Food and Drink Andrea González

New culinary developments in Madrid

The culinary scene in the Spanish capital defies belief. With dishes for the most demanding of palates and influences from around the world, Madrid is a gastronomic destination that constantly reinvents itself. We recommend four of the most exciting current openings: Desborre, Iroko, Ita and a new Bareto in Olavide. They’re perfect for taking a journey from local traditions to Rioja’s landscapes, the best vegetable gardens in the country to the far-flung flavours of Japan.

  1. 1 Desborre: a tribute to La Rioja

    Located in the heart of Madrid, a few steps from the Teatro Real, Desborre is the new project by Rioja-born chef Lucía Grávalos. Here, the renowned chef uses what she learned from her grandmother Ana Mari and from her previous Mentica project – which earned her a Repsol Sun and the Metrópoli Revelation Chef 2021 award – to promote what she defines as an eatery with options based on fresh and seasonal produce from her homeland. Desborre is the result of three years of reflection and planning, so every detail is especially curated, from the space, completely restored by bringing back its bricks, beams, wooden doors and mirrors, to the fermented products, cutlery – chosen and bought from antique dealers – and the works of artists such as Luis Feito and Juan Barjola on the walls. The culinary offering, which is based on respect for the environment and the work of suppliers such as Panátika and Sapiens Sostenible, includes an à la carte menu and two tasting menus (Pétit and Desborre), where you can find surprises such as a new interpretation of the squid sandwich, a tribute to Madrid, or the torreznos soufflé, with kimchi mayonnaise and spearmint pico de gallo.

     The presentation of some of Desborre's recipes.
    Desborre's impeccable presentation is only surpassed by the taste of its recipes.
  2. 2 Iroko: a culinary journey

    Iroko is the nomadic project of the chef Alex García. Within a very welcoming setting, the Asturias-born chef has devised a signature cuisine steeped in influences from different corners of the planet, from Japan – his eternal inspiration – to his own place of birth, Asturias. The menu consists of dishes featuring these gastronomic cultures, such as scallop tartare in kobujime, mizuna and negi velouté, red fig chutney and toasted coral or Asturian croquettes, sea urchin and apple. There is space for such creative innovations as the Japanese mushroom ragout with huitlacoche and amontillado beurre blanc, and a tendon risotto, with tender wheat and Rubia Gallega beef. To enjoy the experience, you can opt for the à la carte menu or one of its two tasting menus, Hajime or Haiku. The restaurant also features an executive menu.

    Presentation of one of the Iroko recipes based on rice in yellow tones
    In each dish on the Iroko´s menu you can appreciate the chef's different culinary influences.
  3. 3 Bareto: a renewed classic

    Hoteliers Curro and Kike Sánchez del Amo and Nacho Horcajada have opened another of their Baretos, a refuge for lifelong lovers of bars. The new location in Plaza de Olavide encapsulates the essence of Madrid breweries, with well-drawn beers, and tapas and small plates that are perfect for sharing. This traditional tavern has become famous for its tortilla – faithful to the classic recipe and prepared upon request – but also for its spicy brava patatas, its version of the gilda, a tiny savoury skewer and, in the dessert section, its Arabic cake. The space of the new Bareto is filled with light, and its two lounges and terrace are perfect for escaping the hustle and bustle of the square at any time of the day, whether for breakfast or to enjoy a few drinks at night.

    Croquettes and beers in Bareto
    Traditional tapas and good beer in Bareto
  4. 4 Ita: sustainable local flavours

    For fans of organic cuisine, Ita is a must. The gastronomic offering of this new restaurant in the Salamanca district is based on recognisable and intense flavours that are only achieved when the best fresh and seasonal ingredients are used. Mariela Fernández Brandt and William Lamas, chef and sommelier, have embarked on an adventure where they want to highlight local produce. Once again with the help of Sapiens Sostenible, vegetables are of special importance in the dishes. Try the handmade ravioli with ricotta and noisette butter (the filling changes depending on the seasonal vegetables available). Another strong point is the fish from the supplier Nacho Pescaviva, with recipes such as salmon marinated with fennel and crème fraîche. Ita also includes an exquisite array of drinks, with options such as kombucha, and wines from France, Rioja and Mallorca from small producers, as well as speciality coffee.

    One of Ita's salads, in an impeccable presentation
    Sustainability and fresh flavors in Ita, in the center of Madrid
  5. 5 Zalacaín: a literary recommendation

    To finish up tastefully, the commemorative book Zalacaín: 50 años reviews the history of one of Madrid’s gastronomic flagships. Published by Planeta Gastro, it includes emblematic recipes from both the most classic Zalacaín and new ideas by chef Jorge Losa, as well as a previously unpublished collection of testimonials and photographs.

    The final dish: we review the history of Zalacaín
    The final dish: we review the history of Zalacaín