Non-Spanish food in Madrid
I'm a student in Granada and I'll be visiting Madrid for a few days this weekend. I am dying to eat something besides eggs, potatoes, ham, and bread in various combinations, so I'm looking for recommendations on good, affordable Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Middle Eastern,Turkish, South American, Cuban, Caribbean, Russian, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Malaysian, anything-but-Spanish restaurants. Anything authentically foreign.
Can you help? I'll be staying in the centro.
Muchísimas gracias y un saludo.
Not yet having set foot in Spain.........soon.........I should keep my mouth shut. But.............I suggest you go to tripadvisor.com. Many of the reports on that site are from visitors, and the "popularity" ratings suggest to me that lots of visitors want to eat their own "comfort food", from pizza to enchiladas to sushi, to whatever. Play with the site and you can find what non-Spanish visitors have enjoyed that is closer to what they enjoy "at home". Not my way to go, but it's been half a century since I was a student, and back then "abroad" was a fantasy. That said, I hope a Madrilleno can make some suggestions that will accomodate your tastes and your budget.
I live in Madrid, and I have to say that compared to other European cities, and even some other cities in Spain (thinking primarily in Basque country), the ethnic food can be hard to find (or disappointing when you find it). I'm presuming that as you're a student you're looking for cheap to moderately priced restaurants.. If you're in the center try to get a little out of the tourist spots and head over to Chueca which is brimming with restaurants. here's my take:
-I wouldn't even attempt Mexican (if you're used to good Mex food like I am) or Italian here, strangely enough. There are a few decent pizza places, but it's not worth your time to look for them.
- There are some great Indian restaurants - your best bet is to head to Lavapies (metro: Lavapies) where there are a lot of options. It can seem a little seedy but it's a pretty vibrant, kind of alternative neighborhood.
- Thai/Japanese... the options get better. In central Madrid (by Plaza Espana) is Siam - it has a sister restaurant called Bangkok (metro: Opera). I've eaten at Siam a few times and liked the food. It's moderately priced- best to be shared with a lot of dishes. Reservations recommended. Japanese- a lot of places have sushi ... in the center there's a place called Pink Sushiman (tucked on a small street off Gran Via- very near the McD's) that has the sushi conveyor belt and is cheap. Easy to pop in for something quick. Can't vouch for the sushi, had other things there. Sushi and nachos and other nibbles at Amalgama (a bar/lounge by metro Opera).
Korean- there's a place on c/Atocha called Han Gan where you can barbeque your food at the table.
American- the best burgers in Madrid are at a place called Alfredo's Barbacoa (metro: Retiro) small place that fills up fast
Moroccan- I forget the name but it's right off the plaza Dos de Mayo... I'm sure you can find it if you ask.
Chinese- in general, I'd avoid. There is a real greasy spoon that is famous here (under Plaza Espana in the tunnel where you head to the parking garage).. they call it the "subterranean" but it's always packed, frequented by Chinese people, pretty good and very cheap.
Going beyond this in terms of ethnic foods is difficult. More and more, ethnic food is catching on, but if you ask Spanish people they will tell you Spanish food is their favorite :)