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Madrid, the new culinary London?

The effervescent moment for innovative projects equals the city with reference cities.

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Madrid, the new culinary London?

The effervescent moment for innovative projects equals the city with reference cities.

StreetXO, the innovative bar that Dabiz Muñoz -owner of DiverXO, the only tri-star in Madrid- created a decade ago set a trend around a business format replicated a thousand times. Sala de Despiece started in the fall of 2013 as a replica in a modern key of the classic bars of the busy Ponzano, where this opening by Javier Bonet marked a turning point in the modernization of this street in the Chamberí neighborhood, which added innovation, although over time also a certain overcrowding (until leading not only to openings, but also to closings of premises). YMO de Movimiento, a space opened in the summer of 2020 in an old theater in Espronceda, around a sustainable architectural project and a casual offer with a certain prominence of its wood-fired pizzas. Markets such as La Paz could be added, classic tracks such as Botín and La Casa del Abuelo, dining rooms linked to seasonal products such as Ponzano or Barrera and an essential chocolate with churros such as San Ginés.

It is the route followed by Madrid in Feed Phil, a Netflix series directed by Philip Rosenthal, screenwriter and producer, who has presented food and travel documentaries. On its route through the capital, it combines tradition and modernity, a possible portrait of a city that has been experiencing years of a boom in restaurant openings. And that, in recent times, has added high doses of culinary effervescence, which is no longer measured only in the number of gastronomic novelties, but also in peculiar openings, the arrival of international groups and concepts (such as Zuma) and, of course, the opening of luxury hotels with attractive restaurants.

A good part of this renovation of Madrid's restaurants has been registered in the midst of a pandemic, a stage in which Madrid represented a practically unique case in the world, due to the efforts of the president of the Community, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, to keep the hotel industry open, except for the initial confinement and only subject to certain limitations on schedules and capacity.

In September 2020, Four Seasons arrived in Spain via Madrid, with Dani Brasserie, by Dani García, on its top floor, inside a large block next to Puerta del Sol, where between 2021 and 2022 it has opened Galería Canalejas, mixing stores luxury and a Food Hall.

Not far away, Lhardy is enjoying a second life with a new owner: Grupo Pescaderías Coruñesas, which, in turn, has added one of the most recent gastronomic bombshells to its portfolio of restaurants (O'Pazo, El Pescador and Filandón): Since 1911 The García Azpiroz family company has just relaunched its catering under the Lhardy brand.

On the hotel side, the novelties do not stop: the Ritz Mandarin Oriental, opened in April 2021 with Quique Dacosta as culinary director with different types of restaurants; or Rosewood Villa Magna, with Amós, by the three-star Jesús Sánchez; to Ocean Drive Madrid, in Mar Mía (where Carlos Bosch and Rafa Zafra have teamed up); or The Madrid Edition, which has meant the arrival in Madrid of the Mexican chef Enrique Olvera (with Jerónimo) and the Peruvian Diego Muñoz (Oroya). In summer, the new five-star hotel Thompson opens -from the Hyatt chain-, which will offer various concepts from Grupo La Ancha.

RavioXO, the new from Dabiz Muñoz; modern wine bars like Gota; Commercial Gallery, 'merchandising' boutique of Sala de Despiece; the offer that Grupo TriCiclo will lead in Wow (Dimas Gimeno's marketplace); or Papagena, a new gastronomic space in the Teatro Real managed by Life Gourmet Catering and the bi-star chef Ramón Freixa, continue to fuel the culinary drive in Madrid, even despite the uncertainties due to the fear of recession.

A context gives rise to a varied, almost diverse, hospitality sector, with an increasingly cosmopolitan point. Is Madrid reaching the level of London and NYC in terms of culinary variety? Right now, is it even more attractive as a destination for foreigners than other capitals that have been settled for decades? "There is not a city in Europe that has the real potential that Madrid has," said Dabiz Muñoz a few weeks ago. "I think what is happening in the city is wonderful. I have been thinking for years that this was going to happen. The atmosphere of enjoying and going to restaurants reminds me of the London that I lived in when I was 20 years old," emphasizes the chef.

"Are you from Madrid?", they ask us when we travel from Madrid, with a probable immediate reaction: "It is the city of the moment".

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