It was a chance encounter that first lead us to Home Burger Bar on one of the reconnaissance trips to Madrid pre-move, but it was premeditated and purposeful planning which lead us to return.
Ruairidh picked it for his birthday meal out (hey, you’re only 26 once), which of course disappointed me initially because it’s not the kind of place really where they turn all the lights off and sing happy birthday over a loudspeaker (“Happy biiiiirthdaay, dear *blank spaaaaaacce*”), like at Jimmy Chungs*.
Our usual Chueca branch is closed on Mondays (they never got the birthday memo, I guess) but because they have four to choose from, we picked another: that of Calle Espíritu Santo in Malasaña.
It’s an American diner-style set-up, with red John Wilkes** and shiny tables and stuff, like Twin Peaks without any surrealism. Vibes-wise, it’s very chilled out, and the waiters are friendly. It’s kid-friendly as well, and they have a little burger for little people option. And a vegetarian choice. We enjoyed a bottle of red wine from their small Spain-oriented wine list (they also do beer and soft drinks and stuff, not having gone into the whole ‘diner style = shoving milkshakes everywhere’ thing).
They do a lot of nice-sounding starters like goat’s cheese salad, onion rings and samosas; on this occasion we didn’t partake because of all the free olives we’d snaffled at Corazón bar round the corner having a pre-dinner bev (like I said, no holds barred for this birthday). Price-wise it’d be equivalent to I think maybe Gourmet Burger Kitchen or somewhere from home.
We both ordered the Baja California burger, which has cheese, avocado, sour cream, tomato, red onion, and leaves. The burgers come with a ton of salty fries, and a pot of
colslaw Coldslaw coleslaw (Goddamnit!). The highlight is the burger meat itself, which is just so good – kind of nutty and minerally.
Validation of my opinion comes in the form of Home Burger Bar having been awarded a prize in 2014 by the Matador Network, to the tune of serving one of the 50 best burgers in the world. It’s one of only eight European recipients of the accolade.
So – I highly recommend coming here, potentially even independently of any birthday. Mine is thankfully a good way off, which means I avoid paying 50€ extra a month for a grown-up travel card.
* For any non-Brits reading this, Jimmy Chungs is a chain of Chinese buffets, where growing up I spent a good few of my Friday afternoons after school with my pals because we couldn’t go to a pub. From a quick googling, it looks awfully as if Sir Chung has actually had a fall of fortunes of late, as there are only branches now in a few places in the UK (the planets have aligned for the people of Dundee, Stirling and Inverness). As in any Chinese buffet, you go and eat all the “Chinese” food you could ever want, after battling with the little tongs and massive serving spoons. And, of course, you could also have chips and ice cream if you so choose. It was, shall we say, no-frills dining, but as a lover of British approximations of Chinese food I would say it has a space in my heart. Haaaaappy birthdaa-
** A ‘John Wilkes’ = John Wilkes Booth = a booth. C’monnnn.