Madrid is online!

More and more businesses in the Spanish capital are offering online reservations and bookins. As new services “go live” on the Internet, we’ll add them to this section:

Accommodation reservations (hotels, hostels, temporary stay, etc)

Select Restaurant Reservations  (click on the link and then scroll to the bottom of the review to book a table online):

Botin – the oldest restaurant in the world according to the Guiness Book Of World Records and a favorite hangout of writer Earnet Hemingway.

Casa Patas – “As a professional dancer and student of flamenco, I can honestly say that Casa Patas is probably the most authentic and sophisticated flamenco tablao in the city…”

Chilango – “As you walk in the fine dining aspect is apparent, with a small well lit modern dining area; however, along with the upscale feel comes street food and pictures of proverbial masked Mexican wrestlers. This is truly “Alta cocina Callejera”…”

Al Natural – “For over fifteen years Al Natural has drawn a diverse crowd, leading to an addition of vegan dishes and four non-vegetarian plates on the menu.”

Dining Desires Fulfilled at Cervesia and El Caldero

It is well known that Spaniards can be quite territorial, a fact often reflected in the country’s deep regionalism (would this happen in the U.S, it would be like having people who consider themselves to be more Mississippian and Oregonian than American!).  Well guess what, it ain´t so different when it comes to cafes and restaurants: people pride themselves in hanging around their neighborhood’s café and eating ¨the usual¨ in their familiar restaurants. This at least is what characterizes Cervesia and its adjoined associate El Caldero, which stand a couple of minutes away from the Menendez Pelayo metro and about a ten minute walk from Atocha Renfe. One a café and the other a proper restaurant, they are neat but informal neighborhood hang out places where people get their coffee, breakfast and hot meals. Don´t worry if you’re not from the area though—you´ll still be allowed in.

Cervesia is a small and simple place made for being visited in the morning. The coffee is excellent, the service polite, the newspaper selection noteworthy and more importantly breakfast is very cheap. The best options of this last point is the combos, all of which come included with coffee and orange juice: the classic for 2.10 euros (toast with olive oil and fresh cut tomato bits), the Spaniard for 2.30 (tortilla Española and toast), the American for 3.50 (eggs, bacon and toast), the light meal for 3.50 (turkey, cream cheese and toast), the mix meal also fro 3.50 (mixed sandwich or croissant) and the cervesia meal for 3.80 (half a baguette with your choice of filling).Breakfast is not the only thing served, for Cervesia is open—without interruption—from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. Thus, a variety of baguettes, sandwiches, soups and salads, all placed between a 2.50 and 6.50 euro price range, are also available. A day´s special, for instance, may include sautéed mushrooms, pan cooked squid and a goat cheese and vinaigrette salad.

If you are up for more serious dining, El Caldero offers truly superb Spanish food—the main specialty being paellas—as well as wine. A perfect place for sharing this flavorful rice dish with three or five more friends; the paellas can be made with yellow or black rice and can come with seafood, chicken, mushrooms and vegetables. Of course, a selection of the most celebrated greasy tapas—smoked ham, bloody sausages, eggs and potatoes, traditional patties—is never missing. Paellas for three to four people are between 37 and 47 euros while ones for five to six people cost between 52 and 72 euros, tapas range from 7 to 9 euros (there are however fixed menus that serve a variety of dishes for around 30 euros). The wide selection of wines ranges from 10 to 26 euros.

Whether you live close or far to these two locals, they are well worth a visit. If moving your feet isn´t your thing, El Caldero has delivery service that brings you steamy paellas to your doorstep in half-an-hour.

El Caldero / Cervesia
Travesia de Tellez 2 / Calle de Tellez 18 (they are next to each other)
91 501 28 28 / 91 551 41 07
Metro: Menendez Pelayo or Pacifico
Cervesia – everyday from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m.
El Caldero – Mondays through Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 12 a.m.  and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

By Daniel Sznajderman

To go to the main Food and Tapas page click here

Madrid Restaurants: Cheap Greek at La Taberna Griega

Many restaurants in Madrid combine chic looks with cheap food as a way of attracting customers. Places like the Asian food franchise Wagaboo, for instance, are designed to be easy on the eyes as well as on the wallet with affordable food and Ikea furniture that looks classy (but isn’t). Then you have the much more usual traditional restaurants and taverns—you know, the ones with white floors, neon signs, worn out bar stools and hanging televisions featuring telenovelas and football games. Some of these are well kept while others are baptized with the very Spanish concept of being cutre, the word to describe places that are rundown, cheap and hopelessly picturesque because of it. Taberna Griega isn’t a cutre place, but it definitely falls into the traditional tavern category. It’s as plain as it is simple—I mean, they didn’t even bother coming up with another name other than just Taberna Griega—but man oh man, the food is amazing.

The restaurant has been located on calle Juan de Urbieta for the last five years, offering a cheap tavern in the front and a series of tables for actual dining in the back. It has since then won over more than a few local residents—most spend time around the bar—and business is going good according to its grateful Greek owners. Far as I can see the secret to their success comes from two things: cheap beer and great food. Greek beer is 2.30 euros and 5.00 euros for half a liter, while all the dishes are less that 10 euros. The place offers all kinds of Greek plates made from the freshest ingredients and there is variety for all tastes, whether you are a meat lusting predator or strict vegetarian. This being Greek, the dishes contain elements from both Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine; the star ingredients are Mediterranean style meat and rice, white cheeses, yogurts and nut and honey based desserts. There is (of course) a large selection of gyros to choose from, with the most expensive one—the killer double gyro with tzatziki sauce and cheese—costing no more than 6.50 euros. There are also hamburgers and rolled pizzas available for a similar price which, although also good, should perhaps be substituted by more traditional Greek specialties: say a tasty serving of musakas, a chopped meat pie with eggplant and béchamel sauce, or the succulent tomatoes and peppers stuffed with meat and rice that go by the name of gemista.

One great thing about this place is that you have the option to order by portions and thus eat from a large selection of flavors, a sort of Greek tapas if you will. Don’t miss the hummus and melitzanosalata rations (3.90 euros each), which go very well with pita bread or pretty much any part of your meal. The second ration refers to a sauce made from eggplant and olive oil (known usually in the West as babaganoush) that is irresistible. Another good serving to share or to just gobble up yourself are dolmadakias (7.00 euros). These treats are those stuffed vegetable dishes commonly seen across the Middle East, in this case they are vine leaves drenched in lemon and olive oil filled with rice and chopped dills. Don’t get too caught up in the main dishes though because the desserts are well worth a try. There is the traditional yogurt with nuts and honey, and we all know the reputation Greek yogurts have around the world. Happily enough there is also a strong Middle Eastern influence in this section as well, so baklavas and halvahs (3.00 euros each) are offered as well. The first is a sticky and sweet pastry that contains nuts, pistachios and honey, while halvah is a sort of bland turron that is as tasty as it is filling. So procrastinate no more and take advantage of Madrid’s large range of international cooking! Come by or get a delivery order from this cheap and healthy tavern that offers the best in Greek food; you won’t be disappointed.

Taberna Griega
91 434 89 19
Calle Juan de Urbieta 6
Metro: Pacifico or Menendez Pelayo
Open from 13:00 p.m. to 17:00 p.m. and 20:00 p.m. to 24:00 a.m. (the bar is usually open till 1:30 a.m.)

By  Daniel Sznajderman

To go to the main Food and Tapas page click here

Cines Ideal Madrid: The Clash of the Titans

Epic special effects and 3D cinema continue to infiltrate popular culture with The Clash of the Titans, which premieres in Madrid on March 31st. Starring Avatar star Sam Worthington, who plays Zeus’ half human son Perseus, the film takes inspiration from many of Greek mythology’s most celebrated tales to create a modern kick ass action film. Also starring are Liam Neeson as Zeus the king of the gods and Ralph Fiennes as Hades, ruler of the underworld. Watch the film in its original version at Cines Ideal and Cines Renoir.

By  Daniel Sznajderman

SyFy Film Festival Madrid

The seventh edition of Muestra Syfy comes to Madrid this weekend at Cine Palafox with a nice line-up of films spanning the fantasy/scifi genre.  The film fest is produced by the SciFi channel and presents a wide ranging look at different movies from around the globe.  Highlights include: Halloween II, Rob Zombie’s sequel to his remake of the classic horror movie Splice; Cold Souls starring Paul Giamatti as Paul Giamatti; and The Crazies by director Breck Eisner.  All films are only four euros, for all the details and a complete line-up go here.

By Coleman File