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Chowing in Madrid for six months - feedback on the itinerary?

Hey 'hounds,

I'm about to embark on my study abroad semester in Madrid - I'll be there in about five days, and will stay until June. I've tried to look at some past threads on the board, so I'd really appreciate any input you may have about the places I've put on the to-chow list - any updates on the food, whether another place would be better, etc. Some spots are from guidebooks, so I'm not sure how reliable those would be...

General tabernas/tapas places:
- Casa del Abuelo (for gambas al ajillo)
- La Ardosa
- La Bola
- Los Gabrieles
- El Sobrino del Botín
- Taberna Almendio
- Taberna Antonio Sanchez
- Viva Madrid
- La Barbuja Que Rie (for fabada and cidra)
- Casa Mira (for sweets, especially turrón)
- Las Bravas (for patatas bravas...is this more of a tourist trap?)
- Casa Albert
- Casa Lucas
- Cerveceria Cervantes
- Los Gatos (for boquerones)
- Museo del Jamón (for iberico ham)
- La Toscana
- El Tempanilla

On the Cava Baja, I've gotten recs for:
- Giangrossi (artisanal helado)
- El Viajero (the 3rd-floor terrace and canhas)
- Tapa Sentao (cheese churros)

For chocolate con churros (worthy of its own category) my plan - following butterfly's rec - is to go to Chocolateria San Ginés and get chocolate to go, then have it with churros from Múñiz...

For places that resemble actual restaurants:
- Kawara (cheap Japanese, though I'm not sure whether I'd crave it that badly (I'm originally from NYC, and we have enough Japanese food here)
- Pausa
- Ribeira Do Miño (Galician seafood)
- and a Chinese restaurant, name unknown, near the Plaza España metro...the entrance is apparently at the corner of an underground parking lot. It seems like a great chow-ish find, though the details I have (from a friend's vague rec) aren't too promising.

ANY feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

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  1. Do you know what neighborhoods you will be living in and/or spending most of your time in? That might help to narrow things down.

    Some of the places on your list aren't bad, but skew touristy and aren't necessarily worth going out of your way for if you live here, because every neighborhood has spots that serve similar food--for example, Las Bravas, Cervecería Cervantes, La burbuja que rie, Casa del Abuelo (I don't like this last place at all--their wine is inexusably foul and good gambas are a dime a dozen here)... Some are more for atmosphere, not food--El Viajero, Los Gabrieles (not even sure it is still open...).

    For Chinese, I like Buenaventura on c/Silva, 25 (northern Chinese dumplings, hot pots, soups)--order from the menu toward the front. There's another hole-in-the-wall place nearby on c/Silva that I like that's on the block between Plaza de la Luna and Gran Via on the west side. The place in the parking lot under Plaza de España isn't bad for noodle soups. You get to it by going down the stairs in the northeast corner. There's also a chinese grocer down there.

    And a few corrections on spellings, just so you have an easier time finding the places:

    - Taberna Almendro (near la Cava Baja)
    - La Burbuja Que Rie (for fabada and sidra)
    - El Tempranillo (on la Cava Baja)

    It really isn't hard to find good food here--as long as you can adjust your stomach to eat the right things at the right times (you'll soon learn that unlike in the US, there is a time and a place for everything...). If you have any non-chowish questions, you can contact me off the board at m at alpha60 dot com. You will love it here.

    2 Replies
    1. re: butterfly

      Wow, thanks - especially for steering me away from the touristy spots; guess that's why I figured chowhound would be better than guidebooks alone. I'm based in NYC (and I'm Chinese), so the rec for the underground Chinese restaurant was more for novelty than anything else...I may opt to just forego Chinese food altogether while I'm there, since I have it all the time at home, but I'm saving those recs just in case I get a sudden craving.

      I really love Spanish food (or at least the pseudo-tapas we have here in the states) and I'm not a picky eater, so the only thing I'm truly concerned about is that I haven't heard much of anything about vegetables and fruits. Though a diet consisting entirely of seafood, paella, and patatas bravas sounds irresistable...

      I'll be staying with a host family, but won't get the details (location, etc.) until I arrive in a few days. I know that the group orientation, which is this Wednesday until Saturday, will be at the Hotel Regina (on c/Alcala, 19). I think that's near the Puerta del Sol area, so that should be fun!

      Thanks again, and I'm sure I'll be bothering you at some point or another :)

      1. re: butterfly

        Update on the Chinese food: found the underground place in the parking lot (Plaza de Espana) - thanks for the clear directions - really great place, very popular and very small. The soup dumplings are not the traditional soup dumplings that we have in the states, and resembled wonton soup more than anything else, but were good. The hand-pulled noodles (think it's "handmade noodles" on the menu) are impressive. The pyramid-shaped sticky rice was the only real disappointment on the menu - very bland and lacking in the usual variety of ingredients one would find inside.

        They were out of the "new year's cake" when I went, but I was told it was savory and not sweet. As far as I know, traditional new year's "cake" is usually a brown-ish paste dipped in egg and cooked on the wok, and IS sweet...anyone know what their version is like?

      2. I agree about Abuelo. I went on the first couple of visits as it was opposite Orejo Del Oro, but now that's closed there is no reason to go at all. The best gambas I had in Madrid were at a small place on the way to Ventas, but I will have to dig out the name

        Los Gabrieles was closed last time I was there at the end of September and being gutted.

        Venecia on the same street, although on the trail now, is still one of my favourite sherry bars.

        I also recommend Fide in Ponzano ( specialises in tapa from tins and jars ) and Bonar De Leon near Plaza Espana.

        S

        1. Hola otra vez, I'm in the colonia Parque de San Juan Bautista (Ave. de la Paz on the metro). Doesn't seem like it's much of a fooding area, but thought it wouldn't hurt to update. Spain is INCREDIBLE.

          So far I've been to Chocolateria San Gines and Giangrossi - not many other places that are chow-worthy, but Giangrossi was great and the chocolateria was absolutely delicious. Thanks again for the recs, and I look forward to more chowing :)

          1. I know of one place near the Avenida de la Paz metro:

            Casa d'a Troya
            Emiliano Barral, 14

            It's a traditional gallego place specializing in seafood. Definitely worth checking out. I don't know the area too well, but I think there should be some good stuff nearby around the Alfonso XIII and Prosperidad stops (one/two stops down your line), as well.

            Here's one for Prosperidad:

            CASA EMILIO.- C/ López de Hoyos, 98

            I've never been, but it's on a list that I have of places to check out...

            1 Reply
            1. re: butterfly

              Muchas gracias, I'm so excited to go exploring - there seems to be endless amounts of Madrid (and Spain, of course) to wander around, which is amazing. I don't think I've ever eaten so well in my life. Will report back!

            2. I had one real meal when I was in Madrid (I was only there a few days) and it was at Botin. That was 10 years ago and I can still taste the black sausage and roast suckling pig.