This is the new outlet for the talents of David Muñoz, he of two Michelin stars, the Premio Nacional de Gastronomía al Mejor Jefe de Cocina (Spanish National Gastronomy Award to the Best Chef) and three soles in Guía Repsol. His restaurant DiverXo, soon to be reviewed on these pages, is fast becoming the most famous restaurant in Madrid for modern Spanish cuisine, verging on the experimental. StreetXo was hopping, serving food to hungry punters standing around its shiny bar, well after the last few diners had left all the other food stands in ‘Gourmet Experience’, on the top floor of El Corte Inglés. You may even see him here with his signature mohawk directing the five or six other chefs on Sunday or Monday, the days when DiverXo is closed.
We tried the Chilli Crab, which was exceptional, if a little messy to eat. The small flakes of meat were mostly in the sauce, a lively concoction that was soaked up with the tasty little cubes of Chinese bread. There’s more to be had here, and plenty more trips to come.
After three visits here, after a film at the Cine Ideal five minutes walk up Calle Dr. Cortezo, I can confidently say that I shan’t be back. Our last two visits were marred by substandard food for not-so-cheap prices. They certainly have drinks, and if you’re thirsty you certainly could do worse, but don’t stick around to eat. Our Rueda de Mariscos was straight out of the fridge, and even the pulpo gallego that it contained was below average. Cold mussels, a minuscule ‘portion’ of prawns and lacklustre service disappointed us all.
Metro Tirso de Molina
On the stretch of Argumosa where every restaurant is also a bar, especially the Bangladeshi dozen or so joints where the real botellines en el cubo (small bottles in a bucket) deals are to be found , the outdoor tables are there all year round, and the staff are keen to please. I was sceptical about how good the set lunch would be as nobody has ever recommended this particular place, and I have had awful curries in Lavapies before (see Moti Mahal, Mister India). But we were happily surprised. The veggie menú del día was only €6.95 and the meat option (four different chicken dishes to choose from) was €9.95. My Chicken Madras was screamingly spicy, but not uncomfortably chilli – complex flavours and fresh ingredients abound. La Alta’s Beingun (aubergine) was punchy too, and we forgot about how dull our small samosa and ponir roll starters had been. The Gulab Jamun was a real let-down too, but we didn’t expect much from it anyway. A tasty meal in a friendly spot.
A large space off Avenida de América, with exposed pipes and muted colours, though comfortably lit and absolutely heaving by 10pm on a Saturday night (booking is a must), this is our recommendation of the month. An extensive menu and wine list, friendly service and a great local crowd of what seemed like seasoned regulars, as well as decent portions, fiery spices and low low prices mean we will be back here again.
We tried a starter platter with the softest falling-off-the-bone rib meat I’ve eaten in the city, good crispy (not soggy) spring rolls and chicken satay and a few main courses: Penang chicken curry, tofu red curry, a prawn dish and a rabo de toro in a rich gravy. We forgot to try the noodles, which is another reason we’ll be back very soon.
We were on the hunt for a good Dhaal Makhani on a cloudy day on Torviscas beach and were told that this relatively new place had a great Punjabi chef. The menu looks great – no messing around with chips and pizzas – and the focus is on North Indian specialities. The proprietor Prakash is Gujarati, but understands the cuisine well; we knew we’d be in good hands.
The furni is classier than any other Indian restaurant around, and the indoor space is airy and well appointed. We ended up getting tasty Prawn Pakoras with two trays of three tangy and spicy sauces (= six sauces!) that we just had to mop up with extra poppadums. And then the Dhaal and pilau rice arrived.
It’s not just about heaps of butter and cream – a good Dhaal Makhani requires time, assorted lentils and lots of attention. The balance of spices, especially garam masala, was perfect, and it occurred to me that this is a perfect winter-warmer, sorely needed on such a cool day.
Such good value – the Dhaal came in at €5.90, three or four euros cheaper than most other places I’d ordered it at, though the majority of other dishes seemed to be a tiny bit higher than regular curry houses around the islands, but all worth it for such high quality grub and very friendly service. Highly recommended.
C.C. La Niña. Planta 3, Local 62. Torviscas Playa
The epitome of a chips/pizza/curry joint, with average food at not-so-low prices. The Seekh kebab was awful – cooked from frozen – and I regretted not waiting for the Shammi kebab, which would’ve been made fresh in a half hour. The texture of the paneer was too hard, though the prawn dhansak, veggie samosas and lamb biryani were very authentic and served with a smile; Rose Bahar, an ambitious young singer, might even be your friendly waiter. And you won’t forget him in a hurry.
Beers were good value – a pint of John Smith’s for €3! – and we got the impression that a lot of Brits come here to hang out, watch the beach and crowds and maybe snack a little too.
Centro Comercial Centro Costa, Calle Valencia, Playa Torviscas
We were promised a free half-bottle of Rioja if we dropped in here, and that’s exactly what we got. We ordered two starters – fried Camembert and mejillones tigres – and enjoyed them both. The service is splendid, the lighting and patio very pleasant, and the menu has a great choice of dishes. We were very tempted by some of the seafood dishes but opted for main courses at the Coeur de Filet across the road.
CC Fañabe. Calle Londres, Playa Fañabe.