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Madrid for Foodies... Casa Paco, Viridiana, Combarro?

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aknabe Jan 25, 2010 10:47 AM

In reading reviews and such, I saw Casa Paco as being ranked #3 in Madrid. Some rave about the steaks, while others say it's 'ok' and doesn't compare to steaks in an upscale places in Dallas, Chicago.. etc.

I'm looking for a few 'must-eat' places in Madrid.. we'll be there for a honeymoon.

I also hear Viridiana and Combarro are great. We like meat!

Anyone have any great suggestions for us? Price doesn't matter... but QUALITY does!

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  1. q
    Quimbombo RE: aknabe Jan 25, 2010 11:37 AM

    <grin>You'll have no problem with meat in Spain. Their solomillos are fantastic.

    I believe I posted these in here somewhere but here they are once more..

    For wining and dining in a romantic setting La Terraza del Casino can't be beat. Very expensive Reservations in advance a must.

    For exceptional Basque food Goizeko Wellington <Hotel Wellington> is superb. Their jamon iberico de bellota plate with manchego cheese is unbeatable. Expensive. Reservations a must.

    Friends and family really like Santceloni <Hesperia>, it is one of the better restaurants in Madrind. For some reason it does nothing for me and the food is good but I like the 2 aforementioned above better. Expensive. Reservations a must.

    Open Sunday's & reliable are Taberna de Alabardero, Casa Botin and La Bola. The latter serving cocido Madrileño from a 19th century recepie and reservations a must for this one. All moderate to expensive.

    Enjoy your honeymoon.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Quimbombo
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      aknabe RE: Quimbombo Jan 26, 2010 10:51 AM

      Great info! And thanks!!!

    2. PBSF RE: aknabe Jan 25, 2010 08:05 PM

      If you can be more specific on what type of food/ambience you are looking for, you'll get some good replies. Just saying that price doesn't matter...but QUALITY does is too vague. Depends on personal tastes, one persons "must" can be another persons reject. Are you looking for traditional? molecular cooking? quiet and serious or a place with a place with buzz? Madrid has some excellent steak/meat restaurants. Casa Paco has good steaks but it doesn't specialize in that. I would go to either Asador Ansorene or Casa Julian for steak and roast. El Combarro is one of the best high end seafood restaurant and Madrid gets the best, freshest and rarest seafood. The cooking is simple and don't expect lots of fancy sauces or preparations. If you like meat, this restaurant is not for you. Expect to pay around 100E per person for food, and more if your taste in seafood runs toward the exotic. If you are looking for a personal restaurant owned by a very talented and generous chef, Viridiana would fit that. The food is Spanish but it has many international and personal touches; and so is the ambience, hence, the restaurant's name. The above mentioned Santceloni is excellent for food but it is very low key. Also very expensive, about 165E before wine, etc. Don't expect any bells and whistles but the food is impeccably prepared using the best ingredients. The service is somewhat formal and discrete. The food and service mirrors Chef Santi Santamaria's Michelin 3 star restaurant, El Raco de Can Fabes near Barcelona. Besides restaurants, don't miss the tapas places; search this board for recommendations for those.

      3 Replies
      1. re: PBSF
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        aknabe RE: PBSF Jan 26, 2010 10:50 AM

        Yes.. I should have been more detailed. But I do like all the feedback thus far. I'm a big seafood fan.. but the fiance isn't. We've never been to Madrid, thus we aren't really familiar with "traditional" vs "molecular". We will dress up if need be.. but we prefer nice places that are still somewhat informal. We prefer the less touristy places and somewhat of a buzz. I'd like to try one romantic quiet place.. but the bulk desired is the more lively places with great food. We just want to try a bit of everything, and experience as many different styles as possible!

        1. re: aknabe
          PBSF RE: aknabe Jan 26, 2010 01:50 PM

          Before planning your restaurant itinerary, my advice is to at least get a general idea what the dining scene in Madrid is like. The variety of restaurants in Madrid is endless, from inventive and formal (Santceloni) to molecular and chic (La Terraza) to Basque (Arce), steak and roast meat (Asdaor Ansorene), seafood, fusion and anything else that one can imagine. Also helpful is a little familiar with Spanish cooking. A good general travel guidebook such as Time Out is a good beginning. Otherwise, recommendations are just names; rankings and frequent mentions are just numbers.

          1. re: PBSF
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            aknabe RE: PBSF Jan 27, 2010 07:03 AM

            Thank you for breaking out the categories like that... I never realized the variety there! It makes me really excited. But yes..I'm a big planner and want to have it all mapped out before going.. with applicable reservations on the books prior to arrival.

      2. arobmadrid RE: aknabe Jan 25, 2010 11:55 PM

        Restaurante Taberneros • Calle Santiago, 9 Madrid • Tlf. 91 542 21 60 . The main reason to go here would be their terrific wine list, although the food is pretty good too - Spanish/Japanese fusion dishes.
        Congratulations by the way! If you have a few days, and you enjoy meat, you should take a trip to Segovia (an hour away). It's an amazing town and the food speciality is roast suckling pig - so tender they slice it with a plate!
        Have fun!

        1 Reply
        1. re: arobmadrid
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          aknabe RE: arobmadrid Jan 26, 2010 10:45 AM

          Thank you! =) Speaking of suckling pig... we do want to try this. Is Botin just TOO touristy? I see much talk of this place being great.. but over run with tourists. We like to try to blend in with the locals as much as possible. Any particular restaurant in Segovia? We'll be in Madrid for 4 days... so we just may have time between the Tapas tours and markets visits to venture out to Segovia.

        2. b
          butterfly RE: aknabe Jan 26, 2010 05:12 AM

          I wouldn't put too much stock in rankings... If you like flavorful meat with a lot of texture, go for a chuletón de buey (it's huge and must be shared) at a Basque asador like Julián de Tolosa on the Cava Baja (also their pimientos del piquillo), Asador Ansorena, or Asador Imanol. The steaks in Spain are different--different cuts, different breeds, etc.

          5 Replies
          1. re: butterfly
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            aknabe RE: butterfly Jan 26, 2010 10:42 AM

            Thank you all! This is the feedback I was looking for... I had searched the boards and found some great stuff, but wanted something more recent. A lot of the stuff I found was pretty dated.

            1. re: butterfly
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              aknabe RE: butterfly Jan 26, 2010 10:52 AM

              Thanks! I see Asador Ansorena mentioned quite a bit... I'll add it to my list! And we look forward to trying all the different cuts/breeds. I'd like to think of us as being adventourous.. =)

              1. re: aknabe
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                Quimbombo RE: aknabe Jan 26, 2010 11:21 AM

                Casa Botin attracts tourists. But it also attracts locals. The food is suprisingly good. The suckling pig being a specialty and they do it very well.

                We really enjoy Taverna Goya for inexpensive eats it's on Lagasca between Hermosilla and Goya. I love their smashed eggs with jamon serrano. Ham croquettes are so good and creamy. However I highly recommend you get there before 8:10 PM <which seems to be the magic hour for these tavern types places>, after that it get's jammed packed with locals.

                If you go to Segovia and want to have lunch I would suggest the Parador that is right outside Segovia and overlooks the castle. Paradores, which are government owned hotels <many former castles, convents, monasteries or royal residences> make a point of serving food native to the area.

                Parador de Segovia: http://www.paradores.es/es/cargarFich...

                Parador de Segovia # 2: http://www.paradores.es/es/cargarFich...

                1. re: Quimbombo
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                  aknabe RE: Quimbombo Jan 26, 2010 11:28 AM

                  Please do post the name.. that sounds like a pretty fun afternoon lunch. Taverna Goya.. on the list!

                  1. re: aknabe
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                    Quimbombo RE: aknabe Jan 26, 2010 11:32 AM

                    Check my previous post for the first Segovia Parador.

                    Here is one a little further <11K> that recently opened up that was once a monastery: http://www.paradores.es/es/cargarFich...

            2. k
              kel RE: aknabe Jan 26, 2010 02:03 PM

              OP--you do not sound like you like tourist places. Botin is definitely that. But you may want to try it once. Their suckling pig is good but not like in many other places in Spain---starting with Segovia.

              1. k
                kel RE: aknabe Jan 26, 2010 02:19 PM

                Botin is not the same quality as it used to be. When asking someone about : ask if they were there in the last 6 -8 months? Or, how many years ago?

                15 Replies
                1. re: kel
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                  Quimbombo RE: kel Jan 26, 2010 05:02 PM

                  We were in Casa Botin last fall, had the suckiling pig and it was good. Being that not many restaurants in Madrid are open on Sunday's Casa Botin is one of the very few places that are where one can still get a decent meal.

                  I think upon reviewing some of the posts regarding this restaurant it has been mentioned that is why it has been suggested.

                  1. re: Quimbombo
                    arobmadrid RE: Quimbombo Jan 26, 2010 11:43 PM

                    I haven't been to Botin for years - however, it is supposed to be the world's oldest restaurant, and it is a pretty amazing place, so it's not surprising that it attracts tourists - as another post says, it does attract locals too :- I think you'd like it.
                    Futher up the street you have Casa Lucio - Cava Baja, 35 · Madrid
                    T.91 3658217/ 91 3653252
                    H.13´15 -16 /21' 00 -23´30 - it's closed in August and at midday on Saturdays - very famous, and popular with locals especially for it's eggs (with potatos and ham). It's simple traditional Spanish food, with the emphasis on quality ingredients; a great cellar and tons of atmosphere.

                    1. re: Quimbombo
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                      aknabe RE: Quimbombo Jan 27, 2010 07:01 AM

                      Yes, in reading this site... I'm hearing Botin is good and the oldest restaurant, thus attracting walks of all life. We just can't decide if we want to try the suckling pig there.. or take a day trip to Segovia. We also want to try the roasted lamb as well. Maybe the pig at Botin and the lamb in Segovia? Or.. the opposite?

                      1. re: aknabe
                        Trip Klaus RE: aknabe Jan 27, 2010 08:27 AM

                        Alot of your decisions about where to go depend upon whether you want to simply experience suckling pig, baby lamb etc, or you want to have the best possible version of said. It's like all the people who sit in the Plaza Santa Ana eating paella when the weather's nice. It's crap, but at least they were in Spain and had paella. So if you want something special rather than just saying you did it, then I would suggest the following.

                        I agree with an above recommendation for Casa Lucio, it is classic and class Madrid. Very hard to get a reservation if your not the mayor or a Real Madrid footballer, but well worth it. Castillian cooking rustic and sophisticated at the same time. No modern techniques but a way to get a real idea of Castille y Leon.

                        For more formal and modern cooking I echo the suggestion above for La Terraza. The jacket only restaurant in the belle epoque Casino de Madrid is one of if not Madrid's most romantic settings. The chef's menu is a delight of both flavor and show. The female sommelier is among the best in Spain.

                        While the suckling pig at Botin is fine it is very touristy (remember Spaniards can be tourists too) and somewhat mass produced. I would hold out for Segovia for suckling pig where (yes there are also tourists) but the restaurants have a personal relationship with their pig farmers and proper preparation is something of a religion. In Segovia, I would suggest Jose Maria over Meson de Candido. I think Meson de Candido has become a slight joke of its former self with all the exposure from US TV shows. Jose Maria on the other hand continues to impress. They also have the good fortune of owning the Ribera del Duero winery Pago de Carraovejas (one of the regions best). If you visit, splurge on the Cuestra las Liebres their ultra premium, small production, impossible to find wine,

                        I find that Segovia is not the best place for lamb, they do it fine, but there just isn't the craftsmanship that you find in Burgos and Valladolid provinces. The best Asadors have ovens dozens of years old that they have had the time and experience to get the preperation just right. Also, they have often have familial relationships with shepherds or butchers. There are some who will tell you that the best Asadors will only sell you one side of the lamb. I can't discern the difference yet but I'm going to keep trying. That being said in the Segovia area the best Asador is about 15km away in the walled village of Pedraza, El Yantar de Pedraza. Simple, plain as all the best asadors are with only they best IGP Lechazo and perfect preparation with an affordable and well chosen wine list.

                        It's a shame for example that Meson del Cid an institution for Lechazo in Burgos has a sister restaurant in Madrid that requires you to reserve lamb ahead because they frankly would rather not make it.

                        Congratualtions and good luck with your visit

                        1. re: Trip Klaus
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                          aknabe RE: Trip Klaus Jan 27, 2010 09:25 AM

                          Wow.. thank you so much for taking the time in your post. Very helpful tips, for sure. And I am thinking we'll hold out for Segovia. I keep hearing Jose Maria, so I think that's where I'll try to go while in Segovia. ... plus, we'll get to see the sights of the city while we're there. THis is a bit off the topic.. but any suggestions on travel while in Segovia? We'll be taking a train from Madrid to Segovia. Or, is it best to rent a car?

                        2. re: aknabe
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                          butterfly RE: aknabe Jan 27, 2010 02:28 PM

                          I'd say take the day trip to Segovia. It's a beautiful town--with the Alcázar and aqueduct-- that will give you a taste of Castilla la Vieja. I second Jose María as the best place to get roast pork there--mainly because the other items on their menu are also very good (not so at Mesón del Candido): http://www.rtejosemaria.com/ It's a block from the Plaza Mayor in front of the cathedral (make sure to reserve ahead). For lamb, barring a trip up into lamb territory (towards Burgos) I like Asador Tierra Aranda (calle Padilla 56) in Madrid where they have the right kind of wood-burning ovens.

                          The train to Segovia is very fast (less than half an hour), but be prepared to hop on the shuttle buses into town in front of the station (or catch a cab). The high-speed train station is a 10 minute drive away from the city center but the bus lets you off right under the aqueduct.

                          1. re: butterfly
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                            aknabe RE: butterfly Jan 28, 2010 07:53 AM

                            Thank you again. We'll definitely be taking a day trip to Segovia based on the feedback I've received. It sounds beautiful AND has great food! A perfect match for me!

                            1. re: aknabe
                              cescobedo RE: aknabe May 1, 2010 04:25 AM

                              How was the trip????? Cody was wanting to say HI....

                            2. re: butterfly
                              Joanie RE: butterfly Feb 2, 2010 05:34 AM

                              I wasn't sure whether to start a new post or hop on this, obviously I'm hopping on. We're coming from Boston in late March (getting out right before Easter) after 3 days in Marrakech. Was thinking about a day trip to Toledo but Segovia sounds interesting. Is there anything to recommend one over the other? Better food in one place? Travel easier to one? Also trying to figure out the best day to do this. We have 5 nites starting on a Thurs. late afternoon. I'd like to go to a good flea markets, seems like there's one on Sun. (and Sat.) so that might play into when to go or stay in Madrid.

                              As far as Madrid food, I'm taking notes on all the various posts but my specific question is where should my friend take me for my "travel agent" dinner? I do all the planning, booking etc. so I want a nice meal but not crazy $$. Maybe $150 or so with a couple drinks. Looking for a fun vibe, perhaps a little modern but definitely with a Spanish feel, not just like I'm some place in Boston or NY. We like all foods but I'm definitely hoping for a Mediterranean vibe. Not that we need to stay by our hotel, but I think we'll be at Hotel Sieteislas on C/ Valverde. Thanks.

                              1. re: Joanie
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                                Quimbombo RE: Joanie Feb 2, 2010 06:41 AM

                                Segovia is beautiful.

                                But for my money I would go to Toledo. There's so much history tied to the place.

                                It all depends what interests you.

                                Enjoy your trip.

                                1. re: Joanie
                                  arobmadrid RE: Joanie Feb 2, 2010 12:41 PM

                                  Spanish don't really get flea markets - they even call flats that aren't new build "second-hand" - and in a bad way! The Sunday market is El Rastro - it's full of hippy tat - really huge; hang onto your handbag! Do go, but to bar hop with all the other Madrileños - it's the best day to "ir de cañas". If you learn one word in Spain, it sould be "caña" - a small beer if you didn't know already. The local brew is Mahou (think Chinese dictator): it's good!

                                  As you are staying on Valverde, I'm going to make a shameless plug for my friend Miguel's restaurant on the same street - It's called In Situ - fantastic menu del dia for 11 euros - you will be stunned by the quality I promise; I take people there all the time, and they always return.

                                  1. re: arobmadrid
                                    Joanie RE: arobmadrid Feb 3, 2010 03:54 AM

                                    I'll try your friend's place but what about the nicer dinner (that I'm not paying for ha ha)? He's not getting off with an 11 euro meal that's for sure. Do you or Quimbombo (or anyone else) have a suggestion for nice, fun, Spanish, a little modern but not too that won't be *too* expensive (about 100 euro or so for 2)? Thanks.

                                    1. re: Joanie
                                      arobmadrid RE: Joanie Feb 3, 2010 04:02 PM

                                      Go there for dinner, have a la carte, dessert, coffee, a nice wine and a liqueur - they'll be little or no change from 100 euros - it's just the lunch menu is a steal. It's a young vibe; you're staying in the gay barrio you know; nice waiters and waitresses; funky modern interior, and interesting food - very Spanish, but with a few twists - they opened last July; Spanish, Chilean and Portuguese owners. Please go, and tell me what you think

                                    2. re: arobmadrid
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                                      Edmontonjane RE: arobmadrid Mar 28, 2010 03:12 PM

                                      Thanks for the info on In Situ - I looked it up and it sounds fabulous! And not too far from where we will be staying in Sol. Looks as thought I will need to make a reservation; do you have any idea how far ahead I should do this and whether I can do it on-line? I don't speak Spanish, unfortunately, so dont' think a long distance call would do the trick!

                                      1. re: Edmontonjane
                                        arobmadrid RE: Edmontonjane Mar 29, 2010 02:32 AM

                                        The day before, or even the morning before should be fine for booking - it's not far from Sol; maybe a 10 minute walk.
                                        They should have enough English to handle a table reservation, otherwise, ask your hotel to do it for you. I hope you like it!

                          2. MOREKASHA RE: aknabe Jan 29, 2010 01:06 PM

                            Last trip to Madrid (2008) Combarro had changed it's name. Same, place, same owners, just new name. It's a really good sea food house, but kind of luxe, especially with the exchange rate. If you're loaded then have the shellfish, if not you'll be broke afterwards. They do have one of my fave Albarinos as their house Albarino, Valdemor or spelled Valdemar. They own the vineyard. Just lovely and as usually in Spain, reasonable priced. Yes, go for the chuleton in a Spanish or Basque asador, It's usualy served rare, which is just right. You should try an Asturiano place, especially for fabada this time of years. A great white bean stew w/Morcilla. Made w/D.O beans (fabes). Listen to Butterfly, when I'm in Madrid (hopefully every year) I always look up her posts.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: MOREKASHA
                              arobmadrid RE: MOREKASHA Feb 1, 2010 11:52 PM

                              I think I know you Morekasha (a friend of an old friend - loooong time ago) so next time you're in Madrid, let me know - I'll give you the low down on some lesser known places (I've been here 20 years!)

                              1. re: arobmadrid
                                MOREKASHA RE: arobmadrid Feb 2, 2010 07:27 AM

                                Abro, I'm trying to get back to Madrid this year. Don't know if I will, if so, I'll drop you a line. Are you from NYC or did you go to Bard? Madrid, city of dreaming N "la comido Vida"

                                1. re: MOREKASHA
                                  arobmadrid RE: MOREKASHA Feb 3, 2010 12:38 AM

                                  MOREKASHA: Knew Eric and your name rang a bell,( he used to talk abt you a lot but I can't remember if we met; we're talking 1984!) then saw you on his FB wall which confirmed the connection - total coincidence. We'd met through Tom Heyman who went to my Uni. in the UK.
                                  I don't know if there's much I can show you in Madrid - from your posts, you could probably show me a few things! still, we could have some cañas at least

                                  1. re: arobmadrid
                                    MOREKASHA RE: arobmadrid Feb 3, 2010 05:07 AM

                                    Go to Blazes! Hell, I didn't even remeber meeting Tom until the FB thingy and I'd been listening to their music for years. Strange stuff. Canas, chatos it's all good. Hope to meet up in Madrid, I have some other Madrielno pals as well so it could be fun comparing notes, bs'in and the like.

                                    1. re: MOREKASHA
                                      arobmadrid RE: MOREKASHA Feb 3, 2010 04:03 PM

                                      Well it's so long ago, he could hardly play the guitar!

                                      1. re: arobmadrid
                                        MOREKASHA RE: arobmadrid Feb 4, 2010 05:46 AM

                                        Ha ha. He's also on FB.

                            2. s
                              sarahholthusen RE: aknabe Apr 28, 2010 12:12 PM

                              I have been living in Spain for 3 years - here are a list of my favourite places to eat:

                              http://thesaltyolive.com/blog/post/Be...
                              http://thesaltyolive.com/blog/post/Be...

                              1. cescobedo RE: aknabe May 1, 2010 04:21 AM

                                Hey, u wouldn't be my husbands cousin from Muenster? Im Cody Escobedo's wife. We like meat too! We miss Gramma Marthas Christmas tamales...I think I need to beg her for the recipe!! Well maybe we can meet one day and exchange foreign recipe's. I lived in Italy for 2 years and learned a few things, but if you really like authentic Puerto Rican food then get a hold of us through AJ or Frank.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: cescobedo
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                                  aknabe RE: cescobedo Jun 4, 2010 11:04 AM

                                  Yup, that's me! =) I just got married and we went to Italy and Spain for our honeymoon. I met Aunt Jenny last year around xmas for some of Grandma's tameles... I vacuumed packed them to help make them last longer in the freezer! =) Good hearing from you! (Sorry for the delay, I forget about checking the boards here)

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