On our second day in Madrid after the jetlag had subsided some, my wife and I spent the majority of our day meandering around the city. We were primarily in the areas between Plaza Mayor, where our Airbnb was located, and El Retiro Park, Madrid’s take on Central Park in New York City. The city was very walkable—in fact, we never took the Metro. We preferred to walk to see more of the city, interact with locals, and reach the level of hungry right before “hangry” for the treat we had in store at La Tragantúa for our last night in Madrid. After wandering around Retiro Park, we headed home, but not before stopping by Mercado del San Antón, a four-story market/restaurant/bar with an open rooftop patio, for Mahous and margaritas.
After making the trek back home and getting ready, it was time for a dinner I had been looking forward to for months – La Tragantúa. The restaurant was located on a thoroughfare the size of an alley, but used as a fully-functional street. There was minimal “La Tragantúa” signage, which led to a brief broken-Spanish/broken-English exchange between the host and myself when trying to establish that we were, in fact, in the right place. After some “thumbs up” and smiles, it was clear we were speaking the same language (more figuratively than literally). The interior was tiny, maybe 8-10 tables max. We were guided to our table at the back of the restaurant near the kitchen, which was covered in about five steps. We had a small table for two with a line of sight into the kitchen that was the size of a normal-sized walk-in closet and had three chefs shuffling around each other. The size of the restaurant certainly did not bother me; instead, I think it added a very quaint, authentic feel to the experience.
My wife and I both ordered Tasting Menu “C” for about €50. While it was a bit expensive, it was worth it considering wine and dessert was included. We began with starters to share:
The appetizers were timed perfectly so they did not all come out at the same time, but were hot when they did arrive. Of the three, the grilled octopus stole the show for me. I mean, how can a giant grilled tentacle on a plate not win?
Next, we moved to the main courses that did not disappoint either: Grilled Yellow Fin Tuna crusted with Sesame and Poppy Seeds for my wife, and Filet Mignon from Ávila for me. The tuna was very fresh and seasoned well, and my filet mignon quite literally melted in my mouth. Although we were both fat and happy after the main course, we trudged further down the path to gluttony and split a delicious pastry from Granada that was creme-filled and topped with blackberry ice cream.
I was careful about getting my hopes up about La Tragantúa given that this was my first visit to Europe, much less Madrid. It could have easily been an overpriced tourist trap. Fortunately, the food, service, and overall experience exceeded my expectations. I will definitely be back next time I visit Madrid. Stay tuned for more Restaurant Reviews soon!