Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Spain/Portugal >
Apr 1, 2014 03:37 PM

Madrid, BCN & Granada - recs for non-foodies (but still good local food)

My significant other and her mother are going to spend about 10 days in Madrid, Granada and Barcelona in late April/early May, and they’ve asked me for dining recommendations, even though I take my eating very seriously and am pretty adventurous; and they are neither. It’s been about 5 years since I’ve been to Madrid and Granada and almost 10 since I’ve been to Barcelona. I remember eating very well in all 3 cities (which was one of the objectives of those trips), but the only names I recall are Tabernas in Madrid, Alkimia and Cal Pep in BCN and none from Granada (where I know I ate in one wine bar in the city center and in one hole-in-the-wall up the hill beyond the plaza where everyone gathers in the evening across the river from the Alhambra). Having done a bit of research, I’m wondering about Malaspina and Venta el Buscon in Madrid, and, for BCN, am wondering if Cal Pep is still one of THE places to go; I loved it. Basically, I’d like suggestions to pass on to them that are for places that are moderately priced, casual, serve good – but needn’t be great or creative – food that will not be challenging for a couple travelers with rather pedestrian tastes (but I don’t want them to eat dumbed-down, mediocre meals that are the equivalent of the Olive Garden). I want them to experience a true tapas restaurant/bar, and was thinking of suggesting an organized tapas tour. Also, sadly, I know they will object to dinner after 7:30 p.m. (which may be a limiting factor and is one of the reasons I am perfectly content not going on this vacation with them).

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. I'm bouncing my post in hopes of getting more replies so that I can recommend more places to my SO. Also, I found a photo I took about 5 years ago of a place in Granada, I think near the Cathedral, where I had a very good lunch; but I don't recall the name. Here's a photo of the interior - can anyone identify it? Thanks

      1 Reply
      1. re: Wayno

        Wayno - I am pretty certain I also went to this bar - its very good - sadly I don't have a clue what its called...!

      2. I've been away from Spain far longer than you have, so I don't have any specific recs for those cities, but shouldn't they be OK going for tapas around 6:30 or 7 pm? Not expecting a full dinner then?

        Getting a few munchies (olives, almonds, serrano ham, cheese, bread, wine, fruit) for the hotel room? Corte Ingles has a great selection, and any standard guidebook can give "good enough" shops to get very reasonable if not exemplary versions of all. "Exotic fruits" from the Canary Islands and elsewhere are special treats for those who go for fruits. Small neighborhood food shops can be really fun if you speak some Spanish and enjoy looking around at what's available. and Madrid and Barcelona have large central markets for "eat on the spot" and take out selections.

        Sounds like they wouldn't be that interested in THE places to go anyway; they might do better asking at their lodging for good local places for tapas and "menu del dia" 3-course places for lunch where the staff members go themselves. A traditional local tapas bar is amazing to catch a glimpse of the culture and they will save a lot of money and probably enjoy the food better where the locals go every day. Not places that cater to tourists. Maybe they'll try a few dishes perhaps new to them: quail, partridge, pheasant, the incredible assortment of shellfish and mushrooms, and the roast lamb and pork asadas are great for anyone but a vegetarian.

        Even if they eat snacks in the hotel, they can always go out and join the carousing packs for vino or cerveza, or a cafe and a sweet at any time. Just being part of the paseo is so essential to enjoying Spain.

        Hope they enjoy it!

        1. Sign up for a tapas tour through "Gourmet Madrid" when in MAD. The guides (Jaime or Ismael) take you to legitimate, non touristy spots in Las Letras neighborhood. You get to sample Spanish wines and delicious food. Highly recommended.

          2 Replies
          1. re: globocity

            Thanks so much for this recommendation! Our Gourmet Madrid tour with Ismael was a highlight of our trip. A great diversity of food and drink, a great introduction to Madrid and Spanish food culture, and great company too.


            1. re: mdg

              So glad to hear you enjoyed the tour! Ismael and the co owner Jaime were so informative and friendly.
              What a delightful ay to experience the local cuisine.

          2. In Granada, Puerta del Carmen is a handsome with congenial staff and good versions of classics. (Do not believe they are known for frying, however) Less fenzied than some of the more famous spots...I would return.