Madrid – Chueca – international restaurants

Zara (Intermediate A), 8 Calle Barbieri, www.restaurantezara.com

This longstanding Cuban restaurant is another favourite of mine. It’s quite kitsch with gingham tablecloths and dated decor but don’t let this put you off, the food is great. The proprietor is a lovely woman who speaks some English and will give you good recommendations.

The three of us shared a plain avocado and raw onion salad to start, along with runner beans and ham (B+).

We had our starters with daiquiris, of which the plain and banana flavours were great (A), though not really the synthetic tasting strawberry (C+).

My roast pork with black beans and rice was really good as was my friend’s ‘ropa viejo’ (which translates as ‘old clothes’) aka shredded beef, also with beans and rice (both B+).

The winner however was the calves liver and onions (A).

Roast banana sounds like it could be dessert but it’s actually a side dish. It tasted really nice too (A).

Our Valdepenas red ‘Senorio de los Llanos’ (A) made a nice change from rioja.

The bill came to about €25 each, great value. You shouldn’t need to reserve if you get there early but it will be full by 10pm.

This review was written in 2011 at the old Calle Infantas address. I haven’t been to the new location on Calle Barbieri yet.

Al Jayma – Cocina del Desierto (Intermediate A-), 1 Calle Barbieri, Tel. 91 523 1142, www.facebook.com/Cocina-del-desierto

Very popular and good value-for-money Moroccan restaurant with a nice ambience. You can sit on floor cushions or around tray topped tables. The service is ok although the woman who runs it could try to smile a bit more.

To start we had an unmixed carrot and yogurt salad which was quite plain but very generous (B) and tabule (A) which was great.

There are several couscous dishes on the menu but we went for the tajin selection. My Tayin de Pollo con Limon was excellent (A) but my companion was a little disappointed with her Tayin de Cordero (B) which had too many prunes and no dried apricots.

The Montepardo Tempranillo red we had was also very good (B+) at only €8.40 a bottle.

Our bill came to a paltry €18 each. Perhaps for this reason they are always busy so make sure you reserve to avoid disappointment, or get there at exactly 8.30 when they open and you may be lucky.

The Taj Mahal (Intermediate B), 12 Calle Belen

This Indian restaurant is okay if you really need a change, although I dislike the seeds they put in their papads, and their Chicken Madras lacks depth of flavour.

There must be somewhere better for spice lovers…

More Chueca restaurants:

Traditional Madrileno restaurants here.

Traditional Spanish regional restaurants here.

Modern Spanish restaurants here.

Bars and cafes here.

Food shops here.

Google map with everything on here.

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