinks and food – coffees, teas, spirits and some great pastries. As it was so late I had a gin and tonic, which from my perspective (at around 2 a.m.!) seemed to be very carefully prepared – gin poured over ice and the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon – delicious!

It also offers a free wi-fi zone and I can’t think of more pleasant surroundings to do some work, or even to surf. On different days they offer screenings, short films and cinema debates.

Location

Address: Cava Baja 24, 28005 Madrid, Spain

Telephone: 913 645 531
Web Address: http://www.angelika.es/

Ten Places I Would Never Eat or Drink in Madrid

I was walking around Madrid the to other day when I started thinking about some of the places that tourists go which add little, or no, value to the Madrid experience.They are often franchises, plastic in aspect and with no character. I explored this a little further with Vicen, my brother-in-law, and here is our Top 10 Places where you shouldn´t go in Madrid.:

  1. MC Donald´s – OK, so you eat this crap outside Spain. Why not start eating properly in Spain?
  2. Burger King – Nothing more to add.
  3. Kentucky Fried Chicken – Why on earth would you want to do it? Go look for some alitas or Pollo Asdao or Pollo al Ajillo. Much better and tastier!
  4. Starbucks – Usually double (at least!) the cost of a local coffee. A pointless experience but for some reason Americans, and Brits, they feel a need to go here. Go to the bar next door and get a taste of Spain.
  5. Pans and Co – I just don´t get this place when you can go to ANY bar and order a bocadillo.
  6. Cañas y Tapas – You will find these god-awful places all over Madrid. Go to the bar next door, please.
  7. VIPS – Another pointless place to go have food. I cannot understand why Spaniards, and some foreigners, go to these places for their lunch or dinner. Find a place that does Menú del Día nearby and get much better value for money.
  8. Café y Té is according to their website: "la consagración del concepto coffee-shop en España" (Trans: the consecration of the coffee shop concept in Spain). Bollocks! It´s another bloody franchise you shouldn´t bother going to.
  9. Dunkin Doughnuts – You come to Spain and end up eating this! Just go to one of the many pastry shops and bars and eat their great food.
  10. Subway – bascially, expensive bocadillos sold in plastic shops!

And, on that note, I´m off to have a bocadillo de lomo and a beer. All for around 3 Euros. Beat that Mc Donald´s!

Note: I have not included URL´s – if you want to find them, do it yourself!

Taberna Maceiras – a Galician Tavern!

Taberna Maceiras, Madrid

I was just trawling my Madrid picture album (I must have taken hundreds of pictures over the past few years) when I came across a bar that I haven’t blogged about. The Taberna Maceiras is located in Madrid’s famous c/ de las Huertas, one of the city’s most famous nightspots, and boasts some fine food. When Spain beat Argentina in a nail-biting semi final of the Basketball World Championship (they eventually won it), I was sitting in Maceiras having my lunch.

Like many Spanish bars and restaurants the decor of this place is very simple – the owners let the food do the talking for them. On a busy day you may be packed in close to the people on the next table but who cares!

Taberna Maceiras is a Galician Tavern and offers visitors a great selection of food and drink from this region – and boy is the food from Galicia great. Maceiras offers customers raciones – dishes of food which you can, and should, share amongst friends. Here’s a selection from their fish, shellfish and other dishes:

  • calamari (calamares)
  • clams (almejas),
  • mejillones (mussels)
  • steamed cockles (berberechos),
  • navajas (razor clams),
  • pulpo (octopus)
  • pimientos de padrón (padrón green peppers)

and many other wonderful dishes.

I’m not a great dessert fan but some people have recommended Queso Arzúa – Ulloa D.O con membrillo (Arzúa cheese with quince). I would also recommend that you try the Vino Albariño. If I’m correct they were having a fiesta del pulpo around the same time (let me know if you can clarify this) and the place was absolutely packed out most lunchtimes.

Address
Huertas (Centro) 66, 28014 Madrid, Spain – +34 914 295 818

Google Map

December Suggestions from Metrópoli

15o Planes

Metrópoli has a really good guide to what you can do in Madrid this December – it is in Spanish, though. They have come up with 150 suggestions for what you can do in the coming weeks – eat, drink, be merry and much more. Interestingly, they have broken them down into 15 categories – based on different types of personality. These range from the sportsman (woman), the art lover, the over 65’s, under 18’s, the shopaholics, singles, and a good few more. There are some really cool suggestions here – there is even a category for those who think they’re cool!!

Madrid’s Popular Local Dishes, Recipes, Foods and Places to Eat

For those who don’t yet know – and there may be some – Madrid is one fantastic, gastronomic experience. Putting aside the Italian, Mexican, Chinese and Thai restaurants that most major cities have, Madrid offers some of the very best “Spanish” restaurants that you will find in Spain.

The costas of Spain may well be renowned for frozen, packaged and processed food but in Madrid some of the only places that dish this sort of food up are the foreign, American burger and fast food joints. Interestingly, one of Spain’s top chefs, Ferrán Adriá, opened a new fast food concept called “Fast Good” just over 2 years ago – the idea being to offer fresh, quality, fast food.

I don’t have much experience of other capital cities but I do know that Madrid offers a very broad selection of regional food from around the country: from Basque and Galician to Valencian, Andalucian and Madrileño.

Here are some starting points for those who want to sample ‘local’ cuisine.
EsMadrid offers its guide to Madrileñan cooking, though admittedly it is all in Spanish. Here you can find some of the Madrid region’s favourite dishes: Cocido Madrileño (stew), Callos a la Madrileña (sort of tripe with beans), Sopa de Ajo (garlic soup), Tortilla de Patata (no need to translate), Bacalao a la Madrileña (Salted Cod in a sauce) and Potaje de Garbanzos (chick pea stew). The guide even includes recipes and points you in the direction of some typical Madrileñan bars/restaurants, like Malacatín, La Bola, La Posada de la Villa, Don Cocido, Casa Carola and L
a Taberna de Daniela.

This site also has some good suggestions about ‘asadores’ (grill houses) where you can eat the culinary delights of the Basque-Navarre and Castilian regions. Some of suggestions are plain mouth-watering: suckling pig, bream, Basque Hake, sardines and cod, with many of the suggested restaurants frequented by film, sporting and political celebrities.

NOTE: Some of EsMadrid’s pages don’t work too well in Firefox (like the one above) and you will have to use Internet Explorer to view them!!!

Spain.info is the Spanish Tourist Board website, and a very good one it is, too. The site offers its guide to both food products and dishes from the Madrid region, including:

Olives from Campo Real
Chinchón White Garlic
Anis from Chinchón

Beef from the Guadarrama Mountains
Asparagus from Aranjuez
Madrid virgin olive oil

and some popular dishes from the region:

Garlic soup
Madrid ‘cocido’ (meat, potato and chickpea stew)
Madrid ‘Torrijas’  (bread pudding)

Madrid tripe
Madrid-style baked red bream
Potato omelette

It also has some suggestion, taken from the Campsa Guide of places where you can eat.

By the way if you’d like to try out some of the recipes of Spain’s most famous ‘TV’ chef, Karlos Arguiñano, I would suggest you visit his website: La cocina de Karlos Arguiñano, where you will find at least a few hundred Spanish recipes – be aware it is all in Spanish!

Madrid Challenge
Try not to eat or drink in any of the international chains: Mc Donald’s, Starbucks, Burger King, Pizza Hut, etc. The food will be much better and at least you will be immersing yourself in the local culture and food.

Related Articles
Fast Good a new fast food concept opens in Madrid


Madrid’s Nightime Terrazas

Terrazas in Madrid are one of the great summer experiences of the city. A terraza, in English, is a street (or open air) café which often open to the wee, small hours of the morning. Traditionally, the popular terrazas hve been found on the Castellana or the Paseo de Pintor Rosales but El Mundo has some alternative places where you can enjoy an evening tipple. They include Real Madrid’s ground, a terrace outside Torre Picasso (one of Spain’s tallest buildings), the Circulo de Bellas Artes and Madrid’s Hippodrome, Madrid’s horse track with 7 bars, 15 shops and ice cream parlour and 2 restaurants.

One tip: Madrid’s nightlife goes on to around 4-5 in the morning, so don’t go out too early – a 10 or 11 p.m. start is early enough!

Link
Madrid Terrrazas

Watching the World Cup in Madrid

world_cup_2006 It goes without saying that you will probably have little problem finding a bar to watch the World Cup over the coming weeks! For many Brits and Americans, the first port of call will probably be the Irish bars, but how about watching the games in a cinema?

The company Cinesa will be ‘televising’ the Spanish games, along with other important games (such as the final) on their High Definition, Giant Cinema Screens with Digital 5.1 sound at Multicines Proyecciones on c/Fuencarral 136. All games are free but there is obviously a ceiling on the amount of people who can watch the game.

Open Air Terraces in Madrid

If you’ve been to Madrid or lived there, you will know that  eating out in the summer is one of the great  Madrid treats. You will find bars and restaurants across the city from where you can sit out and watch the world going by. Generally speaking, the Madrid terrazas open their doors in June and extend through the hot summer months to September. El Mundo‘s Metropoli magazine has a neat supplement which idetifies the best places to eat out ‘in the shade’ over the coming months. They offer their ‘ten novelty’ places to eat for 2006, the 50 best places (by barrio) and 15 places to eat on the outskirts of Madrid.

If you’re just looking for some terraza to have a beer or cool drink, try out the bars on the Castellana or on the Paseo del Pintor Rosales.

View the Madrid Restaurants section of this site.

Bullfight-Related Bars and Restaurants in Madrid

bullfighter
Here’s an article – Dos orejas, rabo… y una de callos – that I first came across about a year ago in Metropoli. Given that then, like now, it was around the time of the San Isidro Festival, they thought that they would write an article on the best taurine-related (bullfight) bars and restaurants in Madrid. On this list you will find two of Madrid’s oldest eating (and drinking!) establishments – Casa Alberto and La Taberna de Antonion Sánchez – dating from 1827 and 1830, respectively.

There is also one fantastic place – El Rincón de Jerez – which offers good Andalucian food and where, every night at 11 pm., they dim the lights and sing to the Virgin Maria. One place called, New Street (Spanish in all but name!), even serves up the a dish of bull’s tail from one of the bulls which fought the day before.

Translation Tool
Use the Google Translation Tool for a rough translation.

Tapas Tours of Madrid

A while back Ryan Opaz wrote an article on this site introducing tapas tours of Madrid. Well, since that time this has developed into a business, called Sabores Tours, with which I will be collaborating with closely over the coming months. Another member of the team at Sabores Tours is Janelle who has been living in Madrid since 2000 and has extensive knowledge of the culture, history and food of the city. Together they offer clients tours of some of their favourite secret’ Madrid bars, where their small groups can indulge in Spanish food and good wine. Here’s what you can expect from one of Janelle and Ryan’s tours:

Spend an evening with a small group strolling along the historic streets of Madrid with a knowledgeable guide while tasting Spanish wines and Spain’s culinary treasures. Visiting a city is more enjoyable and relaxing when you have a friend to show you around. That was the motivation behind creating SaboresTours, to offer travellers the opportunity to go where the locals go, eat what they eat and to have fun while learning something in the process. "Sabores" means flavour, taste. That is what we want you to experience on our tours. The flavors of the wine, the cuisine and the cultures present in Spain.

If you’d like more informaton on these Tapas Tours, please send me an email.

A Tale of Two Coffees

6a00d8341cb24853ef00e54f68e7518834-640wiI’ve just been watching a programme on BBC 4 about Bob Dylan –
Bob Dylan: No Direction Home Parts 1 & 2 – and on a number of occasions they started discussing his protest songs. Well, this is my own little protest – if you come to Madrid, buy local not global. Don’t buy from burgers, coffee, chicken wings, and other such products from multinational companies. Simply buy from local businesses and take a break from what you may buy back home. You’ll be better off for it!

Let me give you an example. In the photo above you will see Starbucks (map) on the left and a local Spanish bar –Taberna los 4 Robles – on the right. Out of curiosity I popped into Starbucks to find out the price of their coffee – it was 2.30 Euros for their smallest coffee. On the other hand the price for a cafe con leche in the bar next door was 1.10 Euros. The latter place had a wonderful marble counter, beautiful tiling, great design  – and even the coffee is good! To me there is no contest.

So, when in Madrid, go Madrileño – you’ll enjoy the experience far more. End of protest.

Happy San Patricio Day!

Guinness
If you’re in Madrid today and looking for somewhere to enjoy St Patrick’s Day, take a look at El Mundo’s ‘special’ on places to enjoy your Guinness. Irlandeses por un día tells you which places to go for food and good music.  Use the Google Translation tool to get a ‘rough’ translation into your language. For a complete list of Irish pubs, have a look at the Irish Bars in Madrid on this site.