First of all, Toledo, SPAIN. All searches for “Toledo” seem to default to Ohio, which I’m sure is nice(ish) but not the topic for today.
This Semana Santa (i.e. Holy Week, i.e. the week before Easter), we took a trip to Madrid, a city that we both love, and Toledo, a city I visited briefly as a college student, and a new city for Gillian. We’ll talk about Madrid separately, but here are some food and logistics we figured out so hopefully you won’t have to.
Getting there is super easy; you’ve got two main options: bus or train. We opted for the train (AVE or AVANT), which left from Atocha and arrived at the Toledo train station in less than 30 minutes. Round-trip cost per person was 20.60€. The bus will cost you about half the price but will take you three times as long.
Side note: you can purchase train tickets online from renfe.com, but we’ve run into problems when using a non-Spanish credit/debit card. Not having a chip in our card also causes some issues when trying to buy from the machine in the train station. Bottom line: you can pay via PayPal when buying online from renfe.com and sidestep this whole mess.
There are two types of bus that can take you up to the city (I don’t recommend the walk with bags) from the Toledo train station: a red one and a blue one. The red one is a tourist bus that will take you to Plaza Zocodover for 2.50€ and picks up directly outside the exit of the train station (inside the perimeter wall). The blue one is the city bus, and lines 5, 61 and 62 will also take you to Plaza Zocodover, for 1.40€. The bus stop is outside of the perimeter wall to the right as you exit the station.
Where to eat:
As a general rule, we avoid any place that has huge picture-board menus hanging outside, and this made finding a restaurant in Toledo a challenge. We did find a few really great places that are worth mentioning:
C/Alfonso X El Sabio 2
Phone: +34 925 25 75 53
Closed December 25, 31 and January 1.
This place has a beautiful outdoor seating area on a street that seems to be off the tourist traffic heavy streets. They have an amazing mix of tapas (3.00-4.50€), tostas (7.00€), larger plates to share (8.00-13,50€), fish (12.50-15.50€) and meats (12.90-15.50€). A tosta is a large piece of bread with, for example, black olive tapenade spread, roasted red peppers and anchovies (delicious, by the way). Some of the items like cochinillo (roast suckling pig) appear a couple of times on the menu and can be ordered in smaller portions (tapas) or larger entrée portions.
Before taking the train back to Madrid we came by again for lunch and had the Menú del Día. Three courses, included wine and was 12.90€ each.
The menu was:
Primeros: (pick one)
- Salad with manchego cheese cubes, seasonal fruit and dried fruits vinaigrette
- Salted gulas (a tiny eels that look like pasta) with shrimp and ajillo (a spicy garlicky olive oil sauce)
- Fried asparagus with Iberian ham (thinly sliced, cured ham)
Segundos: (pick one)
- Grilled salmon with vegetables and teriyaki sauce
- Steak and veggie skewer with blue cheese sauce
- Lamb chops with garlic and parsley potato sticks
Dessert or Café
(The desserts were admittedly unimpressive, we opted for the coffee)
This place is the perfect combo of quality and price.
C/ Alfileritos, 24
Phone: 925 23 96 25
Though they didn’t break the bank on coming up with a name, this place was another great spot to stop. It’s divided into two floors: upstairs is more formal restaurant (reservations seemed to be a thing), and downstairs there are plenty of smaller tables and a separate tapas and wine menu. The latter is what we were looking for.
The menu includes tapas, or “raciones” (5.50- 12.50€), tostas (5€) and wine by the glass or bottle (2.50-3.50€ / 11.20-20.90€). We thought we’d get started with three “raciones,” believing we would ask for more afterwards. This did not happen. We ordered a chicken salad with cheese and a mustard dressing, mushroom croquettes and small pieces of grilled deer meat. It was nearly too much food for two people and incredibly tasty.
Total cost, including two glasses of wine, was 22.30€. Amazing. Also has a lunch Menú del Día for 10.50€ but didn’t get to check this out.
Mercado San Agustín
C/ Cuesta del Águila, 1 y 3
Phone: 925 21 58 98 (info)
About two minutes from Plaza Zocodover is an amazing new gastronomic market that opened in September 2014. Spread over its four floors (plus a rooftop terrace) there are 19 different food and beverage establishments that include tapas, Asian fusion, fancy burgers, grilled meats, cakes, wine and cheese shops, you name it. The place is beautiful inside and has really impressive architecture, including a three-story vertical garden. We stopped at the Marisquería y pulpería (shell fish and octopus shop) and got a huge mixed plate of fried calamari, tiny squid, fish in adobo sauce and anchovies that the woman fried up right in front of us (for 10€). Wish we were there on a Wednesday because apparently the burger place does a 4€ special every week.
Next time you’re in Madrid, consider taking a side trip down to Toledo. I haven’t gone into any of the city’s incredible art, history or architecture in this post, mainly because I’d be writing for a very, very long time. We just want to make sure you don’t go hungry when you get there.
Got a place that you found on your trip? Tell us about it! Cause we might find ourselves there again real soon…