GASTRONOMY

The top chefs' top tapas

Six leading Madrid cooks choose their favorite dishes in the capital

Matthew Scott, from Madrid restaurant Gumbo, at La Ardosa.
Matthew Scott, from Madrid restaurant Gumbo, at La Ardosa.CRISTÓBAL MANUEL (EL PAÍS)

After several years of under-appreciation, the traditional tapa is making a comeback in Madrid, led by the contributions of the new generation of alchemist chefs and restaurant owners using the cheaper formula as a way of keeping hold of customers in the crisis. In support of the continuing relevance of these small dishes, six reputed Madrid chefs recommend their favorite examples in the city.

- Callos con huevo frito (tripe with fried egg) - Taberna Viavélez. Ricardo Sanz, chef at Madrid's Michelin-starred Kabuki Wellington restaurant, may be an expert in oriental food, but he's also a big fan of tripe, a Madrid specialty. And he considers the version served at Viavélez (Avenida del General Perón, 10) his favorite tapa in the city. "It's tremendous: picking up the tripe and dipping it in the egg; [picking up] the potato and dipping it in the egg. You get idea?" he laughs.

- Croquetas de jamón (ham croquettes) - Vi Cool. "I am a croquetas de jamón fan," says Paco Roncero, head chef at the Casino de Madrid. "I order them and if I don't like them, I go." If there's anything wrong with the croquetas, he believes, you can't expect anything good on the rest of the menu. In his opinion, the best in the city are those served by Sergi Arola at his new Madrid establishment Vi Cool (C/ Huertas, 12).

- Tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelet) - La Ardosa. Matthew Scott serves up cuisine from his native New Orleans in his Madrid restaurant Gumbo, but he also loves traditional Spanish cooking. He chooses the Spanish omelet at La Ardosa (C/ Colón, 13) as his favorite. "Now you don't find many like this," he says.

- Huevo escalfado con aceite de trufa y parmentier de patata (Poached egg with truffle oil and parmentier potatoes) - Decomeraparte. Chef at Hamburguesa Nostra, Juan Pozuelo, recommends a tapa at the gourmet Decomeraparte (C/ Almansa, 93) in Guzmán el Bueno. "To know [the place] you have to be from the neighborhood or enjoy investigating." "It's perfect," he says of the dish, "because it allows you to have the delicious combination of potato and egg, but without all the frying fat."

- Bacalao (salt cod) - Casa Revuelta. Catalan chef Ramon Freixa, whose Madrid restaurant has two Michelin stars, arrives at Casa Revuelta (C/ Latoneros, 3) and immediately congratulates the cook on the cleanliness of her kitchen: "I'm very observant about this and yours is exceptional," he says. But that's not the only reason he likes the place: "The cod they serve is a 10 out of 10, I'm fascinated by the crunch it has."

- Ostras fritas (fried oysters) - Sacha. "Because they are magical." Sergi Arola, owner of Gastro and Vi Cool in Madrid, doesn't hold back in justifying his predilection for the fried oysters at Sacha (C/ Juan Hurtado de Mendoza, 11). He says he loves any kind of oysters, but those here have something special, fried in a way that heightens their flavor and "turns it into something unique, into an explosion of flavor."

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