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Julie Friedeberger's Profile

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Madrid on an extremely low budget

If you're still there, I second the recommendations of La Venencia. A glass of excellent sherry, and a tapa of cheese - they also have chorizo and a few other options - will cost you about 3 euros.

The lunch menu del dia is excellent value everywhere, and at simple eating places you will get a good, filling lunch for 8-10 euros - sometimes less, depending on where you are.

No-one else has mentioned La Brilliante, on the plaza across from the Reina Sofia. The extremely filling and very delicious bocadilla de calamares will set you back 5 euros.

Finally, I agree with the poster who mentioned Museo de Jamon: again, good, cheap, filling food.

Jan 16, 2010
Julie Friedeberger in Spain/Portugal

3 Days/Nights in Athens

Where are you staying? I might be able to make a couple of suggestions for eating, in the Thissio/Monasteraki area.

There are way too many must sees for three days, but if you've not been to Athens before the obvious "must" is the Acropolis. Go very early in the morning (it opens at 8.30) to see it before the hordes descend (that should be "ascend"). The next "must" now has to be the new Acropolis Museum, which is simply stunning. Again, go early to avoid the crowds: it opens at 8.30 and fills up by 10 and quiets down at lunchtime. It stays open in the evening until 8, and on a recent visit (I've just come back, actually) it was almost empty between 6 and 8.

The next must sees would have to be the other archaeological sites, especially the Agora and the Kerameikos, and their attached museums; and the National Archaeological Museum which has the best collection of Greek antiquities in the world. I would also include some time spent walking in the green hills near the Acropolis: the Pnyka, or Pnyx, where democracy was born, and the Philopappou Hill, from where the views of the city, especially at sunset, are marvellous.

That's more than enough to be getting on with, but there are other excellent museums too. It's a wonderful city, with a great laid-back atmnosphere. May is a good time to go, and I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Jan 16, 2010
Julie Friedeberger in Europe

Cheap awesome eats in Madrid

5 calle Cervantes is at the top end of the street. All the places I've named are within, roughly, 5 minutes' walk.

Except for Casa Mingo. If you want to go there it's a long walk (about 45 minutes) or a short metro ride to Principe Pio plus a 15-minute walk along the Paseo de Florida.

Nov 11, 2009
Julie Friedeberger in Spain/Portugal

Cheap awesome eats in Madrid

You're in a good area for good food. On the corner down the hill from you is Cerveceria Cervantes, a Gallego place with mostly seafood but other simple things as well. Some of it is expensive, but their tostadas are excellent and cheap. Around the corner, in Calle Huertas, is Maceiras, with another branch in Calle Jesus. Javier at Hostal Gonzalo has recommended the Quevedo, in Calle Quevedo, up the hill and around the corner - I've never eaten there because it doesn't open in the evening until 9 (that's fairly typical, but I need to be asleep by 10 or I'm no good for the next day at the Prado etc). It's always jam packed with local people at lunch time.

A little further up, La Trucha, in Calle Manuel Fernandez y Gonzalez just off Plaza Santa Ana, is excellent - not very cheap, but not expensive either, for good tapas and efficient friendly service. I also like El Inti de Oro in Calle de Ventura de la Vega: Peruvian food.

Further afield a particular mention has to be Casa Mingo, open all day every day in the Paseo de Florida, for excellent roast chicken. Someone said here awhile ago that roast chicken can be found almost everywhere in Madrid, and probably it can - but I've never had better roast chicken than at Casa Mingo, where you get a whole chicken, more than enough for you and your friend, for 9 euros (last January's price). And across the street from Casa Mingo is the church of San Antonio de Florida, with Goya's marvellous frescoes.

I'm sure you'll get more suggestions - these are just a few places I've eaten in many times, and have enjoyed.

If you are staying at Hostal Gonzalo, I'm sure you'll enjoy it: lovely place, lovely people.

Nov 10, 2009
Julie Friedeberger in Spain/Portugal

Budget but good food/drink in Athens (surrounding areas)

You shouldn't have any difficulty eating well for 12-15 euros for your main meal.

Grab a koulouria for breakfast like the Athenians do from one of the thousands of street sellers you'll pass, and eat it on the hoof; then stop somewhere for a coffee. I assume you'll be spending your days in the centre enjoying the sights and museums, so for lunch, head to Monastiraki and get a souvlaki at one of the three places on the plateis - Thanassis is probably the best. You've got lots of options for your 12-15 euro supper splurge: Taverna tou Psyrri, also close to Monastiraki metro is excellent. At Telis, in Evripidou, you can eat a huge platter of delicious pork chops for 7 euros (that was the price a year ago). You can eat lamb chops almost as cheaply at To Steki tou Ilia in Thissio. You can check the addresses of these places in the main guides - also do a search of past posts for other options, of which there are plenty.

If you're exhausted after a day's sightseeing and want to go back to your hotel for a rest before going out to eat, you'll find places in your neighbourhood that will probably be even more reasonable: just go where you see a lot of local people eating, and you'll be fine.

Dec 08, 2008
Julie Friedeberger in Europe

10 Day Food Tour in Spain

That is a very big question, and I'm sure you'll get good answers. For starters, though, you can't do better than browse this forum. There are many posters who know the cities of Spain well, and their advice is worth taking: I've benefited especially from posts by Butterfly, PBSF, and KathinMadrid, amongst others.

Nov 18, 2008
Julie Friedeberger in Spain/Portugal

Madrid in 3 days with baby and no Spanish: help!

The Thyssen restaurant itself offers a decent menu del dia at a reasonable price. I've eaten there several times and like it quite a lot, and it's convenient if you want a break in between spells of viewing the enormous and excellent collection and don't want to go out.

I agree with all PBSF's recommendations, especially Cerveceria Cervantes: wonderful tostadas and gambas al ajillo. At 9 calle del amor de dios, a little further on but still walking distance, is a good little restaurant whose name alas escapes me- but I'll post it if I can remember it or maybe someone else can help. Cheap, good home cooking, always packed with local people.

If you are heading to the Reina Sofia, the El Brillante is a good place for a quick snack: good bocadillos.

Nov 11, 2008
Julie Friedeberger in Spain/Portugal

3 Nights in Lisbon; 1 in Fatima; 1 in Salamanca; Madrid w/Church Choir Arriving 5 Nov

If you are staying at the Florida Norte in Madrid, you are just ten minutes' walk up the Paseo de la Florida from one of Madrid's most wonderful sights: Goya's frescoes in the church of San Antonio de Florida. Across the street from the church is one of my favourite eating places, Casa Mingo, an Asturian cider houser always thronged with Madrilenos. Their speciaity is roast chicken - the best I have ever eaten, and very reasonably priced, 9 euros a few months ago and one portion (a whole chicken!) will feed two hungry people. Start with the chorizo in cider, and accompany it all with a bottle of their excellent cider.

Your hotel is one metro stop from the centre of Madrid where, around the Opera and Sol you will find loads of good and reasonably eating places.

Nov 06, 2008
Julie Friedeberger in Spain/Portugal

best restaurant for 2 nights in Athens and 1 in Istanbul

Since my previous post, I've realised that Varoulka has moved from Piraeus to central Athens.

Jimmy and the Fish is another well-reputed restaurant in Piraeus that you might try.

Sep 08, 2008
Julie Friedeberger in Europe

Places to eat on one's own in Madrid

Hi Victoria

I've had several long solo visits to Madrid, and have always been comfortable eating on my own, both at lunchtime, and in the evening.

A few weeks ago I made some recommendations for good places to eat near the Prado and the Reina Sofia - here's a link to it.

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/547273

Aug 28, 2008
Julie Friedeberger in Spain/Portugal

Crete - 10 days

I second all greedygirl's recommendations, especially Chrysostomos, her second: a great restaurant, in my opinion the best in Chania. They tend to close in the summer, but will be open by October. The owner comes from Sfakia, and the lamb and goat come from the Lefka Ori. He also has the taverna above Marmara Beach, near Loutro, where the food, though simpler, is just as good. In Loutro itself, if you get there, Ilios has excellent home cooking, and next door To Limani great grilled lamb, pork, and goat. Further down the coast, in Agia Roumeli, where the Samaria Gorge exits, Artemis in the main street is very good.

Aug 22, 2008
Julie Friedeberger in Europe

best restaurant for 2 nights in Athens and 1 in Istanbul

You could try Varoulka, in Piraeus. I've never eaten there, but it's reputed to be the best seafood restaurant in Athens. If your time is limited, it will be more relaxing than going into central Athens.

Aug 15, 2008
Julie Friedeberger in Europe

Madrid, March, 8 days

If you haven't decided on a hotel, perhaps you should consider staying nearer to the Prado, as you intend spending a great deal of time there. And unless you feel you need all the accoutrements of a hotel, you could think about staying in a hostal. If you haven't been to Madrid before, hostals aren't hostels, they are small, private establishments that offer good accommodation for a reasonable price. I stay at the Hostal Gonzalo, in the Calle Cervantes: it's a stone's throw from the Prado and even closer to the Thyssen, and near all the eating places I mentioned in my post above. It's comfortable, clean, and quiet, run by nice people, and a double room is 55 euros a night. I have stayed there several times and like it better than any hotel at double or triple the price. Check Tripadvisor for reviews, which are almost all enthusiastic. There are two other hostals in the same building, and several more in the immediate vicinity.

Aug 12, 2008
Julie Friedeberger in Spain/Portugal

Madrid, March, 8 days

Hi brescd01

My tastes are similar to yours, so first a few thoughts for lunch near the Prado. You could do worse than stop for lunch in its new cafeteria, but if you want to get out for a while, you would probably like Maceiras (there's also a branch around the corner in the Plaza de Jesus) a lively Gallego restaurant with a nice, fairly inexpensive menu and good seafood. Also nearby are La Plateria, with a good selection of tapas and raciones (across the Paseo from the Murillo entrance), the Museo del Jamon (a little further down the Paseo) and El Tempranillo (a great place for good, quick, cheap bocadillos and other delights) in the square across from the Reina Sofia. La Sanabresa (good, cheap home cooking and always crowded with local people) in the Calle Amor de Dios. I have grown fond of the Cerveceria Cervantes (great tostadas, gambas al ajillo, pulpo etc) in the Plaza de Jesus.

All these are open in the evenings too. If you don't want to keep Spanish hours, you might not manage a meal at El Ventorillo Murciano - I've been trying for four visits as it has been spoken of so enthusiastically here, and have never found it open when I want to go no later than 9pm - and even then it's completely empty, which isn't really inviting. I suppose it wakes up at around 10-11, but I'm usually asleep by then.

Another favourite of mine is Casa Mingo, next door to the church of San Antonio de la Florida (Goya's frescoes). It's an Asturian cider houser, a huge family place, open all day and evening and always crowded at mealtimes, with excellent roast chicken, delicious chorizo in cider, and great Asturian cider.

Others will comment on your restaurant list - I haven't been to any of them. But unless you are unredeemably allergic to tourists you might want to try Botin. It's a Tourist Destination, of course, but Madrilenos go there too, and it's despite its popularity with the tourists is still a serious restaurant serving good food. Cochinillo or lamb are both excellent. They've got a 38 euro menu consisting of gazpacho (the gazpacho course might change when it isn't summer) cochinillo, and desert, including bread and a half litre of decent wine. I've eaten there twice: the second time I asked if they could substitute the lamb for the cochinillo, which I'd had the first time, and they did, without demur.

You could also just not make too many plans. Where are you staying? Most neighbourhoods have decent places to eat - just follow your nose and eat where you see lots of locals are eating.

Have a great time.

Aug 10, 2008
Julie Friedeberger in Spain/Portugal

Lemon Granita... Spanish or Italian?

Granita is Italian (originally Sicilian) but it has become popular internationally and is now found all over Italy and indeed all over Europe, including Britain - and probably elsewhere in the world too. It's sugar, water, and flavourings (usually fruit). It's technically, I suppose, a frozen dessert, but I guess if it melts it becomes a slushy beverage!

Aug 03, 2008
Julie Friedeberger in Spain/Portugal

Dealing with Late Dining in Madrid

I know your difficulty. I have it too, and can offer a couple of suggestions from my experience over several visits in the past year. The first was a disaster: we never found the right rhythm, but during the other four visits I've found ways of coping that have enabled me to eat well and still do a full day's leg work.

First you need to decide your priority. Is it food, or is it exploring Madrid and its marvellous wealth of art and other fascinations? If it is the former, you probably wouldn't be asking the question. But if it's the latter, as it is mine, I don't think you can make a sit-down evening meal (at a proper Madrid hour) your main meal - unless, like the Madrilenos, who eat and drink late and still manage to go to work the next morning, you don't need much sleep.

It follows that lunch could be your sit-down main meal - but if you're like me in this respect as well, a heavy meal at midday with a couple of glasses of wine equals a wasted afternoon: the siesta is almost a necessity. Eating fairly lightly, if you can bear, to may be an option. And then, you've suggested yourself, tapas in the evening. Many tapas bars and cervecerias stay open all day, others open at 7 pm. One of my favourites, the Cerveceria Cervantes in the Plaza de Jesus, has plenty of tables, is always buzzing by 7.30, and is great fun to spend time in: good food too, mainly seafood but also jamon, cheese, etc. The tostadas are wonderful.

If you really want to go out to a sit-down dinner, you could go to restaurants that take the peculiar early-dining habits of British and American tourists into account. Botin, for example, opens at 8 and within ten minutes is full up, so you'd have company and wouldn't have to eat in that dining-alone atmosphere that is so off-putting. As long as you don't mind the company of your fellow-tourists, you'd enjoy the food, which is still very good: their signature dish, the roast suckling pig is on the special 38-euro menu, includes gazpacho, wine and dessert, and is great value.

Then there are places like Casa Mingo, which I posted about yesterday, that are open almost around the clock. Casa Mingo opens at 11 am and stays open until midnight. I think it's a great place: I've been there for both lunch and early dinner: it has always been lively, and the simple Asturian fare is very good.

This brings me to my final suggestion. Have a good breakfast, do a full touring stint, and stop for a hearty meal at somewhere like that at around 4 - a sort of combined lunch and dinner. Then go for a long walk, and get to bed early ready for the next day.

If you think this sounds like I'll never be a proper chowhound, you're right: I love my food, but don't put it first. I know this is sacrilege - but there is so much more to Madrid than eating. I'm sure you'll find a balance, and I hope this is helpful.

Finally (really) the long walk from wherever you've eaten to your hotel is always a good idea: consider it part of your sightseeing while you walk off the meal.

Jul 09, 2008
Julie Friedeberger in Spain/Portugal

MADRID CASA MINGO

I tremble to disagree with Butterfly (I've loved and learned from all your posts, Butterfly) but I like Casa Mingo a lot. The roast chicken is the best I've eaten anywhere, and always perfectly cooked (at least it has been the three times I've eaten there), crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside. If one likes roast chicken one is in chicken heaven (on my first visit I ate the whole chicken all myself and could hardly walk afterwards: I've been a little more abstemious since). The chorizo absolutely bursts with flavour (in total contrast to the disappointing chorizo (floppy and mealy) I had last Friday at Casa Portal, and the cider perfectly complements the food. The place itself is noisy and fun: jam-packed with people "from all walks of life", to coin a phrase. And it's not even that out of the way - you can walk it in half an hour or so from Sol or around. And its proximity to Goya makes it (for me) the perfect marriage of art and nourishment.

10 out of 10 in my (somewhat limited) book.

Jul 07, 2008
Julie Friedeberger in Spain/Portugal

apt near Opera, in Madrid

Yes, there is. It's in the new extension, which opened in October last year. It's at ground level, just past the new shop, and vastly better than the old basement cave: light and comfortable and more spacious. It's all self-service, with a reasonable choice of hot dishes and salads at the main counter plus snacks and drinks at the quick counter.

Jun 27, 2008
Julie Friedeberger in Spain/Portugal

For butterfly

Hi Butterfly

I was wondering about El Inti de Oro. I read something good about it on another website - if you like it, I shall go there. Are they open in the evening?

The Prado cafeteria is a lot airier than the old basement eatery. The bean soup was good - can't vouch for anything else.

Jun 25, 2008
Julie Friedeberger in Spain/Portugal

For butterfly

Thanks very much for your message about heat and shade. I saw it and thanked you for it and then both posts were bumped.

I also wanted to say that I've appreciated your posts in the last year, during which I've made four visits to Madrid - this will be the fifth. I'm hooked.

All the best, Julie

Jun 25, 2008
Julie Friedeberger in Spain/Portugal

apt near Opera, in Madrid

The cafeteria in the new Prado extension isn't bad. The bocadillos and other snacks are on the expensive side (4 euros for a very small bocadillo de jamon). I've never eaten a proper meal there, but the food does look and smell good (and I did once have a bowl of delicious bean soup). Certainly worth trying if you're there all day and don't want to go out to eat. It gets very busy at lunchtime, of course,

Another possibility is to walk down the Paseo del Prado to the Museo del Jamon, buy a bocadillo for half the price and have a picnic in the Jardin Botanico. (You can get back into the Prado on the same ticket.) And there are lots of good lunch venues nearby - Cerveceria Cervantes and Los Gatos in Calle de Jesus, Maceiras in Calle Huertas and Calle de Jesus amongst others within ten minutes walk; also La Plateria, just across the Paseo from the Velasquez entrance. For good home cooking, La Sanabresa in the Calle Amor de Dios is very good and very cheap, hence very popular: get there early to be sure of a table.

The Thyssen has a good restaurant, with a generous menu del dia for around 13 euros, for more than you could possibly want to eat if you want to retain some semblance of energy for looking at pictures in the afternoon!

I've never eaten in the restaurant in the Reina Sofia - I've heard varying reports. Perhaps someone else can comment.

If you are going to be in Madrid before 13 July, you'll be able to see the marvellous Goya in Times of War exhibition at the Prado.

Enjoy!

Jun 23, 2008
Julie Friedeberger in Spain/Portugal

Reservations in January?

I will be in Madrid for ten days (3-14 January). The responses to my other questions, and the past posts on this forum have been been really helpful, and I've now got what may sound like a silly question. The places I want to try - e.g. EL Ventorillo Murciano, Marisqueria Ribeiro do Mino, La Bola, Asador Tierra Aranda, Jose Maria in Segovia, Hierbabuena in Toledo - mostly specify that reservations are necessary, and posts here have suggested that too.

Generally speaking, are reservations for lunch really going to be necessary in mid-winter? On weekdays? At weekends? I'm hoping that outside the tourist season there is a bit less pressure on such places (I know that the folks who live in these cities need to eat!) Could I turn up at any of them say, at 3 pm and be able to get in without having booked?

I'm embarrassed to admit it in this company, but food isn't really my priority. I love good food, but I don't love planning ahead, deciding where (or what) I'm going to eat days (or even a day) in advance. Especially, I want to do the trips out of Madrid when it's dry, and stay cozy in the Prado or the Thyssen when it's raining, so they're likely to be spur-of-the-moment decisions.

Thank you in advance for your thoughts. In advance because I can't seem to post "replies" (nothing happens when I hit the reply button) - does anyone have the solution to that?

Final question: If I want to take an early AVE train to Toledo, do I need to book in advance, or can I just turn up at Atocha on the morning?

Dec 09, 2007
Julie Friedeberger in Spain/Portugal

Segovia again - and Toledo and El Escorial

Many thanks, Phil and Butterfly, for your replies. It looks like a clear choice for Meson Jose-Maria, and I'm looking forward to it.

Butterfly, I take your point about not arriving before 2. What I'd really like is to do all my walking and sightseeing in the morning and early afternoon and then settle in to eat at 4. Is that realistic - or will all the cochinillo be gone? (This is really a general question about eating places that close at 4: is there likely to be anything left to eat, or is there a safer time for a late-ish arrival?)

I know it will be cold and will certainly wear several layers under a thick fleece, but - how cold is cold? Could you give me an idea, so I can gird my loins?

My excursion plans have expanded. Do you have any recommendations for Toledo and El Escorial? I know that a single day in any of these places won't be "enough" - but I've only got ten days, and don't think I can bear to spend more than three of them away from Madrid

Thanks again. (I started a new topic because new topics seem to be all I can post. I still can't "reply", and the support team haven't been able to help. Can anyone advise me on that?)

Dec 03, 2007
Julie Friedeberger in Spain/Portugal

Segovia restaurants

I will be spending ten days in Madrid in January, and will be going to Segovia for a day or two. I've been researching the various restaurants, and although I expect I shall want to eat the famous Segovian suckling pig, it's hard to decide where to go to eat it. I'd be grateful for your impressions of Meson de Candido and Meson Duque, also, Meson Jose Maria. What are they like, which do you like best, and are there any others I should consider? As it will be a treat, cost isn't really an important factor: good food and a good experience are.

Many thanks.

Dec 01, 2007
Julie Friedeberger in Spain/Portugal

Thank you PBSF

There seems to be a fault on my browser that makes it impossible for my to reply to posts, so I'm starting a new topic to thank you for your reply to mine, above. Yes, it would indeed be a shame not to explore, so I'm grateful to you for your list, which is exactly what I hoped for, and I shall use it.

Many thanks,

Julie

Nov 23, 2007
Julie Friedeberger in Spain/Portugal

Cerveceria Cervantes

Hello

I've been reading the posts for a while, and have already got lots of good ideas from you all, for which many thanks. This is my first post.

I spent four days in Madrid last week, and am going to return for ten days in January. I stayed, and will stay again, at a hostal in the Calle Cervantes, on account of its proximity to the Prado and the other two main museums. The Cerveceria Cervantes is a stone's throw from my bed, and I ate there a couple of times and liked it a lot; and being somewhat unadventurous, would be happy to settle in there and eat my way through all they have to offer. But that does seem a bit unenterprising, so I'd love to have your ideas about other places in that area or not too far afield.

I'm travelling on my own, and I like places that I don't have to change clothes for, places that I can just slip into after a hard day's looking at pictures and feel comfortable in, eat decent food, and then go home and go to bed early. That really lets out most restaurants, I suppose - I'm usually asleep by the time Madrilenos start their dinner - but that's ok: my preference is for tapas anyway, just as in Greece it's for mezedes.

I'll be grateful for your thoughts.

Nov 21, 2007
Julie Friedeberger in Spain/Portugal