Friday, February 03, 2006

Eating: Juana la Loca

One of the chief pleasures of urban life is that you can have a neighborhood restaurant, a place where out of the whole sprawling metropolis, you know the food will be good, you know the waiter will greet you by name, you know the bartender will remember how you like your coffee. Technically, I suppose you don’t need to live in a city to have a neighborhood restaurant, but somehow the whole enterprise seems less meaningful if 1) everyone knows you at the post office too and 2) you have no other restaurants to choose from. If one lives, say, in Oberlin, Ohio, the fact that the waiters at Black River Café all know you like your eggs scrambled is not comforting. It is suffocatingly boring.

But in Madrid, it’s a different story. There, my neighborhood restaurant is Juana la Loca. Tucked onto a corner of La Latina, its violet-blue walls are at once soothing and every so slightly chic. The waiters, despite their all-black uniforms, are friendly. There are at least 6 wines available by the glass. The owner, who looks like an older Pedro Almodovar, also owns what may be my favoritely-named restaurant ever, Maldeamores.

The food, needless to say, is great. It’s almost all tapas and pintxos, but innovative ones, like roasted artichokes with shaved parmesan and whole cloves of blanched garlic, or a tuna carpaccio that gets silkiness from a drizzle of almond oil and crunch from saffron-flavored puffed rice. Even the regular suspects come dressed up: humus comes with strips of crisp-fried pita and a sprinkle of pimentón; the onions in the tortilla de patatas are deliciously caramelized.

So truly do I love Juana la Loca that I hesitated to mention it here, afraid it might be overrun. But then I remembered what this blog’s traffic levels are. So, all tens of you, go forth and try Juana la Loca. Tell Gustavo I sent you.

Juana la Loca: Carrera San Francisco 4. Tel: 913640525


Anonymous said...

I really enjoy reading your blog. I hope to one day move to spain too. I've only been there once but I knew that it was a country I would one day reside in....

Hope you are adjusting well and loving it!

Almendro said...

Thanks, Katherine. If you ever make it here, please let us know. We'll take you out for tapas.