A Night at the Museum

Still haven’t made it out to see the two big summer art expositions? Now through the end of August you can see both the Prado’s Sorolla exhibit and Thyssen’s Matisse exhibit until late at night. The Prado will keep its doors open until 10pm and Thyssen will stay open to 11pm, Tuesday to Saturday. For information about the Prado go click here and for the Thyssen click here.

Summer Movies!

There are just two movies left on the calendar as “Cine en la Terraza. El enemigo en Casa” winds down at La Casa Encendida. Don’t miss the chance to check out early works from two superstar directors, John Carpenter and Peter Jackson. On August 22nd the screening will be of John Carpenter’s They Live, and on August 29th you can take a look at Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures. For times and ticket info click here.

Arabic Food in Madrid: El Turkito

Spain rests on the border of the Arab world and enjoys a variety of influences in music, language, cuisine, and culture. El Turkito, the Arabic restaurant and lounge located near Sol, is one site where these influences all come together through a pleasant ambience, delicious food, and an international experience. While the crowd is mixed and includes Spaniards and tourists, it also largely consists of people from northern Africa and the Middle East, who set this spot apart and call it the “crown jewel” of Arabic restaurants in Madrid.

El Turkito promises a casual, affordable, and enjoyable dining experience. Owned and operated by people from Turkey, Morocco, and Iraq, the food is authentic and delectable. A broad menu offers falafel and hummus for appetizers, salads and pitas, and a variety of kebabs and plates. Choose between the traditional doner kebab, the super kebab, or the durum kebab—filled will spicy and succulent chicken or pork and a flavorful cheese dressing (3.50-5 euros). Make sure to order the crispy fries as well, bathed in a fiery hot sauce (2 euros). If you’re not in the mood for a kebab, the specialty platter includes a sampling of chicken, pork, fries, rice, bread (7 euros). Beyond the generous entrees, El Turkito also presents a colorful array of Arabic tea; mint, cinnamon, jasmine, and sugar, among other options. Keeping with Arabic tradition, the tea is presented in a delicate, silver teapot and served in jewel-toned glasses. A pot of tea is accompanied by a plate of sweets (8 euros) or by one of many shisha options (10 euros). If you enjoy smoking shisha, the quality at El Turkito is unparalleled. Made from fresh fruit, it tastes of apple, strawberry, grape, peach, or melon.

Groups of people always fill the restaurant’s breezy outdoor terrace on Calle Cadiz, passing the shisha and sipping sweet tea in on of the most relaxing and pleasant ways to spend a summer evening. Yet indoors, El Turkito is bright and lively as well. Tangerine-, honey-, and chocolate-colored walls create a vivacious ambience, and multihued Arabic lamps hanging overhead cast dapples of rose, crystal blue, and sea foam green light across the ceiling. Tables are arranged in the center of the restaurant, but off to the side is a colorful lounge. Tall shishas tower on brightly painted, hexagon tables that are surrounded by low stools or cushioned booths. Lively Arabic music fills the space, complemented by the trickling water of a small stone fountain next to the lounge.

The final element of authenticity found at El Turkito is the welcoming spirit exhibited by the staff; you will feel more like a guest in a home than a client at a restaurant. It is not uncommon to see the owner or a group of waiters sit down at a table with diners to share stories, pass the shisha, and relax over the seemingly bottomless pot of tea late into the night.

Kebabs- 3.50-4 euros
Plates- 5-10 euros
Menus (includes a kebab, potatoes, and drink)- 5.50-7 euros
Tea and desserts-8 euros
Tea and shisha- 10 euros

El Turkito

Calle del Doctor Cortezo 5

Neighborhood: Sol
Metro: Sol, Tirso de Molina or Anton Martin
Telephone: 91 522 82 51
Hours: 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily

By Jane Caffrey

To go to the main Food and Tapas page click here

24 Hour Restaurant in Madrid: Chocolatería San Ginés

Chocolatería San Ginés

Pasadizo de San Ginés, 5
Neighborhood: Sol
Metro: Sol
Telephone: 365 65 46
Hours: Open 24 hours daily

During the earliest hours of the morning, that transitory period when a soft haze of sunlight is just starting to fall over Madrid’s quiet neighborhoods, you will find warmth and laughter if you know where to look. On a narrow, cobblestone street behind San Ginés church in Sol, the glow of yellow light and the happy hum of chatting Madridleños trickles out of Chocolatería San Ginés. A destination spot for Spaniards after evenings out at the nightclubs, this well-known chocolatería is busiest around 6 a.m. on weekend mornings. But even if you’re not the party-goer type, head to San Ginés any time of the day to enjoy hot, fresh churros and Madrid’s thickest and most succulent hot chocolate.

Famous citywide, the chocolate and churros at San Ginés is the secret that draws crowds to this cheery site. Guaranteed to be a combination that will melt in your mouth, this snack the most commonly requested item on the menu. Enjoy the generously sized portion of crisp, freshly baked churros, perfect when dipped in rich, luxuriously thick and flavorful hot chocolate (3.70 euros for a portion of churros and a hot chocolate). For the same price, substitute churros for their chubbier cousins; plump and steaming porras. Or switch the hot chocolate for a coffee (although its not recommendable to miss out the divine chocolate here!). The menu also offers an array of specialty coffees, teas, shakes, juices, beer, and liquors to sip on.

Built in 1894, Chocolatería San Ginés has preserved the historic ambience that has defined this chocolate shop as a staple in central Madrid for more than a century. Upon entering the forest green chocolatería, you are transported to an era of old-fashioned grace. Panels of classy mirrors are set against dark green wood paneling, expanding the space and reflecting the soft, golden glow cast by turn-of-the-century bulb lamps. White marble tables rest on the elegant emerald and cream marble floors, and the plush, olive-green velvet booths offer an ideal resting spot with a magazine or a group of friends. At the central bar, a bright bronze coffee maker shines, a tribute to cafes of other eras. To further enhance the old-fashioned ambience, reminiscent of an elegant, early 1900s café, the wait staff adorns black dress pants, crisp white button up shirts, and bow ties.

Chocolate lovers, rejoice. A rainy day, a good book, a group of friends, or the end of a big night out are all good excuses to seek out San Ginés and a steamy cup of decadent hot chocolate.

Hot chocolate- 2.30-3.70 euros
Chocolate with churros or porras- 3.50-3.70 euros
Coffee and tea- 2-4.20 euros
Ration of churros or porras- 1.20 euros
Cake- 2.10 euros
Juices- 2.50-3 euros
Soda- 3 euros
Chocolate or vanilla shake- 2.50-3 euros
Horchata- 3 euros
Beer- 2.30-4 euros
Brandy and liquors- 3 euros
Mixed drinks- 6 euros

By Jane Caffrey

To return to the main page click here.