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robert brown

Madrid Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations

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The other great meal was at Saint Sunday's Tav, the Taberna de Santo Domingo, in Ronda. Here we had a Spanish Chard with olives and cured Manchego first, then split a single menu del dia, for which I chose - may it not come as a shock - a salad and merluzo, or hake. Not more than $30.


Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons: That is all there is to distinguish us from the other Animals.

-Beaumarchais

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On the subject of Spanish hotel breakfasts, many Spaniards at home tend to eat cakes and biscuits (dunked in milk etc) at breakfast, and that *is* reflected in hotel breakfasts of the basket full of sponge cakes/sweet breads/dry biscuits type.

(that could lead on to an "international breakfasts/what do you eat for breakfast topic ...)

Chloe

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Ronda also has a one star restaurant listed in the 2002 Michelin as offering rather creative food--Liver (foie gras?) and cheese with caramelized green apple, soy and almonds; Andalusian gaspacho ice (ice cream?) with cherries; Tuna and ginger (in July and August); and confit of suckling pig in olive oil with a salad of fresh herbs. These dishes sound as if they make a considerable attempt to be creative with local foods and traditions.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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We stayed in several paradors about 2 years ago. The rooms were all excellent, and I would be happy to stay in paradors on a return visit. The dinners were edible, but they were undoubtedly the most disappointing meals of our trip. There was one exception. The parador in Granada at the Alhambra is simply an amazing place to stay, and the meals there were very good (but certainly not excellent). Of course, the Granada parador is twice as expensive as every other parador.

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Did the Brits picked up fish and chips from the ancient iberians who colonized Cornwall or when the Brits under Moore and later Wellington arrived to Conquer in 1809?

I didn't see this before, but as I'm reviewing the thread after returning from Madrid and Andalucia, I noticed your post. I'm told that tempura and/or tonkatsu are dishes the Japanese learned from the Portuguese


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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Just a few months after lissome, we also made our way from Madrid down to Andalusia. This seems as good a place as any to enter our comments so they will be found along with the earlier part of thread by those planning a trip to either Madrid or the south. We spent a few days in Madrid split between sightseeing, visiting Mrs. B.'s local travel contact and eating. The eating included tapas with Victor, who posts here as vserna. I "met" Victor many years ago on the net and we've exchanged views on food and mainly on Spanish food, by that I mean he's taught me a lot and given us great advice on restaurants through our travels in Spain.

Our first refueling stop was a visit to the Museo del Jamon on Carrera de San Jeronimo not far from our hotel. We knew it well from previous visits some time ago. It's a tapas bar, not a musuem and part of a small chain. I've never thought of of it as having the finest ham and it probably doesn't, but what we had, which wasn't even their best grade, along with some dried chorizo and acetunas (green olives) was still quite wonderful by most standards and a good introduction to Spain. It's a popular bar with tourists and locals alike and definitely not upscale. It's open on Sundays and not far from the Plaza de la Puerta del Sol. It's worth knowing when you want a quick bite, but it's one of what seem like millions of places to grab a snack and a caña (short draft beer). Bar customs vary regionally in Spain, and also from bar to bar. Frequently something complementary is offered to anyone who orders a drink. Here is was a small plate of chorizo slices.

Few places were open for dinner on Suday evening and on the way to one near our hotel and listed in Michelin, we were seduced by a Galician tapas bar/restaurant that proved not to be very special and offered inconsistent food. The Albariño however, was inexpensive and a seafood rice was al dente, perhaps even a bit undercooked, but very flavorful. Among the tapas, some tiny grilled green peppers dressed with a little olive oil and what appeared to be Malden salt were most interesting.

Serious eating began on schedule at lunch the second day at Santceloni the one star second restaurant of Santi Santamaria, chef of the three star Can Fabes in the town of Sant Celoni, north of Barcelona. Our impression was that the restauranrt merited it's single star by was far less consistent than Can Fabes. The latter was a true destination restaurant. If there's interest, and I have time, I will post a report of the meal. Our notes are faily extensive. The Menú Gastronómico was 85 euros and there's an even larger Gran Menú at 100 euros. We've learned not to make one o'clock reservations and of interest to those visiting Madird for the first time is the fact that when we showed up five minutes early for our two o'clock reservation, the restaurant was locked tight. We went for a walk and returned at 2:15 to be seated. Many diners showed up at three or as late as four o/clock. This is not unusual for lunch in Spain, particularly at a restaurant of this class.

One advantage of showing up early is that you might get through a bit of your meal without having to mix the flavor of the food with that of cigarette and cigar smoke. Many of our best meals in Spain tasted as if they were served on an ash tray. Even in such an elegant restaurant as this which had luxurious space between tables, the room quickly filled with the aroma of burnt tobacco.

At Santceloni, as well as at other restaurants throughout Spain, beer seemed to be the most popular aperitif, although we started with a copa de cava here, and later as we moved south, we switched to finos or manzanillas.

--------------------------------------- mas luego


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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Excellent Bux. Looking forward to your Can Fabes.

cigarette flavored china :laugh:

I've been dreaming chilled, sharp and flavorful manzanillos, but had one here in NY last night: Dismal. Maybe they change flavor when they leave Al Andalus?


Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons: That is all there is to distinguish us from the other Animals.

-Beaumarchais

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Excellent Bux. Looking forward to your Can Fabes.

cigarette flavored china :laugh:

I've been dreaming chilled, sharp and flavorful manzanillos, but had one here in NY last night: Dismal. Maybe they change flavor when they leave Al Andalus?

Our visit to Can Fabes was years ago and as we headed south from Madrid, we didn't get anywhere near it. Maybe you'll enjoy my La Broche, or better still, my Las Rejas.

In France, I've found that the better the restaurant, generally the less smoking although admittedly there are a few restaurants that not only allow cigars, but encourage then and profit form the sales in Paris. In Spain it seemed that the more expensive the food, the more people smoked.

We've been puzzling over the relative disappointment of manzanilla here in NY. The crispness of the manzanillas and finos in Spain reinforced that opinion. I've heard others say that all of the wines of Jerez, including manzanilla from next door Sanlucar de Barrameda are stale when sold in the US. As they're all fortified wines with high alcohol and the product of a solera, as well as non-vintage, I just don't see how they could go stale so quickly.

Speaking of sherries, in Asturianos, a restaurante, bar y vinoteca or tasca in Madrid, we were introduced to a PX (Pedro Ximenez) -- vino ducle de postre -- not from Jerez, but from Aguilar De La Frontera. The D.O. is Montilla-Morilles and producer is Bodegas Toro Albalá. It was a vintage wine (2001) with 17% alcohol and, I'm told, unfortified. It was dark amber in color and tasted of figs, raisins and honey. It was superb with a flan de queso. The fresh cheese in the flan added a new dimension to the dessert and was a bit like a cross between a traditional flan and cheesecake. I've never seen it here and suspect it's not widely distributed in Spain.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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2nd installment of our trip report

The next day, Victor took us to a typcial tasca -- Asturianos, a restaurante, bar y vinoteca, on calle Vallehermoso (phone 91 533 59 47) -- for a lunch of tapas, or as I understand the terms, courses of shared plates referred to as "raciones." Neighborhood bars such as this, may be a dying breed as social life and customs change, but we seemed to notice that Spaniards still seem to meet friends for drinks and tapas. Here a young chef is introducing new dishes while keeping the traditional favorites whose removal from the menu would probably drive his father's local clientele away. With an eye on seeing that we got a taste of both the old and new, Victor ordered for us and we had a meal that was memorable.

Carpaccio of monk fish with sea urchin, Italian! olive oil and Malden salt. This dish approached the brineyness of good raw oysters. During a trip to Galicia, we were told Asturias was the one area in Spain where sea urchin was eaten and prized.

Salad of mache, anchovies, and fresh crumbly Asturian cheese dressed with olive oil at the table. The anchovies were large, succulent and lightly brined.

An unusual (for us) dish of tiny rabbit chops -- chuletas -- with cepes, walnuts and pine nuts in garlicky cream sauce.

Cocido Asturiano, a broth with greens, large white beans, chorizo, morcilla, jamon, and tocino ?- cooking fat. followed for contrast by Fabada, large white beans with meat and sausages in a thick sauce without green vegetables.

Flan de queso as mentioned above for dessert.

Asturianos, had a most unenticing store front with a small bar room of some character inside. We were led down a narrow corridor stacked with boxes and bottles to a hastily added on dining room which was small, but which greatly increased the number of patrons who could be served. It's not that I'd give it stars, but we had a gastronomic experience well worth seeking. I suspect Victor stacked the deck and those dishes will be hard to match at any tasca chosen at random.

--------------------------------------- mas luego (La Broche for dinner that night.)


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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3rd installment

Sergi Arola's La Broche, with two Michelin stars was our restaurant for dinner on our third night in Madrid. This is another place that deserves a full critical in depth post, but I am probably not the one to do it, at least not from this first visit. Regrettably, Mrs. B. was feeling under the weather and we didn't take the tasting menu. My own prejudice is that creative food of this kind is best experienced by a tasting menu of small plates and that I enjoy tasting menus when they are taken by others at the table, regardless of whether or not that's a requirement.

Arola is a disciple of Ferran Adria, but he's not a copy cat. His food is inventive on his terms. There's a spirit, and in some sense there are directions shared among the young avant garde chefs of Spain. They tend to borrow each other's ideas rather than each other's dishes. It also seems a movement that's much more intellectual than the last waves to hit haute cuisine and it focuses on the potential for food as creative art rather than just craft. There are inherent dangers to all this. The food may become too intellectual and stop appealing to our palates and the focus on finding one's own distinct expression may lead even further down the road of cult chefdom. It's an exciting time to be eating out and in no country more so than Spain and I have more to gain by eating the food, than by predicting where it will go in the long run, a decade, or even next year.

Physically, the cool minimalist design of La Broche should put the nail in the coffin of my apprehension that a Spanish restaurant will look like the stage set for El Cid or Don Quixote. If I look in the window of a new restaurant in New York and I spot a smashingly crisp modern decor, I'm going to suspect it's a Spanish restaurant that's opening there after my recent experiences of eating in Spain.

I started with a Carpaccio of Boletus -- a fine layer of marinated cepes with several smaller than thumbnail sized squid, some diced mango and apple and a thin line of peanut sauce. It was nice enough, but very subtle or a bit lackluster, depending on your view. I think it would have come off better in a smaller portion. For a main course I had Rable de Liebre (saddle of hare). . I found the accompanying sauce overwhelmed the hare. The sauce was thick without being rich. It was also sweet in the way that much new cooking, particularly in Spain, is sweet with a acid edge that I find too strong and lacking in subtlety. Bitter chocolate was a component of the sauce according to the menu, but I didn't find that flavor. All I could think of was the bitter chocolate sauce on my superb hare last fall at the Lion d'Or in Romorantin.

For dessert I ordered the Tocinillo de Azafran. Tocino is lard or fat back, but tocino, or the diminutive tocinillo, de cielo -- lard of heaven -- is the name of a rich custardy dessert. here it was a play on the traditional dessert with saffron, ice cream cream and toasted bread cubes dusted with cinnamon. I found the dry bread a distraction. Some spice cake cubes, rather than the bread are what I though would have really raised this above its roots.

We had a Mauro Syrah from near Toledo. An initial bouquet of strawberry didn't last long and the wine didn't seem to develop at the table. I wondered if it would be softer with more age, but I didn't note the vintage.

It wasn't a two star dinner for me. I recall the amuses as being very interesting, but the rest of the meal didn't live up to the promise. I'd like go back to try the tasting menu. At this point, I'm more intrigued by the food than convinced. Too much smoke and not enough ventilation didn't help me, but I doubt anyone else noted. I didn't know they had a restaurant in Miami until my credit card came back in a tyvek card case with the two restaurants' imprint. One on each side. It's good advertising. We always carry spare cards on different accounts for back up, but it's smart to protect the magnetic strip on your cards, especially when traveling and everytime I use that card in a restaurant, someone will see where I've dined.

--------------------------------------- mas


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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I've been dreaming chilled, sharp and flavorful manzanillos, but had one here in NY last night: Dismal. Maybe they change flavor when they leave Al Andalus?

We've been puzzling over the relative disappointment of manzanilla here in NY. The crispness of the manzanillas and finos in Spain reinforced that opinion. I've heard others say that all of the wines of Jerez, including manzanilla from next door Sanlucar de Barrameda are stale when sold in the US. As they're all fortified wines with high alcohol and the product of a solera, as well as non-vintage, I just don't see how they could go stale so quickly.

I've had some second thoughts on this issue. It seems that freshness is essential. Looking at a Spanish guide to Spanish wines, the comments I find under Consumo prefererente: for finos and manzanillas range from "at this moment," through "at this moment" and all the way to "right away."


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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4th installment

Regrettably, Mrs. B wasn't feeling any better the next day and we cancelled our reservations at a simple restaurant, but one bearing one Michelin star and featuring Galician seafood. I spent a good part of the day running around town seeing additional museums and checking out Madrid in the drizzle the other half of my team wanted to avoid. There's not too much to report on in the way of food. I subsisted largely on familiar tapas, ham sandwiches, a little beer and agua con gas. We had a late morning coffee near the hotel at what appeared to be a popular local bar. It may have been late morning, but it was our first coffee of the day and I was relieved to realize their were twin brothers behind the bar and that I was not just seeing double as one or the other popped in and out of the kitchen. The list of sandwiches and tapas was a mile long and including hot dogs and hamburgers. I'm too big a guy to hold that against them and went back to check out the sandwiches for lunch. I ordered a tuna fish sandwich. There was no whole wheat toast option and no need to ask them to hold the mayo. Actually, it was a need to discover tapas beyond ham and chorizo and my focus on beautiful red peppers and anchovies that led me to order the anchovy, pepper and tuna sandwich, and although it was not an El Bulli experience, it challenged my association of mayonnaise and canned tuna fish. It was also great tuna fish, better perhaps, than the olive oil packed tuna I get in New York. Both the anchovies and the roasted red peppers were meaty and this attempt to quickly abate my hunger with known foods turned into a gastronomic event if not a highlight. I washed the sandwich down with a short beer, which came with it's plate of complimentry green olives. Remembering how good the coffee was that morning, I ordered a slice of Torta de Santiago, both because I like it and because I liked the idea of ordering something across the bar by asking for it by name and not having to point without my translator at my side. Paris is a great place to be when you're ready to dine, but you can't grab a quick and satisfying bite at almost anytime of day the way you can in Madrid.

Knowing I'd have no company for dinner either, I just spent the rest of the day snacking on the run to be sure I'd ruin my appetite for dinner. Later in the day, I sighted something in the window of bar near the train station and contemporary museum that would remain a mystery for another day. It looked much like burnt twine wrapped around two sticks and not unlike what you might expect to find in the remains of a kite flyer's supply house after a fire. It's proximity to other things I recognized led me to believe it was a form of food eaten by the natives. I wondered if that was it or if there was something hidden inside that was the part meant to be eaten.

--------------------------------------- y mas


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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5th installment

We left Madrid in a car that was larger than I wanted -- we had to accept a smaller car at a savings or an upgrade at no additional charge. All's well on the highway, but every time we drive into a small town, Mrs. B seems to pull in the rear view mirror on her side. Ideally, we'd have a land cruiser with a Smart Car hanging in the back for use in medieval cities. Between the narrow streets and the charming pedestrian zones, we can't get near a couple of our hotels located in heart of historic areas. The TV camera over the rear license plate and monitor on the dashboard was new to me and apparently to many. It was kind of funny to see attendants at the hotels, all of a sudden stop looking over their shoulders when parking the car.

A visit to the Royal Palace in Aranjuez easily justifed the first day's itinerary, although heavy rain put a damper on our interest in the adjoining gardens. Mrs. B still had little appetite and we skipped lunch in the starred restaurant in town and went on to Chinchon. Progress been kind to the arcaded Plaza Mayor in Chinchon by ignoring it. Judging from the number of restaurants ringing the plaza, I'd assume it's quite tourist attraction on a nice day further into the season. We picked one place from the few recommended by Michelin and had a light lunch. It was nothing to write home about, with the possible exception of a plate of vegetables -- pencil thin asparagus, artichokes, red pepper, something akin to scallions, zuchinni, -- deep fried without batter and served with a little olive oil and sea salt, probably Malden salt. It was also nothing to complain about and we had a second floor view of the plaza from the window.

We arrived too late in Cuenca to gain entrance to either the Cathedral or the Museum of Spanish Abstract Art, but were able to get a good view of the famous hanging houses (Casas Colgados) -- a couple of 14th century houses, with balconies, that are not by themselves so exceptional, but the houses back up on steep cliff and the sight of the balconies jutting out from the plane of the sheer wall of the cliff is quite striking when seen from the foot bridge that takes one from the Parador to the old city. The old city was quiet and we stopped to revive ourselves with coffee in a bar where I spied those burnt things and was told my burnt twine was lamb's tripe and called zarajo. Later, the proprietor of La Alacena - Productos Tipicos y Delicatessen, offering regional food and wine recommended a restaurant to us where we could get a house made version of the morteruelo we saw in a can in her shop. La Mirador del Huecar was not yet open for dinner, but we noticed not only morteruelo, but zarajo on the menu. Lady luck was smiling at me. Later we returned for dinner and I learned she was laughing behind my back, like those women who used to give friends of mine a phone number at bars -- only it turned out to be the phone number of the library, ASPCA or something like that. The restaurant only served zarajo on weekends and I was not to find them again on this trip.

My best description of morteruelo might be rillettes of many meats served hot. In truth, it was not the most visually appealing food I've ever been served and maybe the least I've seen in a dish that wasn't at floor level. We're brave and the gloppy looking reduction of many animals was rich, distinctively floavored with cinnimmon and actually quite tasty. When we told the waiter we?d like to have the recipe, he said it was something not made at home. The chicken, porc and rabbit would be easy to get, but the many furred and winged game required are not easy to come by for the home cook. Ultimately we decided the dish wouldn't travel or be appreciated in the U.S. and we decided not to pick up a few cans.

We awoke the next morning to find no hot water. We were told they were working on it and we sacrificed the morning's sightseeing in a vain wait. As a result, we were off to lunch at Las Rejas feeling less clean than I'd have liked, but definitely wide awake as a result of a noontime cold shower. I've posted separately on that lunch because it's not really a side trip from Madird, nor is it in Andalucia, but even more because it was so worthy of special mention and certainly a major highlight of our trip.

--------------------------------------- y mas


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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Bux,

Travelling by car does help in getting to those out of the way lunches. Not travelling by car is how I missed the suckling pig in Mealhada, Portugal. Sob. But a car in those ancient cities and terrifying roads? My hat's off to you. I'd love to know if there were restaurants I missed in Portugal that served anything like these meals you've described. There was a place in Lisbon I passed that was quite modern and sleek, but had semi-traditional sounding meals. Hmm, bet I could find it again, given a chance. And there were those recommendations I received for remotely located places; again, one would need a car.


Edited by tsquare (log)

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We're moving to Madrid for at least a year (with hope, longer if the Spanish bureaucracy doesn't chew us up and spit us out).

I was wondering if there are any Madrid-based egulleteers who could give advice on which neighborhoods are best from a food perspective... We're taking a small vow of poverty to do this, so we won't be hitting the upper echelon of fine dining. In fact, I'm probably most interested in neighborhoods near good farmers markets and diverse food shopping options. Good cheese, fish, pork products, vegetables, a nice cafe, and a couple of good tapas places would make us immeasurably happy.

We're thinking Lavapies might be the place for us given it's centrality and diversity. Keep in mind that we're coming from inner city Washington, DC, so we have virtually no fear of any neighborhood in Madrid. Such is our frame of reference... And my husband's main criteria is that we live someplace with laundry and abuelos hanging out.

Any ideas?

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I can't help you out with a suggestion of a neighborhood. Unfortunately I'm still getting to know Madrid myself as I've not had the opportunity to spend much time there so far, but look forward to my next trip. Madrid is a large city and unlike Barcelona or the much smaller San Sebastian, I don't think it reveals itself very easily to short term tourists.

I just want to welcome you to the Spain forum. I saw your informative post in the Asturias thread and welcome it very much. I wish you luck in your search for a place to live and hope we can get to hear from you on a regular basis after you've settled into Madrid. There are a few Madridleños on the board. Hopefully, they'll be able to offer some advice on your search as well as after you're living there.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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I think you are absolutely right about Madrid being a difficult nut to crack.

And I think that's true even for many natives. My husband has several cousins in Madrid and, when we are with them, we seem to hang out in the same two or three neighborhoods whenever we visit. And because their parents are originally from Asturias and Galicia, we almost inevitably go to Asturian and Galician restaurants. But even so, they have never steered us wrong about food and we've never had a bad meal in Madrid.

I just don't trust their advice about neighborhoods because they are fairly biased from a socioeconomic and cultural perspective.

And yes--I can't wait to get there and start eating and reporting back!

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Good for you, butterfly! Madrid is a wonderful place and you really don't need to worry about neighbourhoods - it's very easy to move about. It's a big city but very accessible. That's one of its great charms. It's more important that you get in a "madrileño" frame of mind - Madrid is your oyster; it'll all belong to you. Whether you get a cheap car, use the excellent public transport or use (relatively cheap) taxis, it actually pays to move about. No need to get tied down! A good online resource is El Mundo's Guide By Favourite Dishes.

Best of luck!

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Thanks Miguel--

I know you must be right--having had the great pleasure of living in Barcelona, I can't imagine that I'll have any problems finding good food in Madrid, no matter where we put down roots.

Thank you for the link to El Mundo's Guide By Favourite Dishes. That's inspirational--I can't wait to work my way through it--particularly the intriguing helados diferentes and many sea creatures.

One question: are there any large markets in Madrid that might be equivalent to (or even better than...) the Boqueria or Mercat Sant Antoni in Barcelona. And where is the big fish market that I have always heard is the second largest in the world?

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La Boquería is a one of a kind at least in Spain, I'd say. Madrid has good markets, like Mercado de Ventas (good prices) or Mercado de Chamartín (some of the best restaurants buy there). I guess you're referring to Mercamadrid, which is the central market where some restaurants and shops buy their goods. AFAIK, you can't visit it.

Lavapies certainly is one of the hottest neighborhoods in Madrid. Lots of people from all over the world, lots of tapas bars and some good and unexpensive restaurant (try El Ventorrillo Murciano, for excellent rice). If you're going to choose the neighborhood based on food, this could be a good place, along with the Cava Baja surroundings. Anyway, all of the traditional areas of tapas around the "Centro" are quite close to each other.


Edited by pedro (log)

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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One question: are there any large markets in Madrid that might be equivalent to (or even better than...) the Boqueria or Mercat Sant Antoni in Barcelona. And where is the big fish market that I have always heard is the second largest in the world?

Good question. There's certainly good food available in Madrid and that includes some of the best seafood, but I've not been to that kind of market in Madrid. I'd also guess that you won't find one as inviting as the Boqueria in Barcelona, but I can tell you that the Madrid maps in the Michelin Guia Roja show covered markets scattered about Madrid. You will have to scout them out and let us know how good they are.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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There's a market off of Lagasca just south of Ayala that I thought was quite good. It's not as big as La Boqueria but it still has a great selection of produce, cheese, meats, and very fresh looking seafood. There are a number of Jamon sellers (suprise!) with what I thought to be quite an large selection of producers to choose from. (I have one cana left of some contraband Lomo de Iberico I bought there last fall).

Have a great time in Madrid. I'm jealous! It's one of my favourite cities. In fact, I was just suggesting to my wife last night that we should go there for a week during San Isidro.

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A good online resource is El Mundo's Guide By Favourite Dishes.

What a fun site! Unfortunately, it makes me want to go to Spain more than ever (come to think of it, everything makes me want to go to Spain....)

Based on my somewhat limited experience I would say pedro is abolutely right. Lavapiés is an energetic and varied neighborhood....it also has the advantage of being within walking distance of the area south and east of the Plaza Mayor and Cava Baja area, which, to my mind, is where you as a foodie would want to be.

As I recall, a few years ago there were some interesting places popping up near Atocha, which is also the same general end of town.


My restaurant blog: Mahlzeit!

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We will be in Madrid from just a few days & plan to have dinner one night at Combarro which will be somewhat of a splurge for us, but I think worth it from everything I have read. Also planning to go to Asador Fronton. Would love recommendations for other restaurants that are moderately priced with good local food. I had eliminated Casa Botin from consideration as I thought it might be a tourist trap, but I've read surprisingly good things about it on some of the other web sites so want to re-consider. What do you think? Thanks!

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My wife and I paid our first visit to Madrid about 16 months ago and had a great time. Most of our meals were all tapas hopping, but we did go to eat in a restaurant one night for our long weekend there. We went to Restaurante La Opera on Amnistia. We really enjoyed it. Moderately priced, nice atmosphere, convenient location near the Palace with an easy walk to Mayor afterwards. The Maitre d' also spoke English and was able to help out with our poor Spanish. He was able to recommend proper dishes for my wife (a vegetarian) and chose the wine for us.

We're going to be in Madrid for the second time on Feb. 29. We will likely go there again. Also on our list to hit this time is Terra Mundi, which also seems highly recommended and moderately priced with Galician specialties. But with all the tapas gorging, it's tough to consider investing in a sit down restaurant.

Let us know where you end up going so I can compare notes.

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