With the way that I have been sluggishly getting through this heatwave, I almost feel like I've met the same fate as the delicious gambas (shrimp) and cigalas (like salt-water crayfish) that are grilled and served piping hot with sea salt at El Boquerón, Lavapiés' local seafood haunt. This traditionally tiled bar has been a neighborhood favorite for decades and has all of the elements of one of those classic and treasured Madrid locales that you hope to frequent for years to come: grouchy but charming old waiters, delicious food, perfectly poured cold cañas (little glasses f draft beer) endless glasses of vermouth on-tap and a shrimp-head scattered floor. The best time to come is the aperitivo hour (around 1pm), before lunch on a Saturday or Sunday, although El Boquerón is always busy. In fact people actually begged me not to write about it, so as not to attract more crowds.
Shrimp and cigalas are weighed on an antique scale before being gracefully laid on the smoking griddle. And while I have tried many a grilled crustacean in my time here, nothing quite prepared me for the wood-smokey flavor of these exquisitely grilled delicacies.
For a palate refreshment, try the small, sweet oysters from Northern Spain that are being shucked to order just behind the counter.
And, as always, remember that the best places to eat in Madrid are those with the most (but right kind of) trash on the floor. Just try not to slip on a shrimp head.
C/ Valencia 14, Madrid
+ 34 91 527 6380