Spain is about everything except eating a quick lunch. Lunch is the only time during the day were you are entitled to reconnect with yourself over a long lunch affair. Your lunch has 3 courses typically. Eating so much at lunch has the after effect of induced itis. In Spain, this is usually followed by a customary siesta which helps you to recharge and face the rest of the day. A siesta, as many have purported, is not an excuse to tolerate laziness in Spanish culture. It works wonders, fact.
Of course, trying to reconcile a long lunch with a body that was wired to do everything on the go from birth is not easy at all. In complete opposition to Mitzi Wallace, a MuchBites contributor who will teach us the ways of slow food – Spanish style next week, I will highlight 3 places that carry the flame for a quick lunch in Madrid. This is because sometimes you just want a wham, bam, thank you ma’am type of experience. Maybe because you’re busy or just because. I do admit, the idea of a quick lunch that is also delicious is somehow foreign here. So here I tell you how to score a quick lunch that will leave you full and your pockets happy. These places are for “junk food” but with quality and style.
Recently opened in Madrid, Bacoa has set itself to join the fierce best burger in town competition – and doing quite well at that. Their philosophy is simple: casual dining in an open atmosphere. Their approach to the restaurant experience is rather unique in Madrid at present and is quite reminiscent of a couple of MuchBites favourites from London. As you walk into the restaurant, you grab a menu and pencil stationed by the main entrance. You choose your meal by ticking the boxes, IKEA style. Then, hand in the completed order card to the person at the counter, pay for the meal and you receive a buzzer that will flash red lights and vibrate when it’s time to eat.
This alone is already exciting. But, the burgers themselves are worth writing home about. They are freshly made from premium quality beef, lamb or chicken breast – never frozen or pre-cooked. The burger buns are hand rolled and come dusted with poppy seeds for extra that yum-factor. They chargrill the burgers, which gives them an intense flavour that is unique in the Madrid burger market. As its casual dining, this place is just great for the quick lunch factor we’re looking for. Typically, you’d be in, fed and out in under 30mins.
Madrid is undergoing a hotdog resurgence. The best in this hotdog market are the ones who have created something more than just a sausage in a bun. Paperboy is no exception. Aptly named paperboy in reference to the guy who delivers newspapers to your front door, the restaurant’s menu features a hotdog named after big newspapers around the world. In being named after the newspaper of a particular country, the hotdogs’ toppings are said to reflect the typical ingredients from that country. Examples include Le Parisien, The New York Times, Houston Chronicle and La Republica. Toppings from these 4 include the likes of goats cheese, crispy bacon, house pesto and rocket. Certainly these hotdog’s merit the title “Gourmet Hotdogs.” The thing to love about Paperboy is that everyone is included. The choice of sausages is: Frankfurt, Bratwurst, Chicago beef sausage, Fricandele chicken sausage or Tofu. So really, no one is left out.
Paperboy is set in a tiny restaurant across two floors. The sitting is done in such a way that you know you’re there to eat and go. The service is quick and friendly which makes a great addition to the quick lunch list. The owner works in the kitchen making hotdogs as the orders come, a waitress takes your orders and then brings them to you when they’re ready. You eat your hotdog and before you know it, you’re back out and on your way with your daily routine. What’s even more brilliant is the price/quality relationship. Given how filled and tasty they are, all hotdogs are priced between 3.50€ and 6.50€. Very reasonable indeed. Aside from hotdogs, the menu boasts a huge selection of starters such as onion rings, stuffed jalapeños and nachos. What’s not to love? For sure, the hotdog revolution has begun with Paperboy getting in with the big boys.
Maura hotdogs comes onto the quick lunch scene singing an entirely different tune. Their main focus is beauty in simplicity. They have a simple menu that boasts only 7 hotdogs. To choose from you have the Mac Daddy with macaroni and cheese and, a personal favourite of mine – Al Capone with Parmesan cheese, tomato, pesto and onions. Other toppings available are guacamole, coleslaw and chips. All hotdogs are made in front of you and served in no time. As the space is rather tiny, you are more than welcome to takeaway and eat as you walk. (A practice rather frowned upon in Spanish society but, join the revolution.) For the quick lunch effect, the menu del dia at Maura hotdogs is great. Priced at 8.90€, you get a drink, hotdog, nachos plus a dessert or coffee.
If hotdogs are not your thing on that particular day, then you can choose from a variety of savoury and sweet crepes.
All in all, it is becoming more and more possible to have a quick lunch in Madrid without sacrificing on quality. It is great to see the concept of junk food being redefined and taking away from it any semblance of scrap bits of low quality meat and expensive for no reason. These 3 places give more reasons for all expat Madrileños and visitors alike to feel more at home.
Happy quick lunch to all