Casual, not-pricey, non-touristy eats in Retiro barrio [Madrid]?
Planning to stay in Retiro for 2 days in May and am anxious to pick your brains for some restaurants. I've never been to Spain, but have read up Madrid and Spanish cuisine and am excited to eat like a fiend for those 48 hours. I'm aware of the legendary restos in Madrid, but they're above our pricepoint for the trip. We chose Retiro b/c it's close enough to the centre of the city but far enough that we won't be engulfed by the energetic chaos that I'm told Madrid is 24/7. One night will be tapas, but what are some recommended places for 2 lunches [menu del dias?] and dinner in Retiro [Spanish cuisine only]? I've searched the board but I'm not sure I'm finding exactly what I want [or my search strategy is lacking! :) ]... thanks in advance; I'll report back once home again!
I have a pal who has lived in Retir0 for over 15 years. Been there many time smyself, not one place I've been to is touristy. Lemme check what I have my in memory bank for ya.
O' Grove for simple Gallego, small back room. Theres 2-3 Asturiano places in the hoold. Sunday afternoon @ Carlos Tartiere is fun. Lots of Asturianos pouring/drinking cidra and a bagpiper too. Cabrales, cabrales w/chorizo, cabrales with pappas, cabrales with cabrales .........
If you are looking for a menu del día during the week (at lunchtime), you could head to the corner of calle Menorca and Fernán González and do a little reconnaissance between several places like Carlos Tartiere (Asturiano--there's a full restaurant and a more informal--and cheaper--bar in the front), Taberna del Puerto, O'Grelo (Gallego), O'Grove (Gallego)...or the spendier Casa Rafa on Narváez after you could go for an ice cream at Siena (corner of Narváez and Ibiza) and walk through the park.
I haven't been in a while, but there is another very off the beaten path Gallego marisquería that our Gallego family members love over there. It's got a somewhat bizarro hidden location behind the Hospital Niño Jesus a block or so east of the Retiro, but has a very nice outdoor terraza (maybe only on weekends?). It's called Pazo Coruña and it's on calle Pío Baroja, 6.
Thanks to all who responded; I'm back home, and already miss Spain something fierce.
Due to a missed plane I only had about 1.25 days in Madrid, so our eating was pretty curtailed. We went to Carlos Tartiere the first night, with the requisite cider, cabrales cheese, peppers stuffed with cod, steak, and fabada asturiana- all delicious, and an amazing experience. We had dulce de leche ice cream at Siena and beers in Retiro Park before hand, so we rolled back to the hotel around 11 and collapsed :)
Lunch the next day was the Prado cafeteria, so not much to report there. We had dinner at O'Grelo, which was a bit of a surreal experience [although good]. We turned left and ended up in the formal dining room, where they let us in with no reservation since it was early [9:15 pm!!]. We were the only ones there and no fewer than 5 staff came to stare and wish us good evening; perhaps due to my incredibly limited Spanish [I asked for "food" when I got there, thinking it meant "dinner"?!] ... everyone was lovely though. Due to a comedy of errors, the scallops we had asked for starters arrived and had turned into... foie gras with toasts and egg yolk [?], but still unbelievably good. We both had the merluza, which although really expensive, was completely worth it- huge, practically swimming off the plate, and cooked perfectly [I've never seen hake at home, and it's really hard to get a good piece of fish here that isn't past it's prime or overcooked]. Thanks again for all your suggestions!