As this Madrid summer continues heating up, finding an appetizing place to eat can be difficult. The ideal Madrid restaurant meal is filling but not heavy, simple but not boring, and refreshing enough to distract from the rising temperatures. We found our summer oasis at Restaurante Gallego, an authentic Galician restaurant with a delicious selection of dishes tailored to the season.
Walking into the sun-soaked space covered in shades of white and blue, it’s easy to imagine yourself in a seaside restaurant on the Galician shore. Founded in 1980, Restaurante Gallego has been in existence for over 40 years. One of the best qualities of this Madrid restaurant is the high standard of its ingredients. The dishes available vary throughout the year because El Gallego refuses to compromise quality by using ingredients that aren’t in season.
The perfect start to a meal on a hot summer day is the burrata with basil and tomatoes. This dish is a special that doesn’t appear on the menu, but it’s a great choice if available. Like most plates at Restaurante Gallego, it can easily be shared. The burrata is cool and creamy as you cut it and smear it over the juicy tomatoes. It’s a simple, light starter that won’t weigh you down.
Another off-the-menu specialty is the coquinas en salsa verde. These small clams are served in a rich parsley and garlic sauce that you’ll undoubtedly want to mop up with bread. The charm of this plate is in its informality. As you take turns reaching into the communal dish to pick up clams, you feel connected to both the food and the people that you’re sharing it with.
If your seafood of choice is fish, order the tartar de atún rojo de almadraba. This tuna tartare has a beautiful deep red color interspersed with flecks of green basil. Served with crisp pieces of toast, the fish is left to shine.
You can’t leave the restaurant without trying the pulpo a feira. So often, octopus is associated with a chewy, rubbery texture that is nothing like its texture when cooked well. At Restaurante Gallego, the quality of the octopus is top-notch, and each piece is so tender that you barely have to bite it. This Galician specialty needs nothing more than olive oil, a dusting of paprika, and a handful of salt to taste spectacular. The beauty of what’s done here is that an out-of-the-ordinary ingredient can turn into a veritable comfort food.
Of course, El Gallego offers dessert options, each of which is light but impeccably made. The filloas consist of two thin, rolled crepes filled with a smooth custard. After they arrive at the table, they are flambeed with orujo. The simple presentation belies the punch of flavor left by the alcohol.
An equally memorable dessert is the tarta de manzana. A thin, buttery crust is covered with a layer of sliced apples in this unique take on an apple pie. The apples are baked slowly, allowing them to caramelize in the oven and acquire a tender, slightly sticky texture. The dessert is finished with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.
Because of its location one stop north of Chamartin, Restaurante Gallego remains something of a hidden gem – a Madrid restaurant of this quality in the city center would be overrun with people. One short trip on the Cercanías train, and you’ll be enjoying an unforgettable Galician meal. The dishes here are perfect for summer, but trust us – once you try them, you’ll be craving them year-round.
Address: Calle de San Modesto, 44
Cercanías: Ramón y Cajal, Metro: Begoña
Reservations: 917 291 108, firstname.lastname@example.org