Situated on an unassuming street behind Príncipe Pío lies Café del Rey, a modern restaurant that’s totally unexpected. Although it’s a five-minute walk from the train station, as well as the Royal Palace, Templo Dubod and Plaza de España, the street it’s located on is quite off the beaten path.
James and I went on a Saturday night when the center was uncomfortably crowded, as per usual. Dodging pedestrians left and right, we headed down Cuesta San Vicente. Just before reaching the station, we turned right onto a quiet street called Paseo del Rey and bam! We’d completely escaped the city’s hustle and bustle and could finally breathe again.
Two minutes later we arrived at the restaurant, whose stylish decor stands out among the surrounding residential buildings. What is this modern restaurant doing here? It looks like it should be in Malasaña, Chueca, or even Salamanca. That said, we were happy it wasn’t located in those neighborhoods because it gave us the chance to try something new and head in a different direction.
The front part of the venue is a casual bar, delicatessen and shop. You’ll find sandwiches on baguettes, mouthwatering cakes and other treats on display, plus a great beer selection and wine list. We went for dinner so we sat in the dining area in the back, also chic and with plenty of space to remind us we weren’t in an itsy bitsy bar in La Latina (which we love, just sometimes we crave some leg room).
As we were eating dinner, we couldn’t help but talk about how oddly situated the restaurant was. How could anyone find it if they weren’t looking for it? Bottom line is you couldn’t. That’s kind of why we like it. While in the summer I’m sure it’s always packed because of its beach-themed outdoor terrace, during the wintertime I imagine the clientele is more from the neighborhood, as well as people coming in from Principe Pio or after spending the day along Madrid’s river. They also hold events like wine and beer tastings that bring in patrons.
Back to our dinner: James got a burger (which the waiter recommended) and I went with the salmon with vegetables (I’m on a bit of a health kick these days), accompanied by a few glasses of red wine.
The table next to us was having a true feast and I must say the pasta and tuna dishes they ordered looked huge. We enjoyed our meal and the price range was reasonable. For example, the burgers cost €8-11. We didn’t end up trying their famous cakes which I honestly regret. That’s their specialty – the red velvet and carrot cake in particular – and they looked incredible!
The wait staff were also very friendly and attentive. Since Café del Rey serves breakfast and brunch menus too, we’ve got plenty of reasons to go back. I also can’t wait till summer to check out their outdoor seating areas.