Pilar Orti lives in London and is the author of The A to Z of Spanish Culture. Here, she shares the five favorite restaurants off the beaten path that make her miss Madrid – and not all are Spanish, surprisingly ! And they are so different from the typical, trendy places 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.