It's always better to navigate a new city with a local, but that rarely happens on business trips, apart from jotting down the tips from the cab driver. But in Madrid, I had just the luck. A work-related associate, Anna, just happened to be a native and also part of my overnight business trip to Spain's elegant and deeply historic capital city.
The mission was, of course, to find unforgettable Tempranillo and traditional Spanish tapas. My cravings for smashed tomatoes on toast, with a little sea salt, paired with a glass of a smoky red, needed to be met. Anna knew of just the place!
A hole in the wall, located centrally in calle Santa Catalina, next to the Spanish congress building, is El Rincón de Esteban. In the tradition of an old family restaurant, the walls are scattered with numerous local awards and decorated with family photos, including photos of owner Esteban posing with seemingly VIP guests. With no English menus or servers to be found, I was even more thankful to have Anna on hand. Three hours later, and we had not only fulfilled our mission, but also made a few new friends.