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June 2008

A Holiday for a Night


With the holiday season setting in, many of us have begun to crave a taste of the South. Munich’s convenient geographic location makes a walk on the beach or a stroll through a picturesque southern European village a tempting possibility. Only, how often do any of us really put in the effort to plan a long drive or set aside time to hop on a plane to joyful Mediterranean days? Even though nothing can substitute for the sea, the sand and the sight of Roman culture, at least the tummy’s hunger for the south can be satiated in Munich. It’s likely that most residents have already found their favorite pizza and pasta place. The dining possibilities offering small treats or hearty meals from the Iberian Peninsula are a little harder to find, but still worth a trip. El Español on Pariser Strasse is the city’s tapas expert. The sensational choice of more than 50 Spanish appetizers (€ 1.40–4.40) is proof of the culinary expertise of the chef at this traditional restaurant in Haidhausen. Aside from the freshly made tapas, Andalusian dishes round out a solid menu. Fried anchovies or cheese from La Mancha could open your dinner. The Pollo al ajillo (€ 12.50), chicken served with fried potatoes, is a must for garlic lovers. For those in favor of fish, the Plato Andaluz (€ 13.90) assembles a mix of Andalusian favorites including gilthead, salmon and prawns. Paella is served for two diners and more (€ 10.50–11.90 per person). Even though all specialties are on the menu every day, El Español has declared Sundays the “Día de tapas” and each Monday it is Paella Day, when the Spanish stew costs only € 8. The atmosphere at the restaurant is friendly and frolicsome, probably fueled by Sangría (€ 8), served in liters. Thursdays starting at 9 pm, a flamenco show heats up the snug space.
Another Haidhausen favorite boasting years of satisfied customers is El perro y el griego on Belforstrasse. The rustic tavern has high arcs and colorful tiles on the walls that give visitors the feeling of having entered a whole other culture. Countless varieties of tapas (€ 2.70–7) proffer an authentic taste of the Spanish kitchen. Main courses include a great selection of grilled fish (€ 10.50–14.50) and paella. El perro y el griego is also known for its impressive selection of more than 40 cocktails, which often draws a lighthearted party crowd. Most of the time, cutting through the tavern’s noise requires a dose of Spanish temperament, so those looking for a relaxed dining atmosphere should try out El perro on another night.
Even from the sign on the door, visitors to Casa de Tapas (Bauerstr. 2) know that they are about to enter a “temple” of tapas. Indeed, the aesthetically arranged nibbles (€ 2.70–8) offer a perfect introduction to Iberian cooking. The Casa’s homemade oily sesame bread tastefully rounds out the boundless selection. For the larger appetite, a selection of main courses based on fish or meat can be found on the menu. Unfortunately, the intensity of the served sauces sometimes overwhelms the genuine taste of the main dishes. Imported San Miguel cerveza and a great variety of wines, however, will certainly induce some holiday feelings.
The eccentric artist Salvador Dalí, who was born in Catalonia, is world famous for his surrealist work. He is also the inspiration for a small romantic eatery on Tengstrasse. Located in a basement vault, the Bodega Dalí serves Catalan and Basque delicacies. Among the menu’s highlights are Pimientos de padrón (fried mini peppers, € 5.50) or wild pig ragout with figs and potatoes (€ 12.50). Fidena (€ 12) is a Catalan paella with chicken and seafood served with noodles instead of rice. The innkeepers of the bodega personally import the exquisite Spanish wines, which—with the food—are priced according to one of the best price-performance ratios in the city.
Also known for its Spanish red wines is Bar Triana on Schleißheimerstrasse. The little bar was named after a district in Seville, and spending the night there feels like staying in a living room in the heart of Spain. Traditional tapas, soups and salads prevail on the small menu and at the associated supermercado, fresh products from Spain can be purchased for home preparation.
Centro Español on Sendling’s Dalser-strasse used to be a meeting center for Spanish expatriates. Today, it has turned into an excellent restaurant with an authentic kitchen. Try the mixed platter of starters including olives, Serrano ham, chorizo sausage and cheeses. The Champignons al ajillo (garlic mushrooms, € 4) are also a recommendable appetizer, which could be followed by rabbit in a garlic white wine sauce (€ 12.50) or by Sepia a lá Plancha (grilled calamari, € 10.50). Brick walls adorned with colorful tapestries and a stately bull’s head lend this eatery its particular Iberian charm, which will soothe Wanderlust—at least for a night. <<<

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