Pilar Orti runs the creative learning company Unusual Connections in London and is the author of The A to Z of Spanish Culture. Yes, she loved Madrid, and lives now in London. She shares with us the five restaurants off the beaten track that make her miss Madrid – and not all are Spanish surprisingly ! And so different from the typical trendy places we see in all guides. All yours Pilar …
I left Spain over 20 years ago out of choice. What I didn’t expect was that I would never get used to not having excellent food within arms’ reach.
I go back to Madrid often and spend most of my time eating out with friends or buying food to bring back to London with me. The relación calidad-precio is difficult to beat anywhere else.
I usually go back for just a weekend, but if I’m there for a week or longer, I make sure I visit the following places. If you have some time in the city this summer, you might like to try them too.
Let’s face it, this is just a cafeteria, but the food is really superb. And so is the service.
It is located in the relatively new neighbourhood of San Chinarro, in the North of Madrid. The barrio is populated by young couples and so there is a really laid back feeling to the neighbourhood. La Terapia has a large terraza and this is for me, its main attraction. The terraza is situated on a large bit of sidewalk and so you can comfortably enjoy your food without the traffic bothering you.
La Terapia. c/ Príncipe Carlos. San Chinarro.
(Located around the middle part of the street.)
As its name suggests, if you fancy tasting some quality jamón, this is the place to go.
Entre jamones is situated near Avenida de América, and like La Terapia, it has a decent terraza (although this one is quite close to the traffic). If you are the kind of person that likes hopping from place to place, this might be a good choice as there are plenty of other bars and terrazas in Corazon de María to choose from.
Entre Jamones. Corazón de María, 46. (Note that there are two restaurants, pick the one on the corner.)
This might be an odd suggestion, but if you want to spend hours talking with your friends in a quiet terraza, while you taste different kind of Asian dishes, this might be the place for you.
Chin-Chin has a sitting-down all-you-can-eat buffet. This means that you sit at your table and order the different dishes as they take your fancy. It is the best way to have a bit of sushi with a bit of rice, some meat dishes, some noodles…
I can’t really say that it is the best Chinese restaurant in Madrid, but if you find yourself in the Arturo Soria/Avd de America area, it might be worth a try.
Chin-Chin. c/ Torrelaguna, 69.
As you might have guessed, I like quiet places and one of the reasons why I continue to visit the three other places I’ve mentioned, is because, unless I turn up at a particularly busy times, I can always find a table.
This is not the case with El Automático. This bar is located in the middle of the neighbourhood of Lavapiés, bang in the centre of Madrid. However, what this bar has that makes me cross Madrid at the risk of having to sit uncomfortably while I eat my food, are its croquetas. They really are pretty amazing. And if you also order dátiles con bacon, then your culinary paradise will be complete.
El Automático. c/ Argumosa, 17.
Jamón José Jiménez
Lastly, I have to mention this charcutería.
The thing I miss most in London is the jamón. Even since I was a student, my mother used to order jamón from José for me to take back. It meant I could always prepare a decent meal in a few minutes: eggs with ham, pasta with ham, peas with ham, rice with ham or just ham and bread, the best way to enjoy this ham.
Twenty years ago I used to travel with a kilo of sliced ham wrapped up in its own fat, to make sure it didn’t dry up. Now I travel with five or six vacuum sealed packs, which last me much longer.
So, if you are a fan of jamón or any other pig-based ibérico products, pop in to see José and send him my regards.
José Jiménez. c/ Gaztambide, 68.
Pilar Orti runs the creative learning company Unusual Connections in London and is the author of The A to Z of Spanish Culture
After seven successful installations, the Tapas Fair has returned to Madrid. Starting tomorrow, Thursday June 21st, the Palacio de Deportes (metro: Goya) will convert itself into a giant bar of sorts where you can sample some of Madrid’s best tapas accompanied by a caña of Mahou.
Thirty-eight different bars and restaurants will participate in this year’s feria, each with their own small stand offering a few of their signature dishes from madrileño classics to inventive new plates.
Each tapa will cost €1,20 and each caña will also cost €1,20. There also non-alcoholic drinks available at the stands. In past years, these transactions have taken places using fichas - small commemorative coins that you must purchase in advance at the Palacio de Deportes ticket window or at special stands within the event, so keep that in mind as you rush in with an empty stomach!
This year’s Tapas Fair runs from Thursday, June 21st to Sunday, June 24th, with a split timetable of 1200-430pm and again at 8pm-midnight. Entrance to the event is free.
…is through your stomach.
I would like to introduce you all, faithful guiris, to Lauren Aloise’s Madrid Food Tour. This tour provides a custom assortment of Madrid’s finest cuisine, hand-picked by one very passionate guiri.
Lauren is an expat from Massachusetts who has lived in Granada, Sevilla, Cádiz, and Madrid. Her already existing passion for food increased immensely after living in Spain, marrying her very own Spaniard, and meeting her suegra, Antonia. Thanks to time abroad and the lessons learned from her mother-in-law, Lauren has learned a great deal about Spanish cuisine and has found a way to share it with the world! In addition to running Madrid Food Tour, Lauren writes both Spanish Sabores (in English) and Recetas Americanas (in Spanish), two excellent resources for anyone interested in Spanish or American cuisine.
Madrid Food Tour’s “signature tour” includes samples of various Spanish treats widely available in Madrid at both popular and unique stops around the city. The tour typically takes from three to four hours during off-peak times so that those on the tour can see Madrid in a way that most tour groups don’t typically get to experience. Not only does the tour hit all the general flavor groups–sweet, savory, and everything in between–Lauren shares some history and information about every plate sampled. Want to know what’s in what you’re eating? Where it comes from? Just ask!
Does the signature tour not sound like what you’re looking for? Want to try something a bit more off-beat or specific to your tastes? Do you have the most discerning of palates? Again… just ask! The best part of these tours is that they are almost entirely customizable based on what you like, so if Andrew Zimmern’s bizarre tastes inspire you to try something completely new and different, let Lauren know!
The Madrid Food Tour website can be found here, and tours are available now! Tell them Guiri Guide sent you, and then let us know how much you loved it!
Computer applications have become a business of seeing gaps in currently offered products and places where a new product would make people’s lives easier. That is the idea behind mitmi, a mobile application start-up in Madrid. The mitmi team of José Luis Fernández, Eduardo González, and Guillermo Zotes addressed a gap when they released their application in January: people need a way to organize via their mobile phones specifically about where, when, and how they are going to meet up in person. What about an application that combines instant chat, a listing of personal events and their locations, real-time maps/checking-in technology, and even the ability to make reservations at restaurants and clubs? The product, which is ever updating and growing with its growing consumer base, is mitmi.
The name comes from the English ‘meet me,’ but with the Spanish spelling of the phrase. From your phone, you can use this free application to connect to your Facebook and invite both Facebook friends and people who also have mitmi to do something with you, be it going for a hike in the mountains or meeting up for cañas or anything else. You can monitor who is planning on coming to the event and have a group chat discussion of times to meet, meeting spots, etc. Finally, as the moment approaches, if you arrive early you can click ‘ping pong’ and find out where your friends are at the moment using a map, which gives you a much more accurate read on when they will arrive than ‘c u soon!’ ever has given.
Coming from a small town, I was surprised when I arrived in Madrid and it became much more difficult to meet up with friends; selecting a time, location, and activity became something complicated, especially if I was involving lots of people or people who had never been to that part of the city before. This application makes an effort to reduce the complexity of that task, and offers other perks like connections to other people who like similar events to yours and the ability to make instant reservations with discounts at participating restaurants.
The application is based in Madrid, which means there is a high concentration of users here, but it is an internationally available application in Spanish and English, so you can use it if you are in the United States too. In the future, the application team plans on expanding and will continue adding features.
The application is currently available for iPhone and Android. Visit www.mitmiapp.com to learn more and download the free application to try it out yourself.