Judging by a recent visit to Madrid, tapas are still the current sex in Spain’s culinary world. It’s understandable, of course, – drifting from bar to bar sampling tasty morsels is fun, sociable, still in vogue and something that should be done with a few friends in tow. Yes, tapas are one of the undisputed highlights of any trip to Spain, running the gamut from affordably rustic to Michelin-starred, bite-size pieces that cost exorbitant sums.
But there comes a time – and please don’t mention this to your Spanish friends – when you crave something a little different. Perhaps some teriyaki, a bowl of pasta or even a foray into fusion? In this regard, Madrid has really cleaned up its act over the past 15 years; immigration and the city’s growing popularity as a tourist destination has undoubtedly played a decisive part in challenging accepted culinary traditions, adding unprecedented variety to Madrid’s gastronomic scene. Today most of the world’s best flavours are up for grabs, and while Madrid is no London, visitors tired of tapas will find plenty of excitement in the choices below:
Somos Garra, Barceló Torre Madrid, 2nd floor, Plaza de España 18
If this restaurant were up for sale, Somos Garra would pull in a fortune on the location alone – situated inside the prestigious Barceló Hotel in Madrid, Somo Garra boasts incredible views of the mythical Gran Via in Madrid, with striking décor from renowned designer Jaime Hayon. But Somos Garra does not rely on looks alone; head chef Juan Rioja’s cooking shows real flair and imagination, offering contemporary Spanish dishes with fusion overtones – Neck of lamb with Pistachios and apricots was utterly divine. This delicious fayre is complemented by gracious service and a extensive wine list with plenty of good value options by the glass. This one deserves to be around in years to come.
Miyama, Paseo de la Castellana 45
Eternally popular with Japanese visitors, Miyama is THE place in Madrid to dine when you’re appetite for sushi becomes insatiable. Yet after more than a decade in the business, Miyama is facing stiffer competition, but still comes out on top thanks to its skilled and experienced sushiman, not to mention fantastic raw materials. Service, wine list and location are all unbeatable.
Trattoria Malatesta, Calle Coloreros, 5
The antithesis of ‘posh,’ Trattoria Malatesta nevertheless serves the best pizza and pasta I’ve tried in Spain. This is a proper ‘old school’ restaurant with no concessions made to modern, tricksy interpretations of Italian dishes. Linguine with lemon sauce, sirloin steak serviced with capers, exquisite pizza are just some of the highlights in store. Indeed, dining at Malatesta is more like eating with friends than eating out, the family warmly welcomes both newcomers and regulars – everyone is really looked after. A wonderful slice of Italian hospitality transported to Madrid.
Restaurante Benares, Calle de Zurbano, 5
Overseen by Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochar, Benares was one of the first restaurants in London to reinvent Indian food as something refined, sophisticated and glamourous. And now this magic has been transported to Madrid, offering discerning Madrileños and visitors a slice of high-end Indian gastronomy. Indeed, Kochar’s cooking merges the best elements of European culinary tradition with his Indian heritage to create such masterpieces as: Arawak black pepper and fennel wood pigeon, served with vanilla beetroot and chutney; crushed coriander and chilli spiced guinea fowl, and baked organic salmon, paired with Scottish crab croquette, spiced vermicelli and a coconut and curry leaf sauce. It’s food fit for a Maharaja.