Monday, 1 December 2014

Madrid Monday: A trendy take on tapas at La Pescadería

You're in Madrid and looking to dine at a stylish spot with a bit of atmosphere. The food's got to be good too, of course. Oh, and you don't have a lot to spend.

In a city saturated with restaurants, finding somewhere that fits all these criteria shouldn't be a tall order: but it is. Until recently, my go-tos for good value meals in a trendy setting were always La Musa and La Mucca –  until I discovered La Pescadería.

The lovely indoor patio at La Pescaderia

From the same stable as success story La Mucca (which has a branch just off Calle Pez and another on Calle Prado), La Pescadería is on newly-happening Calle Ballesta and offers diners a winning formula of cocktails, tapas and main meals. Like La Mucca, it's atmospherically-lit (no complexion-draining strip lighting beloved of bares Manolo here, señores) with that industrial-chic feel that's doing the rounds on the hipster circuit at the moment. So far, so Triball identikit, right?

But wait: the food's great. And don't just take my word for it: I took my notoriously fussy mother here and she loved it. She's still talking about it a month later. With a more modern Spanish menu than La Mucca, La Pescadería offers a generous selection of tapas to share, including vegetarian, meat and you guessed it, fish options. You'll see a few staples such as patatas bravas and chipirones encebollados (baby squid with onion) lurking amongst the tempting-sounding modern dishes, and you may well consider ignoring them. Don't. La Pescadería's are some of the best bravas I've ever had, with fresh, plump potatoes that somehow avoid feeling fried and a rich, creamy, spicy sauce. The succulent chipirones are one of the stand-out dishes, recommended by the friendly staff.

Atmospheric lighting = bad food shots. Pumpkin & goat's cheese salad

Other top tapas include the pumpkin, goat's cheese and walnut salad, the buñuelos de bacalao (cod fritters – my personal favourite) with piquillo pepper sauce, vegetable tempura and rabas (squid strips) with saffron alioli. Portions are a decent size for tapas; after several visits I've found four tapas to be enough between two people wanting a light meal, but if you're hungry, order more. Prices hover around the €5 mark for the tapas, with main meals such as boletus risotto, gourmet hamburger, meats and fish generally €13 plus. Wines by the glass are a cut above the usual and cheap, and there's an extensive cocktail list.

Vegetable tempura

Entering via the busy bar, La Pescadería looks pretty petite. In the bar area are a few high tables with stools, reserved for those who haven't booked. Beyond this is more (and more and more) seating, with a downstairs area, mezzanine level and a lovely interior patio resembling a winter garden. If you're going to do the smart thing and book, ask to sit here: with just a handful of tables, it's more intimate and a little more relaxed than the main dining areas.

With great food, enough choice for pescetarians, a vibrant atmosphere and good service, La Pescadería is hands down my current favourite restaurant in Madrid. What are you waiting for? Book now.

The details
La Pescadería is at Calle Ballesta 32, 28004 Madrid, metro Callao or Tribunal.
Tel 915 239 051 or book online.
Reservations recommended.

Have you been to La Pescadería? What's your favourite restaurant in Madrid?


  1. This place looks fantastic. I won't be able to get there anytime soon, but I can always dream :)

    1. You definitely should put it on your list for a visit to Madrid!


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