Por fin! I finally dined at Café Melo’s Bar – that small, unassuming restaurant in Barrio Lavapies with zapatillas, croquetas, empanadillas, queso and green peppers as specialties. Take your pick – everything’s darn great. Did I already mention zapatilla? This particular Spanish food must be the singular reason why lines of customers form outside the café at the start of 8PM, or even way before, actually.
Its space is quite limited I’m guessing 20 customers, more or less, can get it packed easy. Such a downside, however, doesn’t seem to deter people a bit from trooping to the café. (I observed Madrilenos don’t mind eating in cramped spaces. They’re fine standing up and placing their tapas and copas atop a barrel so long as the food is great.) A few tables are found at the back area of the café. From observation, the bar counter itself can accommodate around 8 people.
I reached the café at 9PM, and was surprised to see no line of waiting customers in sight, considering it was a Friday. Nonetheless, the place was filled with diners. I headed towards the back, squeezing my way through the crowd, hoping against hope a table is empty – or is about to be. Everything was taken, so I went back to the bar and stood behind someone who was almost done. Within minutes, I was feasting on my zapatilla.
Croquetas – Delectable Spanish Tapa
I ordered just a single piece, lest I might not be able to finish everything since my large zapatilla is already a lot of work. Its taste? Mea culpa for not having more – because it’s so divine. Croquetas, like one of those commonly served Spanish tapas and apetizers in some restaurants, can be dry and with hardly any filling. In the case of Melo’s, it’s a ball of crispy, tasty shell that when cut in half reveals an uber-delicious gooey filling that flows, like a lava of ham bits and melted cheese richness. At 1.60 euro a piece (unidad), I look forward to a good plateful of this on my next visit.
The Zapatilla sandwich at Café Melo’s is big, just shy of being humongous. It’s the biggest Spanish sandwich I’ve eaten so far, and it’s not even the whole thing. Since I went there alone and had no one to share food with, I just ordered the “media” or half a sandwich. Beside, even if I wanted to challenge myself, I am not really up to it, knowing well my eating capacity.
I’m a bit concerned too about introducing heaps of meat, however delicious, into my system. I’m Asian – 100% – and not Spanish. I always wonder (and feel envious, actually) how a local is able to consume jamon and all sorts of meat day after day after day – and they’re totally fine. Genetic makeup – I suppose.
The opinion of this blog about Cafe Melo’s zapatilla?
I like that lacon tastes kind of sweet, and its saltiness is just right. Everything is cooked a la plancha (grilled). Cheese forms long threads as you cut and raise a piece of your sandwich from the plate. How a zapatilla is prepared can be observed from the bar. Layers of lacon and cheese are grilled and served in hot bread. I believe the cheese is there to keep everything together, considering the thickness of the lacon filling. The bread’s shape mimics a footwear, hence the name.
At 6.50 euro a half sandwich and 11 for one whole zapatilla, the prices are reasonable, seeing last night how a group of four managed to share a media zapatilla and just complemented it with lots of croquetas.
Overall, it provides gustatory pleasure so effortlessly that I’m sure many would love to claim it as their comfort food. I myself would.
My verdict about Cafe Melo’s Bar:
Incredibly delectable food and fast service (I appreciate that the owner helps around). If only for its zapatillas and croquetas, other yummy Spanish tapas, and just about everything else, Cafe Melo’s Bar is one place worth visiting over and over again
Location: Calle Ave Maria 44, Lavapies, Madrid
Hours: Open everyday, except Sunday and Monday, from 8PM to 1AM:
Metro: Lavapies (nearest), Embajadores, Tirso de Molina