Although we won’t name them, most of the restaurants with an address on Gran Via are not places we would suggest you spend your time or money. That being the case, Mercado de la Reina might strike you as an unlikely recommendation as a place to eat. We’d passed by plenty of times without a second thought, but there was something that convinced us to give it a try: it was almost always busy.
Divided into several distinct areas, this 3-in-1 establishment boasts a pinchos bar, restaurant and gin bar. The pinchos bar, easily recognized by the large olive tree standing in its center, is usually loud and lively. The bar menu is served all day, great for those which have yet to adjust to the Spanish eating schedule or anyone who is looking for a tasty snack during off-hours. The restaurant can be found towards the back of the space, up a few steps, and is best for those looking for a guaranteed spot to sit down and a bit more to eat.
And speaking of the food, Mercado de la Reina serves up a thoughtful list of traditional Spanish dishes, reinterpreted with a lighter hand but retaining all of the flavor of the recipes that inspired them. While you will find many dishes on the menu year-round, season-specific dishes also make an appearance, reflecting the kitchen’s ethos of working with quality products from around Spain, at market-fair prices.
If you are stopping by for something to drink, The Gin Club stocks over 40 brands; more than enough to satisfy the Gin-and-Tonic-crazy local culture. If Gin and Tonic isn’t your thing, try the signature MojiGin, a mojito that swaps the usual rum for a generous serving of gin. Although the Gin Club has some fierce neighborhood competition with Bar Cock, Del Diego and Museo Chicote (the latter recently acquired by Mercado de la Reina), it manages to hold its own and offers something different with its moody-modern setting and live music spun by local DJs on Thusdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
What to Order
- “pincho moruno” – spiced pork skewers with bravas potatoes
- octopus pincho
- “bienmesabe” – breaded dogfish
- bulltail ravioli