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Norte Sur

Google “Norte Sur” and you get a subtitled Patrick Swayze pressing himself against the heaving bosom of Lesley-Anne Down in “North & South”, a very missable period drama. I hope this post launches Norte Sur, the distinctly unmissable Madrid tapas bar, to pole position where it belongs.

This is a bar where the Spanish interior décor tradition of function-over-form is taken to its ultimate extreme –they don’t even provide chairs. Presumably following the logic that you don’t technically have to sit down to enjoy a perfectly grilled plate of shrimps, or a glass or two of draft vermut. Admittedly, there is a room out back with some chairs and tables, but if you sit there, you can’t watch Jorge the barman skimming foam off the top of cañas, or watch Igor [my guess] the grillman tenderising beef by punching it with his bare hands. And who’d want to miss that? Not I.

The offering is seafood and beef, grilled, or oysters, shucked. Plus, the rarity of draft ‘vermut’ – vermut en grifo – which is a Spanish drink more like Noilly Prat than like what we think of as vermouth – but it’s a shade sweeter, less herbal and more grapey. I’ve eaten here a few times, and never managed to get the bill over €35. And not for want of trying. It’s testament to the simple tastiness of places like Norte Sur that when I think of Madrid, capital of culture, home to the Prado, the Royal Palace, El Escorial, Réal Madrid, all I can actually think of is camarones a la plancha. Norte Sur made me a glutton. I wish the same fate on you.

Jack welcomes any and all other tapas bar suggestions or vermut en grifo locations. 


Norte Sur made me a glutton. I wish the same fate on you.

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