When asked to arrange a conference in Madrid for work, I jumped at the chance!! Having never been to the city before, it was imperative I hopped on a plane immediately to check the place out. What better excuse to go and sample the wonderful cuisine that Madrid has to offer and more importantly – the tapas!!
The first place I always start when doing some research is my trusty restaurant guide ‘Where Chef’s Eat’. More than 600 chefs list their favourite restaurants all over the world spanning over 70 countries. I came across a tapas restaurant called Juana La Loca, located in La Latina (south west are of Madrid) – it was described by one chef as ‘casual, worth the travel and the best tapas I have ever had’. Sounded ideal, what more could I want!?
I rallied some of my work colleagues together who had also come along to help with the site visit in Madrid and met them around 9pm – the Spanish tend to eat quite late but I was hungry and not sure I could have eaten much later than that.
Juana la Loca, like most tapas or pintxo bars, is small with a good sized bar and several tables scattered around it (pintxo literally means spike, and is a small snack, normally a slice of bread with a topping of meat /fish/vegetable or cheese and a cocktail stick holding it all together). We didn’t have a reservation but after a couple of beers at the bar, we were seated within about 20 mins.
The menu is pretty intimidating to someone who doesn’t speak Spanish (which none of us did) but the staff were really helpful and friendly and talked us through it. They even had an allergy chart which was brilliant for me (I am allergic to eggs and nuts). What we didn’t expect was what came next….a gastronomic experience of pure perfection!
We had foie gras on toasted walnut bread, artichoke, parmesan and garlic pintxo, ham croquettes, bellota ham pintxo, squid ink fideua (short Spanish noodle) with chorizo, duck ham and tomato on toast, sliced aubergine and courgettes with pine nuts and parmesan (this sounds so simple but was sensational), sobrasada (soft and spreadable Spanish sausage that has a bit of a kick) Iberian loin of pork and sauté onion pintxo and their famous egg, potato and confit of Spanish onion ‘tortilla’. All of this washed this down with a delicious bottle of red wine from Ribero Del Duero. Without a shadow of a down, this quite simply was one of the best meals I have ever eaten, let alone the best tapas I have ever had. The food was creative, imaginative, well presented and every mouthful was a taste sensation.
The bill for four people was an unbelievable €120. The conference is in September….and I know where I will be spending all my spare time…..
Juana La Loca, Plaza de Puerta de Moros 4, 28005 Madrid, Spain
Phone: +34 913 64 05 25