Asturias is one of my favourite regions in Spain, partly because of the excellent food they serve everywhere, and partly because of its beautiful, splendid green landscapes, and great mountain and beach areas. Luckily for me, Madrid is also full of Asturian restaurants, so I do not always have to travel north if I fancy eating a delicious fabada.
Asturian people have been migrating from the north to Madrid since King Felipe II moved his court from Valladolid to Madrid around 1583, and over the centuries many Asturians have opened dozens of typical Asturian restaurants in Madrid, which are in general very popular among Asturian people and Madrilenians as well.
Normally you can find typically Asturian dishes in these restaurants, such as the before mentioned fabada, a delicious white bean dish jazzed up with bits of meat like chorizo and morcilla sausage (black pudding). Sometimes the fabada is made with clams instead of meat which makes it a bit less “heavy” but make sure to schedule a siesta in afterwards, as you will find yourself pretty stuffed after eating this typical Asturian dish.
I personally love the typical Asturian cheeses, especially the Cabrales, known for its pungent odour and strong flavours. Asturias is often called “the land of cheeses” (el pais de los quesos) due to the product’s diversity and quality in this region. Most strong Asturian cheeses are aged in natural caves in the limestone mountains of the Picos of the Europea region and require a rather intense labour process before they can be sold. The cheese makers can only access the caves, which are located in general in the high mountain areas, by foot and horse. Once arrived the cheese makers leave the new cheeses to age inside the caves, and return with the finished cheeses on horseback. Some cheese makers even have to walk more then a day to reach their cheese cave, which location normally is kept rather secret due to the valuable content inside.
Champion Cider pourers
Foreign people normally associate Asturias first with its typical cider that has to be poured from great heights into the typical cider glasses, so it can take as much as oxygen as possible to enhance the great flavours hidden inside this liquid gold. The reason why Asturias is full of cider and Sidrerías is because its climate is excellent for growing apples, which are partly used for the for large cider production in this region. “The Fiesta de la Sidra Natural” staged each august in Gijón, gives serious cider-tippers the chance to compete for the national champion title of Escanciador or Champion Cider pourer.
The essence of the cider pouring seems to do it with maximum nonchalance, preferably while looking in another direction entirely and holding a slurred conversation with someone in yet a third direction. The quantities of cider that actually enters the glass or are splashed over people’s clothes are, by comparison, of slight importance during the pouring ;-).
If you fancy a realistic Asturian experience in Madrid I suggest you visit my favourite Asturian place in Madrid; Casa Parrondo, located in the city centre in between Opera and Santo Domingo. Make sure you visit the bar and not the restaurant located in front of the bar, as that is kind of a tourist trap. The owner, Nicolás Parrondo, can normally be found behind the large bar and is famous for his enormous moustache. His photos, where he embraces famous people who visited the bar, can be found all over the place, sometimes with hilarious 80-ties looks. If you go there on a Friday or Saturday night you will find the place packed and you probably will have to be patient in case you want to stand at the bar even or want to have dinner at a table in the back. Best time to visit would be outside rush hours or on weekdays as you then will have some more space to move around. Do not be afraid to be without drinks, though, as there are always a few very hard working waiters around who serve every client in no time wherever they are. The waiters seem to love to shout the orders as loud as possible to the people working behind the bar, but do not be scared off with the rather rudimentary work style, its all part of the charm.
Lost in Translation
The first time I went to Casa Parrondo I had a great laugh with my friends when the waiter handed me over the English Menu as it was one of the funniest translations I had seen in years, but the owner was smart and directly knew what happened and has replaced it since. He still keeps an old hilarious version of this English translated menu behind the bar, though, as I asked him not to through this lost-in-translation-gem away, and you can still always have a look at it if you ask him for the old English menu (see also pics below of this article).
Berber´s TOP 3 Best Asturian Bars/Restaurants in Madrid
NR1. Casa Parrondo (Madrid centre)
Calle Trujillos 4
Make sure to try at least once the montadito de salmon, an enormous, impossible to eat sandwich layered with smoked salmon and cream cheese. They also serve the typical bollo preña, a bread roll filled with chorizo. All the food is excellent in general.
NR2. Casa de Asturias (Lavapies area)
This Casa serves excellent free tapas with any drink at the bar, portions are even larger and the quality is just excellent. Best to just have a few drinks at the bar instead of a large dinner at a table, quality and price wise. They serve a delicious pincho de tortilla and marvellous patatas con salsa de cabrales as well. As it is not so centrally located normally its easier to find a free place at the bar. They serve an excellent red Ribera wine as well and the waiters are very friendly too.
NR 3. Casa Portal (Salamanca area)
Doctor Casteló, 26
This Asturian is located in the posh area of Salamanca and therefore the pricing is a bit higher as well, but the food is of very high quality and this restaurant is perfect for a long Sunday lunch with family or friends. In the weekend it normally gets packed so best to reserve a table or visit at late lunch hours. Amazing fresh fish dishes and they also serve an enormous, delicious cachopo (grilled steak).
Other famous Asturian Restaurants in Madrid
Paseo Florida, 34
Reasonable pricing (grilled chicken for 7,70EUR at the bar), fast but sometimes grumpy service, tasty chicken and fizzing cider keep the tables at this Asturian cider house perpetually filled. Take in Goya´s frescoes at the Hermitage de San Antonio de la Florida (across the street) while you are in the neighbourhood, and take a stroll along the Manzanares river to work off the excessive food and alcohol ;-).
Jorge Juan, 16, 28001 Madrid
Posh place but excellent food. Located at the high end of Madrid, the barrio of Salamanca, so be prepared to pay the price. Tables are situated rather close to each other but the portions are good sizes, as they should be in any authentic Asturian restaurant.
La Burbuja Que Rie
Calle Angel 16
This was once a famous Asturian place but I was very disappointed the last time I went, as it has clearly turned into a money-maker-tourist-trap restaurant, which has lost most of its important values such as good food and a great service….Overpriced and very doubtful quality, unfortunately.
Calle Capitan Haya, 20,
Posh place but excellent quality, good service and a nice setting. Good for a great Sunday lunch with family if you can afford it (approx 45-50EUR per person). More than one customer does has complained about the small size of the portions though and the desserts are not their speciality it seems.