La Latina is one of Madrid’s oldest districts, located inside the walls of what was once the original Moorish citadel.
It’s normally a fairly quiet area but comes into its own on Sundays when it plays host to the famous El Rastro flea market. On market days its streets are absolutely heaving with people when other areas of the city feel completely deserted.
Personally I can pass on all the tat being sold from the nearly 3,500 stalls but for me there’s no better way to spend a Sunday than trawling a few tapas bars and enjoying the chaotic atmosphere.
The best places to eat are along Calle Cava Baja for which I have written a dedicated post. The places mentioned below are dotted around other parts of the barrio.
Txirimiri (Intermediate A), 6 Calle del Humilladero, www.txirimiri.es
One of a small chain of Basque tapas bars. I’ve been to their branch in Barrio Salamanca (post here) and really enjoyed their Hamburguesa Unai which comes with boletus sauce (A).
On this occasion in 2015 I just came in for a snack and had the Croquetas de Boletus, Trufa y Jamón which were fantastic! (A+) I really must try and make these at home if I can get fresh mushrooms.
The bar is very popular on a Sunday but the staff are pretty efficient. Think most of the food here is good although I’ve barely scratched the menu.
The following reviews are from 2011.
Los Caracoles (Low Intermediate B), 18 Plaza de Cascorro
One Sunday I dropped in here for a beer and their signature dish of Caracoles (snails) in a spicy sauce.
The atmosphere was frenetic when I arrived with the staff bellowing customers’ orders to each other over the heads of the tightly packed clientele.
The snails looked daunting, can’t say I was that blown away by their presentation, but I managed to finish most of them (C+).
They also have Zarajos here, which are deep-fried chitterlings or lamb’s intestines wrapped around vine branches.
I might have tried these on another day but I wasn’t too sure about the hygiene standards of this place.
Xentes (Intermediate B+), 13 Calle Humiladero, Tel. 91 366 42 66, www.restaurante-gallego-madrid.com
This big bright modern Galician restaurant with its dodgy nautical decor is reputed to have some of the best seafood in Madrid so I had to give it a whirl.
I had a lovely waitress who apologised for the oysters not being available and refused to give me the mussels as they were too small!
She also persuaded the kitchen to let me have the Arroz Caldoso con Bogavante (a watery lobster and rice stew from Valencia) (A) which is normally meant for two.
It was huge and I had to leave most of the soup and rice although I dispensed with the lobster with the help of a nutcracker and lots of napkins.
Before this I’d had the Crema de Puerro (leek soup) which was very good (A) and Navajas de Finisterre a la Plancha (grilled razor clams in garlic) which were slightly over salted but delicious when rolled in lemon juice and oil (B+). Finisterre is a town in Galicia where all the best seafood comes from.
To finish I had the home made Casera (B). The house white, Albarino, was good as well (B) although I couldn’t understand why the gruff bar tender poured it out of the cold bottle into a jug.
When you ask for Orujo you get a whole flask, about five chupitos worth (a chupito is a shot glass), which was even more generous given it was complimentary.
I stayed on to watch Athletico lose the cup final to Sevilla on the telly and was plied with even more free orujo by the staff. Total cost €46, which was pretty good considering what I had.
Photos from April 2011.