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Reasons to Go

Tapas Bars, Chamberi and Triangle of the Arts: Madrid with an A&K Expert

Reasons to Go

Tapas Bars, Chamberi and Triangle of the Arts: Madrid with an A&K Expert

A&K Resident Tour Director and Simon Butler-Madden knows every note and nuance of his hometown, Madrid. A connoisseur of European wines and cuisine who also produces his own olive oil, we asked this madrileño for his unique insights into this irresistible city.

By Bennett Neuhauser, A&K Staff Writer | May 12, 2015

Europe Spain Madrid Restaurant 1

What is your favorite restaurant?

It would be impossible to single out just one. First is Santceloni, part of the empire of prestigious chef Santi Santamaría. This is designer cuisine at its finest. Dishes reflect both the old and new — for example, pigeon roasted with pumpkin and truffles. For the purest local tradition, I head for Casa Alberto, going strong for over 150 years. It still has a traditional zinc bar counter, photographs of bullfighters and the feel of old Madrid. Those who do not share my enthusiasm for tripe should try the traditional specialties here, like roast suckling pig or beans with sausage.

Europe Spain Madrid Bar Drink Tapas 2

What is the best place to grab a drink?

Bars in Madrid are so much more than places where you go just to get a glass of beer or a cocktail. Here, whenever you order a drink, it will come accompanied with tapas, a little something to nibble on. There is no better bar than El Anciano Rey de los Vinos. The decor goes back many decades, the draft beer is perfect and the ham croquettes to accompany it are out of this world. For a more sophisticated drink in the heart of the elegant Barrio Salamanca district, I go to Ramses, a bar-restaurant with design features by Philippe Starck. It is one of the few places here that makes a proper dry martini.

Europe Spain Madrid Museo Del Prado 3

Where do you go to get your fix of culture?

The cultural life of the whole city, particularly art, is one of my principal reasons for living here. The combination of the three great museums in close proximity in the “Triangle of the Arts” is unique. In the Museo Nacional del Prado, I never tire of the superb collections of Flemish paintings. And two blocks away, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía has galleries filled with contemporary works. And the gallery CaixaForum Madrid is housed in a superb reconstruction of a building that was once a power transformer station.

Europe Spain Madrid Produce Market 4

What is your favorite neighborhood?

Chamberí, where my wife and I live, is the city’s center. It embodies the old-fashioned virtues of what city life should be. People live here — within a quarter mile of my 100-year-old apartment building I have four metro lines, eight cinemas, a traditional produce market, and at least 30 bars and cafés. This is city life as it should be lived!

Europe Spain Madrid Ceramics 5

Where do you like to shop?

I buy stationery from Papelería Salazar, which has been owned by the same family since 1908. There are several shops that are unique to Spain and capture the essence of the city, such as Cántaro for ceramics from all over the country and Patrimonio Comunal Olivarero for olive oil.

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