Thursday, 16 June 2016

The best things I ate in Madrid

You may be expecting this post to be full of tapas, paella and churros. But it's not.

When I recently went to Madrid for a long weekend to visit my dear sister, Holly, who's been living in the Spanish capital for the past nine months, she'd basically planned the whole weekend around where and what we would eat. Can you tell we're sisters?

That is exactly how I like to spend my holidays.

Because she's now practically a Madrileña (albeit with slightly fairer skin and greener eyes than your average Spaniard), Holly knows a lot of the best places to eat in the city. And because she knows me, she knew exactly which places I'd most love.

And would you look at that: I totally loved everything.

It strikes me that Madrid has a great food scene - whilst there are of course lots of traditional restaurants and tourist traps, there are also lots of healthy juice and salad bars, trendy eateries and modern bars. One of my favourite areas, Malasaña, was bursting with cute, quirky, interesting places to eat and drink and was buzzing with life both day and night. Oh, and it really got going at night.

So, here are some of my faves!

For breakfast and brunch

There are branches of this fun froyo shop all over the city, and I loved it. Despite the fact that they don't open till 11am, if you fancy a late breakfast I thoroughly recommend one of their breakfast parfaits: layers of froyo, three fresh fruits, two crunchy toppings (think granola, nuts or crumbled Oreo) and two sauces.
There's so much to choose from and they're really good value too. I had strawberries, mango, granola, walnuts, strawberry compote and honey. Totally delicious and perfect on a hot, sunny morning.

Zoco Comidero Bar 
Everyone knows Sunday mornings are made for brunching, and it's no different in Madrid. Holly and I are both big fans of pancakes and smoothies, and having absolutely loved her first visit to Zoco Comidero Bar, Holly decided to go back with me in tow, and I'm so glad she did.
Although not really near anything - you wouldn't stumble upon it - Zoco (are we on first-name terms now? I hope so) is a trendy little place serving fresh, fully homemade, healthy, organic food. Whilst tempted by a smoothie bowl, I decided I couldn't not go for pancakes. And so, peanut butter chia pancakes occurred. They. Were. Delish.

I believe they're also made with oat flour, dairy-free, and with all those chia seeds and fruit on top, not too unhealthy, I like to think. There was homemade vanilla peanut butter both on top and sandwiched between the pancakes too which I LOVED. They were incredibly filling and actually a total barg at 5.50€ (you wouldn't get pancakes in a London restaurant for less than a tenner!).
Holly went for the spinach pancakes with homemade Nutella which were unfortunately somehow not as good as the first time she had them but the staff made it up to her with a free slice of cake which was lovely. Our smoothies were dreamy, dairy-free and delicious. Mine was peanut butter and coconut, whilst Holly went for the chocolate-banana-coconut one. I loved it all.

For lunch

La Hummuseria
As soon as Holly told me about this place months ago, I was dead keen to go. And it did not disappoint. They serve real, authentic houmous with various different toppings and sides. It's simple and so so good. I went for the houmous topped with pine nuts and almonds and it was just fantastic. So smooth!
The houmous is served warm alongside the fluffiest warm pitta breads you've ever seen. We had some tangy but sweet baked cauliflower too, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The houmous is really filling but you know I was scraping out my dish. I loved all the crockery and just a heads up, the homemade lemonade is cracking too.

Juicy Avenue
I really wish Juicy Avenue existed in the UK. It's just a casual place but perfect for a quick, healthy lunch, breakfast or general refuel. They serve freshly-made smoothies, juices, salads, wraps, bagels, froyo, crêpes and breakfast treats, and I wanted to eat so much on the menu. There are lots of healthy options too.
I had the quinoa bowl salad which was spinach, kale, quinoa, goats cheese, walnuts and sundried tomatoes, served in a spinach wrap. It was scrummy. Alongside it I sipped the Cleanse juice, which was apple, cucumber and lime. It was wonderfully refreshing and divine. Everything was so green!
Holly had a less green but equally tasty falafel, mozzarella and avocado bagel with a mango, papaya and coconut smoothie. Yums.

For dinner

Goiko Grill
There are a few branches of this chilled burger restaurant around Madrid, and I can see why it's so popular. The menu features some of the most inventive burgers I've ever seen, as well as the option to make your own. Now, despite being someone who eats vegetarian 90% of the time, I love a good burger. And although I was tempted by many of Goiko's offerings, I couldn't not go for the Elvis: a beef burger with peanut butter and caramelised banana. I KNOW!
Even I, peanut-butter-on-everything-please girl, was unsure about this one. But it totally works! It more than works. It nails it. The caramelised banana, the salty, melty PB, the juicy burger... It was beyond. Oh, and the burgers come with yummy barbecue potatoes too which were also v tasty.

La Pescaderia
To celebrate Holly's 21st birthday, we went out for dinner with a group of her girlfriends, and La Pescaderia was the restaurant of choice. Despite the name, they serve a lot more than fish, and the food is all just fantastic. You know when you can't put your finger on why something is so delicious but it just is? That.

I had a pumpkin, mango, goats cheese and seed salad (yes, I really like goats cheese salads) and it was just perfect. So so tasty. We shared sweet potato crisps and padron peppers, and the other girls enjoyed avocado-shrimp-mango dishes, feta salads, chicken wings, kebabs and patatas bravas. All with cava, obvs. It was wonderful.

For drinks

Pez Baker 
When exploring Madrid on foot in summer, frequent stops for hydration and a sit-down in the shade are a must. One of the loveliest places we stopped was Pez Baker, one of Madrid's many cafe/restaurant/bars that serve coffees and cakes as well as cocktails.
We dropped in for juices - multi-fruit for Holly and veggie (beetroot and carrot) for me. They were tasty and refreshing and I loved the vibe of the place. I have no shame in admitting I love a mason jar beverage!

Word on the street is this is the place to go for the best mojito in Madrid. Granted, theirs was the only mojito I tried in Madrid, but it was really good. The interior is super cute and should you not fancy a cocktail, I happen to know you can get a glass of wine for a mere 2.25€. OR, brownie and ice cream. How great is that? It was late at night (for British people, not Spanish) and we were having mojitos, wine and brownies with ice cream. I love it.

Speaking of beverages and pudding, enter Lolina. This delightfully retro cafe is all about cocktails and cake, and they even match them together in pairings. It's all 70s inspired which I thought was a lot of fun, and they do tasty dairy-free shakes and smoothies too.
As the clock struck midnight and it became Holly's birthday, we were in Lolina to celebrate with a chocolate muffin and a glass of wine for the birthday girl. It was wonderful.

Oscar's Terrace
And if you fancy something really snazzy, head to the terrace on the top of the Room Mate hotel where you can admire the view, recline on loungers or dip your toes in the pool whilst sipping a drink. I KNOW!

So as you can probably see, we had a delicious long weekend. What do you think of the food scene in Madrid? Big thanks to my sister Holly for being such an excellent food guide!

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