Slow down at Slow Mex Madrid


Julie Andrews once sang about these are a few of my favorite things and if I were to pen some similar lyrics they would read along the lines of: margaritas, tacos and anything with a bit of spice.

In light of this, a long Saturday lunch spent at Slow Mex wasn’t exactly a hardship. A low key Mexican joint on Calle San Vicente Ferrer, that does a very nice sideline in craft beers is the ideal place to bunker down for the afternoon now that coat season is well and truly upon us in Madrid.

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Slow Mex has a big open space that feels slightly reminiscent to a pub back in Blighty (again, this could be thanks to the array of beers on tap). It feels like an unpretentious neighbour who invites you over and makes you feel instantly at home.

As it’s essentially a mecca for all things Mexican, all the standard offerings are present on the menu. Tacos, nachos, burritos – they’re all there. However, the homemade grub does offer a couple of fun twists on the to-be-expected tortilla based treats.

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We tried a fairly unusual starter. It was sort of similar to a kind of chowder but with a kick and studded with spicy prawns; it brought me back to life after a particularly boozy evening the night before. We rounded off the leisurely lunch with a brownie.

Again, it was a slightly pimped up version of an old favorite as this pud offered up sugar and spice – as it had just touch of chilli in it. It was downright delicious and had us reaching for one last margarita for the road.

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Special mention has to go to the Maitre D, Mark. He towed the line between clearly knowing his stuff (and wanting to share it with us) and being attentive enough without us feeling like we had a third person dining with us, which can sometimes be the case. He also pointed out that they have a happy hour. Am I the only one who views winter as the perfect excuse for day drinking? Surely not.

Either way, we left Slow Mex giggling and gloriously full. Thanks to the crispy duck tacos that I’m still thinking about, the diet can always wait until tomorrow. I’m just thinking of my winter insulation and working on my extra layer in the meantime.

by @littlemissmadrid

Slow Mex Madrid

  • Facebook, Website & Instagram
  • Address: Calle de San Vicente Ferrer 33
  • Metro: Tribunal or Noviciado
  • Phone: 915 326 791



El Brote: a brand-new mushroom restaurant in the heart of El Rastro


Mushrooms: they’re an inspiring subject one can easily get carried away with, especially after paying a visit to El Brote. Years of academic mushroom knowledge and on-the-ground wisdom were literally delivered to us on a plate and I’m now a devout mushroom apostle on a mission to spread the message to the foodie people of Madrid.

El Brote's dining area

El Brote’s dining area

El Brote (the bud) is a small and cosy restaurant on Calle de la Ruda run by two mushroom enthusiasts, Eduardo and Alvaro. Every corner of the place is mushroom-themed, even the floor. Its décor is earthy, humble and a little eccentric, and the original features of the building have been beautifully highlighted throughout the room.

Abstract mushroom artwork

Abstract mushroom artwork

Various gospels of the mushroom bible

Various gospels of the mushroom bible

The 0th floor of El Brote

The 0th floor of El Brote

A mushroomy display inside the floor

A mushroomy display inside the floor

Both Eduardo and Alvaro were keen to explain each dish on their 10-item menu and made recommendations based on the season and their own personal preferences which, funnily enough, were different.

There’s a specific order in which you must eat each ingredient.

… they explained as each dish was brought out. They suggested we start with the unseasoned mushrooms so that we could taste their pure flavour, then slowly begin combining the other ingredients together to get a feel for the dish as a whole. The flavours were subtle and delicious both separately and collectively – a sign that someone behind the scenes really knows what they’re doing.

Trumpet mushrooms with a raw egg yolk and herbs

Trumpet mushrooms with a raw egg yolk and herbs

Red mushrooms with pak choy, gnocci and pumpkin gratin

Red mushrooms with pak choy, gnocci and pumpkin gratin

Black mushrooms with beans, squash and leek

Black mushrooms with beans, squash and leek

Try their wine too, it’s really good. We also noticed that every single table in the restaurant was sharing a bottle of red between them… such a beautiful sight.

TIP: El Brote have very few tables and they don’t take evening reservations so aim to be the first to arrive as we were, because within 10 minutes of arriving, the place will be full!

INFO




Loveliness at Lateral


When I first moved to Madrid I walked that well trodden path like so many ex-pats had done before me; the month long TEFL course. I rocked up with my Spanish phrase book, some SPF 20 and the overwhelming desire to live abroad. With no set plan (well, with no actual plan at all having quit my job in PR back in London) I quickly got into the groove of my new TEFL timetable; which essentially meant a 3pm finish.  As soon as my ‘working’ day was done, I would wile away afternoons in Plaza Santa Ana.

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Plaza Santa Ana

Now I don’t spend too much time around that neck of the woods these days, but back then I was literally intoxicated by that square. The beautiful balconies, the long sunny days (I arrived in August) and I even found charm in the guys who play the accordion and then hustle for your change. The large majority of those afternoons were spent on the terraza of restaurante Lateral.

Seriously, the limited savings that I arrived with dwindled at lightning speed thanks to my newfound obsession with their croquetas de jamón and tinto de verano. It became a spot that I still think of fondly, as it kind of represents those heady first months when everything was an adventure and my sole preoccupation was how many hours could I spend tanning that day and where was I going out that night.

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So Lateral and I have enjoyed an enduring partnership and now that I live on the other side of Gran Via I thought I’d mix things up and visit one of their other outposts on Calle Fuencarral. I’d heard on the grape vine that it had undergone a recent renovation (and I can’t just rely on Pinterest for interiors inspo) so it seemed like a win win.

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So onto the décor, it is in a nutshell delightful. But obviously we’re talking about a restaurant here, so I can’t not mention the food. Lateral is all about the tapas – so you can literally try a little bit of everything in perfectly bite sized portions.

In addition, if you have visiting guests or you’re just a first timer to the city, you’ll love that Lateral puts a modern spin on Spanish classics. You can find all the well-known favourites such as tortilla de patata and albondigas (meatballs); alongside more inventive small plates such as delicious duck ravioli and a melt-in-the-mouth carpaccio.

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Food wise Lateral is what I would describe as a safe bet. Yes it might not be the most inventive cuisine, but what they offer up always hits the spot. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s super reasonably priced for a city centre find, and they serve food all day.

My friend and I were also pleased as punch to discover that they boast a happy hour on drinks – ideal if you enjoy a lunch that’s more liquid than most and I can attest that the service is always friendly and fast. Whilst the terraza isn’t quite as pleasing on the eye as the Plaza Santa Ana locale, the phrase “it’s what’s on the inside that counts” that rings true here.

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Inside it’s an oasis within the city, filled with plenty of plants and enough greenery to make you feel like you’re embracing nature, in spite of being mere moments from the hustle and bustle of one of Madrid’s main shopping streets. If spontaneity is your thing (let’s face it, we’re not talking about a country when peeps really plan ahead), restaurante Lateral is the kind of place that you can pitch up at, eat well and feel as though you’ve sampled a little bit of Spain’s finest.

Restaurante Lateral:




Where to Take Your Mom in Madrid – Round 2


Knowing where to take your mom in Madrid can be tough, especially if she’s already visited you five or six times. So here’s a follow-up to my first version of this post with some fresh ideas, some favorites, and some recommendations from fellow Naked Madrid writers – and my mom, too, of course. She also helped me edit this whole piece. Thanks ma! 

Not to mention these ideas are great for any out-of-town guests. Here goes:

1. Museo del Romanticismo for an intimate art experience

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Madrid has several charming museums worth visiting, and if you’re like me, you’ll appreciate their small size. My mom and I loved Museo de Artes Decorativas and Museo Naval; but we enjoyed Museo del Romanticismo the most. Something about wandering around someone’s former mansion makes it unique, and each room tells a different story. Just stay on the grey carpet or the attendant will scold you, like she did my mom when she wanted to take a closer look at the 19th-century furnishings and art! Plus it has a wonderful tea room.

For more ideas, check out Madrid’s obvious and not-so-obvious museums (and how to get in for free!)

2. Mad Improv events for fun and laughter

Mad Improv jams at VeraContent

This was such a great discovery. My mom has been to Madrid several times over my ten years of living here, yet we never quite found the right way to spend an evening out that didn’t just involve food. Mad Improv is an English-speaking theater group that holds shows (right now on Thursdays at La Escalera de Jacob) and regular workshops and jams at VeraContent (Naked Madrid’s sister company).

Jams cost 3€ and include a first drink. Anyone is welcome to get up and join in on improv games, or you can just watch if you’re on the shyer side – understandably so, as you’ll see some pretty impressive improvisors up there. Either way, you’re going to laugh a whole lot. I promise.

Here’s a full post on Mad Improv to find out more.

3. Juana la Loca for excellent Spanish food

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Juana la Loca is an exceptional family-run restaurant in La Latina, serving Spanish food with lots of fusion and lots of love. Everything you eat here is exquisite, from the pintxos at the bar to the main dishes. I had been several times before I finally got the chance to speak to one of the family members, the son, who explained everything on the menu with such passion. Culinary arts clearly run in the family.

4. Bosco de Lobos and Ana la Santa for cozy and chic diningBosco de Lobos Madrid

I wanted to include a few more restaurants on this list so I asked for recommendations from Cat, one of Naked Madrid’s most active writers. With no hesitation at all, she said: “Bosco de Lobos and Ana la Santa are both mum pleasers!” Bosco de Lobos is situated in a beautiful courtyard of an architecture school in Chueca, and its casual-chic look immediately lures you in. Ana la Santa also has a great location, right in Plaza Santa Ana. Cat especially recommends going here when it’s cold outside, as it’s the perfect place to warm up.

Check out Cat‘s articles on Bosco de Lobos and Ana la Santa – I’d definitely take her word for it.

5. Chuka for Japanese ramen and gyozas

Chuka Ramen Bar Portada

Once you’ve had your taste of Spanish food, you shouldn’t feel bad about going to an international restaurant. Really, it’s okay. Madrid’s culinary scene is full of fusion cuisine from all over the world, and Madrileños love it. Chuka is one of our all-time favorites for ramen, gyozas and baos. And we just found out the owners are actually two Americans who have been living in Madrid for over a decade. Go figure!

Here’s a full post on Chuka. Another great restaurant nearby is L’Artisan Furansu Kitchen, offering French-Japanese fusion cuisine and a menú del día that changes daily.

6. Salmon Guru for fun cocktails

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Before going into Chuka we had a half hour to kill so we walked down the street and got a drink at Salmon Guru. This funky bar has a great cocktail selection and truly unique decor. If we’d stayed a little longer and sampled another round, my mom thinks we might have solved the mystery of what “Salmon Guru” actually means.

Read our full post on Salmon Guru here.

7. Swinton & Grant for when you’re working

Swinton & Grant art books and coffee Naked Madrid

Coffee shops are always great places to park your mom while you’re working (or napping). If she hasn’t brought her own book with her, she’ll surely find something to read at Swinton & Grant – a café that sells art books and also has a downstairs gallery – while enjoying a cortado, a spicy ginger soda, or a beer.

Another one of my mom’s favorites, mentioned in the previous article, is Café La Libre, right by the Reina Sofia museum. She couldn’t resist going back twice on her most recent visit. And we always make a pit-stop at Desperate Literature to check out their international book selection and delightful event calendar.

8. Templo de Debod for stunning views

Templo de Debod Naked Madrid

This beautiful ancient Egyptian temple is perched on a hill providing breathtaking views of the city, making it the perfect spot to watch the sunset or have a picnic. Templo de Debod is also a great place to walk to after a visit to the Royal Palace or the Cerralbo Museum which are both a hop skip away. You’ll find a free-entrance museum inside the temple – one of Mad Improv’s organizers, Summer, said her parents loved it.

9. Casa Pueblo for another cocktail

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I’ve been going to this bar since my first year in Madrid. You can bring anyone here – a date, a friend, a colleague. There’s something warm and special about Casa Pueblo that makes me keep coming back. And my mom couldn’t agree more. There’s also a small stage in the back where they regularly put on live music. 

10. The Rastro for a Sunday flea market experience

When I asked for a recommendation from Leah, she said: “My mum absolutely loves the Rastro, of course. She wants to buy everything but can’t fit it in her suitcase, but she always manages to squeeze something in like a spoon!”

Leah has been writing about and capturing the Rastro for years on her awesome blog, Madrid No Frills, and instagram accounts @rastrolife and @portaitofmadrid. Here’s her latest Rastro-inspired post: Seven eccentric museum-worthy collections found only in the Rastro

11. Shopping day in Malasaña – and a mandatory drink afterwards

Mojitos at Cubanismo, a rooftop bar in Malasaña

Mojitos at Cubanismo, a rooftop bar in Malasaña

When it comes to shopping, I like getting it over with in one shot on Calle Fuencarral (which merges with Gran Vía if you want to hit all the big stores like Zara and H&M). Afterwards, there’s beer and tapas waiting for you at some of our favorite spots. I recommend going into one of the happening food markets in the area – Mercado de San Ildefonso or Mercado de San Anton – both with great outdoor seating areas.

Another amazing place for a post-shopping drink is El Paracaídas. This multi-story and multi-purpose concept store actually has two rooftops – our favorite is Cubanismo, a tropical rooftop escape!

12. Food tour for insight into Spanish bar culture and cuisine

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Another Naked Madrid writer, Melissa, recently went on the Context Tavernas and Tapas Tour in Barrio de las Letras. Melissa is a true foodie, and works as a full-time writer and translator at VeraContent, where she researches Spanish food on a daily basis. She said the culinary tour was truly insightful, and a wonderful way to better understand the history and nuances behind Spain’s delicious cuisine as you enjoy every bite.

Read Melissa’s full article on the Context Travel Tours here.

 

Don’t forget to read round one of Where to Take Your Mom in Madrid for more ideas!

You might also like: Take a Peek Inside 5 Historical Madrid Bars

Of course Madrid is full of more options that mothers will love, so please feel free to share in the comments!




Context Tavernas and Tapas, a culinary tour through the bars of Huertas


If you’ve done any traveling lately, you might have noticed that food tours are rapidly becoming a global trend. Companies around the world now offer guided visits to restaurants, bars, and markets, promising to let you in on culinary secrets or show you how to eat like a local. Madrid is no exception. In fact, this city has more than its share of options, thanks to its vibrant dining scene and world-famous cuisine.

I recently had the chance to participate in a food tour for the very first time, thanks to Context Travel. The company offers “tours for the intellectually curious” in cities across the world, including several in the Spanish capital. Many are focused on history or art, but this one was especially intriguing: Savoring Madrid: Tavernas and Tapas.

According to the Context website, the goal of this culinary tour is to define the concept of tapas through tastings at tavernas in the city center. Like all of their Madrid tours, it’s meant to offer an in-depth look at local culture, customs, and in this case, cuisine. But considering the dozens of bars, restaurants, and specialty dishes that are scattered throughout the city, how could it be possible to cover such a broad topic in just 3 hours? That’s what I intended to find out.

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Intricate mosaics decorate the exterior of one of the many historic bars in Huertas.

Hungry for history

The tour began at 7pm outside the Westin Palace hotel, close to many of Madrid’s main tourist attractions. Context limits the size of their tours to create a personalized experience—this one consisted only of me and a couple who were on vacation.

Our guide was Tessy Carrada, a culinary journalist of Mexican origin who moved to Madrid a few years ago. She started off by explaining the basics, with the help of maps and diagrams: what are tapas, where did they come from, and how are they eaten? What makes Spain’s cuisine unique? What can you expect when you go out for tapas in Madrid?

Next she told us how the tour would work. We’d visit three or four places, all in the Huertas neighborhood (also known as Barrio de las Letras). The idea was to show us non-touristy spots, the kinds of places locals go, where we’d get a true taste of the local culture. At each place, she would order a few tapas to share, taking into account our preferences, interests, and appetites. With the ground rules laid out, we set off into the city.

Cervecería Cervantes

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First up was a true classic, a place that was packed with customers even at the early hour of 7:30pm. We ordered drinks, and Tessy explained the particularities of Spanish brewing as we admired the collection of beer cans displayed on the restaurant’s walls. The waiter brought out a plate of giant olives and mussels, exemplifying the tradition of providing something to snack on along with every drink.

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Tessy then ordered several raciones to share: ham croquetas with padrón peppers, manchego cheese, and jamón ibéricoAs we ate, she offered insight on each and every item: how to make croquetas, what makes Spanish ham so special, and how to distinguish true manchego from imitations.

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I’ve lived in Spain for a while, and I’ve eaten (more than) my share of all of these classic tapas, but I’m not exaggerating when I say this might’ve been the best ham and cheese of my life. It took a lot of self-discipline to restrain myself and save room for the next destination…

La Fábrica

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As soon as we entered this colorful, crowded locale we were welcomed with the sights and smells of seafood. We gathered around an old barrel-turned-table and ordered albariño wine to accompany the salpicón (a kind of seafood salad) and boquerones (marinated anchovies) that Tessy suggested. I was quickly reminded of one of the most pleasant discoveries I’ve made in Madrid: despite my preconceived notions about slimy, stinky seafood, here it’s a true delicacy.

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The salpicón consisted of shrimp, mussels, and octopus swimming in olive oil with tomatoes, peppers, and onions. It was fresh, light, and incredibly delicious. A loaf of crusty bread was brought to the table, and Tessy encouraged us to break off pieces and soak them in the flavorful oil.

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The boquerones were perfectly seasoned and accompanied by olives and crispy potato chips. We were also served a small plate of cheese and chorizo—but it couldn’t compete with the perfection we’d already experienced at Cervantes. The star here was most certainly the seafood.

La Vinoteca

Although we attempted to find a spot at the renowned Casa Alberto, at 9pm on a Saturday night it proved difficult. Instead we went to La Vinoteca, which had a much more modern and upscale atmosphere than the previous bars. We ordered wine and cava from an impressively long and detailed list.

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To round out the night, Tessy ordered patatas bravas (fried potatoes smothered in slightly spicy sauce) and two pinchos (small toasts): one topped with spinach, goat cheese, and caramelized onions, and another with potato cake and duck magret.

Although the ambience here was lovely and the wine exceptional, I have to admit that the tapas weren’t quite as impressive as their successors. That being said, they were still delicious, and certainly provided a well-rounded sampling of some of Spain’s most famous specialties.

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For the last course of the evening, Tessy chose a layered trifle of chocolate and cream, as well as a sort of mini apple pie topped with vanilla ice cream. Although these were pretty standard sweets that didn’t exactly scream “Spain,” it’s hard to complain when there’s chocolate involved. After devouring dessert, we parted ways for the night with full bellies, satisfied palates, and a whole lot of newfound knowledge.

An interesting aftertaste

For me the best part of this tour, surprisingly, was not the food itself (although of course it was incredible). As a resident of Madrid, I can get authentic tapas whenever I want, on nearly every street corner. What this experience offered me was the chance to engage with the food I was eating on an intellectual level: to learn why tapas are called tapas, what distinguishes jamón ibérico from jamón serrano, and so much more. It was a lesson in being conscious of what I eat and the history and culture it reflects.

For travelers who only have a few days to sample the best of local cuisine, who don’t speak Spanish, or who simply don’t know where to begin, Context provides an ideal solution. Tessy’s insider knowledge and impeccable taste made for an interesting, entertaining, and thoroughly authentic journey through the taverns of Huertas.

Whether you’re a tourist who wants to experience the tapas culture firsthand, or a seasoned local who wants to learn more about the city you love, you’ll find what you’re looking for in the Context Tavernas and Tapas tour.

To learn more about Context or book a tour, click here.




Navare Bar – The Secret’s Out


You always feel quite smug when you stumble across somewhere that feels yet to be discovered. I was mooching around Chamberi on my way to an appointment, when I mindlessly spotted Navare Bar – and it piqued my interest.

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Inside there were groups of friends chatting animatedly, enjoying a late afternoon merienda. But upon closer look, there was also a downright delicious evening menu. I papped the name of the restaurant on my phone and made a mental note to return with a friend in tow.

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Fast forward a week and I found myself to be one of the locals enjoying this new neighbourhood hotspot. Navare Bar is somewhat impossible to be shoehorned into any set category. You want you breakfast? They serve it. A leisurely lunch with colleagues? You’ve got it. Dinner with your nearest and dearest. They offer it. It’s basically your one-stop shop for all your culinary needs.

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Now to be all things to all people is no mean feat. However, after meeting (and chatting with the owner) it’s clear that the vision for Navare Bar is to be a local place for local people; somewhere that no matter the time of day, you can grab a coffee or indeed a copa with friends.

I was a fan of this concept from the get go. Coming from the UK, I’m used to eating when I want – whether or not that ties in with siesta culture is of little importance. If I’m hungry I want options that will keep my renowned (within my social circle) ‘hanger’ at bay. It also didn’t hurt that the décor was a delight and the plates satiated my fetish for all things chintzy when it came to crockery.

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So the food. In a nutshell it was lip smackingly good. After a full-on week at work I was in need of all the treats. We split prawn croquetas (you get eight, I could’ve quite easily refused to share). This was swiftly followed by grilled vegetables that conjured up the feeling of summer barbecues (and made me feel slightly virtuous after the deep fried delight that was the first tapa).

But the jewel in the crown was undoubtedly the solomillo that came with crushed new potatoes and some kind of sauce that I could’ve quite happily guzzled as though it were a G&T. To surmise, the food is heavenly and I left eager to return for breakfast, lunch AND dinner.

I have no doubt that Navare bar will be a success. The passion of the owner coupled with the zest for life that the local peeps possess, makes it an inevitable recipe for success.

Info

  • Facebook & Instagram
  • Address: Calle de Rafael Calvo, 29
  • Metro: Iglesia & Rubén Darío
  • Phone: 910 26 87 57

 

 




Let’s Raise a Toast to The Toast Café


If you’re lucky enough to live in Madrid, as I do, it often feels like the city is your playground. There are exhibitions to see, bars to frequent, parks to embrace, restaurants to sample and of course, come the weekend, long, lazy brunches to be had. I always have the intention to be one of those people who whips up breakfast without breaking a sweat.

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I buy the eggs, the avo, occasionally the chorizo, but when Saturday morning rolls around, frankly, my working week is done and the desire to cook (or clean) for that matter often falls by the wayside. I want to go out. To get dressed up and to head to a place where the mimosas are free flowing and the washing up is SEP (someone else’s problem). So to kick start a week off from work, I headed to The Toast Café so that someone else could poach the perfect egg on my behalf.

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A sister restaurant of Roll Madrid (a recent review of mine), it’s clear to see that good breakfasts run in the family. There’s a fixed brunch menu, which my friend and I plumped for. Needless to say, I don’t think either of us needed feeding again until the evening had swung round as the portion sizes were far from stingy.

We both had coffees to start (natch), followed by croissants, eggs benedict and an omelette respectively. We chased this up with multiple mimosas and to conclude our breakfast of champions we split a cheesecake which was as good as any that I’d had in the States: I’m a fan of a buttery base and this one was so delish that I could’ve eaten it twice.

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With Halloween on the approach and the city turning its attention to all things gruesome and ghoulish, Toast is getting in on the act by offering its own version of a fright night. Order yourself a beer and the bartenders will toss a coin – if it lands on pay, you pay. But… if it lands on freebie, you get to enjoy your tipple on the house. There’s nothing scary about that. Well, apart from maybe the hangover that’ll follow come November 1st.

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It’s worth mentioning that the aforementioned Roll, will also be on the Halloween bandwagon and are offering the exact same deal – pretty tempting with Madrid enjoying a bank holiday the following day. I fully expect most of the city will be nursing sore heads.

Fast forward to November and Toast is hosting its very own Thanksgiving celebration – I’m spotting a pattern, this is a place that likes a party, we’ll get along well. With a menu that will appeal to people from not just across the pond, it’s well worth a look if you know you’ll be pining for turkey and for time spent with friends.

So if boozy brunches are your bag and potential freebies float your boat there’s really only one thing for it. Check out The Toast Café. Great food, great service, and a great excuse to dodge doing the dishes.

Info

  • Facebook, Website & Instagram
  • Address: C/ Fernando el Católico 50
  • Metro: Moncloa, Arguelles, Quevedo
  • Phone: 915493802



Tapapiés: a guide to everyone's favorite food and culture festival in Lavapiés


It’s that time of year again. The air is turning chilly, the leaves are starting to change, and the millennial obsession with all things autumn is taking over social media. But here in Madrid, there’s a whole different reason to be excited. With October comes Tapapiés, the annual festival that inundates the streets of the Lavapiés neighborhood with delicious food, cheap drinks, and live music.

For 11 days at the end of October (this year’s 7th edition lasts from October 19—29), dozens of restaurants and bars in Lavapiés offer a very special deal. Each one develops their own signature tapa, and offers it to the public for just €1.50. For an extra euro, you can also get a botellín (a 250 ml bottle of beer) to wash it down. The event is sponsored by Barcelona’s Estrella Damm, and at most places you can choose between a regular beer or Damm Lemon (beer and lemon soda).

A bar advertises its participation in Tapapiés with the festival's official poster.

A bar advertises its participation in Tapapiés with the festival’s official poster.

Lavapiés is known for its incredible cultural diversity, with large immigrant populations from all over Africa, South America, the Middle East, and Central Asia. As a result, it’s full of international eateries offering everything from Senegalese thieboudienne to Syrian sweets. A good number of these establishments participate in Tapapiés, which means that in one night you can practically eat your way around the world, just by exploring the neighborhood’s sloping streets.

The delicious "Crepioca" tapa from Saboor Tapioca in Lavapiés

The delicious “Crepioca” tapa from Saboor Tapioca

In other words, this festival is every adventurous foodie’s dream come true. There are various strategies for tackling the overwhelming amount of options (122 tapas in total) and chaotic crowds. You can simply wander around, dropping into whatever bars you come across and trying your luck. Each one usually advertises a photograph of their tapa with a huge poster out front, so you’ll know more or less what to expect. Don’t forget to stop by Mercado de San Fernando and Mercado Antón Martín, where several vendors also participate.

A tray of tapas at Toscanaccio Italian bakery in Lavapiés

A tray of tapas at Toscanaccio Italian bakery: marinated eggplant, walnuts, goat cheese, and sun-dried tomato pesto on spelt bread

If you’re (A) a picky/allergy-prone eater or (B) determined to try as many different tapas as possible, you might want to consider a more organized strategy. Ask for a brochure at any of the participating places—you’ll get a pocket-sized booklet that contains a list of every single tapa being offered, as well as a color photograph and a detailed ingredients list for each. They’re all plotted on a numbered map, so you can plan out your ideal route. Be warned, though: it’s hard to stick to a set plan when there are so many tempting options around every corner.

Dishing out the "Moqueca de Mandioca con Pesto" tapa at Maloka Bar Brasileiro in Lavapiés

Dishing out the special tapa at Maloka Bar Brasileiro: yuca in a coconut milk sauce with peanut pesto

My advice? Grab a group of friends who aren’t afraid to elbow their way through some crowds and try as many new things as possible. This is not an activity for those who would rather settle in at a cozy restaurant for a relaxed dinner.

Expect to eat standing up while balancing a beer in one hand a a tapa in the other, and shouting at each other just to be heard. It’s messy, it’s crazy, it’s loud—and it’s totally worth it.  The frenetic and colorful spirit of the neighborhood is never more alive than on a night of Tapapiés.

"Carrillada melosa" from Maldito Querer in Lavapiés

“Carrillada melosa” from Maldito Querer: braised beef cheeks in a sauce of caramelized onion, garlic, herbs, and Pedro Ximénez reduction

To complete the experience, it’s essential to attend one of the various outdoor performances by local musicians, dancers, and entertainers that take place throughout the event. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons and evenings, you can catch live music and shows at nine different designated spots (a full schedule is included in the brochure). There’s also the simultaneous Chollopiés festival, which spotlights the neighborhood’s local businesses by offering special discounts on certain products.

Plaza de Lavapiés on a night of Tapapiés

Maybe you live in Lavapiés and want to get to know your barrio better. Maybe you’ve never been and want to see what all the hype is about. Or maybe you’re just hungry, thirsty, and low on cash. Whatever the case, Tapapiés is bound to become one of your favorite events in Madrid. If you go into it with the right mindset, a healthy appetite, and a handful of coins, I guarantee that come next October, there’ll only be one thing on your mind. Who needs pumpkin spice lattes, anyway?

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Check out our roundup of Tapapiés’ offerings last year!




Make plans to meet at Meat Madrid


A few years back, I was lucky enough to visit Chicago and let’s just say that the food in the windy city is up there with its architecture; it’s pretty memorable. It helped enormously that I was visiting a friend who is quite the foodie and had mapped out a dining odyssey that ensured that I needed two seats on the flight home, given the cals I’d ingested in the space of one week.

One meal that stood out was a burger at the now-infamous hotspot, Au Cheval. My friend nonchalantly explained that given the reputation of the burgers there, we’d need to put our names down and head off for drinks before we’d actually get to chow on down. Obviously this seemed absurd as a visiting Brit, but I duly did as I was told. Fast forward a couple of hours and boy did I eat my words (and what remains to be THE most epic burger I’ve ever tasted).

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It’s hard to explain what made it so unforgettable, but it’s certainly not just me that feels that way. Google the burger at Au Cheval and it’s been hailed by almost every Tom, Dick and Harry as the best in the world. Since that fateful evening in Chi Town, I’ve been on the hunt for the next best thing and I think my search is over upon discovering Meat.

Meat Review by Naked Madrid

Meat is tucked away down a street that offers plenty of eating options such as Boca Calle and Cripeka. But if you’re in the business of beef, Meat is where it’s at. The concept and menu are equally similar, they do two burgers (along with with fries, onion rings and salad) and that’s it. There’s the perennially popular Cheeseburger and whatever happens to be the monthly special.

Meat Review by Naked Madrid

We ordered the whole shebang and it was a treat for the old tastebuds. I’m known for being quite the carnivore so suffice to say, Meat may be my happy place. I don’t need bells and whistles when it comes to a decent-tasting burger and what makes Meat so good is that they focus on the basics and execute them to perfection. A buttery brioche bun, paired with perfectly seasoned beef makes you happy to indulge even when your jeans are feeling slightly snug.

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It didn’t go unnoticed to me that there’s Aesop products in the bathroom and G’Vine gin on offer which elevates Meat in my opinion from some of its more humble carnivorous competitors. On a Tuesday evening it was mildly busy but not eardrum shatteringly so, making it the ideal spot for a midweek bite to eat which will leave you with change from a twenty.

Make plans to meet at Meat.

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Picsa, got a ‘pizza’ my heart


I don’t know about you but when I hear the word ‘Argentina’, pizza isn’t usually the first word that springs to mind AND I’ve been. I think of tango. I think of steak. I think of wine (more specifically I think of ruby red Malbec). I also think of the multiple jars of dulce de leche that I put away, for my sins.

So upon hearing that Argentinian pizza was able to rival a slither of wafer thin New York pizza, I figured it was worth further investigation to see if the Argentinians didn’t just talk a good fight.

Picsa is the Argentinian pizza mecca on Calle Ponzano. Foodies in the know will already be well aware that this street boasts a plethora of options that are all first class. However, in order to stand out you’d better have a strong USP up your sleeve and Picsa definitely has that; I’m yet to find anywhere else in Madrid that offers such gourmet pizzas in such a clinically chic setting – if there’s such a thing.

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Picsa is almost sterile in terms of its appearance – it’s all white tiles and bare bulbs, but this just allows the food to take centre stage. Obviously the pizza is the big draw here, but the range of sharing plates isn’t to be dismissed. The bellota ham all but dissolved in your mouth and the Armenian roasted peppers were the perfect zingy compliment to the indulgence of the fat rippled jamon.

So after considering that a mere ‘warm up’, we plumped for a pizza to share and luckily (considering my topping tastes are relatively mainstream) you can do half and half and keep everyone at the table as happy as a clam.

Picsa restaurant review
On one side we split a chorizo criollo with provolone (a heart attack waiting to happen in all honesty but I was willing to take the risk). Whilst the other half was laden with roast duck and figs, like I said, Picsa isn’t serving up your basic margarita here. At this point, barely able to move and already pining for the thought of an elasticated waist, we figured in for a penny, in for a pound and split a chocolate cake with dulce de leche ice cream to really round things off.

If you’re working on your beach bod I strongly advise swerving Picsa unless you’re able to show any kind of restraint – of which I’m not. Picsa is not your average pizza joint and in light of this it was packed to the rafters on a Saturday night with patrons all looking for a ‘pizza the action’ – sorry, couldn’t resist one last pizza pun. Be sure to book, maybe skip lunch in preparation and stretchy pants are well advised.

Photos by @adam_w_potts

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  • FacebookWebsite 
  • Instagram: @picsa.madrid
  • Address: Calle Ponzano 76
  • Phone: 915 34 10 09

Read a former Naked Madrid review on Picsa here!