Lauraine Jacobs

Food & Wine Writer

2 May 2018


Madrid is exciting – a sophisticated, friendly city where everyone from elegant elderly folk to young families meet at cafes, hotel and bars for drinks, chatter, meals and relaxation. It’s vast yet the city centre is compact and walking is easy. You will find traditional fare, cutting edge cuisine and see that like everywhere else hamburgers are being replaced by bao (Asian buns.)

Here’s a brief outline of suggestions based on a three day experience:

• Visit the Mercado de la Paz to check out the fresh food and get a bead on Spanish fare. In that market do not miss the Casa Dani cafeteria within the market for the best tortilla de patatas you will find in Spain – light, fluffy, yet thick and tasty. The other market not to miss is Mercado de San Miguel, magnificently recently restored and offering snacks and tapas. (pic - quick fix of chorizo in a cone in the market)

• Nearby visit Lavinia, a superb wine shop that stocks stunning Spanish wines, offers tastings, wine tutorials and has an excellent tapas menu to relax over.

• If you want to buy Spanish cult wines, go to Latintoreria in Calle Gurtubay – a wine cave that sells to top oenophiles.

• For dinner try Atlantico for Gallician seafood specialties and fine wine. Or the superb Castelados, where the bar decorations are amazing and the food totally delicious in a modern but approachable style. Or push the boundaries and eat Angel Leon’s plankton cuisine at Glass – the décor is so over the top modern and edgy it almost spoils the equally edgy food.

• Go into the older area of the city near the Royal Palace, into the winding backstreets and find a modern sourdough bakery café with preserved city ruins are incorporated into the clever décor. Santa Eulalia serves wine, excellent coffee, juices, cakes and their magnificent sourdoughs.

• Bars. Essential in Madrid if you are going to get to know the city. El Mollete is in Calle de la Bola is tiny and friendly and can’t be too bad if it is Francis Ford Coppola’s haunt when he’s in Madrid. La Venencia is an ancient sherry bar where the Socialists hung out and plotted. And you absolutely have to go to Casa Labra which has been serving tapas and beer or wine since 1860. Only three tapas are served, battered bacalao, croquetas, and preserved tuna topped with tomato. Perfect with the small glasses of beer most locals seem to order.

With thanks to Gabriela Llamas, and Mark Godden for some of their local expertise.

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