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Jan 17, 2010 02:42 PM

Healthy, Cheap eats in Madrid?

I am a student on a low budget living around Calle Arenal near Plaza del Sol. I need helping finding unexpensive restaurants where I can go for healthy, low fat food. I got a little worried about weight because friends who came here found the food so fatty they gained a lot of weight in a relatively short period of time. I like to try different foods and I definately want to try lots of Spanish food but want to stay healthy and not gain weight while living here. Also, what good restaurants are there around Calle Arenal? My lunch break is only an hour long so I need to know good, healthy places close by for lunch. Suggestions??

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  1. Take in a salad and a sandwich!
    If you don't have much money, but love fresh fruit, veg and fish, you are quite near an amazingly cheap market.
    It's called Mostenses, in the Plaza de Mostenses (behind Gran Via, at the end on the right). They sell all kinds of things that nowhere else does too - the Chinese, African and South Americans do their shopping here. Go one Saturday morning, then have lunch at El Rey de los Tallerines on Calle Bernadino, a cheap Thai restaurant where you can watch the chef making fresn noodles behind the bar.

    19 Replies
    1. re: arobmadrid

      Cafeterias Mallorca located thru Madrid: <> Click restaurant.

      For even cheaper eats go to Spain's department store <several in Madrid> El Corte Ingles supermarket. They make excellent breads daily and also have a section for ready to eat items. Carprabos in Mercado La Paz in Lagasca St. off Hermosilla in the Salamanca quater and Carrefours are supermarkets where you can also get cheap eats.

      The newly reopened Mercado San Miguel too where they have stands for tapas, pastries, coffees, wine, etc.

      In Lagasca between Goya and Hermosilla there's great little Taverna Goya for great smashed eggs with ham. Go before 8 PM it gets packed.

      1. re: Quimbombo

        Quimbombo -¿que dices? El Corte Ingles supermarket is very nice, but not considered cheap - it's actually a bit pricey. Mostenses market is about half the price.

        Equally, Mercado La Paz is worth a visit, especially if you like nice cheese, but it is out of Blossom's area, and is far from cheap.
        Mercado San Miguel off Calle Mayor is lovely - but not cheap!

        Blossom - the cheapest supermarket near you is either Dia, behind Mercado San Miguel, or the dirt cheap Lidl, on Plaza Tirso de Molina - they are also one of the few places in Madrid that sell cottage cheese! (it's German)
        Good luck!!

        1. re: arobmadrid

          Hola, buenos dias arobmadrid.

          Speaking of the Mercado San Miguel have you tried the pastel de Belem at the stand selling Portuguese tapas? Delicioso! Ask to have warmed up and eat it there. Enjoy!

          1. re: Quimbombo

            They're not bad Quimbombo, but when you've had the real thing...
            Speaking of which - the Portuguese do desserts so much better than the Spanish, don't you agree?

            1. re: arobmadrid

              I agree. The Portuguese do quite a few things better than the Spaniards. IMO.

              We've been to Portugal and those Belem pastries are phenomenal. I've never forgotten them. I would have then for b'fast, lunch and dinner whenever I could.

              We have a large Portuguese community here in Newark, <NJ> after our return from Portugal we found them at a couple of pastry shops and they will never compare. The closest was at the Mercado, needless to say I was thrilled when I happened to stop by that food kiosk and saw them, can't wait to go back to Madrid and sate my sweet tooth for those pastries.

              Now if you can direct me to a place in Madrid that serves an excellent, authentic Crema Catalana instead of those Dhul or Nestle brand prepacked things served at some restaurants it would be appreciated. <grin>

              1. re: Quimbombo

                I'll investigate.
                Meanwhile, if you haven't already, you must try the warm, fresh-baked "tortel" they do at the Mallorca chain of deli/bakeries. There's one at Bravo Murillo 7; one at Velazquez 59 and another on Serrano 6. Melt in your mouth pastry rings, filled with cabello de angel, and heavily dusted with icing sugar.

                Another great pasteleria is Pozo on Calle del Pozo - it's near Sol. On a tiny little street; it's hard to find, but well worth it - you won't find any tourists there (or in either of these places.) They do amazing pastelitos, homemade membrillo and empanadas, among other things. I always take visitors to Madrid to these places, and they always love them.

                1. re: arobmadrid

                  Cafeteria Mallorca are our breakfast stops when in Madrid. Love that place. I'm usually having my cafe con leche and croissant as well as those delectable pastry rings you mention in the one located inside the Jardin Serrano mall, they have 2 one upstairs one downstairs including their Salmon Bar restaurant which I've never been.

                  Definetely will try the pasteleria Pozo to satisfy my sweet tooth. One reason I so enjoy going to Spain. Their sweets.

                  Thanks for tips. And look forward to your investigative find on the Crema Catalana.

                  1. re: Quimbombo

                    3 words for you Quimbombo - tocinillo de cielo

                    1. re: arobmadrid

                      You got it !!!!

                      Tocinillo del Cielo is another favorite.

                      I used to eat that in Cuba when I was a kid.

                      Moving to the states Cuban bakeries used to make it like Abuelas. Once the old timers started dying off the ones now here stateside lost something.

                      So each time I go to Spain I get my fill. <grin>

                      1. re: Quimbombo

                        Receta Tocino o Tocinillo de Cielo


                        17 yemas de huevo,

                        1 huevo entero,

                        vaso y medio de azúcar,

                        vaso y medio de agua,

                        azúcar para caramelizar el molde.

                        PREPARACIÓN RECETA:
                        Tocino o Tocinillo de Cielo: Primero se hace el almíbar, poniendo en un cazo el azúcar y el agua a fuego lento durante unos 20 minutos y hasta que coja consistencia, una vez que está hecho se retira y se deja enfriar. Mientras, caramelizo el recipiente, para ello pongo tres o cuatro cucharadas de azúcar y otras tantas de agua, dependiendo de la forma del molde o recipiente, llevándolo al fuego hasta que se haga caramelo y haciendo que se quede cristalizado también en las paredes. Después mezclo y bato las yemas junto con el huevo entero en otro recipiente hasta que adquiere aspecto homogéneo. A continuación mezclo el almíbar con las yemas batidas y cuando el caramelo del molde esté frío vierto la mezcla en él. Para finalizar tapo el recipiente con las yemas y lo pongo al baño María durante una hora en el horno a temperatura media o durante diez minutos en la olla a presión. Una vez cuajada la mezcla se saca del baño y se deja enfriar para después ponerlo en una bandeja y cortarlo como más guste.
                        Why wait!

                          1. re: Quimbombo

                            You have to love a dish that feature !7 egg yolks, LOL

                            1. re: arobmadrid

                              Especially those delectable Spanish eggs that are as bright as the sun.

                              Not like the pale yellow eggs we have stateside.

                2. re: Quimbombo

                  Yes, we LOVE those Pasteis de Belem tarts but it ends there. In most other things, the cuisine of Spain is better than Portugal. I find Portuguese food to be stuck in the medieval times even with their famouse Cataplana. Spain has continued to progress foodwise with the rest of Europe even pioneering unimaginable cooking techniques, hence having the best restaurant in the world.

                  1. re: trvlcrzy

                    We spent a few days in Madrid the first week this March and braved the rain to go to Mercado San Miguel to eat and enjoy the Pasteis the day before we were to come back home only to find the Portuguese stand where they sold those Pasteis de Belem was nowhere to be found. On our previous visit right before Xmas the girl at the stand mentioned they will be moving to the other end of the market by the pastry shop but alas it was not there.

                    1. re: Quimbombo

                      That's sad! I was already planning to go there...It's not in the cards this time for us to go all the way to Lisbon.

                      1. re: Quimbombo

                        I saw this stand recently, but I get the impression that they may not be there every day, since they are not in one of the permanent spots, but kind of off in the middle.

                        1. re: butterfly

                          We went on a Saturday and walked around the Mercado about 3 times looking for it. The place was packed to capacity tho' we could have missed it. We'll leaving for Spain again next week and spending a day in Madrid when we return from San Sebastian. I'm going to try to go to MSM and look for that stand again, gotta have those Pasteis. LOL! I just hope they didn't close shop all together. Thanks for your reply.

                      2. re: trvlcrzy

                        Yes well, if we leave out molecular innovations, and just talk about what you would eat on an everyday basis, we'll have to agree to disagree here. Stuck in medieval times? A bit harsh, and very inaccurate. I prefer Potuguese cooking because they don't cook the vegetables to death; they grill rather than fry; they use cilantro (Spanish people generally fear most herbs), they aren't frightened of spicy food, and they have fabulous coffee and cakes. Also they have wonderful cheeses, and some great wines.

          2. I'm surprised that your friends have gained weight here... the many expats that I have run across here lost weight. If you eat Spanish food on a Spanish schedule (tiny breakfast, big lunch, light dinner), you should be fine. There's a gallego bar called Mareas Vivas (Calle de Veneras 3) near Arenal that has a good menú del día (not light by any stretch of the imagination, but the gallego dishes--can't vouch for the others--are good in a soul food sort of way and very cheap). Right next door is a little hole-in-the-wall bar called La Alegría where you can get a montadito de jamón ibérico if you are looking for something lighter. El Mollete on c/de la Bola is also nearby and has a menú del día and raciones that you could share. There's a good, cheap Chinese place called La Buenaventura on Plaza de la Luna, but that might be a bit too far if you only have an hour (íQué barbaridad!). And a serious hole-in-the-wall Peruvian dive on Jacometrezo (south side of the street) that has good roast chicken and other dishes. Fast Good is also closeby (right next to the Preciados El Corte Inglés) with decent burgers, sandwiches, and roast chicken (not too pricey as long as you watch the drinks and stuff on the side).