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:




Jack Percoca: The Little Italian Joint with Big Hearty Food


“The amount of food on the plate says a lot about the person who put it on the plate,” laughs Luca. “I serve my customers like I serve my family.”

Naples-born Luca is a professional restaurateur. For eight years, he travelled around the world opening and running game-changing restaurants before finally settling in Madrid and opening Jack Percoca Bar & Kitchen, a cosy little Italian restaurant in the heart of the city’s Conde Duque district.

The bar area

The bar area

The cosy dining area

The cosy dining area with lots of natural light at lunchtime

The sheer wealth of experience Luca has picked up over the years becomes clear from the moment you walk in. A great deal of thought has gone into the style and layout: the lighting is soft, there’s no ‘short-straw’ table, the service is attentive, and the food is flawless.

FOOD FOR FOUR (TO EIGHT)

To start, we ordered Burrata Tricolore, served on a bed of rocket with slices of perfectly ripe tomato and drizzled with Luca’s famous basil pesto. We also ordered a bowl of “Smoking Bullets”: deep-fried, cheese and ham-filled rigatoni, like an Italian take on croquettes. We loved the tomato-laden Bruschetta and, on the opposite end of all spectrums, the (intensely) Creamy Meatballs.

Smoking Bullets, Creamy Meatballs, Bruschetta and Burrata Tricolore

Smoking Bullets, Creamy Meatballs, Bruschetta and Burrata Tricolore

The Bruschetta

The Bruschetta

Feeling full yet? For mains, we had the Spaghetti Burger – a succulent home-made burger perched on a crispy basket of spaghetti – and the Steak Tartare with chunky chips. The Donna Sofia pizza is right up there with the best pizzas in Madrid, but the colossal Truffle Mac and Cheese was, as usual, the star of the show.

The Spaghetti Burger

The Spaghetti Burger

The Truffle Mac 'n' Cheese

The Truffle Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Despite being pretty full, we ordered the Margherita Cheesecake and the Amaretto Connection for all of us to share, because when a dessert is good enough (and you know what I’m talking about here), you’ll find room for it.

The Amaretto Connection

The Amaretto Connection

WELCOME TO PROHIBITION-ERA NEW YORK

This excerpt from the menu sets the scene for the restaurant perfectly:

“It’s the era of prohibition and the state has declared war on alcohol. Social downfall in America has reached rock bottom and liquor is squarely to blame. But New York City has been hit by a new wave of crime – the black market. The word on the street is that immoral men are brewing their own high-proof alcohol. Hip flasks of this “moonshine” are stuffed into the boots of liberated women to supply hundreds of “speakeasies”. It’s also the beginning of the underground jazz movement – inspiration is thriving in these illegal alcohol-fueled parties, but only the coolest guys and dolls in town are in the know. It was here, in a speakeasy beneath the streets of New York, that Sandy met Jack…”

The infamous black market liquors of the Prohibition era echo throughout Luca’s cocktails, which are strong enough to cut through all three hearty courses and still leave you feeling merry.

A selection of the classic cocktails

A selection of the classic cocktails

Jack Percoca Bar & Kitchen is humbly priced, but with big hearty food, strong cocktails and a charming atmosphere, this Little Italy eatery is determined to keep Madrid’s restaurant scene on its toes.

INFO




Mercadillo Lisboa: A fun Portuguese snack bar in Mercado San Fernando


Brand-new Portuguese eatery Mercadillo Lisboa was waiting for the right moment to join the mercado scene until, six weeks ago, just in time for Tapapiés, it finally opened up in the best spot in Mercado San Fernando. Enter through the main doors, head straight to the middle and turn right – they’re there next to the fun bar Sondelata, which sells blue wine and carrot cava.

Mercadillo Lisboa is owned and run by three pals – two from Lisbon and one from the Canary Islands. Only two of them are in this photo because the other is camera-shy – he hid around the corner.

This is a great place to get authentic Portuguese food, from a variety of quiches and the classic Pastéis de Belém, to empanadas, arancini and everything bacalao. Here are a few photos of their snack food, very proudly displayed by the jolliest of the three musketeers:

Vegetarian spinach quiche

Vegetarian spinach quiche

There are lots of quiches here

There are lots of quiches here

Empanadas and cod croquettes

Empanadas and cod croquettes

Arancini

Arancini

Strawberry cheesecake (wow)

Strawberry cheesecake (wow)

You can also buy a selection of Portuguese beers and wines (including vinho verde), plus an almond liqueur (licor de amêndoa) specially driven over from Portugal by the guy on the right. I bought their last bottle a couple of weeks ago and with it came this story – suddenly €12 seemed like an absolute steal. You’ll be glad to know that they’ve since been back to Portugal and brought another few bottles for us, but get it while you can – or I will!

Lots of Portuguese wines and liquors

Lots of Portuguese wines and liqueurs

A selection of Portuguese beers

A selection of Portuguese beers

Pull up a chair at Mercadillo Lisboa or mingle in its sphere of influence with a vinho verde and a bocadillo de bacalao. And just so you know, you’ll probably bump into me.

Info

  • C/Embajadores, 41
  • Metro: Lavapiés/Embajadores
  • Facebook

Opening hours:

  • Mon: Fri: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm, 5:00 pm – midnight
  • Sat: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Sun: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm



Café Barbieri: A 114-year-old Art Noveau café in Lavapiés


Café Barbieri first brought modernist charm to Madrid’s working class district, Lavapiés, in 1902, and although the barrio has evolved dramatically over the last 114 years, the interior of this elegant bar hasn’t changed one bit.

Some things have changed though – Café Barbieri is owned by a charismatic chap from New Delhi and staffed with bilingual youngthings. It also now has a small terrace, but this is not why you’d come here – its appeal is truly the interior.

The whole place is lined with mirrors which back then were a symbol of wealth. These mirrors are now aging well, stained a smoky bronze colour with dots of grey rust creeping in from the edges. The ceiling is framed with grids of ornate girders that are connected to decorative cast-iron beams, typical of older buildings in Lavapiés. Although never on, there are ceiling fans too – something increasingly rare in Madrid.

At the back of the bar is a grand piano on a small raised stage. Almost every evening there’s a live music session often featuring the piano, and this place does food too – typical Spanish stuff but with an edge.

The worn white marble table tops and red velvet seating lining the dining area mark this place out as opulent, but that’s really not the vibe – it’s chilled and cosy and attracts a spectrum of people, from the intrepid tourist who’s braved it down the hill, to the unassuming local who fancies a read of one of the papers on offer.

Café Barbieri by day

Café Barbieri by day

Café Barbieri's beautiful ornate cieling

Café Barbieri’s beautiful ornate ceiling

The grand piano taking centre stage, and look at all those beautiful mirrors

The grand piano taking centre stage, and look at all those beautiful mirrors

Look at that original tiled floor!

Look at that original tiled floor!

The bar has a great selection of spirits & vermouth on tap

The bar has a great selection of spirits & vermouth on tap

Café Barbieri by night

Café Barbieri by night

Café Barbieri is also on the same street as the Greek foodie place, Egeo, so there you have it, your night is planned!

Info




Go Crazy for Cannibal.


New restaurant openings (or in fact any kind of opening) within Madrid are pretty much ten a penny. When strolling round any of the barrios, you’d be hard pressed to not spy an exposed brick or a jam jar cocktail vying for your attention, in what’s becoming an increasingly crammed marketplace.

However, there are some new spots that feel no need for fanfare and know full well that the masses are going to flock in their droves. Cannibal holds this covetable spot. The restaurant equivalent of someone tall, dark and handsome – Cannibal is poised to become the darling of the Madrid restaurant scene and you won’t just need to take my word for it; you could ask anyone who was there last Saturday (when it was packed to the rafters).

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Madrid non-newbies will remember that the site of Cannibal once housed the infamous brunch spot ‘Cafe Oliver’ and when it closed its doors, many mourned the loss. So imagine my excitement whilst on my daily walk to work when I spied renovations.

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Now painted in an inky blue hue, the newly opened Cannibal is hard to miss. The name alludes to what’s on offer dinner wise. The raw stuff. Tartare. Ceviche. Carpaccio. But don’t despair if you’re not a fan of the cold stuff, the menu offers a mean hamburger and THE most delish Peruvian Pork dish that was inhaled within mere minutes.

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Now I could wax lyrical about just how good the food was –  because it truly was. We’re talking last meal type claims (if like me burrata and steak carpaccio is your idea of food heaven). But it wasn’t just the food that had my company and me swooning; it was the service.

In a country where asking for the bill is usually met with a grunt, the team at Cannibal couldn’t have been more charming or attentive – much to the glee of my dinner companions. They happily talked through the menu with genuine interest, they were knowledgeable about ingredients and at no point were our glasses empty. I know this kind of vibe is to be expected in a country like the states, but in the land of jamon this is rare.

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It goes without saying that the decor satiated my interiors porn thirst and it didn’t hurt to have a window seat on a balmy evening, where you would people watch over your dulce de leche pud.

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Like all restaurants reviews, I’m always torn between spreading the word and keeping schtum for fear of a place becoming busier than the Bernabeu on a match day, but the secret’s out.

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Embrace your inner cannibal and happy feasting. Who cares if it’s bikini season with food that good? That’s what kaftan’s are for.

*All photos are from Cannibal Raw Bar Madrid’s FB page & Instagram

Info

  • Facebook & Website & Instagram
  • Address: Calle Almirante., 12, 28004 Madrid
  • Phone: 910 26 87 94
  • Metro: Chueca, Colón, Banco de España



Finocchio - fine dining in Lavapies


Finocchio is a suave addition to the Lavapies foodie scene and has been a favourite of mine since it opened just under a year ago. It reminds me of Italian restaurants in the UK – atmospherically lit, candles on the table, a full but no-fuss menu, accessible sophistication without the price tag – perfect, right?

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Like all good Italian restaurants, Finocchio presents you with an aperitivo the moment you sit down. By this point, you’ve probably clocked the wine fridge, but the house wine is also a fantastic choice. Once poured, don’t worry about where on the table to put it so it isn’t blocking the view of your fellow diners – you’ll find it in an iced wine stand next to your table.

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Just as you’d always hope, your dish comes out the kitchen hot and all of you are served at the same time. Want some parmesan? Here’s a pot – put as much on your food as you want. Want some black pepper? Here’s a pepper mill. Leave it on the table – it’s yours for the night.

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Sous chef (left), owner and head chef (right)

One more thing… Last year, Finocchio won the Tapapies award. The votes are in: this place is perfect.

Info

  • Address: Calle de Embajadores 64
  • Metro: Lavapies, Tirso de Molina, La Latina



New Cucos, a family-style restaurant in Arturo Soria


Sometimes when I go out to have lunch or dinner I can’t  help but think that an important part of customer service is missing. So when I had dinner at New Cucos with my friend, when we went outside afterwards, we could only say how well we were treated and what a wonderful dinner we had.

New Cucos is a family-style restaurant in the neighborhood of Arturo Soria. This closeness and warmth can be seen in the way Juan (the owner) treats everyone who works there, as well as all the customers who are having dinner or lunch.

The restaurant is located on the quiet street of Arturo Soria. It is a large space with a perfect covered terrace for more intimate dinners or larger celebrations. The terrace provides a very cozy place where you can talk quietly without being bothered by the next table, and then there’s also a smaller and equally cozy interior. The first day we decided to sit in inside, as Real Madrid was playing and we wanted to see the match. The second day we sat in the covered terrace, great decision.

The Food

New Cucos has a simple and traditional menu with very good quality ingredients. The portions are generous, in fact, the most popular dishes on the menu are large sharing platters; these can be great among a group of friends, or even just for two.

First we went for the warm burrata salad with cherry tomatoes. It was simply delicious. Great quality, never tried the burrata and I have to say I totally loved it.

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Burrata Salad

Then we decided to try the spring rolls with vegetables and prawns – a highly recommended and delicious dish as well.

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Spring rolls

By the time we had to eat our third dish, we were already full, but how can you say no to a plate of ravioli? These were filled with pumpkin and cheese sauce – simply spectacular and very rich. In fact the second time we went we couldn’t help but order them again.

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Ravioli

The second day we also ordered a delicious mixed salad. For me, nothing beats a well-prepared mixed salad.

Salad

Salad

As for the rest of the menu, in addition to the dishes to share, they have a small selection of fish and meat dishes. I have to say the South African ostrich burger looks delicious.

Prices are very reasonable. The first day we had three dishes, three glasses of wine and two beers for 47 euros. The second day our bill came out to 33 euros.

I’d also like to highlight once again that we received fantastic service both times we went; the staff was attentive, asking if everything was fine, and very importantly, without putting any pressure on us to leave. That sort of thing is very noticeable and makes your dinner even better.

Nothing else to add, New Cucos points out on Twitter: “eat and drink in an oasis” And I couldn’t agree more.

So, “Mucha mierda” (or “break a leg”) to Juan and the rest of his family. I’m sure we’ll see each other again soon!

Info

  • Where: Calle Arturo Soria 84
  • Metro: Arturo Soria
  • Tf: 913774039
  • Twitter
  • Monday to saturday 11 to 1.



Zoco Comidero: Eat well and feel great at Madrid's first (and only) flexitarian restaurant


NOW CLOSED

I don’t eat meat, but one of my life rules is: never go to a Vegetarian restaurant.

I’ve been jaded by too many poorly thought-out ventures where the food is created from fear of meat rather than love of veg. Vegan and vegetarian cuisine has existed all over the world for millennia, so where did the culinary black hole come from and why has it left us in such a veg-hating dark age feeling hungry and dehydrated?

Last week, a friend of mine recommended veggie-friendly Zoco Comidero and I might just have seen the light at the end of the tunnel.

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Rarely do you come across a restaurant with this much respect for food. The concept: flexitarian – a primarily vegetarian diet which occasionally includes meat or fish. In other words, there’s something for everyone.

No longer does the vegetarian friend have to eat a racion de patatas bravas for dinner, or the carnivorous friend have to suffer through a fish-less fillet or a tofurkey burger (a what?).

At Zoco Comidero, the menu is hugely varied and every dish is put together professionally. Everything on your plate hit the kitchen worktop raw and intact and has been prepared freshly with no external influences.

We kicked off Tuesday evening with a kale and kiwi smoothie, an arepa stuffed with an almond-based vegan cheese and chlorella pesto (a delicious black seaweed pesto).

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Feeling healthy yet? We shared two tostas: one with goat’s cheese and a juicy baked tomato and the other with a generous portion of beetroot-marinated raw salmon and homemade mustard. For mains we had a risotto made with kamut (an ancient large wheat grain), and prawn chop suey.

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This was all underlined with a trio of deserts: an intense gooey dark chocolate brownie (the secret ingredient: avocado), quinoa ‘cheesecake’ and a face-twisting lemon curd.

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By now the word “healthy” is in the background. Exotic flavours, textures and presentation of the food resonates more than anything else. I love Marbell’s zen and her way of transmitting it to us urban wildlife through edible flowers and doses of colour.

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This is Marbell, the brains and owner of Zoco Comidero

Zoco Comidero is just off the beaten track but in the real heart of Madrid’s old town. The restaurant has an elegant interior with low lighting, good music and a bonus view of the palace. There’s also a fun downstairs lounge which gets going on weekends. Every Saturday and Sunday, Marbell tries to organise a chilled bit of live music from 10:30 pm onwards so stick around after dinner for good DJs and Venezuelan bands.

Info

  • Address: Calle Moreria 11
  • Metro: La Latina



Chiringuito de El Señor Martín, top quality beach bar in Sol


The landlocked city of Madrid is supposedly home to the country’s best quality fish and seafood. Why? Because Madrileños say so! Opinion aside, it’s true that fresh fish from all coasts of Spain are shipped to the capital on a daily basis and one restaurant in Sol has taken full advantage: Chirignuito de El Señor Martín, located on Calle Mayor.

Chiringuito de El Señor Martín by Naked Madrid

Chiringuito means ‘beach bar’ in Spanish, hence the restaurant’s beach-chic feel and menu featuring a variety of fish and seafood platters. During summer, this chiringuito gets even breezier when it opens its glass doors onto Calle Mayor and becomes one with the sidewalk. During winter, the restaurant also expands its menu to include heartier seafood stews and rice dishes.

Chiringuito de El Señor Martín by Naked Madrid

James and I had the pleasure of having lunch here on Wednesday. When you walk in, you see the fresh fish on display, which comes straight from El Señor Martín, a high-quality fish market inside Mercado de San Miguel (and where the restaurant gets the other half of its name).

Chiringuito de El Señor Martín by Naked Madrid

You can see right into the kitchen, where you’ll find the tattoo-covered chef, Beltrán Alonso. He and the waiter kindly explained each menu item to us, as well as the innovative cooking techniques they use and the origin of their ingredients. So without further ado, here’s what we had…

Chiringuito de El Señor Martín by Naked Madrid

To drink, we started off with two glasses of champagne, which came with a tapa of camarones, baby shrimp that are caught using sustainable fishing methods.

Chiringuito de El Señor Martín by Naked Madrid

Our first sarter was ensaladilla rusa, a traditional homemade potato salad with baby shrimp and fish roe. This is on their permanent menu and it wouldn’t be a real Spanish fish restaurant without it!

Chiringuito de El Señor Martín by Naked Madrid

Our second starter was very innovative: gambas con dos cocciones y ajo morado de las Pedroñeras, twice-cooked shrimp with black garlic. It’s important to note that the black garlic they use is the best in Spain (if not the world, according to our waiter). The flavor of the shrimp was completely distinct and absolutely delicious.

Chiringuito de El Señor Martín by Naked Madrid

Our third starter was our favorite: calamares. This is one of the most typical dishes in Andalucía and here, it’s not only good quality (fresh from El Señor Martín market) but also prepared in extra virgin olive oil, like everything else on the menu. It was so fresh, light and satisfying. You have to get this when you go here no matter what.

Chiringuito de El Señor Martín by Naked Madrid

For our main dish, we had arroz meloso con corvina salvaje (rice cooked in broth with wild sea bass), accompanied by two glasses of albariño (Galician white wine). I really loved this dish. The sea bass was cooked to perfection and the rice had a delicious flavor to it. I couldn’t have been happier. To top it all off, we had cheesecake!

Chiringuito de El Señor Martín by Naked Madrid

If you’re in Sol and looking for some of the freshest fish in the city, as well as a mini-trip to the beach, this is your place!

Info

 




Lambuzo, Authentic Andalusian Flavour in Madrid


Lambuzo is a family-run Andalusian restaurant with two locations in Madrid: Calle de las Conchas 9 (metro Opera) and Calle Ponzano 8 (metro Iglesia), as well as a stand in Mercado de Chamberí. Both restaurant locations have a special charm that transports you straight to Andalucía from the moment you step foot inside. The staff is also very friendly and makes you feel at home.

Lambuzo has already been featured on Naked Madrid a number of times; it was one of the blog’s very first articles and has since been included in Where to Take Your Mom in Madrid and An Insider’s Guide to SolTheir Opera location has a downstairs wine cellar where they hold events such as wine tastings and micro theatre, which we alway feature on our events page – be sure to go next time they have one! So as you can see, Lambuzo is already one of Naked’s favorite places and I, too, wanted to share my experience with you all.

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I recently went with three friends and we decided to get a bottle of wine to accompany our meal. The waiter helped us order a special wine called Señorío de Heliche.

Lambuzo

The restaurant’s dishes are great for sharing so I recommend ordering a bunch of different plates with friends and tasting as many as possible. It’s the best way to try new dishes! The first starter we chose was “Ensaladilla con atún de Barbate” because it is a house speciality. The flavour was very tasty and the texture of the ingredients was very smooth, ready for the palate!

Lambuzo Ensaladilla

We also ordered Lambuceo de croquetas which consist of different types of croquetas, such as al ajillo (with garlic) and camarones (shrimp), that tasted just like the ones our mothers make!

Croquetas Lambuzo

For me,Cigarritos de langostinos con Albahaca was the most amazing surprise on the menu. Their name translates into English as “Prawn cigars with basil”.  Their careful presentation and distinct flavor make me want to go back right now and order them again.

Lambuzo

Chocos de Huelva is one of the most popular fried fish dishes in Andalucía, and of course we ordered them to complete our dinner. They are prepared in batter and normally come with a special homemade sauce to dip them in. Delicious!

Lambuzo

To sum up, I highly recommend going to Lambuzo with friends and family – it’s an opportunity to get to know a little more about Andalucía, right in the heart of Madrid!

Info

Website

Address: Calle de Ponzano, 8. Madrid

Phone: +34 915 13 80 59

Reservations advised.