The past is very much a part of the present in Madrid. Storefronts advertise their incorporation dates on placards; shops hang posters from bygone eras; restaurants stamp their foundation dates on their sugar cubes. It is as if to say a place’s history, its legacy, the fact that it has been here through the good and the sometimes not so good times, is something to be cherished. Café Gijón, a classic restaurant serving traditional Spanish cuisine, is an example of one of those places where its legacy and its adherence to tradition, is very much a part of its charm.
Café Gijón first opened its doors in 1888. Red velvet drapes and chairs; waiters in their whites; watercolors of bull fighters; flanks of aged hams hanging along the back wall of the bar; dark wood paneling befitting its serious salon; its servers standing at prompt attention like sentries at their post: one could imagine that Café Gijón hasn’t changed much from its original form. Once known as the meeting point place for intellectuals and poets, people still gather here to discuss art, politics, literature, history, and existential matters, over a rich, warm, and hearty meal.
We spoke mostly of the weather - of the rain and cold - and of how wonderful Madrid was as we ate our Callos de la Casa (tripe stew) and stuffed chicken and drank rijoa tinta. We finished off each meal with arroz con leche (rice pudding) and a coffee and were very glad that Café Gijón was still around.