Madrid – cold beers in Recoletos, Barrio Salamanca

Recoletos is the southernmost ward in Salamanca, bordered by Calle Goya, Paseo de Recoletos and El Retiro park. There are heaps of good restaurants in the area waiting to be tried.

El Pabellon del Espejo (Advanced A), 31 Paseo de Recoletos

A famous art deco style bar, although it was only built in 1990.

It’s more expensive than elsewhere but it’s a great spot to sit in the sun with a cold beer and watch the world go by on the paseo.

Cafe Gijon (Advanced B), 21 Paseo de Recoletos

A famous literary cafe since 1888, artistic ‘tertulias’ are held here regularly. Just down the hill from  El Pabellon above, it also has a nice summer terraza on the Paseo.

It has a beautiful mirrored mahogany ground floor interior and an old school formal restaurant in the cellar which I have yet to try.

20130615_133918Spain1a 006At the bottom of the Paseo de Recoletos is the Plaza de Cibeles, a rotunda with a fountain featuring Cybele, the Roman goddess of fertility and a symbol of Madrid. When I took the picture on the right, a mass rally of nude cyclists just happened to be passing by! You can click on any of these photos for a better view!

20130615_12254720130612_222605Towering above is the Palacio de Cibeles, formerly the Palacio de Comunicaciones (Post Office HQ), but now an art gallery. The building itself is stunning both inside and out.

20130615_13104820130615_123037 You can still see the post office counters on the ground floor and get a great view from the roof looking up Calle de Alcala towards the Circulo des Bellas Artes, itself an even better viewing spot.

To watch sports the James Joyce pub at 59 Calle de Alcala is an ok spot (on the site of the once famous Cafe Lion). The staff are friendly and you can also eat outside. Or alternatively for sporty types there’s the Marca Sports Cafe at 18 Paseo de Recoletos. Never been in but noticed it the other day.

And one to give a miss…

Al Mounia (Advanced D), 5 Calle de Recoletos, Tel. 914 350 828,

This is probably the most famous Moroccan restaurant in Madrid with over forty years of history. Unfortunately though it seems to be living on its reputation and the food just isn’t up to scratch. The beautifully tiled interior just adds to the feeling that it’s all about form and no content.

We shared a mixed starter of four dishes including hummus, aubergine in yogurt, and a salad, all of which were unbelievably bland but at least edible (C).

My friend Nicky ordered a Lamb Tajin however the ‘meat’ was mainly bone and fat, and was swimming in a greasy sauce, which she just couldn’t bring herself to eat (D). My lamb was little better but had a little more meat which was ok once you discarded the skin (C). At €25 a dish, we felt ripped off and refused to pay for her course.

The service was pretty appalling too, they constantly made mistakes and at one point dropped a handful of cutlery all over our table.

Although we had real problems ordering the wine, the saving grace was the stunning Rioja Baron de Ley 2006) which meant we didn’t completely waste our money.

A better place for Morrocan food is Al Jayma in Chueca (see separate post).

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