La Perejila, Madrid, España
It may be a bit too early to make a call on this but I may have been to the ‘best tapas bar’ of my trip in Spain. And it is La Perejila in Madrid. I will be surprised, and indeed delighted, if I manage to find a better one. But this little gem of a tapas bar ticks all of the right boxes for me - great restaurant precinct (for drinks and nibbles), lovely decor and fabulous food.
I had read in a few gourmet food blogs that La Perejila was one of the best places to have tapas in Madrid. I ended up going there on two nights because you can never have too much of a good thing, contrary to what some guilt-ridden religious right-wingers will tell you. (I will leave my political leanings there for now and focus on the food.)
On the first visit, I was joined by my friend Georgia. She and I completed the Umoza Challenge this year, which was certainly a bonding experience. You cannot do an 80km ride, with 27km of climbing at an average of 10% and come away with nothing to talk about. It was EPIC! Two weeks later and we were still calorie deprived. And so, we organised our tapas foray in Madrid.
What first strikes you about La Perejila is the entrance - the bright green doors, the parakeets at the doorway, and the dim seductive lighting of the chandeliers - all lure you into the moreish den that lies within. The restaurant itself is eclectic - there is something to see in every corner. Before we even ordered, I spent a good deal of time just drinking in the ambience. Old flamenco recordings played in the background as we perused the menu for the tapas that in which we wished to indulge.
The most memorable food experience from La Perejila was the dish of white beans and red partridge. Unfortunately, I don’t recall the Spanish name. However, for those who venture into Madrid to visit La Perejila, you can ask for the English menu, which has this description. We had ordered this as our (first) dish at Le Perejila. You see, our original plan was to go to two+ tapas bars, ordering different dishes at each one. After eating our red partridge tapa at La Perejila, we left and visited two more bars. Nothing on the menus enticed us. So, we returned later to La Perejila and ordered the red pimientos with anchovies, which were positively swimming in olive oil… if you will excuse the pun. The dish itself was scrumptious. Georgia and I both agreed that the salty anchovies provided a beautifully balanced contrast to the sweet pimientos in this delicate, yet delicious dish.
I returned to my house that night happy and satisfied. However, the next morning when I reviewed the gourmet blogs in which I had first learned about my little gem - La Perejila - I was disappointed to read that their signature dish (apparently) is salmorejo. No!!!! How could I miss that? How could I not eat one of my favourite Spanish foods in my latest heart throb of a tapas bar? I needed to go back!
The next day, I went to Toledo for the day and returned to Madrid in the evening. I decided to catch the metro across to Sol and have a quick salmarejo at La Perejila before returning home to pack for my trip to Valencia (to eat paella of course) the next day. The salmorejo was thick, rich and scrumptious. Well worth the trip across town to indulge myself.
I wait with anticipation to see if I manage to eat at a better tapas bar than La Perejila. Next stop is Barcelona. There, we will see if I can find a place that will nudge La Perejila off the podium in the ‘best tapas bar’ race.