This next place is just over the road from Atocha station so a good spot for a snack if you’re getting on or off a train. Google map here.
El Brillante (High Elementary A), 8 Gta Carlos V and 7 Calle Doctor Drumen, www.barelbrillante.es
This is a famous place (listed in ‘1001 Restaurants You Must Experience Before You Die’, amongst others) where you can try another Madrileno classic; the Bocadillo de Calamares, aka the fried squid sandwich.
El Brillante claim to sell ‘los mejores calamares de Madrid’. No doubt there are others who claim to be the best but this one is certainly very good (not too greasy) and fills a large hole (B+). It’s pretty cheap at only €6.
Of course they sell many other things such as sandwiches, salads, meatballs, churros etc. I also tried their Café Asiatico, a coffee made with Licor 43, coffee beans, lemon peel, cinnamon and foamy milk (B).
Café Asiatico was invented in Cartagena, the home of Licor 43, Spain’s most popular liqueur. The recipe for Licor 43 has forty three ingredients mainly fruit and herbs although the principal flavour is vanilla. The recipe comes from a 1,000 year old formula dating back to Roman times.
Freiduria de Gallinejas (Elementary B+), 84 Calle Embajadores
When it comes to offal I’ll give most things a go at least once because I hate to think I’m missing out on something. For instance I’ve tried Callos a la Madrilena a few times, which most Madrileno’s would cite as their city’s signature dish, but it wasn’t until the third attempt that I actually enjoyed it (at Bodegas Ricla to be exact, see my ‘Tapas and churros around Plaza Mayor’ post).
This next place has been serving up lambs innards for more than 100 years so I figured if I was going to try other Madrileno offal dishes, this would be the best place.
Freiduria de Gallinejas represents the last of a longstanding local tradition, the only survivor of sixty shops selling various kinds of innards that used to surround the local abattoir in Embajadores.
The friendly young guy who served me was very helpful in explaining what everything was on the menu and even gave me a mixed racion of Gallinjas (slices of lambs small intestine) and Entresijos (more of the same but with spleen and pancreas still attached).
Both are fried in the fat from the animal and served with chips. Once you get past the frilly tubular appearance it’s just like eating any other kind of deep-fried fritter, a pleasant crunchy texture with no particularly strong taste. I put them to bed no probs.
My man’s next recommendation was a bit harder to finish. Mollejas Blancas are tender, juicy nuggets of ‘neck sweetbreads’ aka thymus glands. They looked good, hot and glistening in oil, and tasted fine, but I couldn’t finish more than ten, about a third of the plate. They have two other kinds of mollejas on the menu which would be interesting to compare.
According to my waiter, the best drink to go with this is Tinto de Verano. They give you a chilled bottle of cheap red wine, and another of lemonade to mix together yourself.
All this, along with a mixed salad and a large piece of French stick and a baked (actually burnt but still tasty) apple, came to a mere €21.20. All in all a very cheap and enjoyable experience. Eat first ask questions later.
Pics uploaded Feb 2017 and April 2011.