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May 25, 2008 08:56 AM

Less than a day in Madrid....only 2 meals!

I will be in Madrid for less than a day but have 2 meals. Am staying near Sol station, near Puerta del Sol (?).
I definitely want to try chocolate churros, grilled shrimps/shrimps in garlic sauce.....and any other suggestions. I just don't eat pork.

Also, are there any places open nearby for breakfast or pastries early? I will be catching an early 8am train from Atocha station. Anywhere I can grab something to eat on the go?

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  1. For chocolate and churros, La Chocolateria San Gines, off c/Arenal, half block from Sol (yes it is Puerta del Sol). Madrid has good tapas but you will be in Seville which is the place to indulge in tapas, and in San Sebastian which has the best pinxtos (and also some of the best high end restaurants). With those in mind, I would go to one of the seafood places such as Combaro, O'Pazo or an asador that specializes in roast meat. Otherwise, I go to Arce or Viridiana. I've posted on both Arce and Viridiana and there are lots of posts on Madrid tapas on this board.
    There are good pastries/coffee places around Sol...El Riojano on /cMayor 10 and Mallorquina right on Sol but neither will be open that early. Neighborhood bars will be for a quick stand up pastry/coffee but you can get that at the Atocha station and watch the coming and goings.

    10 Replies
    1. re: PBSF

      Thanks, PBSF.

      As for roast meat, do they have beef, chicken, or lamb? I don't eat any pork. Are any of those restaurants you mentioned closest to or walking distance from Puerta del Sol?

      That sounds like a great idea. I was hoping to try something different that I won't get in Sevilla or San Sebastian.

      Question regarding San seems like many of the pinxtos have pork or ham in them. Will this be an obstacle for me? Seafood options are limited for me as well, although I do eat prawns. Are the pinxtos labelled or on a menu? I speak some spanish but no basque.

      Many Thanks!

      1. re: gtrekker2003

        In addition to the good advice above and to some of your questions

        If you want an alternative to San Gines for chocolate where imho the quality of the scene is better than the quality of the product, try Chocolat in Huertas (walkable from Sol)

        What you wont get in Sevilla or S Seb is the bewildering variety on offer in Madrid which has always been set up to get "the best of the best" so try some tapas places that specialise in food from other regions. As you walk look for mention of Gallego (food from Galicia - look out for pulpo) Extramenas (food from Extramadura) Asturias (Cider country) or Valencia ( Paella country)

        If you want Lamb or Beef, then head to an Asador. There are a great many and if you look for ones from Aranda, they will specialise in lamb (usually lechel) others will offer the chuleton de buey by the kg.

        A lot of the places around Sol directly are not great and I would avoid those around Santa Ana too, but try the short walk to Cava Baja where I still think places like Lucas does some of the best "nuevo" tapa in town.

        Also, it is worth a diversion to Calle Eschergaray (about a five minute walk from Sol- take the road to the right of the landmark TIO PEPE sign and walk up the hill until you see the road on the right) to Venencia which is still a great place for sherry. They will chalk your bill on the counter in front of you and will get very offended if you try to tip.

        The metro system in Madrid is excellent. If you can, one of my favourite streets is Ponzano where places like Fide specialise in tapas from tins which is Spain is a wnole different proposition.

        I recently spent a few days tootling around Barrio Salamanca (head to Lista on the Metro, three or four stops from Sol) and was very pleased with some of the places I found there.

        In answer to your question about SSeb, not all Pintxo are labelled, but it is more predicated on tourism than its other Basque neighbours so you will find it easy enough to ask in Spanish or even English.

        I just came back from a few days in Rioja and Basque country and I thnk it is a crying shame that the other big towns of the region ( Bilbao and Vitoria, in fact the capital) barely get a look in because they have not been fawned over in gourmet. But Bilbao in particular can stand with the best cities in Spain for eating.

        Hope any of this helps


        1. re: Simon Majumdar

          Thanks very much Simon. That was helpful.

          Is Cava Baja a street or a restaurant? Is it walkable distance from Sol? Any recommended asadors in that area?

          I only have a very short time so it would be nice to go places that are walkable distance. My hotel is near Sol station.


          1. re: gtrekker2003

            Baja is a street. It is easily walkable from Sol. It is a well known st and your hotel can certainly point it out.

            There are many bars and restaurants on that St including a very well known place called Julian De Tolosa which does one of the best Chuleton in the city


            Worth a visit.

            hope this helps

            1. re: Simon Majumdar

              Thanks, I found it on the map and looks like it is part of my 'walk'. I will definitely center my food explorations here!! Is it true everything will be shut at 5pm? Are there any places open to get a snack between the lunch and dinner times?

              Also, are the asadors generally pricey? I looked up the restaurants suggested above, arce, camparro, o'pazo, etc, and they all seemed about 60 euros-ish. Any cheaper asadors? Or perhaps I need to change my budget a bit. As of now, it was 25-30 Euros for a nice meal.

              Lastly, any bakeries or pastry places I should not miss?

              Loads of thanks.

              1. re: gtrekker2003

                I would definitely allow 60 euros a head allowing for two courses, wine and coffee. If you are on your own, the chuleton may be a bit much, many places specify 1kg for two.

                If so, do try the chuletilla (sp?) the small, sweet little lamb cutlets.

                I am not so up on bakeries, but I do recall one nice one on the walk up to Venencia on the right hand side directly after Museo De Jamon.

                Have fun, mind you, it is hard not to in Madrid


                1. re: Simon Majumdar

                  Thanks a lot for your help. I am now especially looking forward to my time in Madrid. Only wish I had more time. I'm sure Sevilla and San Sebastian will have yummy food adventures too though. :)

                2. re: gtrekker2003

                  Almost all restaurants are closed by 5. People generally start eating lunch from 2-3ish. You can get a snack at a bar or cafe/tearoom (a sandwich, churros at some places) during the "merienda" hours, but don't expect to find the best stuff during these hours. Real restaurants and most tapas bars open back up at 9:30 or so.

                  The best bakeries close to Sol are La Santiaguesa (take out only) and El Riojano (little room in the back, but closed for siesta, I believe). If you want to sit down or eat at the bar then La Mallorquina (right in Puerta del Sol) is the place to go. And, there are two churros places closeby: Valor and San Ginés. Also, for bread the Museo de Pan Gallego (near the Plaza Mayor).

                  Right across from Atocha is El Brillante--an old-school churros/fried food place. I'm not sure how early they open, but you can get off at the regular Atocha stop to check. If not, you can just go to one of the cafes in the station. If you don't have your tickets already, allot plenty of time to get them.

                  Are you looking for Castillian roast lamb or Basque style steak/fish? These are two different types of "asadores"...

                  1. re: butterfly

                    Thanks butterfly. Sounds like I just have to wait for dinner time for food. My flight arrives late afternoon. :(

                    The bakeries sound great. Anything special to Madrid I should try from there?

                    I would love to try either Castillian roast lamb or the Basque style steak. Probably whichever is cheaper to be honest! Any suggestions in La Latina or Sol surroundings?

                    Thanks a lot!

            2. re: Simon Majumdar

              What's good in Salamanca these days? As Pardinas, Combarro, etc