After trying Baobab a few months ago, I was keen to eat at the competition just a few metres down the road. In the absence of a set lunch deal, we ordered three dishes between the three of us, with three different juices: Hibiscus flower, ginger, tamarind. The hibiscus tasted of perfumed milk, like a bad memory of synthetically-flavoured shakes from the 80s, the tamarind one was spicy-sweet – though I usually prefer this as a thicker sauce with Indian chaat – and the ginger juice was punchy and refreshing.
The star dish was definitely the thebou dem, a melange of fish and vegetable stew on short-grained fried rice. The thebou yape and yassa were both served on white rice, the former with chunks of juicy lamb, the latter with prawns and lamb; all were accompanied by incredible batons of sweet potato or yam. These were the only three dishes that were available at 2pm on a Friday, and we had a similar experience at other African restaurants where three-quarters of the menu was just not available on that day. Dessert was lacklustre – dry bunuelos, like a deep-fried scone or muffin without a filling.
Service might be charmless but it is certainly quick, and the food here, for my money – under 10€ each – is better than the other big Senegalese joint in town: succulent meat, hearty portions and wonderful flavours.
Definitely a symbol of the area’s changing fortunes, this restaurant that functions as much as a cafe/bar than regular eatery (like Economico and Achuri on the other side of the street) is slick and polished, professional and generally more upmarket than any others on the street. Their coffee is great, pizzas tasty, and staff are friendly. The bar is wonderful to observe and drinks are served with integrity and flair: your gateway to the gentrification of lower Lavapies.
A wide range of toasts with delectable toppings at surprisingly high prices, this certainly is the place to try something a little more Spanish as the Bangladeshi-Indian restaurants are almost outnumbering the neighbourhood cervecerias. The solomillo was delicious, thick and firm and not too fatty at all, while the melted cheese sat well with the mushrooms. We shared three amongst five of us, but if you had one each it would almost make a substantially filling meal.
‘Abajo de Plaza de España hay un restaurante chino’ has been dropped so many times off the lips of cosmopolitan and hipster madrileños that it’s become something of a cliche. Yes, Chinese people do come here to eat, even though they order from a far more extensive menu than the non-Mandarin speaker would get.
Having eaten here at least a dozen times over four years, I can happily report that the food is very tasty, and quite authentic, though neither particularly fresh nor healthy; some dishes are swimming in oil, just like you’d see in Beijing, and the meat can be a lower quality than other restaurants – but no worse than a typical neighborhood Chinese joint.
Highlights include the costillas dulce (pork spare ribs) for 5.50€ and arroz glutinoso (sticky pyramids of rice wrapped in leaf, hiding chunks of wonderful barbecued pork) for only 1.30€ per individual portion. Noodles are flavourful, the dim sum can be dull and turgid in texture, but the range of choices is impressive for such a small modest place.
The space isn’t the best for decor – simple cafe plastic with no frills – but the atmosphere is great when it’s heaving and there’s a queue of ten waiting outside. We’ve tended to get take-aways to eat ten metres directly above the restaurant on the grass around Plaza de España’s fountain.
Metro Plaza de España