If you’re looking to dine in a real Spanish restaurant, then La Zaguina is the perfect choice. Here you can expect a three-hour dinner with plentiful portions and live flamenco, or delight in a boisterous bar with overflowing tapas and ever-running beer on tap and wine by the glass or bottle.
The only thing tailored to non-Spanish speakers is that reservations, menus, and the good service are all offered in English, thanks to the owners Santiago and Franco, and to Vitto, the waiter!
In one of the most genuine neighborhoods of Madrid–Chamberí–La Zaguina stands out for its intimacy, charm and excellent cuisine. It’s Andalusian décor invites you in with framed photographs of old Spain scattered over the walls amid fresh flower pots and traditional tablecloths.
Inside La Zaguina
With flavors from the North and the feel of the South, La Zaguina offers a variety of authentic Spanish dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as nightly flamenco performances. What’s more, with every drink you order you get to choose from a bountiful array of tapas such as boquerones en vinagre (white anchovies) and different types of sausage–butifarra, chistorra and chorizo.
A variety of tapas to choose from
For breakfast, neighborhood dwellers and businessmen file in as early as 7am for a quick coffee with toast or a pastry. If you go for un almuerzo (brunch) from 10am-12pm, I suggest you order un mollete, a typical Andalusian toasted bread roll topped with Iberian ham and olive oil, plus a café con leche and zumo de naranja natural (fresh-squeezed orange juice).
A mollete at La Zaguina
For lunch, call ahead to reserve a table as its the busiest time of day. La Zaguina offers two different set lunch menus — the standard for 12.50€ and the “executive” for 20€ — in which you can choose from three starters and three main dishes, and it comes with bread, a drink, and a coffee or an assortment of homemade desserts. Typical dishes include garbanzos with tripe, stuffed red peppers with cod, pork tenderloin, and swordfish. The set lunch menu is posted daily online, where you can also make reservations.
For dinner, you can choose from four set dinner menus ranging in price from 20-45€ or order a la carte, and you can also call ahead to request a flamenco performance from 8:15pm-8:45pm (no extra charge!).
For adventurous eaters who want a taste of Spanish cuisine, the owners recommend ordering off the set menus and sharing.
If you’re new to Spanish cuisine and fancy a lighter dinner, don’t worry, you can order a la carte from a wide range of cheeses, salads such as octopus salad, or salad with goat cheese and nuts, appetizers including gazpacho and salmorejo (a typical cold tomato soup from Cordoba), and main dishes like paella. You can also choose media raciones or raciones (half or full-size platters).
I went to La Zaguina for dinner with my husband, James, and we arrived at 8pm for the flamenco performance. James ordered a beer and I ordered a glass of albariño (white wine from Galicia), which came with a plate of orejas de cerdo (pig ears) and canapés with Iberian ham.
The flamenco performance was the perfect half hour show. Tucked in the corner were the guitarist, dancer, cantaora (female singer) and the internationally acclaimed cantaor (male singer), Pablo Orellana, who dances quite famously, too.
The Flamenco performers at La Zaguina
After the performance, our dinner began. We both ordered the 20€ menu, as recommended by our waiter, Juan. The starters are meant to be shared, and in our case we ate an assortment of croquettes, fried calamari and revuelto de morcilla (scrambled eggs with blood sausage). Hardly light, but delicious. After our main dishes of steak with potatoes and sea bass with garlic and roasted red peppers, we ordered homemade natillas for dessert (similar to pudding).
Steak with potatoes
Seabass with garlic and roasted red peppers
Natillas for dessert
By the time we finished it was already midnight, the perfect time to top off with a gin tonic.
All in all, a great night in Madrid.
Where: Calle Rafael Calvo, 36
Metro: Rubén Darío
Price Range for Dinner — 20-30€