Bar-Limping in Madrid…

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…

Mojama de atún de almadraba

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…

La Hoja
Calle del Doctor Castelo 48

O Grelo
Calle Menorca 39

Calle de Narváez 68
Madrid, España

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…


4 thoughts on “Bar-Limping in Madrid…

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