Top Places to eat Madrid’s Top Dishes

Spinach_dish

The culture guide of online Spanish newspaper El Mundo often reviews the best places in Madrid to eat certain dishes. Metrópoli, as the guide is called, doesn’t just let you know about places to eat the more offerings but also where you can find more creative examples of these dishes. Here are a selection of some of my favourites (in Spanish):

CochinilloBaby Suckling Pig – a perfect main course in Madrid (though even better in Segovia!)
BocadillosBaguettes – these are wonderful for lunch and are always freshly prepared at the premises.
Tabla de QuesosCheese Tray
Solomillo ibéricoIberian Sirloin Steak – don’t forget that well done in Spain equates to medium or just eat it as it should be eaten!
Alcachofas FritasFried Artichokes
Boquerones en vinagreAnchovies marinated in vinegar– Simply wonderful!Cheesecake_1
Espárragos creativosCreative Asparagus – a great starter
Pimientos de PadrónPadrón Peppers – the Spanish will always tell you that some are hot and others not. Delicious!
Platos con espinacasSpinach dishes – one of my favourites is potaje de espinacas con garbanzos (a dish of spinach and chick peas).
Pescados a la salFish cooked in a layer of salt
Tartas de quesoCheesecakes

To translate any of these pages into English use the Google, simply add the web address (URL) into this Google Translation page.

No Smoking Bars in Madrid

From this year a new Anti-Tobacco Law has come into force in Spain. This law prohibits smoking in work places and requires that bars and restaurants of a certain size decide whether they want to be smoking or non-smoking establishments. However, Spain being Spain, it will probably take about 2-3 years before EVERYONE takes any notice of the law!- they prohibited smoking on the Metro some years ago but you could still see people smoking years after. If it is really important to you, you may want to check out this directory of bars and restaurants where smoking is not allowed. Simply select the ‘province’ of Spain that you want details on, and hit "Buscar".

Check out our Madrid Restaurants section for a selection of good quality restarants.

Bomec – a Tea Salon in Madrid

Bomecoutside

Coffee is definitely the preferred hot beverage in Madrid (well, throughout Spain) but if you would just prefer a cup of decent tea, you should head over to Bomec – a tea shop which is tucked away just behind the Metro in the Tribunal area. Bomec has on offer over 160 varieties of tea, all neatly displayed in metal tins behind the counter, and which come from China, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Africa and India.

Bomecinside
The shop is unlike other shops in the city centre – it is quite dark inside and seems to be inspired by the Orient. Bomec’s tea shop, which also sells all manner of tea accessories, is open during the morning and afternoon, whilst the wonderful little tea salon is open just in the afternoons. If you live in Spain, you can also have tea delivered to your door by Bomec. Also on the same side of the street you will find a traditional book binders – you can actually see them at work from the front window! Nearby, in c/ Fuencarral you wil find Corripio, a great place to stop for a glass of cider.
 

Location

Address: C/ San Joaquín, 8 – Madrid (corner of Fuencarral nº 73 )

Metro: Tribunal

Blogs and Beers December Meet Up

I know it’s short notice but if anyone is interested in blogs, there is a meet-up tonight of Blogs and Beers Madrid, where people meet up and .. you guessed it! In future, it may be worth bookmarking their page and checking periodically – don’t expect events like this to be posted in advance (from experience things don’t seem to happen like that in Spain). You may want to take a look at some photos from a Blogs and Beers Madrid event on Flickr.

Time/Date: 8 p.m |December 21st, 2005
Place: El Brasileirinho

Location: Plaza de Cristino Martos, 2 (map)

Thanks to Fernando (of abladías)for letting me know.

Madrid Wine Initiative

Madrid_wine_1Until the 30th October, 2005 the Regulatory Council (of wine) of Madrid will launch an initiative in 15 "taverns" across the city. Called "Conoce tus vinos, los de Madrid" (Know your wines, the Madrid ones") the initiative is designed to coinicide with the 15th anniversary of the council. Each of the participating taverns will offer customers a free glass of wine – a tempranillo from the Arganda region of Madrid – with the idea being that customers get a better appreciation of the local wines.

The participating establishments are:
Corazón Loco (Almendro, 22) Metro: La Latina
Cuenllas
(Ferraz, 5) Metro: Ventura Rodríguez
El Alambique (Fucar, 7) Metro: Antón Martín


El Quinto Vino
(Hernani, 48) Metro: Nuevos Ministerios
Estay (Hermosilla, 46) Metro: Velázquez
La Mayor
(Mayor, 77) Metro: Ópera
La Pinta y la Viña (Infanta Mercedes, 61) Metro: Tetuán
Los Asturianos (Vallehermoso, 94) Metro: Canal
Los Madriles (José Abascal, 26) Metro: Alonso Cano
Vinoteca Maestro Villa (Cava San Miguel, 8) Metro: Puerta del Sol
Taberna de Antonio Sánchez (Mesón de Paredes, 13)Metro: Tirso de Molina
Taberna de Cien Vinos (Nuncio, 17) Metro: La Latina
Taberna de Madrid (San Simón, 3) Metro: Antón Martín

Taberna del Sumiller
(Victor de la Serna, 37) Metro: Colombia
Taberna Miranda (Pza. Conde de Miranda, 4) Metro: Puerta del Sol

New Reina Sofía Extension Opens

Reina_sofia

Last week the Queen of Spain, Doña Sofía, opened the new extensions of the Museo Reina Sofía. The project, which was designed by architect Jean Nouvel cost 90 million Euros and has added an extra 55% to the size of the museum. The Museo Reina Sofía forms part of Madrid’s Golden Triangle (the others being the Museo Thysssen and the Prado) and houses some of the most important modernist art in the world – Picasso’s famous painting "Guernica" is permanently exhibited here.

The Reina Sofía Museum now features two buildings: the old Sabatini building and the new Nouvel extension – making it one of the largest modern art museums in the world. Jean Nouvel has created 3 buildings – a temporary exhibition hall, a library, an auditorium and a restaurant – which are all contained under one huge canopy. The library currently has 100,000 books and can house up to 200,000, whilst the auditorium can seat up to 450 people.

The restaurant, called Arola, comes under the direction of Michelin 2-star chef Sergi Arola. Arola, who spent some 6 years at Ferrán Adrià’s restaurant El Bulli (recently nominated #2 restaurant in the world), has split the eating area into 3 sections: a bar, café and restaurant; he would like to make sure that Arola is cheap and chic!

Related Articles
Fast Good a new fast food concept opens in Madrid
The Prado Museum
The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

El Madroño – Tapas Near the Plaza Mayor

Madroo2

Just off the Plaza Mayor, in the Plaza de la Puerta Cerrada, 7, you will find El Madroño a great little bar which serves fantastic tapas. The entrance to the bar is has tiles on the wall which depicts Velázquez’s painting Los Borrachos (the drunkards)inside the bar you will find many such tiled paintings; one of the most interesting shows how the Madrid coat of arms has changed over the centuries and is located directly behind the bar. Drinks come with generous portions of tapas – I was offered a olives and patatas bravas (roasted potatoes with a chilli sauce) – and are served by friendly staff. The bar also offers vermouth on tap and has a good selection of wines. You may also want to try the local licor de madroño.

Address: Plaza de Puerta Cerrada, 7 (Map)
Metro: La Latina or Tirso de Molina

Café Madrid – Madrid’s Tower of Babel

Cafe_madrid_2

A couple of weeks ago I met up with Francisco Rodriguez Veiga (Fran) and Susana Bourne, who both run the International Evenings in Café Madrid, near Madrid’s Opera Metro station to discuss its success. It all started 5 years ago when Fran, who can speak 6 languages, came up with the idea of bringing people from different countries, languages and cultures together for one evening a week. Language exchanges or ‘intercambios’ are very popular in Madrid and offer people the chance to practice their language skills with ‘native’ speakers. Café Madrid, which is a pleasant, open bar in a great location – near Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor – and serves an assortment of beers and wines and straightforward bar food is the ideal location for it.

The friendly atmosphere at Café Madrid’s International Evenings has made it a very popular venue on Wednesdays and Fran says that quite often over 100 people have turned up. Fran acts as the host for the evening and helps with introductions. And contrary to what many people think, Spanish and English are not the only language exchanges on offer – German, French, Italian, and many other languages can be heard on a Wednesday night. So whether you live in Madrid or are just passing through, why not spend a couple of hours at Café Madrid?

Venue: Café Madrid
Location: (c/ Mesón de Paños, 6 – Metro: Opera)
Time: 9.30 p.m. till late

Madrid’s Top Summer Terrazas

One of the highlights of summer is eating or drinking in one of the city’s many terrazas. Terrazas (street café’s) are extremely popular in Madrid and are a wonderful way of spending an evening in the city. They are open through summer until September and cater for all tastes and budgets, though in places like Retiro Park they are open all year round. Some of the best places to enjoy terrazas are the Paseo de la Castellana and the Paseo de Rosales. El Mundo newspaper has an exhaustive list of the summer’s top terrazas on their website which, though written in Spanish, categorises them into barrios, displays their food specialities and gives the price range.   

Surviving Madrid in the Summer

I got an email yesterday from someone visiting this site (Martin Christensen) asking me for some tips on how to survive the hot weather in Madrid. Madrid in summer can be quite taxing, though if you start living like the Spanish it can be much more bearable. Here are some thoughts on how you can get the most out of Madrid in the summer.

Site seeing
I would probably make sure that you try and get around the city in the early hours of the morning  probably up until 12pm or 1pm. Always make sure that you walk on the side of the street that is in the shade. If you’re looking to walk around the city later, I would try and make sure you do it from around 6.30 p.m onwards. Don’t forget that the shops close around 8 p.m.

Museums
Personally, I would try and get around the museums during the hottest times of day – 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. All of them will be air-conditioned and far more pleasant than walking around the city.

Eating Out
To be perfectly honest I would far prefer to eat indoors in this weather than sit out in the very hot daytime temperatures. Though, if that is what you’re looking for, you may want to try out eateries along the Paseo de Pintor Rosales – more expensive but next to Madrid’s huge park, the Casa de Campo.

Madrid’s Terrazas
Madrid’s outdoor terrace bars are really a must during the summer months and a wonderful way to spend the warm summer evenings. You may even see some of Madrid’s beautiful people – the Beckham’s, possibly? The most popular ones tend to run down the city’s Paseo de Castellana and Pintor Rosales. For the former, I would look to walk from Plaza de Cibeles up towards Plaza de Colón; the latter is one of the coolest places in the city (as mentioned above) and has loads of themed ‘terrazas’.

Most people tend to drink cubatas long glasses of rum, vodka, whiskey with coke or lemonade, as they are cheaper option to bottles of beer. Don’t forget that terrazas really kick in after 10.30 p.m. Another great place to enjoy a drink in the evening is Plaza Santa Ana – and probably cheaper. The Retiro Park can be a lovely place early in the evening and I would recommend that you try ‘horchata’ – a tiger nut/almond drink that is popular there.

There is also a very nice terraza on the Puente de Segovia bridge, which looks out towards the Almudena Cathedral and Royal Palace.

Casa de Campo – One of the coolest (temperature!) places to go is the Casa de Campo – the huge park on the east-side  west side of the city. Located around the lago (lake) you will find a number of terrace bars. Metro: Lago

Excursions
A large number of Madrileños head out of the city at weekends to their family homes in the country. Places like Segovia, Avila and El Escorial do tend to be cooler in summer but don’t forget you are in central Spain and it will still be hot. If you plan properly, there are a number of fiestas and summer fairs that go on outside the capital over these months.

Swimming Pools
There are quite a few public swimming pools around the capital – some of the details I included in an article last year – Open Air Swimming Pools in Madrid. You may also be interested in some of the Aqua Parks that are dotted around the centre:

Aquópolis San Fernando – open 12 pm-8 pm; Cost: 12.50-14 Euros (Adults), 9 Euros (Child)
Aquópolis Villanueva de la Cañada – open 12 pm-8 pm; Cost: 13-16.50 Euros (Adults), 9 Euros (Child)
Aquasur Aranjuez –  a 40-minute journey from Atocha train station to Aranjuez and a free bus ride from there to the water park. Cost: 5-15 Euros (Adults), 3-12 Euros (Child).

Veranos de la Villa – Every year the city council of Madrid puts on a huge number of events across the city, ranging from theatre and dance to classical music and puppetry for kids. Madrid’s parks, squares and streets will be taken over as culture goes out on to the streets. For more information visit the Madrid City Council site.

Vinoteca Barbechera

So the other day it was sunny, and warm,
and basically another perfect day to sit outside in the sun and do nothing at
all, except drink wine that is! With plans to meet up with friends at a later
time, my wife and I decided to head over to Plaza Santa Ana (map), for a
glass of wine and a pincho or two. Located on the eastern end of the plaza sits
Vinoteca Barbechera, a franchised bar that serves tapas, raciones, wine and
much more. It is known as a wine bar first and foremost, I suggest you keep
this in mind when you visit.

Wanting a quick snack, we ordered a couple glasses
of white wine and a few tapas. Looking at the menu you are not left without
plenty of choices, basically the same tapas you’d find at every other bar you
might visit in
Madrid. Yet what makes it worth going to, is the quality. Incredible! For
those of you who like to go out and blow a 100 Euros on dinner and have small
tastes presented in front of you of various delicacies, this is a great place
for you. For an average of 3 euros each,
you can taste your way through a plethora of small culinary treats.

Today we tried three treats:

Solomillo con Cebolla Caramelizado (Beef tenderloin
with Caramelized Onions)

Crisp toast
drizzled with good olive oil works to hold this concoction as you raise it to
your lips. As you bite into it your mouth is rewarded with tender fillet,
lightly seasoned and garnished with a candy-like caramelized onion. The best part of this dish is that any one
part would be overwhelmingly rich by itself, but as a whole, they work together
to balance each other out. As you finish you know you’ve just has a small bite
of heaven. 

Trucha ahumada con Puré de tomate y tapenada
(Smoked trout with puree of tomatoes and an olive tapenade)


Though not my
favorite today, this dish will appeal to anyone out there who is a lover of
smoked fish.

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Food and Wine Tours of Madrid

Tour Update and Notice

As Alun has
mentioned early in my introduction, we hope in the near future to offer guided
tours of some of
Madrid’s culinary treasures. Highlighting
both well-known monuments to food and more importantly, those little known
treasures – we hope to offer a unique perspective on the food scene in
Madrid. To start with, we will be offering
2 formats for you to choose from based on your specific interests:

A Cook’s Tour
For anyone who likes to buy treats to bring
back home, or for those of you who might have a kitchen in the room you are
staying in, this is the tour for you. We will take you to 4 different shops in
Madrid, where you will have the chance to
buy some of the finest food and wine
Spain has to offer.

First, a wine shop
where we will get a chance to taste some wine while learning a little about
where it comes from and how it is made. Second, ever think that Manchego was
all
Spain had to offer as far as cheese? Well, we’ll
prove that theory wrong as we walk up the street to a cathedral of all things
cheese
. Walls lined with every type of fermented milk you can imagine.  Following this, we will move on to a chocolate
shop
whose reliquary holds some of the finest chocolates available to mortals! To round it all off, how about a stop at a Market
where you can have the chance to buy fresh ham, ripe vegetables, myriad fish, not
to mention much more.  All in all, this
3 hour tour will show you some of the finer gourmet treats
Madrid has to offer.
Cost: TBA

Tapas, Wine and Fun
Come stroll with us down Madrid’s streets stopping in at a select
few bars to try a variety of the typical flavors of
Spain. During each stop you will have a choice
of wines all of which come accompanied by tapas.  During this time you will learn something of
the history of tapas; have a chance to gather some recipes; and also learn something
about the wine regions that abound in
Spain.
Cost:TBA

While we
are in the process of setting up the dates, times and prices for these tours weI
want to make sure that no one is left out. If you are going to be in town in
the next month or are already here send us a note! We’ll work something out and
make sure that you don’t miss anything during your stay here in
Madrid!

Please
contact us at alunjohn (at) gmail.com with
any questions, or suggestions, that you might have.

Till soon,
Ryan Opaz

Tapas Review: Cien Vinos (100 Wines)

Cienvinos1_1Taberna Cien Vinos
C/ Nuncio 17, Madrid

Metro: La Latina
Map


Tapas- What are they and how do you get
them?
A topic I hope to cover in depth in future articles for Mad about
Madrid. For the
most part, a tourist in
Madrid is faced with a crap shoot as far as what tapas to expect when
ordering a glass of wine. One bar may put down a plate of stale potato chips,
while the place next door sets you up with a mini feast. How to know what is
coming takes time and patience but we hope that with a little guidance from us it
will become a bit easier. One thing is for sure, you can always order tapas,
and if you know where to go, you can be treated to something exciting and new.

This brings me to Cien Vinos or, in English, 100
Wines
. Located in the La Latina area of
Madrid, where all
the tapas fiends know to go, Cien Vinos is a small, cozy den of gastronomic
decadence. It’s a bit hard to find; and if it were not for the bronze plaque
outside the front door, you might mistake it for someone’s apartment building. This
all changes as you step inside where you are greeted by warm lighting,
literally hundreds of wines, and a friendly atmosphere. What makes this place
so neat is the way they set up the menu and wine list. Two black boards list the food and wine
available for the night. On average, they have 8 pinchos and 8 raciones to
choose from. Pinchos being a small bite made for one person, while raciones tend
to be a larger portion made to share with a group or as a meal for one. On the
wine board on an average night you should run into about 7 reds, 2 whites, 1
sherry, 1 rose, 3 sweet (dessert wines), and one cava, all priced between
1.75-3 euros.

Feel free to choose a table or just stand
at the bar and order. When it’s busy, the tables tend to be reserved for
raciones only, but if you find a few tables still free you might be able to
talk them into letting you ordering a few pinchos instead. I prefer getting
several pinchos and splitting it with a friend, as it makes a fun way to
explore all the various flavors they offer.
 

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Trocha Pub – “Place of the Caipirinha”

Twelve years ago, I had my first Caipirinha. I was hanging out with some friends at the beach in a small town on the coast of southern Brasil. It wasn’t a great experience, I can tell you!

Today I sit at a bar in Madrid called Trocha Pub. A small cozy space with lots of pillows, bright colors and mellow jazz playing over the stereo. Taking a sip of the Caipirinha that sits in front of me now makes me glad that I was first introduced to them. You see, Trocha Pub makes itself known as the "Place of the Caipirinha" and for good reason. In the bar, they have two wooden presses to help make your drink. These handy wood presses crush the limes in the glass releasing the tart juices. By the way, if you do stop in here some night, know that you can order almost any mixed drink you want, but why bother?


These guys know what they are doing when it comes to caipirinhas and can make a drink that will help transport anyone to a far away place. Half limes and half lemons, a healthy dose of sugar, a generous topper of Cachaça (Brasilian rum distilled from sugar cane) and a sprinkling of crushed ice. Taking a sip your mouth encounters both sweet and sour mingled with an exotic breeze that makes you stop and think for a moment before you dive back in for another sip. Who can think of a better way to start off a night than with a Caipirinha!

As a contributor to this blog I hope to take you with me around Madrid and Spain as I try to taste a bit of the world while learning something along the way. Stayed tuned, more to come!

Till soon, Ryan

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Casa Antonio – Old-Style Madrid Bar

No Hay Coca Cola,
Ni Refrescos

(Trans: We Don´t Sell Coke,
Or Soft Drinks)

This the sign that catches your eye behind the bar in Casa Antonio – I just love it  – if you want soft stuff, go somewhere else!

The Casa Antonio bar is located south of Madrid´s Plaza Mayor, and just off c/ Toledo, in c/Latoneros, 10. It is an old-style Madrid bar, with its own zinc sink (where wine and beer glasses are swilled out) and tiled walls and a history that goes back to the 1880´s. The bar has wooden benches around the walls which, on the day I was there, some of the locals had positioned in the open doors to watch the world go by, and a good selection of wines – around 20 reds, rosé’s and whites – that you can purchase by the glass. You can also buy tapas at the bar, too – the ham croquets are very good as are the chicken wings and Cabrales cheese.