After arriving in Madrid on the AVE, we checked in to our apartment in the Barrio de las Letras in old Madrid, where we could walk to the many of Madrid’s attractions: Plaza Mayor, Sol, and Madrid’s museums. Our apartment is the blue pin in the center. Museums are the four blue pins on the right; Plaza Mayor and other attractions are on the left.
The apartment was one of the best we’ve ever rented: newly renovated, large kitchen, very clean, super owners, central location on a lively pedestrian-only street, and quiet. The owners met us and made us feel like guests in their home.
On the way to an Alcampo to buy food for our week in Madrid, we passed Casa Alberto, a restaurant with a menu del dia offering cocido madrileno, stew Madrid-style. Our apartment owners recommended Casa Alberto for traditional specialties. We wanted to try cocido, and the menu del dia price of 18 euros for three courses and drink at a very good restaurant is reasonable. We had eaten lunch on the train a few hours earlier, so we made reservations for dinner.
We returned for dinner and were seated. We asked about the cocido, which we didn’t see on the menu.
The waiter said the cocido is on the menu del dia, but the menu del dia is only offered at dinner.
We know enough Spanish to translate menu del dia to menu of the day in English. We asked “The menu del dia isn’t valid all day?”
“No, only at lunch.”
“Oh. Really? But we came here for the cocido on the menu del dia.”
“Cocido isn’t on the dinner menu, but I’ll check if we have cocido.” When he returned, he said that they have cocido, but soup and cocido cost 25 euros.”
25 euros for soup and stew seemed high, but we decided to eat there. The cocido was very good with lots of variety: boiled cabbage, carrot, chickpeas, boiled pork fat, blood sausage, chicken, boiled salted pork, sausage, roast pork, and boiled potato. The chickpeas were moist and delicious.
My wife had rabo de toro, braised oxtail stew, a Spanish specialty dating back to bullfights. The rabo de toro was also well-executed and tasty: ox tail braised then slow cooked until tender, forming a thick sauce.
We enjoyed the good food on our first night in Madrid, but the stew, ox tail, and fixings cost as much as our paella splurge in Barcelona. We had planned our Madrid splurge for another local specialty, roast suckling pig.
Further reading confirmed that the menu del dia is customarily offered only at lunch. Some restaurants offer a menu del mediodia, menu of the midday, which is more precise. We learned that by planning our day to take advantage of the (lunch) menu del dia, we could get better meals for lower prices.