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Sep 6, 2007 04:47 PM

Need Suggestions for Christmas (Madrid) and New Years (Barcelona)


We just booked our trip to Spain. We will arrive in Madrid on Christmas Day. I understand most things will be shut down due to the holiday and that any restaurants that will be open will be booked ahead. That is why I am asking now...any suggestions for where we can get some dinner on Christmas Day in Madrid and New Year's Day in Barcelona? We are adventurous nothing really off limits. Thanks for any help!

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  1. My experience living here is that there are very few places open for lunch on those days. In addition, transportation is also limited. Spanish restaurant workers and cab drivers want to spend the day at home. My suggestion would be that you resign yourself to eating at your hotel those days (or some other nearby hotel to which you can walk) as their dining rooms will be open. You could probably reserve in advance for the restaurants. Some places will be open in the evening but since Christmas and New Year's fall on Tuesday this year, those too will be few. If you like, I'll check around for you; post a message with the area in which you are staying. And perhaps some other Madrid resident will have another idea.

    4 Replies
    1. re: kathinmadrid

      In Madrid, I have been looking at apartments in the Austrian Quarter. In Barcelona, we'll likely be in the El Born area or the Gothic Quarter. Any suggestions are appreciated, restaurants or markets (since we have a kitchen). It doesn't have to be fancy, since we'll have other evenings to dine out. Thanks for your help!

      1. re: chefsofee

        If I don't hear of anything else there will at least be a restaurant open in the Hotel Tryp Ambassador which will be near you (as well as all the other major hotels in the Puerta del Sol and Gran Via areas). Since you arrive on Christmas Day, of course no stores or markets will be open to get anything for that day. But the next day you'll be able to go to the San Miguel market which is next to Plaza Mayor and the El Corte Ingles (big department store) grocery. Sorry I can't make any comment about Barcelona and if I hear of anything interesting in the next few months I'll let you know.

        1. re: kathinmadrid

          I believe Mercado San Miguel is closed for renovations (at least it looks that way when I walk by and it has been dwindling for the past years as they closed stands down to do some kind of regime change). Mercado de la Cebada is nearby. Also, not far, the market near metro Antón Martín or Mercado de los Mostenses near the Gran Vía.

          Some restaurants are open for lunch on Christmas day. I think fewer are open for dinner.

        2. re: chefsofee

          What sites have you used to look for apts. in the Austrias quarter? For raw materials for cooking, go to the Anton Martin traditional market. Or for upscale everything (fruit, veggies, cheese, ham, shellfish, jamon) go to the traditional Mercado de la Paz on Calle Ayala in the Salamanca district. Great tapas and shopping around that market as well.

      2. Kath and Butterfly,

        Thanks for all your suggestions. Looks like we have an apartment booked in Madrid (still working on Barcelona). It is on Calle del Almendro. It is very close to Cava Baja. I was looking at the following places: Posada de la Villa, El Schotis, Taberna los Lucio or Taberna Tempranillo. Do you think any of them would be open on Christmas Day? Any opinions on them?

        4 Replies
        1. re: chefsofee

          Hi chef, Cava Baja is a great area with lots of good restaurants and tapas places. Those you name are all very well-respected and good choices. Casa Botin (oldest restaurant in the world) is also just a few blocks away and since it's big may well be open on Christmas. I'll check on schedules for you as December nears; it's still too soon to ask. Do you speak any Spanish? Two forum-type websites I like with information about restaurants are: and

          1. re: kathinmadrid

            That's just a few blocks from where I live! Tempranillo is just a wine bar (with tapas and other dishes, but not a full-service restaurant). I very much doubt that it would be open on Christmas day. A place like Posada de la Villa might be a good bet, since as Kath says it is a big restaurant and has a tourist appeal. You might also look into Julian de Tolosa, Asador Frontón, Botín...

            1. re: butterfly

              Chefsofee---we did that same trip 4 years ago. Madrid was DEAD on Christmas Eve---I made reservations by e-mail for dinner at a fancy hotel that was written up in an NYT article on "hotel dining on Madrid" (sorry, can't remember which one). It was a set menu, two seatings, with different wines at each course. I would say hotel dining may be your best bet; as we were walking back to our hotel, we ran into tourists who were starving and who asked US if any restaurants were open. Christmas Day was pretty dead too---we went to Toledo where almost everything but the shops were closed, had a mediocre lunch at the only open restaurant.

              I also e-mailed Botin for a Christmas day reservation. I know Botin gets mixed reviews but we loved it---surprisingly it didn’t feel full of tourists and we had a great meal---my family still talks about the garlic soup and the roast pork. Christmas Day night Madrid seemed back to normal---8 grillion people on the streets, it seemed like most of the bars and clubs were open---maybe people had had enough of family time.

              We were in Barcelona for NYE---I had again e-mailed Sette Portes for NYE reservation, and it too was wonderful. We could not get a taxi---our hotel called twice, and we finally gave up and took the subway---so we were really late for our reservation. They couldn’t have been nicer! Great meal (again set menu, including splits of cava) and even though we had planned to be out on the town at midnight they didn’t rush us out---so we were there for the 12 grapes at midnite ritual. My memory of New Year’s Day is understandably foggy---but I think I remember Barcelona being wide open.

              Anyway, long winded way of saying I think e-mailed rezzies are the way to go.

              This year we’re doing the opposite---we land in Barcelona on Christmas Day and be in Madrid for NYE. I’m thinking of doing a nice late lunch on NYE, or visiting Sergovia that day, and then going back to Botin for New Year’s Day.

              I know it's "not about food" but how did you find your Madrid aparment? I'm having a hard time...

              1. re: corndog1

                If you decide to try to get reservations via email (which really can be dicey for a lot of places), I recommend calling to double-check when the date gets closer--especially if you do it way in advance. Also, if you don't get a response in the first few days, try calling. Here in Madrid, reservations are still mostly handled over the phone or in person, so that's always safest unless you are dealing with a place with an international sort of mindset.

                Botin is quite touristy, but for good reason. It's got a great history, location, and lots of charm. If you don't get a response via email, I'd be happy to drop by and ask them if they are open that day. I walk near there almost every day.

        2. Good suggestions there from Corndog. Botin does indeed have a website, so trying for a reservation on Christmas day by e-mail is a good idea. I love the place and take all my visitors there. The food is always good and the place has a lot of character.

          1. Thanks guys! You have all been SO helpful. Looks like the apartment I wanted on Almendro is a no-go. So now I am working on one on Conde de Romanones. Looks like we won't starve on Christmas Day ;) I just can't tell you how much I have appreciated your suggestions.

            I sent an email to Botin. It looks intriguing! I'll let you know what I hear back!

            4 Replies
            1. re: chefsofee

              I have reservations on Christmas Day at Botin! WooohoooO!

              1. re: chefsofee

                When you are in barcelona, check out this unique tapas place called commerc24. Outstanding. Also, check out Cal Pep in Barcelona. I think it is in the El Born section. Again, amaxzing tapas. These were my two favs in Barcelona

                1. re: italiana3

                  Commerc 24 was my favorite spot in BCN, I wouldn't miss it! Especially their cuttlefish ravioli, and their rice with ink!

                  Also there is a place that is pricey that has a great view, it sits on top of the cable car, it might be cool for New Years if it is open. It was called Torre D'alta Mar the view is incredible. The entrees were good too, but I didn't like the apps.

                  Also if Pinotxos is open in the mercat do go!

                  We got an appartment in BCN I think from it was wonderful it was a couple blocks up from plc. de catalunya we loved the location.

                2. re: chefsofee

                  Hi - I just emailed Botin today and was told they are closed Dec 24-31st. You may want to check again to see if that reservation is valid. Good luck!

              2. Good job on the reservation, Chef. You're going to love the place; the food is so good. And it's good to know they're open on Christmas.

                8 Replies
                1. re: kathinmadrid


                  Thanks! We are very excited. All of you have been so much help.

                  It's been very hectic for the past few days trying to find a place to stay in Madrid. We have an apartment booked in the Born area of Barcelona. All the apartments in Madrid had restrictions regarding minimum nights to stay. So, we booked a hotel called Room Mate Alicia, do you know anything about it? It looks fine and central, but would love anyone else's take on it. We could also stay at a loft at the Hotel Plaza Mayor (with kitchen, etc.).

                  1. re: chefsofee

                    The "Room Mate" hotels are great. I'm across the street from the "Mario"; "Laura" and "Alicia" are others in the chain. A recent Fodor's article placed the Mario in the 10-best in Europe for price/value, etc. so I assume that all fall into that category because the other two are even newer than the Mario which opened two years ago. You're going to have a wonderful time in Spain, especially at the Christmas season which is non-stop activity. I don't recall if you said the date that you are leaving Spain but the holiday season runs until January 6 which is the biggest day of the Christmas holidays (the feast of the three kings) so the night of the 5th is a big deal (parades, etc.) and the 6th is once again a holiday like Christmas day and New Year's Day.

                    1. re: kathinmadrid

                      Quick question if you don't mind Kath! Of the 3 (Mario, Laura, and Alicia) are there any advantages of one or the other in terms of location in your opinion? I had read about Mario, too! They have a pretty cool website too.

                      I wish we were staying until the 6th. We actually leave on the 2nd. Now that I have the accomodation finally square away I am more relaxed and getting REALLY excited about our trip!!

                      Thanks always for your help!

                      1. re: chefsofee

                        Chef, you may also want to make a reservation for New Year's Eve in Barcelona, too. It was CRAZY when we were there!. Besides Sette Portes, our favorite restaurant was La Creme Canela, on Placa Reial (sp?)---we ate there twice!

                        1. re: corndog1


                          Set Portes LOOKS FANTASTIC. Love their menu! I have an email to them on the way. Will let you all know what I hear!

                          1. re: corndog1

                            We have our reservations at Set Portes! They were wonderful to deal with via email.

                          2. re: chefsofee

                            I've only seen these hotels from the outside, but they look great. The Alicia is in the most hopping location on the southeast corner of Plaza Santa Ana. A pretty, but touristy spot, with lots of late night partying going on in the nearby blocks. The other two locations are on quieter side streets in los Austrias/Ópera. They are all within 10/15 minutes walking distance of each other. I also recently walked by a new hotel, Oscar, that they are opening up soon on the edge of Chueca.

                            1. re: butterfly

                              Butterfly, "hopping" definately won't bother me. We are a "40-something" couple, will we feel out of place? :)