Last week, my dear friend Perri and I decided to meet up for happy hour. As we do this somewhat regularly, we take turns choosing the venue. Last week was Perri’s turn, and she chose Cafe Madrid (partially because neither of us had ever been to the restaurant before… and partially because this restaurant is located only three blocks from her apartment… lazy).
When we showed up to the restaurant soooo ready for a drink (or several) at 6PM, we didn’t really know what to expect. I know this is hard to fathom since we showed up without any expectations, but Cafe Madrid really exceeded our expectations.
Every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, Cafe Madrid has a happy hour – both inside and on their outdoor, European-style patio – from 5PM till 7PM. I know this is a bold statement, but this might be the best happy hour for food in all of Uptown. All of the tapas offered on their happy hour menu are about $2 or $3 – nothing that’ll break the bank anytime soon.
So what did we order?
We began with a big pitcher of sangria. When I say “big”, I really mean it. As I said earlier, Perri and I arrived beyond ready for a drink. We ordered the pitcher of red wine sangria with Cava (perhaps a bit overzealously), thinking we’d need two over the course of the evening.
Yes, I do realize that that’s a pitcher per person.
What I didn’t realize was that a pitcher held six full glasses worth of sangria. Six. We didn’t even finish the one!
I love sangria. I studied abroad in Spain in high school and I have such fond memories of sitting in the plaza, people watching, and drinking sangria. Sitting outside on Cafe Madrid‘s patio while sipping sangria with Perri brought back all of those memories.
I quickly realized that I was ravenous and that the sangria wouldn’t be enough to tide me over till breakfast. Thankfully, unlike how I was in Spain, I now know how to practice portion control… ish (I gained a full 10 pounds during my summer in Spain… I blame the pastries!).
Our first dish of the evening was Cafe Madrid‘s Tortilla Española. A Spanish tapas classic, Tortilla Española is a potato and egg omelette, made into a thick, cake-like shape and cut into wedges. This is one of my favorite dishes from Spain – I’ll occasionally make variations of it at home.
The Tortilla Española is definitely too small to share – I would absolutely recommend having your own, even if you’re planning on having a few other dishes. Plus, you’re not going to want to share! Yes, sharing is caring… but when Tortilla Española is on the line (for $5 regular, $2 during happy hour), all bets are off!
Next on our dining list was the Croquetta de la Casa – in this instance, a spinach and manchego croquette. Yum!
Like the Tortilla Española, the Croquetta de la Casa was served with a side of Cafe Madrid‘s special house-made alioli (for dipping). Also, like the Tortilla Española, the Croquetta de la Casa is served small enough not to share. Lucky you! The Croquetta de la Casa is a happy hour special (it’s not on Cafe Madrid‘s regular tapas menu)… and for $1.75 per croquette, there’s no excuse not to at least try the dish!
The third and final dish I tried was the Calamares fritos: the fried Calamari. The most expensive of the three dishes at a whopping $3.75 during happy hour (regularly available for $8), the Calamares fritos was probably my least favorite of the three dishes. But that might have been due to the fact that I had to share this component of the meal.
I hate sharing.
In truth, I believe my issue with the Calamares fritos was that I have fried Calamari at least somewhat regularly. Authentic-style Tortilla Española or croquettes aren’t in my norm… they’re different and exciting and I have fewer fresh memories to judge them against. Not Calamari. So I was less impressed (that being said, it was still really good – the house-made alioli sauce was the perfect dipping sauce for the dish!).
Cafe Madrid is located in Uptown, on Travis Street near its intersection with Knox. The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday for dinner and drinks from 5PM until 11PM, as well as Friday and Saturday for lunch, dinner, and drinks from 11:30AM until midnight (closed Sundays). I can’t wait to go back and try Cafe Madrid‘s Tabla de Quesos (aka cheese board) and maybe even their Paella!
Have you ever been to Cafe Madrid? What is your tapas dish of choice?