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La Bola. Best Madrilenian Stew


First opened in 1870, La Bola restaurant has passed down through 4 generations of the same family and maintains the tradition of making Madrid stew (cocido Madrileño) just as it was in days gone by, cooking it in individual earthenware pots over holm oak wood chips. This centenary technique involves a series of technical difficulties, since with the technological advances made it is uncommon to continue cooking in this way. But this tradition and the love and care with which it is prepared give an outstanding result. With each pot taking four hours to cook, La Bola is one of the best places to sample this traditional Castilian dish. Oak charcoal and individual clay pots are the key elements. This ancient technique implies a number of difficulties since there is no state of art technologies implied. This “cocido” is so good and unique that all different kind of people agrees when considering it the best and most traditional. All in this plate is different, from the cooking process to the way of eating it.

The soup is first served directly from the pot (that has the shape of a jar), poured into a bowl of short noodles. It’s so satisfying how rich and thick the soup tastes and yet it’s not too salty! This is probably the only restaurant in Madrid that cooks entire pot of soup over oak charcoal fire for 6 hours, before finally adding some potatoes and salt to taste.

After finishing the soup, such ingredients in the pot as chickpeas, Spanish sausage, Spanish blood sausage, beef, chicken, bacon and Spanish ham hock, are emptied for you as the second course. These are also accompanied with cabbage, tomatoes spiced with cumin, chilies and onions as side dishes. One cannot be more satisfied with a good pot of Madrilenian stew, but note that even for those with a big appetite, 2 can share a pot! It’s incredibly good!

For great restaurants in Spain, you can always find good typical Spanish desserts. This one has a beyond outstanding dessert, although not unique, but the apple fitters served with jam and ice cream are simply delicious!

It was also reported that in the beginning of the century, at restaurant La Bola (Literally known as The Ball), there was 3 types of stew: one at noon, that of 1.15 pesetas, for workers and employees; at one in the afternoon, 1.25 pesetas which includes also chicken and was the favourite of students; and from 2 pm onwards, stew that had meat and bacon, chosen by journalists and senators!

It is also known that, although not published, the preference of Isabella, Princess of Asturias (known as Infanta Isabel or La Chata in Spanish) for the Madrilenian stew of La Bola restaurant. For the pedestrians of that time – those eating on the sidewalks, given how pack it was in the restaurant – it was common to see in front of the Tavern, the Royal Palace’s carriage who came to collect pots of Madrilenian stew for Princess Isabella and her brother, Alfonso XII whom was then the King of Spain (1874-1885).

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Taberna La Bola
Address: Calle Bola, 5 (Madrid)
Telephone: (+34) 91 547 69 30
Website: http://www.labola.es
Price: from 31 to 45 euros
Opening hours: Mon – Sun 1:00 - 4:00 pm; 8:30 – 11:00 pm. Closed: Sun evening; 24 Dec. in the evening
Reservations are recommend