Eating out in Madrid can somehow be a problem. How much more so when you are vegetarian!
To be honest, I had never explored the vegetarian side of life. If someone told me that they were vegetarian, my usual reaction would usually go along the lines of “what do you mean you don’t eat no meat!?” Not that vegetarianism is a problem, just that I was always brought up to believe a meal was incomplete if it did not contain some type of meat based protein. Being in Madrid does not help either. In fact, I have met some jamon-eating vegetarians, because, as you know, jamon IS a vegetable. Even I had laughed and spat on their lapel. This kind of opinion hopping and indecisiveness about dietary preferences mocks those who are truly vegetarian.
Any who, as a challenge, this week I went on the hunt for vegetarian food in Madrid. The good news is that all hope in not lost. Just like pizza was alive and well last week, it turns out that vegetarian food is also doing quite well. What was quite enjoyable was that I ate tasty food, which was, in most cases vegan, and I did not miss any meat. So without further a-do, here are the results from a handful of places I loved the most, the rest you can FIND HERE.
Not very long ago, a new flexitarian restaurant going by the name Zoco Comidero, opened its doors just off Calle Bailen, in plain view of La Almudena. This restaurant is nothing short of a great find. Aside from being beautifully decorated (see feature image), the food itself is exquisite. To explain in simple terms, I had a menu del día priced at 11 euros and I gave it the full thumbs up. As a starter, they served a smoked pumpkin soup with a mixture of other smoked vegetables and garnished it with coconut milk, watercress and bean sprouts. This was followed by oven baked Brussels sprouts with a variety of green herbs, most notably, fresh rosemary. This was accompanied by couscous. The dessert got even better – a vegan, chocolate and banana cake served with peanut butter and plantain.
The best part about the experience was the variety of products that had been developed in-house – the peanut butter, the cress and bean sprouts, even the vegetables had been smoked in-house. The owner kindly explained that ever since her father had suffered from cancer, she had always had a special interest in natural foods because of the health benefits. At Zoco Comidero you are guaranteed quality and fresh organic food, with people who know what they are focused on. Bear in mind, Zoco Comidero is a flexitarian restaurant which means meals with meat will be roughly 80% plant based and the other 20% meat or fish.
I had a lovely chat with Marbel, the owner, over a cold press juice with beetroot, turmeric, ginger and carrot. She kindly “invited” me to this one. A great exercise of my blogger rights!
Veggie Week was not as organized as Pizza Week. I had to do two vegetarian meals in one day. Although I walked the length and breadth of Madrid post my meal at Zoco Comidero, I was still full by dinner time at 10pm. As I was heading out to La Latina for dinner, I took advantage of the Vermouth culture there and knocked back a glass to free up some stomach space. After the Vermouth, I went for dinner at Viva Burger.
At Viva Burger, they promise you that no animals were harmed in the making of their burgers. They are totally vegan. The burger patties are made of vegetables, oatmeal, peanuts and apple. This is a great combination because the end result is a lot of flavor, crunch and bite in the burger. They also have a falafel burger, but since that time in New York, I am not a lover of falafel. I really enjoyed my burger with smoked “cheese”, tomato and caramelized onions. However, I couldn’t get through the “cheese”. Something about the lack of milk made it uncheesy.
My carnivorous friend who accompanied me, had a “De La Huerta” with fresh noodles, salad leaf sprouts and sundried tomatoes. He too, did not miss the meat. All in all, we both agreed that we would go back to Viva Burger and would highly recommend it for the vegetarians out there. (And this conclusion was not influenced by the Vermouth).
Panela and Co
A vegetarian brunch option was also part of the Veggie Week festivities. For this one, I checked out an old favorite, Panela and Co. They have a very appetizing, deli-style salad bar; on which, you can find all matter of favorites, including kale, quinoa and a variety of superfoods. Vegetarian friendly, I say. As it was brunch, I opened it with Greek yoghurt and a fresh fruit salad with a sprinkling of brown, cane sugar. This was swiftly followed with an egg whites bagel with avocado. Thankfully, they were not just plain eggs. No! These were carefully seasoned to accompany the toasted bagel, coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice.
In the end, it dawned on me again, that Madrid is doing really well on the restaurant and eating out front. Therefore, I am going to limit my complaints about the difficulties of eating out here. I did not get to all the vegetarian places I wanted to visit. But, until I do, feel free to check these ones out that I came across during my escapades and see what you make of them:
Artemisa Vegetarian Restaurant on Calle de Ventura de la Vega, 4, Madrid
Botanique on Calle Santa Isabel 5 (inside Mercado Antón Martín), Madrid
El Estragon Vegetariano on Plaza de la Paja 10, Madrid
What are some of your favorite vegetarian spots in the city?
Wesley is a Milton Keynes native, a rather quiet and uneventful town about an hour north of London. With dreams of one day becoming an internationally renowned chef, life happened, and he convinced himself that a career in Marketing was the sensible course. Prior to finishing his degree, he completed a year abroad at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. He loved Madrid so much that he vowed to come back at first opportunity.
As an avid eater, his love for Madrid was somehow tainted by a lack of understanding of the Madrid food scene.Thankfully, as time progressed, Wes got to understand, appreciate and love what was on offer. Throwing caution to the wind, that went my Marketing career and thus began the blogging adventure with MuchBites.