Anyone who has caught chef Darío Barrio on daytime TV knows that he’s a ham. Fortunately, he cooks with as much panache as he emotes. The entrance to his restaurant is on a small street off Puerta de Alcalá, and the restaurant itself is below grade in a room of whitewashed brick with twinkly LED lights leading the way down the stairs. It’s meant to be disorienting—as if you’ve been spirited away to a dyslexic speakeasy where the staff is determined to feed you dishes you’ve never tried before. The simple market-based menu features five starters, four meats, and four fish dishes, but what Barrio does with the market provender is complex. He loves to plop salmon eggs or flying fish roe on fish dishes to literally make them pop when you take a bite. Trout eggs find their way into his watermelon gazpacho with scallops. Crepes filled with oxtail stewed in red wine and chocolate are a menu perennial. To enjoy the theater cheaply, opt for the three-course “executive” menu of starter, main dish, pastry of the day, and a glass of wine for only 25€.
Calle Villalar, 7
Our Rating Neighborhood Salamanca Hours Tues–Sat 1:30–4pm and 9–11:30pm Transportation Metro: Retiro Phone 91-576-73-97 Prices Fixed-price menus 25€–80€ Cuisine Type Spanish Web site dASSA bASSA Other Reservations required. Closed Aug 1–21