It is hidden in a tiny and little crowded Madrid street parallel to Goya, between Príncipe de Vergara and General Pardiñas, it has not lavished much on social networks, they have never invited influencers to promote it and its two owners have avoided communication campaigns from the beginning to put their business in the limelight. Not that they needed it either. The Bistroteca (Espartinas, 7) has been since its inauguration seven years ago one of the essential places in Madrid for lovers of good burgers. About 5,000 a month come out of its grill, including the one that was chosen as the Best Hamburger in Spain in 2021.
To get a table on weekends in any of the two very small places that the brand has (the other is almost next door, in General Pardiñas, 10) you have to book almost two months in advance. During the week it is something simpler: only three or four days of waiting, according to Vanessa San José, the co-owner of the business with Alexandra Galvis and also chef and creator of the menu. Those lucky enough to get a place in one of the approximately eight tables they have in each restaurant will also find a small menu, in which gourmet burgers are the undisputed protagonists: 11 different ones made with freshly minced Galician meat and artisan brioche bread baked daily from sourdough, accompanied by homemade chips or coleslaw (average price, about 16 euros).
One of the two premises of La Bistroteca.
What is the key to success? "From the beginning we did well. We started with a concept of hamburgers, skewers and tacos, but in the end the public opted for the first ones, because they were very different, and we specialized, "says Vanessa. He believes that what makes the difference is the meat. In fact, they have a person who goes four hours a day exclusively to clean the meats and chop them. "Then in the kitchen we bowl it ourselves. We don't throw any ingredients on it, just the salt on the grill, and people notice that; The meat falls apart. Then there is the care of the ingredients, the cheeses, seasonal mushrooms. We do everything on a daily basis."
The adventure of La Bistroteca starts in 2016 with Vanessa, who had been in the world of hospitality since she was 15 years old. "I worked at El Buey, the Madrid steakhouse specializing in my father's meats. I wanted to do something on my own and, one day, at a barbecue with friends, it occurred to me to open a hamburger restaurant and transfer to them all the knowledge I had in the kitchen." His partner Alexandra joined and the rest is history.
They opted from the beginning for a small place: "I do not like the big ones, you need more staff and the service is always heavier". After the pandemic, La Bistroteca recovered (they saved the delivery) and continued to have a waiting list of two months, "so we decided to take a risk and open a second small store next to the first one and, fortunately, we did well. They both fill the same and having them close for us is very important."
Vanessa on the grill.
Since its inauguration they have cooked more than 300,000 gourmet burgers, authentic culinary tributes in which the chef captures her gastronomic experiences, trips and the hundreds of books read. Each of the 11 concepts transports diners to different parts of the world. "For the different flavors I am very inspired by haute cuisine dishes that we made in the old restaurant and we give it a turn to see how we can turn it into a hamburger. For example, if steak tartare is fashionable, then I think how we can put it in a hamburger to make sense. You have to try a lot and we also gain a lot of weight," laughs Vanessa. Another example is La Wellington, which recreates the iconic Wellington sirloin with a duxelle of mushrooms, shallot and Joselito Iberian jowls, Dijon mustard grains and candied French onions.
In 2021, La Bistroteca won the award for Best Gourmet Burger in Spain with La Palma, a bite that combines the power of mojo picón with the sweetness of pineapple and bacon chutney and the creaminess of palmero cheese. Today, this tribute to the Canary Island is still among the three burgers most demanded by its customers, along with La Sabuesa (with truffle) and New York Cheese, with bacon chutney and melted cheese raclette.
La Palma, the Best Gourmet Burger in Spain in 2021.
The menu is completed with several starters. The most successful is the guacamole, which is finished in front of the diner. "It is brought to us by a supplier from Mexico and we crush it in a container of volcanic stone on the table of the diners." Another of his bestsellers is the passion fruit mousse, the dessert with almond crumble, passion fruit seeds and raspberry seeds that is also prepared with a ritual and an explanation of the waiter in front of the client. Vanessa says that communicating dishes in the living room is crucial for her business. "That's another key to our success. It is not easy, but we give great importance to explaining what we are going to eat and how we do it. There's always something to interact with people."
The letter is rotated every six months, more or less. And they always put hamburgers and some dish with seasonal products.
Where: Espartinas, 7 and General Pardiñas, 10, Madrid.
Reservations: 914 25 86 01 and www.labistroteca.com
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