Madrid – Barrio Puerta del Sol – places to eat around Plaza Mayor
Please see my separate post for Plaza Mayor itself
Museo de Jamon (Intermediate B+), 7 Calle Mayor, www.museodeljamon.com
This is one of a chain of eight jamonerias dotted around Madrid.
This particular branch gets quite busy due to its location in a tourist area but it’s still a good place to come just for the spectacle of so many hams in one place…
…and to try various grades and varieties from around the country.
Taverna Ricla (Elementary A), 6 Calle Cuchilleros (opposite Botin)
This is one of my favourite places to eat in Madrid and I always try to come here whenever I’m passing, if there’s space in the tiny bar. It’s a family business with mum in the kitchen and her son working the bar.
Wine and sherry are poured from the large red clay urns behind the bar and you can also get vermouth on draught.
The cooking is wonderful and everything on the menu is good.
On my first visit in 2011 I had some Boquerones or fresh anchovy fillets, in garlic and olive oil.
Also canapés with Cabarales in cider and Cecina (thinly sliced air dried meat, usually beef but in this case venison).
I came again in 2015 and challenged myself to eat the famous local tripe dish Callos. I’ve had it several times and this is the only place I’ve actually enjoyed it (A), perhaps because of the addition of morcilla and chorizo.
This next place is just over the road…
El Sobrino de Botin (Advanced B+), 17 Calle Cuchilleros,. Tel. 913 663 026/668 494, www.botin.es
Europe’s oldest restaurant, since 1725, and inevitably full of tourists, but the food is good and the building is very photogenic.
The restaurant has many artistic connections. Apparently Goya was a waiter here for a while and Graeme Greene had one of his characters suggest that “before buying purple socks, we treat ourselves to a tasty lunch at Botín…”.
Ernest Hemingway described Botin as “one of the best restaurants in the world “ in his novel The Sun Also Rises. Ever the man of appetite, he wrote that “We had roast young suckling pig and drank rioja alta”, in fact “three bottles of rioja alta.”
There are lots of nooks and crannies where you could sit. Perhaps the best spot is on the ground floor so you can see all the action in the kitchen, or one of the many seating areas on the upper floors by the windows.
On my visit in 2010 I was lucky to get in during a busy Saturday lunchtime (they don’t take reservations), so I accepted a chair down in the slightly musty cellar with its high brick-arched ceiling.
The house specialities are garlic soup, clams, roast lamb and suckling pig. You can see the piglets on plates stacked up on shelves in a larder next to the bustling kitchen.
I started off with a breakfast of Sopa de Ajo con Huevo (garlic soup with egg, and also ham and bread) (B) before moving on to lunch proper.
I had Cordero Asado, two huge hunks of lamb sharing a plate with two small spuds in a pool of oil.
I like to think the British do the best roast dinner but you can’t fault the Spanish really, and this was no exception (A). The lack of veg is due to the fact they should have been eaten as a first course.
As I didn’t feel like drinking the house red, I had a nice house rose (Gran Feudo ’09).
The Tarta Botin (B-) was a slightly boring yellow slice of cake with vanilla cream and baked egg white blancmange, but it served its purpose.
Botin is definitely worth a visit for the historical experience and the food is pretty good too. You even get to keep the menu as a memento.
Casa Revuelta (Elementary B+), 3 Calle de Latoneros
This place is a bit further down the street, in the square to the left. They are reputed to make the best Tajada de Bacalao (battered cod) in Madrid and I wouldn’t disagree (A).
I also tried their Torreznos, chunks of deep-fried bacon, which were okay (B/B+).
From here you could head to nearby Calle Cava Baja (see La Latina post) to continue your tapeo. This next place is back towards Plaza Puerto del Sol.
Chocolateria San Ginés (Advanced A), 5 Pasadizo San Ginés, chocolateriasangines.com
Since 1894 this has been the most famous place in Madrid to eat Chocolate con Churros.
Churros are like a linear doughnut. The deep fried batter is cut to length and served while still hot.
A cup of hot chocolate with six churros cost me €3.90 in 2015.
The classic way to eat them is to dunk them in the thick hot chocolate.
Churros are a typical breakfast in Spain, and favoured by night owls as the last thing to eat before going to bed so Chocolateria San Ginés is open till 7am to cater for the clubbers.
Photos uploaded April 2011 and February 2016