Sunday, June 7, 2009

Vegetarian Restaurants in Madrid, Spain

I loved Spain and Andalucia, but I found it hard to find satisfactory vegetarian meals. By the time I arrived in Madrid, I was craving whole grains, fruit and vegetables. Fortunately, Madrid is a large city, and there are some great vegetarian restaurants. A quick Google search provided me with a variety of options. As the reviews were fairly dated, I was concerned that the restaurants might not exist any more. But that wasn’t the case.

El Estragon, Plaza de la Paja (metro La Latina)

This was my favourite of the three vegetarian restaurants I went to in Madrid, and I would have happily returned day after day. There are lots and lots of imaginative vegetarian main dishes with lots of vegetables and a variety of protein sources. It was tasty, nourishing and attractive. And the chocolate cake for dessert was very good! The service was good as well.

In addition, Plaza de la Paja is part of a chain of small plazas that are alive with restaurant patios and crowded with young people. It’s a really fun place to sit and have a drink and watch the crowd. El Estragon has both outdoor and indoor seating and appeared to serve food all day long.

El Granero de Lavapies, calle Argumosa 10 (metro Atocha or Lavapies)
This is a simple restaurant with great food. The d├ęcor is basic, and you may end up sharing a table with other people – or lining up at the door to wait as it’s very popular. They offer lunch from 1 to 4 (no dinners), and everyone appeared to be having the set menu. For 10 euros, I had a bowl of gazpacho soup, bread, a choice of entrees, a simple dessert (I had a flan), and tea or coffee. The food is really good; the service is excellent; and it’s a perfect place to have lunch after visiting the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia.

La Galette, 11 calle Conde de Aranda (metro Retiro)
This is a small, busy restaurant in a ritzy shopping area on the edge of Retiro Park. It serves both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. The food was very healthy but plain (would have benefitted from spices or sauces) with a heavy emphasis on carrots. The apple tart was excellent, and I wished the neighbourhood stores had been open as it looked like an interesting area to window shop. The restaurant was okay, but El Estragon was much better – better food and better service.

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