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Jan 23, 2013 02:30 PM

madrid dining questions

Hi. Will be in Spain for 8 days in May to celebrate husband's 50th. We enjoy good food and comfortable (not very formal eg: Michelin 3 star) setting. DH won't eat eggs. Other than that we are open minded.
We will be in Sevilla for 3 nights (Fri-Mon) and in Madrid for the next 4 evenings. I assume we will be eating mostly tapas in Sevilla. Would like to do at least one tapas meal in Madrid (Retiro area.) We rented an apt near Calle Brava but seems the Retiro tapas are superior.
I have been reading Juan Doe's blogs and have some questions on Madrid dining. Some of the Madrid restaurants I have narrowed down (Lua, Club Allard) are listed as restaurants and others (Laredo, Arzabal) are listed as bars. I have read reviews where folks have listed Lardeo or Arzabal as dining options.
Can you please help clarify. Thanks

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  1. Lua and Club Allard are restaurants; I had a superb meal at Lua a couple of months ago. At 49e pp, this has to be one of the best price/quality ratios I've experienced in a long time. (They also offer a longer set menu at dinner)

    Both Laredo and Arzabal have both sit-down restaurant seating and lively bar areas for tapas. Both are good, but I would give the edge to Laredo, based on my very limited experiences at both places. Laredo can be booked only by phone, and they only take bookings during limited hours: 11am to 1pm, I believe, and again from 5pm to 8pm.

    I wrote a long report here on my food adventures during my October, '12 visit to Sevilla.

    You are in for gastronomic near-ecstasy in Sevilla's small restaurants and bars. I was astonished by how much the dining scene had expanded since my last visit; there is now a profusion of small and innovative eateries helmed by chefs who have trained at some of the country's legendary restaurants. This, along with the many traditional bars with a high standard, means little time for traditional sightseeing in Sevilla. (Just kidding there, but barely). As I mentioned in my report, if you are ok with either waiting, or eating at opening time (usually 8:30 or 9pm but sometimes as early as 7:30pm) you do not need to book ahead of time. Unlike many of the traditional tapas places,some of the more modern ones will not allow patrons to crowd into the bar area and stand while eating/drinking. They will take your name and you can wait outside until they motion that there is a place at counter or table. You can book at a few of these tapas bars, but usually only for tables where you must order from the raciones side of the menu. Policies differ, so just look at their sites, or ask when you pass by.

    5 Replies
    1. re: erica

      Erica, thanks for the clarification. I have read your reports (this and last year!). Last year you visited Pura Tasca in Sevilla and raved and this year it was not on your report-any reason? It seems their 11 courses are no more.
      Did you eat at a few tapas bars and then sit down to a large meal at 9:30 or do you do multiple tapas bars or a sit down dinner?
      Any suggestions for our last meal in Sevilla given that it is a Sunday. Will most tapas bars be open but restaurants closed?
      When I first started planning the trip, I was more excited about Madrid dining but almost wish we were in Sevilla 4 nights given the near-ecstasy I am anticipating in Sevila!!

      1. re: plambers

        I did eat there on this past trip, twice. And the last time was in November and they still had the 11-course menu. The report on the travel forum is really a duplicate of this one, although I probably left out some details. I did not finish it yet, so that is the reason you did not see PuraTasca.

        We just do the tapas bars on "tapas nights." We just keep ordering courses until we are full. We do not mind eating early, so on this past trip to Sevilla, we would arrive when they opened, and be assured of a seat at a table or the counter. So we either did the tapas bars OR the sit-down dinner, not both on the same night. Although many people go for tapas and then head for a big dinner, but even I cannot manage that much food.

        Let me take a look around and see if I can find any other places for Sundays. There are more places open for Sunday lunch than dinner, so you could plan a big lunch, either tapas or a sit-down.

        For now, I found this:

        Restaurante Jaylu was recommended to me by a restaurant owner in Sevilla, and I also read about it in a Spanish-language book. We did not have time to try it.
        It is very pricey, and focuses on seafood. For some reason I seem to recall that they open Sunday lunch:

        1. re: erica

          Erica, you are EK, yes?
          Will look at your link later. I cannot find days open/hours on alot of the Sevilla websites.

          1. re: plambers

            Yes, the same!

            I will see if I can find some opening times for the places I mentioned. For now:

            I remember that Bar Eslava opens at 7:30. (But, as I mentioned, the main chef does not arrive until 8pm, so you cannot get certain dishes, including their famous mushroom/egg, until that time.)

            Enrique Becerra is also open by 7:30, or even earlier.

            Azotea opens at 8:30 and as soon as the gates went up, people descended from the shadows and made a beeline for the door. Get there early for that place, in particular.

            PuraTasca opens at 8:30; their space is tiny so again, you need to arrive within 15 minutes of opening, I would guess, to make sure to get a table. That is quite far from the center, so allow time to walk.

            I get the feeling that these times may be fluid, so best to check once you get there, either by phone or by walking by; most of them post their opening hours in front.

            This is a great resource for dining in Sevilla; she also does tapas tours:


            1. re: erica

              Erica, again, thanks. I had noted some openings in your postings and this is a big help!
              Have you ever done a tapas tour? I was considering it but since we only have 3 nights in Sevilla, and we will eat almost anything, I figure that the uncertainty and experimenting will be part of the fun! I am most excited about Azotea and Bar Eslava!
              I do know VIneria San Telmo is open on Sunday but am cautious given your review. It will be our last meal there and want to end it on a high note.
              CathyDM is going to Sevilla in March and will report back on her finds.