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Madrid Restaurants

La Terraza del Casino
Address: Alcalá 15, Madrid
Tel: 91-521-87-00
Cuisine: Spanish/Portuguese
Price: Main courses 25-35euros; fixed-price menu 70euros
The city's most imaginative chef, Ferran Adrià, isn't in Madrid. He's still tending those pots and pans in the little town of Roses near Girona in Catalonia. But the innovative master of cuisine created all the dishes on the menu here and flies in regularly to see that his cooks are following his orders. His luxe restaurant in Madrid lies on the top floor of the Casino in Madrid, a historical building and a former gentlemen's club with a history going back to 1910. Even the grand dons of those days surely didn't dine as well as you can today.
Adrià's dishes are exquisite, and food critics (and I concur) are always writing about taste "explosions" in your mouth. His Catalan restaurant is El Bulli, meaning "innovative" in Spanish. The same name could apply to this Madrid dining hot spot that provides a panoramic view of the heart of Madrid and can be reached by an elevator or up a sweeping 19th-century staircase designed to impress. The decor is classically restrained with high ceilings and crystal chandeliers. The exquisite food uses fresh seasonal ingredients and reinterprets Spanish dishes. An example is raya (skate) in oil and saffron with parsley purée and nuts on a bed of finely diced fries. More traditional dishes include the succulent merluza a la gallega (Galician hake), crema de la fabada asturiana (creamed Asturian bean soup), and the steeply priced jamón Jabugo (cured ham from acorn-fed pigs) served with a menestra (mixed vegetables) al dente. Only French champagne and Spanish wines are listed, and one of the best is the rounded woody red, the Ribera del Duero from the province of Valladolid.

La Broche
Address: Calle Miguel Angel 29, Madrid
Tel: 91-399-34-37
Cuisine: Spanish/Portuguese
Price: Main courses 24-26 Euros
The Catalan chef, Sergi Arola, is generating culinary excitement in Madrid, a Castilian city that in the past never paid a lot of respect to the cuisine of Barcelona. Arola trained under Catalonia's greatest chef, El Ferran Adrià of El Bulli. Arola learned from the master, but in Madrid he is creating his own magic with imaginative dishes. Forget the dull lobby of the Hotel Miguel Angel, a holdover from the 1970s, and enter this elegant dining enclave. Deluxe ingredients, personally selected by the chef and changed to take advantage of the best in any season, are fashioned into some of the capital's most flavor-filled dishes. Launch yourself into your repast with raw seafood and seawater gelée and then proceed across the heavenly menu, perhaps selecting a salmon risotto or a carpaccio of wild mushrooms. Even the bread placed on your table is freshly made and a delight, as are the creative desserts.

Casa Lucio
Address: Cava Baja 35, Madrid
Tel: 91-365-32-52
Cuisine: Spanish/Portuguese
Price: Main courses 15-22 Euros
This happening spot has been a royal family favorite for 30 years. House specialties include huevos estrellados (broken eggs), served over fries and solomillo, a sizzling steak served in a scorching hot pan. The traditional Spanish menu draws everyone from Mexican pop stars to European princes. Set on a historic street whose edges once marked the perimeter of Old Madrid, this is a venerable tasca with all the requisite antique accessories. Dozens of cured hams hang from hand-hewn beams above the well-oiled bar. Among the clientele is a stable of sometimes surprisingly well-known public figures -- perhaps even the king of Spain. Here's where Laura Bush lunched with then-president Aznar's wife and Queen Sofía during a state visit to Spain by George W. a couple of years back. The two dining rooms, each on a different floor, have whitewashed walls, tile floors, and exposed brick. A well-trained staff offers classic Castilian food, which might include Jabugo ham with broad beans, shrimp in garlic sauce, hake with green sauce, several types of roasted lamb, and a thick steak served sizzling hot on a heated platter, called churrasco de la casa. The gourmet showpiece, however, is a modest campo dish called huevos estrellados, literally "broken eggs" mixed with potatoes and here raised to a fine art.

El Chaflán
Address Av. Pío XII 34, Madrid
Tel: 91-350-61-93
Cuisine: Spanish/Portuguese
Price: Main courses 22-30euros; fixed-price menus 45-89euros
One of Madrid's hot new chefs, Juan Pablo Felipe Pablado, is a master in the kitchen. He can take almost any dish, including the classics, and give it a new flavor and texture. For example, he virtually deconstructs the most famous soup of Spain, gazpacho, and reassembles it into glaces and mousses. There's a firm hand in control here, and the chef personally selects the best produce, fish, and local meats to concoct his dishes. A recent mushroom risotto was perfectly prepared and full of flavor, as was the main course, a roast suckling pig that would rival any in Segovia, where they say this dish is prepared better than anywhere else in the world.

La Trainera
Address: Calle Lagasca 60, Madrid
Phone: 91-576-80-35
Cuisine: Seafood
Price: Main courses 18-40euros
This restaurant is more expensive, and more chic, than its sprawling, paneled interior might imply. Capable of seating up to 300 diners at a time, it occupies a quartet of dining rooms within a turn-of-the-20th-century building in the glamorous shopping neighborhood of Serrano. Look for vaguely Basque-inspired platters of very fresh seafood, which arrive steaming hot and drizzled with subtle combinations of herbs, wines, and olive oils. No meat of any kind is served here. Instead, you'll find spicy and garlic-enriched versions of fish soup, filet of sole prepared in any of several different versions, Cantabrian crayfish, and well-conceived versions of a salpicón de mariscos (a platter of shellfish). Other fish include red mullet, swordfish with capers, monkfish, and virtually anything else that swims. Any of them can be preceded with a heaping platter of shellfish set atop a bed of artfully arranged seaweed. Succulent shellfish, including lobster, shrimp, crab, and mussels, plus an array of other items, is market-priced by weight.

Address: Atocha 34, Madrid, 28012
Tel: 90-220-30-25
Cuisine: Spanish/Portuguese
Price: Meals 35-55euros
After two decades refining his take on classic Spanish cuisine, Andrés Madrigal recently earned a Michelin star at this intimate restaurant. The market-driven menu emphasizes seafood but might also include delicacies like braised rabbit garnished with a subtle purée of black olives or a savory lamb and merlot-infused risotto.

Casa Labra
Address: Tetuan 12, Madrid
Tel: 91-532-14-05
Cuisine: Spanish/Portuguese
Price: Tapas 2-3euros. Main courses 12-20euros
Founded in 1860 and run by the Molina family for the past 6 decades, the mellow brown-walled Casa Labra is located a mere stone's throw from the Puerta del Sol. Said to have started as a favorite meeting spot of the 19th-century socialist party, it's one of the center's oldest and most popular tapa bars, invariably crowded and full of atmosphere. Of the many tidbits on offer, the delicious deep-fried cod croquettes (croquetas de bacalao) are a must, accompanied by the house's modestly priced Valdepeñas wine. The adjoining restaurant provides a more relaxed and secluded eating experience and is priced accordingly.

El Viajero
Address: Plaza de la Cebada 11, Madrid
Tel: 91-366-90-64
Cuisine: International
Price: Main courses 5-18euros. Prix-fixe lunch 11.50euros
This bustling three-story restaurant is located right on Plaza de la Cebada close to the Rastro market and the labyrinthine lanes of Lavapiés. Grilling is the big thing here with an emphasis on Uruguayan chorizo (a sausage of red peppers and pork), salchichas (sausages), and beef, but the wide-ranging choice also covers salads, pinchitos (shish kabobs), and couscous. Prices are very reasonable, and there's a first-rate prix-fixe menu. Lunch times tend to be packed, and market visitors make it particularly busy on Sundays. On sunny summer days you can eat on the terrace and enjoy the view.

Pan de Lujo
Address: Jorge Juan 20, Madrid, 28001
Tel: 91-436-11-00
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Price: Main courses around 20euros
Alberto Chicote brings Spanish fusion to Madrid’s Gucci-toting upper class in this contemporary, light-infused dining room. The clean and bold design is straight out of Elle Decor: a wall of glass opens onto a reflecting pool illuminated by three big light boxes. Indulge in an appetizer of paper-thin eggplant kissed by olive oil and nestled in delicate hummus, and then tuck into the poached snapper with crisp baby veggies. Don’t miss the homemade apple tart that’s as thin and stylish as the patrons. Reservations are mandatory.

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