La Tasquita de Enfrente - Madrid

La Tasquita de Enfrente is a Spanish restaurant in Madrid which is currently run by the Spanish chef, Juanjo López. This restaurant offers a mixture between traditional Spanish food and experimental dishes dreamt up by López himself.

The Restaurant

La Tasquita de Enfrente is located in the Malasaña district of Madrid, just off the famous Gran Vía, one of the main roads of the city. The restaurant opened back in the 1960s by the father of Juanjo López, the current head chef. It was called 'La Tasquita de Enfrente' or 'The Small Tavern Opposite' because it was opposite a larger restaurant called 'La Gran Tasca' (The Big Tavern). Despite this competition, La Tasquita de Enfrente was always jam-packed full of locals enjoying some traditional Spanish tapas.

La Tasquita de Enfrente - Madrid

Juanjo López therefore grew up surrounded by the world of cooking, studying with his books propped up on the stoves around him. However he was not to follow in his father's footsteps straight away. Juanjo originally began working in the corporate world at an insurance firm, climbing all the way up to become a director general of the company. Everyday, Juanjo López would go to work in his suit and tie in a serious manner. However his palate had been forever longing for great tastes and flavours.

During this time, Juanjo and his wife Mercedes began exploring restaurants and new taste experiences during their free time. Juanjo would often say to her that they should set up their own restaurant together but she always laughed at the idea.

However the opportunity came after Juanjo's father died and the old restaurant was left empty. Seizing the opportunity, the couple gave up their jobs, hung up the ties and began work on their new restaurant and new life. Eight months later, they were open for business and have never looked back.

The restaurant is decorated is a mixture between old and new. The red and yellow colours of the walls evoke the traditions of the past and coupled with some bare stone walls, they give the restaurant a rustic feel. The walls are covered in art works and paintings and there are stacks of cooking books and Spain travel guide books lining the walls. There is also a homage to the couple's former life in the form of a collection of Juanjo's old ties hung up in a frame. The whole atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming and Juanjo and Mercedes want their customers to feel as though they are simply having dinner at a friend's house.

The Menu

Juanjo López likes to cook his food using fresh produce sourced from the local market. He also ensures that all the produce he uses is both of the highest quality and is in season. All of the dishes at La Tasquita de Enfrente are cooked on the spot and so the restaurant is limited to seating 25 people at once which means reserving a table is an absolute must if you want to eat at this restaurant when you visit Madrid.

Russian Salad

It is difficult to highlight some of the specialities of this Spanish restaurant as the menu changes depending on the season. However Juanjo believes that his Russian Salad which changes according to the different produce available is probably one of his best. Juanjo López has also been known to use some rarer ingredients such as caviar, sea urchins, eels and truffles in some of his more experimental dishes.

Other items on the menu at La Tasquita de Enfrente include 'Raya a la mantequilla negra' (Skate cooked in black butter), 'Hamburguesa de solomillo con foie' (Steak burger with foie gras), and 'Ventresca de bonito al horno' (Roast tuna belly). They also offer a large range of starters and plates to share which are great for parties or nights out. Furthermore there are a number of set menus available including a tasting menu and Juanjo's own special menu.