Calle Cava Baja 35, Centro
Walking through the heavy-wood, tavern-style entryway to this eatery is akin to stepping into the Madrid of yesteryear—the plates are monogrammed, the waiters are suited-up, and the clientele spans politicians, locals, eccentrics, and the occasional royal. Casa Lucio is an olive oil soaked slice of the old-world, traditional yet incredibly refined with a classic menu of gastronomical favorites to match. Try the huevos estrellados—crispy, salty fried potatoes topped with broken runny eggs and be sure to linger over your desert for the all-important sobremesa (loosely translated as post-dinner debate and conversation) that keeps Madrileños firmly planted the table until the early hours.
Bosco de Lobos
Calle Hortaleza, 63, Centro
Bosco de Lobos is one of two restaurants from the Barcelona-based En Compañia de Lobos restaurant group (the other, Ana La Santa, is another favorite from our list). At this location, owner Tomas Tarruella focuses on home-style Italian food, with hearty, comforting dishes like a bolognese, mushroom risotto, and wood-fired pizza with ricotta and anchovies. The best tables are out in the patio garden, which is fully enclosed in lush greenery.
La Tasquita de Enfrente
Calle de la Ballesta, 6, Centro
If there's one "must-visit" spot we'd recommend in Madrid, it would have to be La Tasquita de Enfrenta. Chef Juanjó Lopez's outrageously good Spanish food (the menu changes seasonally) isn't exactly news—locals have been vying for reservations here for a few years now—but the food is as good as ever. It's definitely the kind of place where it's worth splurging on the chef's tasting menu, and the wine to go with it. The place books out well in advance, so make a reservation before your trip if possible.
Ana La Santa
Plaza de Santa Ana, 14, Salamanca
Ana La Santa is one of two Madrid restaurants from En Compañia de Lobos, a restaurant group out of Barcelona that's a total family affair. Owner Tomas Tarruella founded his first few restaurants with his mother, Rosa Maria Esteva, and while his new restaurant company is actually a solo venture, it lacks none of the creativity and excellent service his family originally became famous for. Chief among his new projects is this Salamanca spot, which offers traditional Spanish food (including an enormous tapas menu) that's not afraid to take risks: Expect several different variations of paella served alongside a quinoa salad, Mexican tortilla soup, and a delicious red curry with Iberian pork cheek. In keeping with family tradition, the bright, verdant, Scandinavian-inspired interiors were designed by Tarruella's sister, Sandra.
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