Tapa of the Week #14 – Octopus – Pulpo a la Gallega

Pulpo a la gallega
One of the more difficult dishes for me to convince visitors to Spain to try is octopus. I have given many tapas tours and it’s a rare occasion that someone says “YES, I’d love to try octopus!” Maybe its the texture, maybe its the shape, maybe because its not chicken, but I suppose its fine if people don’t want to take the chance and actually have to feel the shape of a sucker on their tongue. It means more for the rest of us! Octopus are caught off the north and east coasts of Spain, and although they are diminishing in numers they are still an important component of the Galician diet, and one of the most popular dishes in Galician restaurants. Both pictures are examples of “Pulpo a la Gallega” – Galician style octopus. The octopus is boiled and served with boiled potatoes and sprinkled with olive oil, paprika and sea salt.

Pulpo a la gallega

In Madrid, there are several places to try octopus. Usually you can’t go wrong at a Galician or Asturian restaurant. Around the Plaza Mayor octopus is usually present on the menu but I find those places to be expensive for the quality of food generally served.

One of my favorite Galician restaurants in Madrid is Maceiras on Calle Huertas. I like its informality, wooden chairs and tables, handwritten menus, the sounds of Galician, Celtic influenced music, and even the gruff yet efficient wait staff. Don’t expect lots of smiles, patience or overt friendliness, but they are quick. The food is simple, traditional, inexpensive and most importantly, good! There is a nice selection of red and white Galician wines which you will drink in the traditional way, in white ceramic bowls. The decoration with nets, barrels, reminds you of the rural fishing communities found in Galicia. Notice the “Nunca Mais” flag on the wall and at the back the sign that warns “NO hay Coca-cola” - There is no Coke. So don’t ask. No problem, we will settle for a nice Albariño. As far as food, besides the pulpo, try the clams, mussles, empanadas, pimientos de padron, Galician sheeps-milk cheeses, patatas bravas. Finish your meal with an almond cake which tastes just like a Galician grandmother would make, the “Tarta de Santiago.”

Maceiras Restaurant

Maceiras is immensely popular so if you go for dinner on a weekend do not even think of arriving after 9pm unless you don’t mind waiting over an hour for a table. There is a waiting list, but no pre-reservations are accepted.

Maceiras in Calle de las Huertas, 66 and around the corner on Calle Jesus.
Huertas is a popular street with several bars so you won’t have to look far to find some nightlife. Its not far from the Prado Museum, and just a few blocks downhill from the outdoor caf’és and bars of Plaza Santa Ana.

Address: Calle de las Huertas 66, 28014 Madrid, Spain – +34 914 295 818

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2 Comments

Filed under Food, jamon, Madrid, Restaurants, Spain

2 responses to “Tapa of the Week #14 – Octopus – Pulpo a la Gallega

  1. Pulpo con ajo is a firm favourite in our house, great in a Spanish salad too! Great site.

  2. I Was in spain a while ago, and i actually had this dish Pulpo a la Gallega because the waitress recommended it highly… it was alright the way it was ‘spiced up’ was excellent but im not sure about the texture of the octopus and how it was cooked but it really was great. I had been booking hotels in London, 5 star hotels and when i had arrived they had an austrian restaurant and they served this dish, and this time, it was TO DIE FOR! it is probably one of my favorite dishes!

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