When you conquer the New World, it comes with benefits. Chocolate benefits.
My second day in Madrid and I was in search of the quintessential Spanish breakfast. Having discussed my quest with the quite helpful desk clerk at the Hotel Atlantico, he smiled, and said, "Chocolate y churros."
I began to ask where I might find this delectable treat but he stopped me halfway through my question. He simply waved his hand in a circle over his head, and I understood his meaning immediately. Anywhere. Everywhere.
I wound my way through the Spanish streets until I arrived at Plaza de San Martín. Just off to the side of this busy plaza, I spied Chocolatería 1902. Set into the corner of a stately looking building on Calle de San Martín, a dark brown sign stretched across the modest storefront: Chocolatería Churreria. I figured I was on to something...
I stepped through the glass doors and immediately, a coup of thick, rich melted chocolate prevailed over my senses. Beneath that, the cinnamony essence of frying churros. I suppose there's other items on the menu, but your nose would never know it.
As you walk in, a small take-out counter with a chef all in white greets you. Turning to your left, a narrow passage to the back of the cafeteria invites you in. Small tables and booths look out onto the street, while a counter runs all along the kitchen where patrons can sit and watch the magic happen.
I ambled over to a small table, took a seat, and waited. For five seconds.
An older man, dressed in a white chef's jacket emblazoned with gold lettering and braids on his shoulders, approached me. He never really stopped; he greeted me warmly, but set a small menu in front of me on the table as he glided by.
It wasn't much of a menu, really. There are a variety of churro types, pastries, and perhaps a few other items I've forgotten, or never noticed. I gave but a short glance at the menu, and when I looked up, the waiter was gliding by again. "Chocolate y churros, por favor." He nodded, never stopping, and then was gone behind the partition.
Chocolate y Churros
A minute later, a plate of classic churros and a white mug filled with what looked, quite literally, like a partially melted brick of chocolate, was set before me. Foolishly, I reached to pick up the cup, but it was as molten hot as the cocoa lava inside of it.
This hot chocolate was immobile. So thick, one practically has to drive the spoon by force into it and beneath the surface. I raised a small bit to my mouth, tasted, and found the texture quite surprising. More like a hot pudding, and nearly as dense, this potion was almost undrinkable. Not because of the taste - it was incredibly delicious! It just didn't move.
Divine inspiration set in. (Actually, I was watching the other patrons and they immediately broke off a piece of churro, popped it into the chocolate, and enjoyed.) Sensing a photo opportunity, however, I chose a whole churro, dipped the curved end into the cup of heaven, and posed it on top of the mug like a model on a sports car.
The churros were light and crispy, a fine balance of cinnamon flavor. Crunchy, but not flaky. The interior, moist and warm. Combined with the dark, thick chocolate coating, it was easy to see why it was the breakfast of Spain. Fast. Sweet. Filling.
Once I had finished the churros, I attempted to drink the hot chocolate, but I found it too much. Perhaps with practice, I could learn to sip this luscious, non-liquid drink, but not this day. I'm sure I left that mug half-full, or better, but fully satisfied.
Chocolatería 1902 has been owned and operated by the same family for five generations, over 115 years. Centrally located in Madrid, not far from the Gran Via, and a four minute walk from Plaza Mayor, it was a delightful stop, and one worthy of your sweet tooth's desire.
Chocolatería 1902: Calle de San Martín, 2, 28013 Madrid, Spain
All original photos unless noted.