Bringing tapas back to their “purest state”
Sure, Madrid’s smoky tapas bars filled with old men have their appeal. But for some really posh tapas, check out the new spot in the NH Hotel Paseo de Prado. Paco Roncero, winner of the 2006 Best Future Chef award from the International Gastronomy Academy and chef at La Terraza del Casino in Madrid, has opened Estado Puro to bring tapas back to their “purest state.” Roncero, who studied with Ferran Adrià and is considered the most outstanding of the famous chef’s protégés, opened Estado Puro to combine classic tapas using the highest-quality ingredients and his signature creative touch. He hopes to open more, similar bars throughout Spain and internationally.
The place is decked out with upscale, cosmopolitan décor from architects and designers James & Mau featuring 1,000 kitschy white peinetas, decorative hair combs, covering the ceiling and a wall, adding a bit of an ironic twist to touristy tapas traps. Estado Puro also features an area where patrons can see the chefs cooking, a merchandising area with cookbooks from Roncero and aprons along with a selection sauces from the tapas to take home. There’s even a terrace with a tree surrounded by a small garden of tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers. The menu features cold and hot tapas such as croquettes, potatoes with alioli sauce and mini hamburgers as well as sandwiches, salads, desserts and some bigger dishes of rice, meat and fish.
Dinner with a side of celebrity
Javier Bardem, Hollywood’s latest It Boy, comes from a very talented family of directors, producers, artists and actors. But what they should be most famous for are their croquettes. That’s right, La Bardemcilla, owned by the venerable acting7/producing/directing family, cooks some of the best melt-in-your-mouth, falling-apart-at-the-touch croquettes in Madrid. Aptly named “Jamón, Jamón,” a plateful of these will cheer you up on the coldest of Madrid winter days.
The cozy place also offers delicious entrees such as Huevos de Oro, scrambled eggs with chorizo and potatoes, and Entre Las Piernas, scrambled eggs with morcilla. The grilled vegetable plate is also scrumptious. On a weekend night, it’s best to call ahead for a reservation. The menu del día is a cheaper alternative to enjoy some of their house specialties. Make sure to bring your camera, it’s a great place for celebrity spotting!
A Taste of Home
Burger bars don’t necessarily mean junk food — something that’s abundantly clear at Home Burger Bar. The wood-paneled diner boasts booths, little frilly lamps at each table, authentic chunky cutlery, and menus printed on brown-paper grocery bags, like the ones you see in American movies — all that’s missing are waitresses in gingham aprons. The menu features creative choices such as La Especial, with cream cheese, nuts and onions and the Caprese, with sun-dried tomatoes and parmesan cheese as well as staples such as La Clásica, a burger served with lettuce, tomato, pickles, bacon and cheese.
The 100 percent organic meat is fantastic, and is perfectly accompanied by the extras. This month, they are expanding from Malasaña into Chueca with a second location. Good thing, too, because during lunchtime the place is bursting with hungry diners.
Get your just desserts
It’s a venerable Madrid tradition: stay up all night dancing, then refuel with some sickly sweet churros con chocolate. There’s no better place than the Chocolatería San Ginés, where madrileños have been going since 1894, right in the center and open all night. Order a few cups of the thick, rich chocolate to share among a group and a few plates of churros, which are basically sticks of fried dough, and lean back in the plush green velvet chairs to watch the hordes come in about 4am when the clubs close. Chocolatería San Ginés, Pasadizo de San Ginés 5, (Metro: Sol)
Brunch in Style
Madrileños are just now catching on to the amazing concept that is brunch. And though it’s taken a while to catch on, new spots are springing up all over the city and established restaurants are moving away from the traditional to try something new. Some of the best options include Bristol Bar, (c/Almirante, 20), which is a hip gin bar by night but a relaxing brunch spot on Saturdays and Sundays, when you can choose from a traditional English breakfast to an American-style brunch, complete with eggs, sausage, toast and mimosas. Or head over to Toma, (c/Conde Duqe, 14) where American owner Mack Kern certainly knows what he’s doing.
It’s often cited as the best brunch in Madrid, because it combines tasty Spanish ingredients with classic brunch recipes. Try eggs Benedict, or omelets stuffed with your choice of delicacies ranging from asparagus to goat cheese. Wash it all down with a tasty Bloody Mary. For a buffet-style brunch, try Nina (c/Manuela Malasaña, 10) which offers bagels alongside classics like bacon and eggs.
This and lots more are among the hundreds of restaurants that madrid has to offer, its often said, to test it, you have to visit the spanish capital!