It's no surprise that the foodie scene here in Madrid is full to the seams, bursting with everything from American diners and curry houses to Greek tavernas and restaurants dishing up the best that Spain has to offer. But sometimes only the best, most authentic goodies will do, and for those times, check out a few of the local gems you can find in the capital.
When you think of kicking back and ordering a takeaway, Russian food isn't the first thing that comes to mind. But hang up your usual trusty choices, because there's a cool new kid in town.
Okay, not that new… as El Cosaco was established in 1969 as the very first Russian restaurant to open in Spain. Its menu is dressed to impress, so this is a great option if you're hosting a sophisticated dinner party. Start with their blinis, these little pancakes are often passed around as super-chic canapés; you have 11 types to choose from here, and they'll make your guests feel like royalty.
Main meals embody the refined richness you'd expect from Russian specialty dishes. Boeuf Woronoff – medallions of veal sirloin poached in herb-infused cream. Pheasant Polosov – pheasant thigh and breast with chestnuts and glazed onions. Chekov Duck – stewed in cherry sauce, or the classic Steak Tartar. Take a break between courses with a palate cleanser like vodka-laced Lemon Sorbete St. Petersburg.
Where: El Cosaco, Imperial Madrid
If you crave your takeaway with a side of spice, then it's time to hit up some hearty Mexican cuisine. The street food movement has shone a light on Mexican food – and rightly so. This foodstuff is bright, colourful, and a flavour explosion of exciting ingredients usually wrapped up in some sort of taco or tortilla, making it the perfect relaxed messy eating-with-your-hands kind of meal.
Of course, you've got the classic fajitas – spicy meat or veg wrapped up in a floury tortilla with citrus-kicked salsa, smooth guacamole and cooling sour cream. There's flavour-of-the-moment – chipotle chicken. Gooey cheese-laden enchiladas. Stuffed jalapenos. Crunchy nachos adorned with everything you can imagine. Crisp quesadillas. And – of course – a load of margaritas to wash it all down.
Where: La Mordida, six locations across Madrid
If you want to keep things a bit more traditional, Lhardy is the one for you. It serves up a modest menu of international dishes, with a healthy nod to authentic Spanish cuisine.
It offers a range of cold cuts, sandwiches and salads, making this your go-to for light bites and lazy lunches, but you've also got a top-notch selection of main meals too, like the hearty cocido. Basically, this menu has a little bit of everything.
The cold cuts are distinctly decadent. Truffled turkey with egg yarn. Boar's head. Sweet ham. Tongue of Ternera. But the main meals give them a run for their money. Authentic gazpacho soup. Duck with orange. Sweetly stewed partridge.
And we just can't overlook a dessert menu. Hot apple pie. Rich chocolate cake. Sugary pastries. Luxury ice cream. And even an assorted chocolate box, if you're wanting to impress on date night. Not that you can't order them all for yourself, of course…
Where: Lhardy, Sol Madrid
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