My wife and I were in Madrid from 5/5 to 5/11, with one day trip in Toledo in the middle.
We stayed in Malasaña, what an awesome neighborhood! same goes to Chueca.
Thanks to all the great people (butterfly, hblnk and JuanDoe to name a few) on this board that provided valuable tips.
Some pintxos at Orio, nothing to write about.
"Dinner" at a local pub, Cerveceria Churruca, to watch the 1st leg of Juventus vs. Real.
To say that the food and drinks were affordable would be an understatement, we didn't expect great food, but the morcilla&potatoes tapa was actually pretty good.
Very local crowd, the bartender didn't understand a word in English and was grumpy at first, but once I managed to connect a few words in Spanish it was all good :)
Dinner at Gastromaquia was a slight disappointment considering the recommendations.
3 good dishes: guacamole, cheese cake and goat cheese with basil and honey which was out of this world.
3 not so good dishes: tuna tartar (waaay too much seasoning, you would never know it's a tuna), pig's ear (too oily, too much paprika), octopus with potato "foam" which made the previous dish feel bland... a shame because the main ingredients were cooked well.
Service was very good, the place is nice and small, the crowd was more international than Spanish, partly our fault :)
Very good lunch at Asador Palencia de Lara.
An OTH appetizer of gazpacho was superb, buñuelos de bacalao (cod doughnut) was a large and tasty entree although I would be happy to feel more cod in the dough.
Arroz de caza caldoso, ciervo y perdiz (rice with deer and partridge) was yummy and so was my wife's porcini risotto.
We were too full to order a dessert.
Back to Madrid for dinner at Taperia de Malasaña, a relatively new place that didn't look too authentic but it was too late to find a seat at the nearby popular tapas bars.
Tasty chipirones with a side of tasteless potatoes, morcilla with padron peppers was fun but too much in terms of fried food, the morcilla tasted a bit like falafel probably due to cumin.
Dinner at El Senador.
An entree with the concise name: "milhojas de queso de cabra y foie con frambuesa y cebolla caramelizada".
I would translate it to: "extremely tasty, just order it".
I loved the cochinillo for main, my doctor would really hate it.
Arroz con leche for dessert was great, we finished it easily although we were stuffed, wasn't my all-time best (chez l'ami jean's was unforgettable) but very tasty none the less.
Breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien - good bread, so-so eggs benedict, decent coffee.
Dinner was originally planned for 21:00 at Viri diana, but we got back too late from the tennis tournament and wanted to take a nap.
So Babel it was at 23:00, we loved the atmosphere more than anything else, not that it was the most special place on earth, but the restaurant was live when we arrived and even when we left which was nice.
Jamon iberico - check.
Steak Tartar was okay, I would rather if the ingredients weren't pre-mixed but that's me.
Apple tart was different than I expected but fun.
Breakfast at Lolina was mostly for coffee, orange juice and a sandwich but something that became clear to me is that goat cheeses in Madrid are on a different level. Four tries, four definite hits.
Had one chicken mole taco at Mercado de San Ildefonso, bingo.
Lunch at La Tita Rivera: estralla galicia beer (surprising!), good patatas bravas, bad tortilla, nice mini-burgers.
Dinner at Malaspina: didn't like the service, it was rushed, pushy and overall annoying. The food (lomo iberico, fried calamari, chocolate tart) was all okay-plus, but no dish will stay in my memory for too long.
On hindsight I wish we were able to go to more recommended places, such as Sacha, Rafa, O'Pazo etc.
But the bottom line wasn't a specific restaurant or a specific dish, it's the entire city. And this city is awesome.