Mercat de San Miguel and Casa Lucio
We dutifully waited until 10pm to begin our search for a restaurant serving dinner. At the last minute, Erin asked me to cancel our reservations at Terrazza de Casino and we were unable to make reservations at our second, less expensive choice for traditional cuisine at Casa Lucio. We decided to walk to Cava Baja and find a restaurant with an active crowd.
We meandered along the way to check out Plaza de Sol, Plaza Oriente, and Plaza Mejor. Along the way we stumbled into Mercat de San Miguel. San Miguel is a festive market with multiple specialty stalls focussing on wine, fresh seafood, tinned seafood, jamon iberico de bellota, etc. The market was alive with conversing patrons getting their tapas on while standing at tables or in aisle ways. We had excellent wines for €4 a pour and tapas for €1 a bite. We noticed a couple ordering brandade topped with caviar for €2 and followed suit. Highly recommend you try it too. The smoked sardines were relish too.
We still felt had an appetite for dinner following our second round of tapas and moved on to Cava Baja to observe and select an energetic restaurant. We saw many appealing places on our walk down the street, bit surprised ourselves by forgetting Casa Lucio was also on the street. Despite two failed attempts to proactively secure a reservation in advance as the place was fully committed, I hazarded asking for a table foe two in-person and was rewarded with access to a meal here. We ordered huevos estrelledos and (their famous dish combining hand cut French fries with over-easy eggs) and cochinillo ( roast suckling pig). The crackling was sublime.
This first night in Madrid, having hardly slept on our flight over, we opted to retire to our hotel room after finishing dinner at 11:30.