Casa Ciriaco, Madrid, Spain

It’s been a while since I posted because I was in Spain for a vacation, but I’m back! While I was gone Le Continental turned four!

When I was in Madrid last year I visited three historic restaurants (and posted about them here, here, and here) but I didn’t have time for one of the oldest ones on my list: Casa Ciriaco. So on my recent trip I had a one day layover in Madrid and I made time to have lunch at Casa Ciriaco.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

Casa Ciriaco opened as a tavern in 1897 (under a different name). In 1923 it was purchased by Pablo Muñoz Sanz and his brother Ciriaco Muñoz, who started the restaurant named Casa Ciriaco in 1929. The building was infamous for being the site of an anarchist bombing against King Alfonso XIII and his bride on their wedding day. The royal bridal carriage escaped harm but 15 innocent bystanders were killed and many injured.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

The restaurant also became famous for its clientele in the 1930s preceding the Civil War, including journalist Julio Camba, artist Ignacio Zuloaga, matadors Domingo Ortega and Juan Belmonte, writer José Ortega y Gasset, and scholar of Basque culture, Julio Caro Baroja. Portraits of some of the famous people who have dined at Casa Ciriaco can be found on the walls of the homey comedor (dining room), which you enter through the swinging doors from the front bar.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

The waiters are all veterans; fast and efficient but friendly. They reminded me of the waiters at Tadich Grill or Sam’s Grill in San Francisco.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

The menu is classic Madrid cuisine. Specialties include perdiz con judiones (partridge with broad beans, seasonal), cocido (Madrid-style meat and chickpea stew) served on Tuesdays, cochinillo (suckling pig), and pepitoria de gallina (chicken fricassee in a sauce made with almonds and eggs), which dates back over 100-years and is the main dish that I chose for my menu del dia prix fixe lunch (always a good deal in Spain so I try to make it my main meal of the day). For a starter I had pisto manchego, a delicious vegetable stew similar to ratatouille.

 

pisto - photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

pisto – photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

pepitoria de gallina - from Wikimedia Commons

pepitoria de gallina – from Wikimedia Commons

 

For dessert I had arroz con leche (rice pudding).

 

arroz con leche - photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

arroz con leche – photo by Dean Curtis, 2015

 

Reportedly Casa Ciriaco has an outstanding wine cellar with wines dating back to 1917 and cognacs as old as 1892!

 

Casa Ciriaco
Calle Mayor, 84, 28013 Madrid, Spain
Phone +34 915 48 06 20
Open daily 1:00pm-4:00pm, 8:00pm-11:30pm

 

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Taberna Antonio Sanchez, Madrid, Spain

This gorgeous bullfighter’s tavern opened in 1830 and was purchased in 1884 by Antonio Sanchez Ruiz, who renamed it after his bullfighter son, Antonio Sanchez, who retired from bullfighting in 1922 after being seriously injured.

 

photo by Rafa Gallegos on Flickr

photo by Rafa Gallegos on Flickr

 

The decor is mostly original from 1884, including the beautiful zinc bar and carved wood bar, tiles, lamps, antique cash register, and clock.

 

bar - photo by the fork.com

bar – photo by the fork.com

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I only had a tapa (complimentary) with a glass of wine there during my Madrid tapeo (tapas bar crawl), but they offer a full menu including specialties from the original recipes such as Cocido Madrileño (a famous local stew), Rabo de Toro (bull’s tail), Olla Gitana or Gypsy Pot (vegetable soup), Callos a la Madrileña (tripe stew), caracoles (snails), and torrijas. The prices are reasonable, with average cost of a starter and main course at 19€ and a set lunch Mon-Fri with starter, main, dessert, and drink for only 9.60€.

 

photo by the fork.com

photo by the fork.com

 

photo by the fork.com

photo by the fork.com

 

 

Taberna Antonio Sanchez
Calle del Mesón de Paredes, 13, 28013 Madrid, Spain
Phone: +34 915 39 78 26
Open Mon-Sat 12:00pm-4:00pm, 8:00pm-12:00am, Sun 12:00pm-4:30pm

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Sobrino de Botín, Madrid, Spain

According to the 1987 version of the Guinness Book of World Records the oldest restaurant in the world is Sobrino de Botín, which was founded in 1725. But actually a few restaurants in the world predate it by hundreds of years, with the oldest, St. Peter Stiftskeller in Salzburg, Austria, going all the way back to 803 AD! Nevertheless, the 290-year-old restaurant is still an amazing place and a must-visit when in Madrid. Sobrino de Botín, the oldest restaurant in Spain, serves excellent Castilian cuisine featuring oven-roasted suckling pig and lamb.

 

front of restaurant since the 19th century - photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

Front of restaurant since the 19th century – photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

The building that houses Botín dates back to 1590 on a street which was named Calle de los Cuchilleros (street of the cutlers – people who make, sell, or repair knives and other cutting instruments) in the 17th century. In 1725 a French cook named Jean Botín opened an inn on the site and added a wood burning oven, which is still in use today at the restaurant. In those days under Spanish law it was forbidden to sell food and wine, but you could prepare and serve food that guests brought themselves, so food was prepared for the inn’s lodgers. In 1765 the artist Francisco de Goya briefly worked there as a dishwasher. Jean Botín’s nephew, Candido Remis, later took over the establishment, turning the ground floor into a tavern named Sobrino de Botín (Botín’s nephew).

 

19th century confectionery counter - photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

19th century confectionery counter – photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

In the 19th century the tavern was remodeled, modifying the front of the restaurant, adding windows and a confectionery counter for cakes and pastries just inside the entrance (now part of the front dining room it’s used as a service bar and jamón carving station). Only the ground floor was used as a restaurant, with the second and third floors used to house the owner’s family, plus a wine cellar.

 

ground floor dining room - photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

Ground floor dining room where I dined on my visit – photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

In 1885 Amparo Martín and her husband Emilio González bought the tavern. The González family still runs the restaurant today. Ernest Hemingway mentioned Botín in his 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises. According to legend he liked to sit at a table in the first dining room that had a view into the kitchen so he could watch Emilio cook his food. The restaurant closed in the 1930s during the Spanish Civil War, with Emilio taking care of the house while Amparo and their children stayed in Castellon. After the war Amparo and Emilio’s sons Antonio and José ran the restaurant, turning it into a famous destination for visiting tourists, celebrities, and political figures, and expanding it into the second, third, and fourth floors of the building. Today the third-generation of the González family, Antonio Jr., José Jr., and Carlos, run the restaurant.

 

Table Hemingway may have dined at - photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

Table Hemingway may have dined at – photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

The kitchen on the ground floor where the original wood-burning oven is still used - photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

The kitchen on the ground floor where the original wood-burning oven is still used – photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

upper floor dining room - photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

upper floor dining room – photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

Botín specializes in roasted meats, particularly suckling pig (cochinillo asado) from Segovia and lamb from Spain’s Sepúlveda-Aranda-Riaza area. Since I was visiting Segovia later on my trip and planned to have suckling pig there I ordered the roasted baby lamb, which came as a large shank portion, very tender and tasty with crispy skin, and served with delicious white potatoes. The waiter plated it from the roasting dish tableside.

 

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

roast lamb - photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

Roast lamb – photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

Botín’s menu also includes specialties like Madrid’s famous garlic soup with egg (sopa de ajo), scrambled eggs, clams Botín, baby squids in their own ink, and grilled filet mignon.

 

waiter deboning fish tableside - photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

Waiter deboning fish tableside – photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

sangria pitchers - photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

Sangria pitchers – photo by Dean Curtis, 2014

 

Sobrino de Botín
Calle de los Cuchilleros 17, 28005 Madrid, Spain
Phone: +34 913664217 or +34 913663026
Open for lunch daily 1:00pm-4:00pm, dinner daily 8:00pm-12:00am

 

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Casa Paco, Madrid, Spain

In late November / early December I returned to Spain after ten years. What a country! It’s my personal favorite country, after the dear ol’ United States that is. I love America for its unique cities like San Francisco, Chicago and New Orleans (to name just a few), its natural beauty, and of course its restaurants and bars (best on earth). But, back to Spain! I love their joie de vivre, their food and wine, and their way of life (big lunches and late evening socializing at tapas bars into the night). It’s good to be back on Le Continental after a long absence, where I’ll be posting about several historic restaurants and taverns I visited in Spain in the coming weeks.

 

photo by The Jab, 2014

photo by The Jab, 2014

 

Casa Paco on in Madrid was opened in 1933 by Francisco Morales from Guadalajara, Spain. Later the restaurant moved into its current location, a tavern which has existed since 1870. In the 1960s celebrities such as Charlton Heston, Robert Taylor, and Marcelo Mastroianni visited the restaurant, as well as bullfighters and politicians. Eventually Francisco’s sons, Paco and Rosario, took over the business. As far as I was able to tell, it seems to be Madrid’s oldest steak house.

 

Casa Paco Madrid 2202521

Casa Paco bar – photo by miniube.com

 

When you enter Casa Paco there is a beautiful small bar, and then a small tiled dining room (see pic below), where I ate my first lunch in Madrid this trip. There are also dining rooms and a kitchen upstairs, so the waiters were running up and down those stairs all day long (they must be in great shape). I made an advance reservation as the restaurant is quite popular. I wrote out what I wanted to say, then translated that into Spanish with Google Translate, practiced it a bit, and called the restaurant from home to make the reservation. I recommend that method over asking that they find someone who speaks English when you call. It seemed to me that because I made the reservation in Spanish I was treated with much respect when I arrived for my lunch.

 

Casa Paco Madrid 2202511

Casa Paco dining room – photo by miniube.com

 

olivesI started with an appetizer of acietunas (olives), always great in Spain (often free), and a beer.

 

 

 

 

Then I had a specialty of Madrid and environs: sopa de ajo (garlic soup). Delicious!

 

sopa de ajo

 

Casa Paco specializes in steaks. They offer three cuts: a tenderloin of beef (cebón de buey), veal (ternera) from Avila, and a sirloin of beef (solomillo de buey), each ordered by weight. Note: sirloin in European butchery is a more tender cut than the sirloin you see offered in the U.S. It is basically the entire part of the loin below the strip loin (New York steak). Of the Euro sirloin the thickest part is the chateaubriand, the middle is the tournedos, and the thinner end is the filet mignon (in the U.S. this term is often used also for the thicker part of the sirloin) or tenderloin. Also note: sometimes buey translates as oxen (an adult castrated male cattle), sometimes just as beef.

A media kilo in Spanish is over one pound of meat. I tried to order a tenderloin filet of 500 grams (about 8 oz.), but I think my lack of Spanish resulted in a much bigger cut (which was OK with me). At Casa Paco the tenderloin and veal cost 40 euros per kilo, while the sirloin is 50 euros per kilo. Medium rare is called poco hecha in Spanish. I thought i ordered my steak medium rare but it ended up rare (again, fine with me when it comes to the tenderloin).

 

tenderloin of beef - photo by The Jab

tenderloin of beef – photo by The Jab

 

photo by The Jab

tender and tasty! – photo by The Jab

When your steak comes to the table at Casa Paco it arrives loudly sizzling on a scalding-hot plate, which is then placed on a cork mat with a warning of “¡muy caliente!”. Interestingly, the steaks are cooked over a coal fire, so they acquire a reddish-brown crust and not a dark brown one. The steak continues to sizzle on the plate while you eat it. Cold steak doesn’t happen here!

 

 

With my steak I had pisto Manchego, a ratatouille La Mancha style with eggplant, peppers, and onions, and really good, crispy French fries. I tend to order too much in places like this because I want to try all the regional dishes! But since I didn’t have dinner, just tapas at night, it was good to have a big lunch in the Spanish way. To drink with my steak I had a glass of Ribero del Duero red wine.

 

photo by The Jab, 2014

photo by The Jab, 2014

 

Casa Paco
Plaza de Puerta Cerrada, 11, 28005 Madrid, Spain
phone: +34913663166
Open for lunch Mon-Sun 1:00pm-4:00pm, dinner Mon-Sat 4:00pm-12:00am (no dinner on Sunday)

 

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