Though it’s about a quarter century since I’ve been to Spain, I had a feeling it would be easy finding a good, cheap restaurant in Madrid. And it was, though reading reviews and menus really tested my language skills, and not just in Spanish. (It was still easier than finding a restaurant in Shanghai that had an English-language menu, let alone one posted online.) The name that came to the forefront was Rosi la Loca (Rosie the Mad), a tapas bar in the city center.
Tapas have come a long way since they were simply slices of bread or meat you’d put over your glass of sherry to keep the flies out. Now, these small portions can make up either a snack or a full meal, and can consist of almost any kind of food. Rosi la Loca offers both tapa and plato (dish) sizes of many of its items, plus a couple for “more than two”, though it doesn’t say how many more.
The menu begins with selections “from the garden” — salad, potatoes with aoili, cheese mousse with mango chutney (“mousse de queso con chutney de mango” — see what I said about language skills?), and gazpacho, the cold tomato soup. Tapas portions cost € 2.50 to € 4, platos € 5 to € 8.
Next comes “from the earth” — meat, poultry, and eggs. The dishes here are mostly based on classic Spanish favorites, like croquetas (deep-fried, breaded morsels, in this case ham), empanadillas (mini stuffed pastries), and tortilla española, which is nothing like a Mexican tortilla but is, of all things, a potato omelet. There’s a little influence from other cultures, too, as in the chicken teriyaki and BBQ ribs. Tapas in this category run € 3 to € 4, platos € 5 to € 7.
“From the sea”, come more classics like deep-fried calamares and Brandada de bacalao (a mixture of salt cod and olive oil), and also imports like tuna tataki. Tapas are € 4, platos € 6 to € 8.
Finally, there are those big servings for two or more people, Paella Valenciana (a rice dish that can contain just about anything else; judging by online photos, Rosi’s paella dish is at least 12 inches across) and Arroz negro (black rice, made with squid ink and served with calamares) at € 25. The beef Chuleton (“cutlet”) weighs in at a kilo and costs € 30.
A fair selection of wine is available, € 15 or under per bottle unless you’re having champagne, plus other (mostly alcoholic) drinks. A few desserts, if you have room, round out the menu.
Rosi la Loca is found at #4 Calle de Cadiz and is open Monday through Sunday, from noon to 1:00 AM.
Editor’s Note: This restaurant would be fun for a girls’ trip where you could sip champagne and enjoy a variety of tapas. Also check out this article for great lodging choices in Madrid for girls’ trip.