9 April 2015
I had such a wonderful time in Lisbon, especially that fabulous dinner at Cervejaria da Esquina, I didn’t really want to leave, but Madrid was beckoning. I’ve not had good experiences my previous times in Spain, including Madrid. And as I arrived into Barajas on the short flight I had a strange feeling…why?
Before I even got off the Iberia flight two things already went wrong — I had to pay for my checked bag (for a national carrier?), and on the plane waiting to disembark some clueless, extremely calorically-challenged moron stepped on my foot (with all his gravitational excess) and didn’t notice even after I yelled… I limped to a taxi and faced a ridiculously smoky hotel room — which I got changed, but had to wait (so I limped to lunch nearby).
Not a good start…
So when I thought about dinner for this evening I didn’t know exactly what to do, but I was just gonna play it by ear. I hate being around tourists and Madrid is lousy with them, so I chose the quieter district of Retiro for my gastronomical adventures.
I limped around at what is for me a normal dining hour but way, way too early for Spain, and most places were not functional. I eventually went into one of the first places that opened, a place called La Hoja.
This unpretentious Asturian restaurant was just what I wanted — simple, specialised, full of locals. I enjoyed some white chilling out at the bar, and they brought some house tapas. Ordinary stuff, including some nice chicharrón, but mostly boring stuff. I then decided I need to fuel up with the wine drinking, so I ordered some callos.
Tripe is a specialty all over Spain, but the Asturian version is very nice and tangy. Only problem was this was a huge portion. I forgot how big the raciones are in Spain… I was pretty full when I finished and took my leave.
I limped about 2 blocks and went to another region of Spain when I found the well-loved Galician eatery, O Grelo. Now I love Galician food (not just the Portuguese links), but my “local” in NYC for so many years, El Pote, is helmed by Galicians.
I chilled out at the bar and with my wine again they presented a house tapa that I could easily live without. I wanted something interesting, so I ordered cockles. After some more wine, a huge dish of it presented itself. These were very nice, with the briny sea in every bite.
I finished and headed out, having enjoyed this stop. I was filling up, and my foot was killing me (what’s the bad luck always with my foot?!), so I decided to make only one more stop before heading in. I walked a few blocks and found the well-liked seafood restaurant Rafa.
I had some wine and this time they just presented olives…thank goodness. I was so full and wanted to eat more, but that callos really just took all the steam out of me this evening. So all I ordered was a plate of mojama. Now these were nice but nothing exciting…
I’ve had much, much better ones… Oh well, I think I had enough this evening. I made my way back to the Metro and back to the hotel, as I had a busy day tomorrow. Let’s hope my Spain luck changes, but from what I’ve seen this first day…
Calle del Doctor Castelo 48
Calle Menorca 39
Calle de Narváez 68
End note: No, it didn’t. I had to deal with an adjacent room of teenagers drinking in their room and making ridiculous noise until nearly 4.30am when even the management lost patience with them. Ugh…