Calle Cabestreros 1
Metro Lavapiés/Tirso de Molina
I wish I could introduce you to Senegalese food, the differences between the dishes, the subtle changes in flavors, its origins…. but I am afraid you will have to find out yourself and also during various visits: Senegalese restaurant Baobab in Lavapíes comes with a manual (but DO try it!).
The location is original, the terrace very inviting during summer, the public is an interesting mixture of cultures and personalities and Senegalese food is definitely worth trying. However, please keep in mind that this is not a normal restaurant. The menu will reflect 7 or 8 of the country’s national dishes, but do not expect them to be actually there: it is better to ask the waiter what is available (‘Well, we have ceebu jen and we have something with okra. But I do not recommend the okra. I think you are going to like the ceebu jen. Better not choose okra. Shall I bring you the ceebu jen?’) and what is there to drink (‘I’ll bring you something Senegalese, all right?’). Do not hold your breath for dessert, either: waiters need to eat as well and you cannot wait tables and eat at the same time, period.
Still, do visit Baobab. The food is very simple, but prepared in a way you have not eaten before. Ceebu jen is a dish of cooked fish, rice and vegetables, but the rice is cooked with a mixture of spices you have never tried before, the vegetables are prepared to perfection and yet completely different from what you are used to (I mean, how many ways are there to cook a carrot, anyway?). With a glass of cool bissap on the side, you will also finally discover how hibiscus flowers taste and that you can actually make a drink out of them. It makes you wonder how the other dishes taste. Well, maybe more luck next time.
Mercado de San Miguel
Plaza de San Miguel
Monday to Sunday from 10:00 hours to 22:00
Quite some time ago you could read about the unclear future of the Mercado de San Miguel, the beautiful, thrilling but somewhat dilapidated market in Madrid’s city center. Almost two years after closing, the place has reopened and you better chalk up a visit on your shopping list.
The new Mercado has lost a little bit and won a lot. Lost in the sense that walking past the stalls you will not encounter true Spanish produce-you-had-never-even-imagined-to-be-edible-in-the-first-place anymore. Tripe? Gone. Sheep heads? Nah. Paws? Go somewhere else.
However, these kinds of foods (sort of) are still freely available in every other market, whereas the new and improved San Miguel offers a Spanish atmosphere you will not be able to resist. You can of course go in and do your shopping, but why not sample a chunk of that French cheese, chew on some Italian dolci, have a glass of Spanish vermouth or lunch with half a dozen oysters from Normandy while you’re at it. The inner court is actually one big bar packed with Spanish enjoying a wildly international offer of anything that has to do with food. At only 10 days after reopening the combination of gourmet market and bar seems to be a big success, looking at the hundreds of visitors buying, looking and eating on this drizzly Saturday morning.
The building itself has improved as well. Already a very elegant and classic structure, the renovation made the space even lighter, bigger and cleaner. The glass façade that replaces the brick walls literally invites passers-by to check out on the buzz inside. Do not forget to walk around the entire market: there is a bakery hidden in one of the corners.
The most central market of the city does not offer the usual grub anymore, which surely is a loss for everybody living in the centre and any tourist trying to get a glimpse of normal Spanish life. The new Mercado, on the other hand, does show a deep love for food and style and is still an excellent place to drag your friends to.