Maria Canales

Updated Tuesday, February 27, 2024-00:44

Opened in 2016,

La Rayúa

is already a recognized place among lovers of

Madrid stew


Trying to try it on a weekend is almost mission impossible, unless you have reserved a table about two weeks in advance.

And in the small place on La Luna street, behind Gran Vía, they have one of the best recipes in the world to cook it, the one that has also made the legendary La Bola restaurant for more than 150 years. one of the best places in the capital to eat this traditional dish.

The recipe, in the hands of the

Verdasco family

, owner of La Rayúa, and the now closed Café de Chinitas and the La Cañada Restaurant in Boadilla del Monte, dates back to 1870, when

La Rayúa

, the nickname by which they called the matriarch of the family, came from Asturias to Madrid to open the La Bola tavern on the street of the same name.

More than 150 years later,

Sara Verdasco

(37 years old), representative of the fifth generation of the family saga, ensures that this tradition endures precisely in the dining room that she now runs on La Luna Street.

Formed in the kitchen within a family that has dedicated its entire life to hospitality, Sara's destiny was clear.

Since he was 16, he worked closely with his father José Verdasco in his restaurant business and, finally, in 2016, when he set up the establishment in the center of Madrid, just 600 meters from the original La Bola, he took charge of which He precisely pays tribute to his great-great-grandmother.

Sara Verdasco in her restaurant.Photo: Javier Barbancho

"The star dish of La Rayúa is the Madrid stew, which differs from others in the city in how we make it:

in an individual clay pot with oak charcoal

," says Sara, sitting at one of the dining room tables (with capacity for 70 people), exquisitely decorated with photos of important clients interspersed with some rackets belonging to his famous older brother, the tennis player

Fernando Verdasco

, as well as snapshots and articles of his sporting successes.

"That way of cooking it is what gives it a different flavor and makes the ingredients very concentrated."

Starting at 10 in the morning, three cooks are in charge of placing the clay jars on the embers where the ingredients are cooked little by little.

They make about

140 cooked meals a day

, more on weekends.

"National customers fill the dining room at midday, but foreigners come more at night to dine. On weekends and holidays we have two seatings for lunch."

In the extensive menu, in addition to stew, there are rice dishes, grilled meats, fish and other specialties of Madrid cuisine.

La Rayúa dining room.

The usual recipe

What is grandma's stew like?

"She has ham bones, blood sausage, chicken, chickpeas, bacon and potatoes," says Sara.

It is presented to the diner in the clay pot and served in

two pours


"The first is the soup with noodles. In the center of the table we put a bowl with homemade tomato, cabbage, chili peppers and chives. With the first turn, the chili peppers are taken," says the businesswoman.

Once the soup is finished, pour in the stew, which is mixed with the tomato, cabbage and chives.

What can't be missing in a good stew?

"Some good chickpeas that are cooked just right. That's like rice for a good paella, very important. The ham bone is also essential, otherwise it doesn't give the flavor," says Sara.

"The product is essential. Our suppliers are traditional ones, who help us maintain our tradition."

What should a stew never have?

"I would never put carrots or blood sausage in it, because it changes the flavor."

Individual cooked stew.

With the leftovers of the stew, they have introduced other dishes related to it on the menu, such as

ropavieja pizza,

ropavieja quesadillas or some stew croquettes to take advantage of everything.

"There are people who don't want cooked but want something with its flavor."

Among the renowned clients who have already tried Grandma Verdasco's recipe are from

Bill Clinton

(when he visited Café de Chinitas) to Farruquito, Alaska y Mario, El Cigala... and, of course,

Isabel Preysler

and Ana Boyer, mother-in-law and wife of his brother Fernando, respectively.

"When Fernando is in Madrid, he calls me and tells me to prepare it for him to take with him. Although he travels a lot, he is still closely linked to this restaurant that my father set up and, if we need help, he is always willing to lend a hand. Furthermore, he is our best advertising when the Mutua Madrid Open [tennis tournament] is held, since it advises all the players to come and eat here... and it fills up," says Sara.


complete stew costs 22.50 euros


It can be ordered to take away (without the pot) and reservations are essential.

More information here.

Paintings that decorate the dining room of La Rayúa.

La Rayúa

(Calle de la Luna, 3; Telephone: 915 22 48 01).

From Wednesday to Saturday, from 1:15 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Tuesdays and Sundays, from 1:15 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Closed Monday.