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A great restaurant city

Take this one on faith. You won't be disappointed. Go to Bar Andalú, the bullfight bar in Plaza Mayor, #26. This is my favorite "sports bar" in the world. I took my son there more than two years ago, and the bartenders still ask about him. Tell the bartender in the middle (Carlos, the owner) that you are a friend of the the guy who comes in from Chicago. (If you don't speak Spanish, just point to yourself and say "Chicago, Chicago!")  Go there for drinks and great tapas. Best gazpacho in town.  If I don't have dinner plans, I just have a couple of glasses of red wine, eat the bar food and call it a night.  You will see photos of politicians of all stripes on the walls, as well as dying bullfighters and dead bulls.

The best food to order in Madrid is fish; Madrid is the world's second fish market, after Tokyo. The best seafood is a cab-ride away at Dorada. Get the fish encased in salt, the Morocco style. The salt comes off, and you don't taste it, and the fish is as moist as it can be. Also ask for the plate full of little barnacles-- "percebes."

Dorada, Orense, 64, Madrid,Telephone:  91.570.20.04

La Trainera is the other fish place, some say just as good. It has the virtue of being near the Wellington Hotel. I think you can get the salt-baked fish there too.  La Trainera, Lagasca, 60. (Between the cross streets Ayala and Hermosilla.)  Telephone:  91 576 80 35.

Botín (it is just off the Plaza Mayor; you can get the address and phone).   Botín is the one place every tourist should go to once in your life, and, judging from the crowd, most do. Oldest restaurant in the world. Written about by Hemingway. Opens for the tourists at 8 am. Late walk-ins sometimes are possible. You sometimes can hear student singing groups -- La Tuna -- upstairs. Ask not to be seated in basement.

Other favorites:

Taberna Gaztelupe. Comandante Zorita, 32. 91 534 91. Basque. I celebrated my 50th birthday dinner there, eating barnicles ("percebes"). Basque cooking.  (There now is an affiliate opened in the Hotel Madrid, "Goizeko," but I prefer the original.  91.577.01.38.

Castelló Restaurante.  Castelló., 9.  91 435 00 67.  Very well located, but on a quiet street.  Excellent food.  Small place for insiders.

Lando.  Plaza Gabriel Miró,32. 91 366 76 81. Excellent dinner near the Royal Palace.

José Luis. Cerveceria, Serrano, 32. 91 563 09 58.  (This is one of several branches of this informal restaurant.) Typical noisy, local Madrid place for lunch or good bar food or dinner in the evening.  Great people watching because these are not tourist places.  Even the ones labelled "cervecerias" are fine for meals.  We found that the one near the Hotel Intercontinental was a great place for eating an early dinner -- the food on the menu was available  all evening.

Another informal place for lunch (again, near the Hotel Wellington and our office is Lago.  Ayala, 23.  91.576.74.21.

If you are dying for beef, try an Argentine place, De Maria.  Calle Felix boix, 5.  91.359.65.07.  Soccer memorabilia.  Open for dinner Sunday, which is unusual in Madrid.

What other city would have a chain of restaurants -- really bars -- called Museo del Jamon, the Museum of the Ham?  Spain is famous for Iberian ham, which is cured something like prosciutto and hangs from the ceiling waiting to be served.

At the highest end is a two-star Michelin restaurant, La Broche.  The description from Yahoo restaurant reviews is below.  The food is innovative and rich.  +34 91 399 3437,  Miguel Angel, 29.

"Inaugurated in February, 2000, this refined restaurant serves vanguard, haute cuisine as crafted by renowned chef, Sergi Arola. La Broche is found within Hotel Miguel Angel and is minimalist in decor, with large airy spaces, enormous windows, and light tones on the walls and linen. The kitchen is in full view of the diners, as is the select wine cellar. There is seating capacity for 50 people.

"Some of the most distinguished dishes on offer include the asparagus in tempura, the warm clam salad, and the boletus carpaccio, though everything is worth trying. Be sure to leave room for any of the savoury desserts.

You should reserve a table several days in advance. Valet parking is available."

El Pabelló Del Espejo.  Paseo de Recoletos, 31.  91 319 11 22.  Great place for lunch, coffee or tea.  This is the charming glass-enclosed restaurant located in the middle of a main boulevard.

Painting of Museo del Jamon by Madrid artist, Ivan Markovic Sanchez. (Possession of author.)

El Pabelló Del Espejo

Last edited February 7, 2007.