It was my first night in Madrid and I’d arrived on a late flight. Wondering where to go to eat, I stumbled on Bolero literally a stone’s throw from my apartment. This little meatball café, at 4 Calle de las Conchas, specialises in meatballs including a vegan one made with quinoa, tofu, rice, mushroom and caramelised onion. You can have them in a sandwich (5.20 EUR), or with potato wedges or rice (6.50-10.50 EUR for 3 or 6 meatballs respectively). Easy street food really, no-frills but nice and filling!
Next morning on the way to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía to see Picasso’s Guernica, I stopped at Distrito Vegano at 32 Calle del Dr. Fourquet in the Lavapies neighbourhood of Madrid (a five minute walk from the museum). It’s a small, friendly vegan café serving food made with high-quality fresh local products. I had the Nachos XL (12.90 EUR), made with totopos (like tortillas) topped with melted vegan cheese, black beans, pico de gallo, fresh guacamole tartara sauce and jalapeños. There was a lot of it! My partner had the burger (12.90 EUR) and loved it. Not one to turn down a vegan dessert (especially one involving my favourite nuts) I went for a Pistachio panna cotta (3.50 EUR). It was lovely and creamy and quite light.
If you are self-catering, there are plenty of health food shops that stock tofu, sausages, burgers, frankfurters, vegan cheese and more. Planeta Vegano at 34 Calle Ave María had loads of vegan goodies including sweets, chocolate and nail varnish! For a fancy evening meal, I went to Vega, at 9 Calle Luna. It’s a friendly and informal vegan restaurant, serving organic handmade food, local beer and wine. The food is lovely and prepared with a great deal of thought and care. You need to book, as a table here doesn’t stay empty for long! For starters, we shared a trio of smoked aubergine pâté, sun-dried tomato hummus and avocado with pico de gallo (4.50 EUR for three). They were all very tasty and the home-baked crackers they came with were very good too. For my main, I had the black rice with ‘squid’, artichokes, asparagus and sweet garlic mayonnaise (10.50 EUR) and my partner had the burger (10.50 EUR). Both dishes were really good. The ‘squid’ was quite unusually squiddy! For dessert my partner tried the chocolate, coconut and hazelnut mousse (4.50 EUR) and I had the Tiramisu cake with toffee (4.50 EUR). The mousse was out of this world – really light! My cake was delicious and not too much either. It was all very good value considering how much care was taken over the food. I was sorry I couldn’t eat here again on this trip and will certainly make a bee-line for this place next time I visit Madrid.
For lunch the next day we went to Rayén Vegano at 7 Calle Lope de Vega. I opted for Soup and Dish of the Day (13.90 EUR) and my partner had Salad of the Day (12.90 EUR). Both options include bread, a cold drink and dessert or tea/coffee. My soup was really interesting made with almonds and turmeric. The dish of the day was tempeh, rice and vegetables and was very nice. The salad was good too with lots of different flavours and textures. I noticed several vegan cheesecakes in the fridge (which are not included in the meal deal) but I had to try! I went for the raspberry cheesecake and it was pretty darn good.
If you fancy a quick ice-cream while taking in a breath-taking view (for free) head up to Amorino on the top floor of the El Corte Inglés at 2 Plaza Callao. Make sure you ask for the vegan options and they will make you a pretty flower-shaped ice-cream.
For our last evening meal we headed up to Viva Burger at 16 Costanilla de San Andrés, where they say eating is a daily act of love! They rely on the taste in their ingredients without incurring any animal suffering, “eat conscious and you will be much happier”. They specialise in burgers (13.90 EUR) but you can order a salad or a wrap. There is a reasonable choice of burgers including Mexican, Italian, Japanese, and more… They come with a small pile of chips and vegan mayo. It’s a bright, friendly restaurant and we enjoyed the walk up the hill to it.
Last stop for food in the morning before heading off to the airport. We went to La Rollerie at 24 Calle Mayor. They offer a vegan croissant which is delicious! My partner had toast and ‘emulsified’ tomato with olive oil – he was very enthusiastic about it! They also have soya milk.
I remember a waiter in Spain calling his colleagues out onto the street to point at me sitting at one of their tables and say ‘Look at her – she doesn’t eat anything!’ I’m happy to say that in Barcelona, Bilbao and Madrid and much more of Spain I’m sure, those days are well gone – adios!