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Desserts in Madrid Are Deceptively Simple at First Glance, But Definitely Sweet, Delicious and Addictive!



Don’t wave the dessert menu away! A good dessert in Madrid is a slice of heaven to cap off a fine dinner, and is preferably accompanied by strong coffee, mint tea or sweet dessert wine. On Madrid’s menus you will likely be tempted with Spanish dessert specialties like flan with caramel sauce, slices of cheese served with quince paste, sweet fritters with hot chocolate sauce and ice cream, rice pudding, cuajada milk curd with honey, almond cake sprinkled with powdered sugar, wine or milk soaked French toast, vanilla or chocolate pudding, and small cups of fruit salad. Otherwise, international desserts are well represented in the Spanish capital with excellent renditions of Italian tiramisu and gelato, French crème brulee and tarts, American cheesecake and cookies, Chilean alfajores and others. There’s no need to count calories tonight either; consider that sweet Spanish dessert a required cultural experience in Madrid. We won’t tell. Although, if you don’t think you have room in your stomach now after that big meal, you can certainly buy a dessert for later from one ofMadrid’s more informal dessert places that better cater to taking food out.


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Chueca & Malasaña


Known for its authentic, quality Italian food and no frills dining, La Vita e Bella is a casual Italian eatery that is popular among students and others who are looking more for good food than for ambiance. Besides the perennial pizza squares, try their appetizers like fried risotto balls, one of their fresh pasta dishes like lasagna or gnocchi, or traditional desserts like cannoli and tiramisu. The seating area is quite small, which is why most people opt to take their food out. In fact, on weekend nights, many young people like to eat in the square across the street.

Local Expert tip: Don't forget the dessert!

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La Mallorquina


In the heart of the city at the crossroads of Calle Mayor and Puerta del Sol, this cafe has been serving Madrilenos for more than a century. All manner of pastries, shortbread, croissants, cream buns, chocolate cakes are made fresh daily from the kitchen in the back.

Local Expert tip: Their flat chocolate croissants are to die for.

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Chueca & Malasaña
La Isla del Tesoro
Photo courtesy of Carlos Fernandez

A whimsical, romantic vegetarian restaurant, La Isla del Tesoro serves up creative and healthy food beneath dripping candles in an eclectic South Seas shipwreck like setting. For a taste of Spanish puns, order the "Buenrrollito" appetizer. Otherwise, the Seitan Tan-Tan main dish and the Chocolate Gocho dessert are particularly good. The set value-price lunch menus change each day under a different country theme like Pakistan or Indonesia while the a la carte menu is a constant of different internationally inspired dishes. Located in the Malasa�a neighborhood, the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner only. Reservations are highly recommended and you can make them online or by phone.

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Diurno
Photo courtesy of Google


One of the definitive, inner-circle of cool gay cafes in the Chueca neighborhood, Diurno has the requisite minimalist white d�cor, plus lounge or chill-out on the stereo (with occasional forays into techno at night). Diurno stands out especially for its excellent selection of rental movies (in both video and DVD format) and offers one of the most broad-ranging and eclectic collections of TV series, foreign films and classic cinema in Madrid. After you've finished browsing, the food on offer includes healthy and delicious sandwiches, salads, basic pasta dishes, cakes and pastries. Peaceful by day, lively and friendly at night, this is an excellent hangout and easy place to meet people. METRO: Chueca

Local Expert tip: Try one of the fresh cakes and pastries.

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Balzac
Photo courtesy of Google


Young chef Andr�s Madrigal is becoming one of the key players in Madrid's restaurant scene. Both the name and appearance of his restaurant recall the 19th-century Parisian roots of the swanky city eatery. A series of warm yellow rooms (some private) are furnished with elegant modern furniture and deep leather dining chairs. Madrigal specializes in an original fusion of modern Mediterranean with the traditional flavors of Provence. Expect subtle homages to the bouillabaisse, the parmentier or the brandade of salt cod. He also performs modern takes on home favorites such as olive-oil ice cream floating in a martini glass filled with gazpacho; or a timbale of sea urchin and scrambled egg, garlanded by a black sauce of squid ink. METRO: Retiro or Banco de Espa�a

Local Expert tip: Valet parking is available.

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Café de Oriente
Photo courtesy of Markellos


The Cafe de Oriente is a classic Madrid restaurant and literary cafe with a privileged position facing Madrid's Royal Palace and the Plaza de Oriente. The Cafe de Oriente is decorated in an elegant Baroque style (though the building dates from the 1980s) with red velvet cushions and golden accents. The restaurant menu is dedicated to upscale Spanish fare while the cafeteria and cafe menu is more a potpourri of Spanish and standard Western fare with sandwiches and pizzas. During fine weather the Cafe de Oriente puts tables and chairs out front so that you can dine with views of the palace.

Local Expert tip: Royalty have been known to dine here.

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La Bola


La Bola's rich, red facade speaks volumes about the tradition that governs this restaurant, which is run by the founding family's sixth and seventh generations. Known for its version of the popular two-course stew, cocido a la Madrilena, which is grilled salmon or sole and filet of veal. Cocido is served with crusty bread and a glass of red wine, and is served only at lunch. METRO: Plaza de Espana/Opera.

Local Expert tip: For traditional Spanish dining, this is the place.

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La Latina & Lavapiés

The only thing that was less than perfect about the original La Musa in Malasa�a was its cramped dimensions. This newer branch solves the problem with large airy spaces and even slicker d�cor. The excellent menu expanded too, particularly for breakfast (weekdays only). The vibe is as fashionable as ever: it draws a style-conscious young crowd with its creative, but very affordable, dishes and affordable set lunch. This eatery is especially strong on creative salads, tapas and its signature bomba, a deep-fried tennis ball of spicy meat or vegetables. The cocktail lounge has a DJ spinning house sounds and is open from Thursday to Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Turn up early to avoid a long line. METRO: La Latina

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Elegantly designed and decorated in a Spanish Art Nouveau style, El Espejo restaurant and cafe is oft referred to as the best Art Nouveau cafe Madrid never had because of its authentic detailing and 1978 founding. The beautiful restaurant serves up Spanish food like suckling pig, Madrid style tripe, partridge and scallops, and is a good place to observe the Spanish tradition of a mid-afternoon cup of coffee and cake. Live piano and jazz music is occasionally featured there and when the weather is nice, dining at the outdoor tables on the grand Paseo de Recoletos boulevard is a treat.

Local Expert tip: Come to pretend it's 1900.

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Chueca & Malasaña
Bazaar
Photo courtesy of Google


The restaurant Baazar serves up creative Mediterranean and international inspired food in a sophisticated white-toned setting where open shelves decked with pretty supplies serve as decoration. Located in the heart of Madrid's Chueca neighborhood, the restaurant is spread over two floors and has large windows that let in a lot of light and contributes to the feeling of transparency and a place to see and be seen. In spite of its creative and fashionable air, Bazaar is still a reasonably priced place to eat. You should note, however, that the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner only and does not take reservations.

Local Expert tip: Get here early!

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Meet Sarah Rogers

Born and raised in northern California, Sarah grew up to become an expat, traveler and wordsmith. She spent seven years in Madrid, Spain and now calls Buenos Aires, Argentina home. She has had...  More About Sarah

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