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Jan 6, 2011 05:57 PM

Student Travel Abroad - Madrid & Sevilla


I have a friend who is a college junior and will be studying abroad in Sevilla this summer. I, myself, studied abroad in Madrid some time ago and could not be more jealous of her and happy for her. : )

I haven't been to Spain in nearly 10 years, so I am slightly out of the loop on restaurants in Sevilla and Madrid, but I would like to see if this board could provide some authentic, yet wallet-friendly, "must dine" restaurants in both cities.

Could you kindly share your thoughts? Specifically, restaurants / bars with traditional tapas, paella, and a nice ambience would be appreciated.

Many, many thanks!

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  1. I would search this board for the many earlier posts on Seville and Madrid. Sit down restaurants as well as tapas and cafes were covered in various recent posts. The many tapas places in Seville and Madrid will fit a students budget. If your friend is studying/spending a good chunk of time there, she will quickly meet friends and in no time and they will invariably introduce her to the hottest and best spots. I wouldn't sweat it too much or need too long of a list.

    1. My recs in Madrid for students in a budget:
      Area: Malasaña
      Malasaña is an area of Madrid famous for its trendy alternative scene. Centred around Plaza Dos De Mayo, it is reminiscent of Camden Town in London, the East Village in New York City, or Bairro Alto in Lisbon, although the layout is quite different and the emphasis is less on shops and more on bars.
      * BAR EL PICO (Calle Divino Pastor 12). Located north of Plaza Dos De Mayo, El Pico is a tapas bar that boasts good croquetas and tigres (stuffed mussel), also watch out for the patatas bravas. The menu is reasonably priced and the staff is friendly. This is one of the few tapas bars in Madrid that will serve a tapa for free with every caña (glass of beer), paella on more than one occasion. Make sure you get there early as this cozy little hot spot does get crowded. The cocido (typical chickpea stew) is cooked on Wednesday.
      * BAR PALENTINO (Calle del Pez 12). In Spain, the most authentic bars and cafes are what we call "old man bars." This is where, at all hours of the day, you'll see Spanish guys hanging out, drinking beer as early as 9am, watching soccer, or just ranting endlessly to each other. These bars are normally run by one of their mates and his wife, and they're filthy, cheap, have good traditional tapas (as they are made in-house by Spanish wives), and are always full. Although not terribly pleasant, Bar El Palentino is all that an old man bar can be, but it's located in the trendy Malasaña, has information about the coolest happenings in the city, and is frequented by a groovy alternative Spanish and expat crowd. The service is warm and homely.

      Area: Chueca
      * TABERNA ANGEL SIERRA (Calle Gravina 11). Exactly in Chueca square, can find this old-style tavern which sends you back to the past -more than a century ago- in the very moment you enter the place. It is usually crowded, even during tapas 'rush hours', when we can see people having a beer or their famous tap Reus vermouth on the street, just next to the door, when the weather is good. Pleasant, young and modern ambience. Anchovy and escabeche (pickled tuna) are some of the suggestions to have together with drinks. The hot spot in the area.
      * EL TIGRE at Calle Infantas 30. Maybe not top quality but it's said that the largest aperitivos in town are served in this bar.
      * EL RESPIRO at Calle Infantas 34. Similar to El Tigre, but not so large aperitivos.

      Area: La Latina
      * VINOS EL 11 aka CASA DANI (Calle Calatrava 11) and ALMACÉN DE VINOS aka CASA GERARDO (Calle Calatrava 21). Vintage tabernas.
      * LA PALOMA (Calle Toledo 85). Grilled prawns.
      * CAFETERIA LORENA (Plaza de la Cebada 3).

      Area: west Puerta del Sol
      * LA CAMPANA or LA IDEAL (Calle Botoneras, close to Plaza Mayor). It's a popular saying here: if you go to Madrid and don't taste a "bocadillo de calamares" (depp-fried squid sandwich), you are committing a sin!. Wash down with a "caña" -canya- a glass of draught beer.
      * EL ÑERU (Calle de Bordadores 5). Always crowded, but you will find a place soon because people tend to drink a glass and change to another taberna. After receiving a tip they will bring a cow bell, doesn't matter the amount of the tip. Wait until they offer an aperitivo for the drink, ask for Cabrales (blue cheese), tortilla or chorizo. Rec: caña de sidra (fizzy cider on tap).
      * MAREAS VIVAS (Calle Veneras 3). Tapas bar.
      * REFRA (Calle Santiago 4).

      Area: east Puerta del Sol
      * EL MUSEO DEL JAMÓN (Carrera de San Jerónimo 6) for a 'bocadillo de jamón' (cured ham sandwich)
      * RESTAURANT EN BUSCA DEL TIEMPO (Calle Barcelona 4). Affordable bar & restaurant to taste the Spanish food.
      * LAS BRAVAS (Calle Espoz y Mina 13). Patatas bravas (potatoes with spicy tomato sauce).
      * CHOCOLAT BAR (Calle Santa María 30). Hot chocolate with 'churros'.

      Area: Lavapiés
      * MELOS (Calle Ave María 44). Most people know it as "el bar de las zapatillas" (the trainers bar), which doesn't mean that you have to wear those kind of shoes in order to come into the bar. The reason for this name is that their speciality are 'zapatillas': toasted country bread with lacón (a kind of cooked ham) and grilled melted cheese. A dish which is asking to be eaten, most of the times using your hands, of course. Other recommended dishes are their big and tasty croquetas, Padrón peppers, empanadillas (pasties), morcilla (black sausage) and, as dessert, cheese with quince jelly. To drink, Ribeiro wine and beer. This small bar may not be a very modern place, but it has the advanage of having a friendly ambience where you can eat good food at low prices. The fact that it is usually crowded makes it quite difficult to get a table, so the usual thing is to eat your zapatillas standing at the bar. Nice ambience for young and not-so-young people. Closed on mid-day.
      * BAR AUTOMÁTICO (Calle Argumosa 17). This classic tapas hangout is among the most popular in Lavapiés and, in summer, its terrace --one of many in lively Argumosa street-- draws animated crowds of habitues and visitors. On Sundays, it's packed to the gills due to the proximity to the Rastro market. Atmosphere apart it's open all weekend for lunch, early evening cocktails or serious drinking at night. It serves traditional staples like mojama (salted tuna), cecina (dried beef), migas (fried breadcrumbs with garlic, sausage and raisins), homemade croquettes and morcilla patatera (traditional black sausage), not to mention sheep's and goat's milk cheeses and homemade patés. The walls are decorated with attractive paintings and there's great jazz music in the background.

      Nearby Principe Pio Shopping Center
      * CASA MINGO (Paseo de la Florida 34). House of cider and roast chicken.

      2 Replies
      1. re: JuanDoe

        Holy heavens, JuanDoe! You are my hero. My friend will be thrilled!

        I cannot tell you how much this is appreciated. Thank you!

        1. re: coleyas

          Casa Mingo is one of my young daughter's favorite places (she is a roast chicken junkie). We love it, too . . . .