The Sibarist

Eating El Retiro

It has become one of the city's most gastronomic neighbourhoods. In the streets around Madrid's Retiro Park, on its banks, we find some of the busiest and most emblematic gastro temples in Madrid.

Restaurante Hermanos Vinagre

Its streets are full of gastronomic concepts, for all tastes, that you must visit if good food and drink are your thing. One of the best rice restaurants in Madrid, set up by the son of the renowned filmmaker Luis García Berlanga? A tribute to aperitifs and traditional bars, with preserves and pickles as the protagonists? An informal bar where you can enjoy the Atlantic cuisine of the Cadiz coast with a base of Spanish recipes, fresh touches and nods to very different cultures? One of the best-known taverns in the neighbourhood where you can put everything in the centre and enjoy the most delicious croquettes or Russian salad in the city? A trip to the most authentic Mexican gastronomy by the renowned chef Roberto Ruiz without leaving Madrid?

Take note of these five places around the Retiro Park and enjoy the best gastronomy in the city!


Restaurante La barra de Kulto

Its recently refurbished bar has become one of the essential stops if you visit the emblematic Calle Ibiza. There, at number 4, you’ll find Kulto, a chameleon-like, informal and fun space where you can work up an appetite with Madrid-style portions with an identity and off-menu dishes inspired by the Mediterranean and nods to many different cultures. Its chef Jose Fuentes, at the helm of the kitchen, proposes a perfect formula for sharing in which the Atlantic cuisine of the Cadiz coast, based on traditional Spanish recipes, fresh touches and aromas from around the world, becomes the protagonist. You won’t be able to leave without trying some of its most emblematic dishes such as its mollete de pringa (stuffed with ropa viaje de cocido, pickled cucumbers, herbs and salseta) or its pepito de vaca vieja rubia madurada with green peppers, habanero sauce and slivers of payoyo cheese. For main courses, don’t forget to ask for their delicious version of tuna with tomato (topped with a fried egg), their original courgette salad (with slices of courgette dressed with balsamic vinegar, truffled dried tomatoes, almonds and parmesan) or their socarrat with chickpeas with baby squid and squid ali-oli. There is always room for dessert and here, at Kulto, you will have to finish off their version of the classic lemon pie, which they prepare with violet meringue, lemon peel ice cream, biscuits and fried almonds. Don’t forget to ask for their off-menu, unbeatable.


Restaurante Hermanos Vinagre

The aperitif is sacred. The first Hermanos Vinagre, located at number 58 Calle Narváez, is the perfect place to indulge in one of the most important meals of the day, with apologies to breakfast: the aperitif. This interesting and successful project, born during the pandemic, arises from the nostalgia and affectionate idea of bringing back to life the bars of yesteryear. Hermanos Vinagre thus becomes a 21st century tavern where you can enjoy the classic chatos de vino, homemade vermouth, a well-drawn beer and a delicious aperitif in which preserves, pickles or gildas become the absolute protagonists. A tribute to the “cañí” culture, it has become one of the most traditional bars in the city, the favourite place for lovers of long, unhurried aperitifs. Its gastronomic proposal is based on canned food, made in its own canning factory in Boadilla del Monte. The result is morsels such as the now emblematic smoked pickled mussels, anchovies in vinegar or homemade anchovies. Among its latest novelties, Hermanos Vinagre has recently opened a new establishment in Calle Cardenal Cisneros, in the heart of Chamberí, which joins its second opening in Calle Gravina, in the lively neighbourhood of Chueca. Long live the aperitif!


Restaurante Berlanga

It has become one of the essential addresses in the capital for lovers of rice dishes. Restaurante Berlanga, located at 41 Menéndez Pelayo Street, was born with the culinary vocation of “casa de comidas” and cultural imprint, this restaurant located in front of the Retiro is named after its creator, José Luis García Berlanga, first son of the acclaimed filmmaker Luis García Berlanga. Specialists in rice dishes and Levantine Mediterranean cuisine, with nods to the more traditional Madrid fare and traditional tapas, they have managed to become a key stop for those who want to enjoy an authentic rice dish. On their extensive menu you will find rice dishes such as the classic “A banda” (with clear skirt and galera), rice with snow peas and foie gras, Iberian prey, diced bacon and green peppers or “del Senyoret” (with peeled shrimp, cuttlefish, dogfish and red mullet). Also the leek and rapa paella (a tribute to Antonio and Ana Resines), its red mullet and garlic paella or the classic Valencian paella (meat and vegetable paella with garrafón). In addition, the cosy premises, decorated by the renowned interior designer Pepe Vela Zanetti, has furniture, books and personal mementos that Luis García-Berlanga had in his home, making this restaurant a unique and truly special place. Ask about their comic collection.


Taberna Arzábal

At the high tables and bar of Taberna Arzábal, one of the most classic establishments in Retiro, you can enjoy an interesting proposal that is perfect for sharing and pays homage to traditional taverns. A menu that focuses on gastronomic enjoyment through carefully prepared dishes and with the product as the protagonist, offering an informal and quality experience in one of the most important places in the city. You will have to ask for some of the big hits of the Arzabalera cuisine, such as its Iberian croquettes made with Latxa sheep’s milk, its classic Russian salad with smoked sardines, the crispy ear with brava sauce, the bikini of cured beef and comté, the cubes of battered hake with parsley mayonnaise, the casserole of tripe Madrilenian style or the potatoes with crayfish, among others. In addition, those who prefer to enjoy the proposal of the chefs Álvaro Castellanos and Iván Morales without haste and with the corresponding after-dinner conversation, can also do so from their dining room. There, the experience can begin with their sautéed rice with truffle and mushrooms, with candied and grilled artichokes or leeks confit, to continue with a dish of grilled meat or fish, such as rapito or Galician blonde beef chop. Finally, don’t forget to ask for their famous torrija de pan brioche with vanilla ice cream.


Restaurante Barracuda MX

Located on the other side of the Retiro, next to Puerta de Alcalá, we find Barracuda MX. This successful project, the most personal of chef Roberto Ruiz, is a journey to the best of Mexican gastronomy without having to leave Madrid. Barracuda MX’s cuisine is fresh, young, accessible, and takes place in a different space, designed to make us feel the Pacific and bring us closer to Mexico. Its very complete menu starts with delicious starters such as the Barracuda MX guacamole served with chicharrones, the charcoal-grilled mussels in chile morita sauce or the pancita confit memela with fresh jalapeño sauce and enchilado amaranth. This fresh gastronomic proposal could not miss elaborations such as the emblematic aguachiles and ceviches with fresh fish, prepared in short macerations to subtly add touches of spiciness and acidity, well accompanied by their essential corn chips with guacamole, beans and sauces, such as the green ceviche of prawns with roasted tomatillo or the aguachile of beef loin marinated in charcoal with roasted garlic sauce and fermented chillies. For the main course, you can’t leave without the star of the menu: the carved sea bass with red guajillo chilli marinade and green poblano chilli marinade, cooked as tradition dictates, grilled and with a slightly spicy chilli marinade that adds great flavour and texture to the dish, making it ideal for sharing in tacos.

Editor: Álex de la Rosa

Álex is a journalist and a reference in the world of gastronomy, creator of the successful blog “Que no me la den con queso”.