Home PlacesSpainMadrid La Tia Carlota Vegan Gastrobar: An Entire Menu Review

La Tia Carlota Vegan Gastrobar: An Entire Menu Review

written by Sam and Veren May 17, 2018
La Tia Carlota Vegan Gastrobar: An Entire Menu Review

If you were offered to experience a private pre-opening presentation of a premiere vegan restaurant that’s also the sister restaurant to your favorite vegan restaurant in Madrid, would you say yes?

We sure as hell did.

We were incredibly honored and humbled to receive such an invitation, and assumed that this family-run restaurant was giving us a chance to see the new space, with maybe some drinks and samples.

18 courses later (and not eating again for another 18 hours after), we would still be relishing quite possibly one of the best food experiences (let alone vegan) that we’ve ever had.

Does this sound like an overstatement, or swooning too much? Well, you’re wrong, and we will proceed to tell you why.

The Story of La Tía Carlota; and How Veren Became the “Hero” of the Night by Stuffing Himself Silly

You may have heard us rave about one of our favorite restaurants, Distrito Vegano, prominently featured in all of our online vegan guides to Madrid (Ultimate Vegan Guide to Madrid, Best Vegan Tapas in Madrid, and Best Menu Del Dias in Madrid) . Their restaurant is always stuffed to the gills, sadly rejecting more patrons due to lack of space. The food is so good, and they’ve experienced such a surge of support and love that they decided to give even more back.

Imagine our joy when we learned that they were opening another restaurant around the corner from Distrito Vegano, whose overflow could easily fill another two restaurants every night. This detail was not lost on them, as the first impression one gets upon entering La Tía Carlota is just how much bigger it is. Almost three times larger, at a glance.

Not to overshadow their original project, the new space continues the same lack of pretension and cozy comfort of the former, but with its own unique look. Bamboo wallpaper, pastel colors, with wood trims, floors, and furniture give the place a more international feel with Wes Anderson flair – something you can’t quite pin down to one place yet feels so worldly.

La Tia Calrota - vegan gastrobar in Madrid

This international quality is at the forefront of La Tía Carlota. The family behind the project hails from Chile, but has an international heritage of Italy, Germany, and even Spain. Their much-beloved Tía (aunt) Carlota, fed them all home cooked meals inspired by cuisines across over the world. In la carta (the menu), one can expect to find dishes ranging from within Europe, like Italy and Spain, then a stop in South Africa, including all the way to Asia, like Indonesia and Japan, and back to the Americas, with typical foods from Chile and ingredients originally from the Andes. Not to be left out, North America is represented in the form of a dessert (and a great one at that).

When we first entered, we had no idea what to expect. After the first five entrantes (starters), we heard Pablo (who represents the family restaurants via social media, bakes all the desserts, and is the general face of the place) confirm that we would be tasting the entire menu. Our jaws dropped to the floor. Saying they were generous is an understatement. We ate so much, even despite sharing one plate amongst each group of four sitting around the large table. The amount of food could have easily fed twice as many guests. As Americans we are shameless gluttons, especially Veren who didn’t hesitate to eat everyone’s leftovers, earning him “Hero of the Night” audience award.

But What About The Food?

We can definitively say we’ve tried the entire menu and can tell you that every single dish is impressive in execution, presentation, and deliciousness. Whether it’s veggies or plant-based faux meats, the family behind La Tia Carlota knows how to earn the gastrobar title.

On to the food! Which, by the way, is 100% vegan and nearly any dish can be made gluten-free by request, though many already are. Also, we will introduce each section of the menu with our favorites, but everything is exceedingly excellently worth your while if it catches your attention. There wasn’t a bad dish among them.

Entrantes/The Starters

If you want to impress some upturned nose omnivores, try the Tartar with Heura® foods, served chilled and layered with avocado, tomato, and pebre – a Chilean sauce with cilantro and aji peppers (looks like chimichurri but tastes better) – perfect for a hot Madrid summer day. Or even El Tablao, a tasting platter of aged cheese, sobrasada (a Spanish meat pate made vegan here), and cream cheese and olive spread, served with thick cut artisan bread. These two, along with the arancini (fried breaded Italian rice balls), were standouts for us among the starters, but they were all delicious.

Arancini della Nona at La Tia Carlota | AlternativeTravelers.com

Arancinis della Nona: Veren has had Arancini (fried breaded Italian rice balls) in his non-vegan days, so he was blown away by the authentic texture and parmigiano cheese flavor. The breaded shell was perfectly crispy, and the rice very al dente.

Tartare at La Tia Carlota, a vegan gastrobar in Madrid | AlternativeTravelers.com

Tartar marinero a la chilena: so perfectly cool and rich at the same time. The Heura meat at the bottom was like cooked tuna – the perfect texture to match the smoothness of the avocado and rose vegan mayo. The tartness of the vinegar cuts right through the fattiness of the avocado.

Gyoza with sweet and sour sauce and tamari

Jiao Zi, Gyossas: Chinese steamed dumplings, which come in non-spicy and picante (spicy). We preferred the picante, but both were so soft with chewy chopped stuffing. Both are enhanced by the high-quality tamari (soy sauce made without wheat) and salsa agridulce (sweet chili sauce).

Patatas piamonte at La Tia Carlota, vegan bar in Madrid | AlternativeTravelers.com

Patatas de piamonte: Whole roasted potatoes with shiitake mushroom caps smothered in a creamy truffle sauce. The potatoes melted in your mouth, and the shiitakes tender and juicy. Roasted potatoes feature prominently as sides, so consider that if you plan on ordering certain main plates and sandwiches.

Tablao of vegan cheeses and Spanish spreads at La Tia Carlota, a vegan gastrobar in Madrid | AlternativeTravelers.com

El Tablao: A tasting platter of Sobrasada spread (originally a cured meat, but here they used squashed based vegan chorizo Calabizo from Galicia), aged cheese (maduro viejo cheezit), and crema anacardo (a cashew based cream cheese reminiscent of goat cheese). Adorned with berries that you can pair at your own discretion. Any of these can go on top of the hearty artisan bread.

Ensaladas y Los Panes de Carlota / Salads and Sandwiches

Almost everyday Sam and I eat salad and pack leafy greens in our smoothies. Generally, we do not order salads out – with few exceptions. That being said, if you’re looking for fresh springy salads that will leave you feeling lithe and sprightly, La Tía Carlota will not disappoint. Both salads we tried had the sort of tender leafy greens that would make many non-salad fans willingly eat their greens. They also have a third option of a salad of the week, which, based on the two salad we tried, will likely feature some of the best local produce Spain has to offer. They don’t over ingredient their salads either, nor drown them in dressing, allowing what’s there to shine through. One salad would make a perfect second sharing plate before the main dishes.

Papaya and Avocado salad at La Tia Carlota | AlternativeTravelers.com

Ensalada de papaya: This plate of baby spinach comes topped with a citrus dressing, avocado and papaya – a combo we hadn’t had before and thoroughly

Caprese style salad at La Tia Carlota | AlternativeTravelers.com

Ensalada Capresse Templada: a bed of arugula cushions lightly roasted tomatoes, cooked enough to keep their shape, but juicy enough to dress your greens as you cut into them, stuffed with pesto and topped with melted cheese.

Not to be outdone are the sandwiches. We love a well-executed sandwich, and neither of the two disappointed. When it comes to faux meat, the family behind La Tía Carlota know what they’re doing (as you’ll see in the Mains sections). All comes with a side of roasted potatoes or salad.

Vegan Churrasco | AlternativeTravelers.com

Vegan Churrasco Chileno: You know a dish is a success when there’s not a crumb left – not one guest left a morsel. A thick cut plant-based filet that had the carnivorous boyfriends taking seconds. Marinated and still juicy, with an incredibly just-right chewy texture and savory flavor, complemented with avocado, tomato, and mayo. The aldeano bread, (country-style bread), was pillow perfect.

Asian style vegan hot dog at La Tia Carlota | AlternativeTravelers.com

Asian Perrito: This isn’t your typical soy dog. The texture and flavor is the closest we’ve had to the real thing, and frankly, we prefer this frankfurter over the original animal one. Topped with homemade kimchi,  tsukemono (Japanese preserved vegetables), mayo mixed with hoisin sauce, topped with crunchy rice noodles, will give you an unexpected but delightful combination.

Principales/Main dishes

La Tía Carlota puts the theme of international dishes at the forefront here, as each dish is named after its origin, followed by a description. Here the dishes are bigger but still very shareable, as a tapa night out should be. The biggest star is Heura mock chicken, featured in two dishes – a dish version of Distrito Vegano’s award-winning tapa, and a skewer over rice. Below we describe how the same ingredient is showcased and which to choose if you had to choose one, and the other excellent dishes as well. What’s wholly impressive is the execution of flavors and presentation, leagues above the usually not-so-strong international scene here in Madrid. Let’s hope La Tía Carlota is ushering in a new era of non-colonial exploration for Spain.

South African style kebab at La Tia Carlota | AlternativeTravelers.com

Súdafrica: La brocheta (skewer) shows how well Heura meat can work as a kebab. Chewy and tender with light curry seasoning, along with pearl onions and squash, although the vegetables will remain seasonal. We’ve never had red rice before, and this tasted amazing. Either it was lightly seasoned, or red rice just tastes this good, with a chewiness of brown rice, but minus the dull flavor.

Peanut noodles made of sweet potato at La Tia Carlota | AlternativeTravelers.com

Indonesia: A bowl of noodles made from sweet potato! With a creamy peanut sauce, a mix of thinly sliced bell peppers, squash, and onions, with a tempeh slice or two. The peanut here is all savory, and the lil bits of veggies add a subtle sweetness and crunch.

Deconstructed Spanish style stew with Huera mock meat at La Tia Carlota | AlternativeTravelers.com

España: Showcasing what Spain (and Madrid especially) does best – a dish inspired by stews. Heura is featured again, although unlike the skewers, this is juicy and succulent but not necessarily better – just a different way of using the protein. With a reduction of Oporto, peas, baby carrots and potatoes. Compared to the skewers, the flavor is more subdued here in the typical Spanish culinary fashion – not a bad thing and something we love about Spanish food.

Milhojas, a French style dish veganized at La Tia Carlota Vegan Gastrobar in Madrid | AlternativeTravelers.com

Francia: This may be the first time Veren felt like he was eating vegan French food, other than an excellent croissant in Salt Lake City. Milhojas, or wafer-thin large crackers stacked with setas (a type of stringy mushroom common in Spain), pate, topped with an albaricoque (similar to apricot) sauce, and Pedro Ximenez reduction. Very French in style, especially with the rich pate. Only on one other instance did we experience a vegan pate on this level, and that was in Bilbao.

Postre/Dessert at La Tía Carlota

Of course, we expected the desserts to be amazing, as Distrito Vegano has always had great desserts. There were some wonderful surprises, and clearly this new bigger kitchen and restaurant space allows for more experimentation and possibilities. Some favorites were the carrot cake, pure American nostalgia for us, and Suspira Limeña, pure Chilean surprise for us, and also the Sacher Torte, Austrian nostalgia for Sam. Basically everything. They even have custom made plates just for the desserts with the places names on them.

Homemade ceramic plates with La Tia Carlota name | AlternativeTravelers.com

 

La Tia Carlota desserts | AlternativeTravelers.com

From left to right.

America Latina: Suspiro limeño: Literally a lime breath, but chances are you’ll have to be reminded to inhale air instead of just this incredibly rich and sweet and delicate custard. The sweetness, the creaminess, the smoothness – when something this good it’s just hard to explain. Again, it could stand on its own, but is topped with a cloud of fluffy whipped cream.

North America: What’s more American than carrot cake? The frosting had a taste and texture like butter and cream cheese were mixed in, yet somehow vegan. Carrot cake is a favorite of Veren’s and he figured those days were over once he became vegan, but not anymore. The cake is super soft and spongy, but perfectly textured with shredded carrot, with a light whipped frosting.

Europa Central: a Sacher torte literally like a block of chocolate, and we mean this as a good thing. It has an apricot confit center, with the citrus cutting right through the rich dark chocolate in the most welcome of interruptions, layering so nicely in our mouths.

Oceania: Po’e is a bread pudding of papaya and squash, served with a papaya sorbet – a perfect summer choice. The pudding was smooth and thick, but still a slab, and the papaya sorbet was refreshing and not too sweet.

Dessert log at La Tia Carlota | AlternativeTravelers.com

Europa Mediterranea: This chocolate encased bundle of wafers log in strawberry puree is incredible. As each could stand on their own, but combined hit every receptor of your taste buds. The chocolate slice is like a piece of chocolate embedded with soft wafer, and the strawberry puree must be more than strawberry but we can’t really tell and we’ve learned they won’t, as they previously and understandably guard their secret recipes.

Hopefully, this is ushering in a new era of strengthening the international vegan scene here in Madrid. But moreover, an era of the usually pretentious culinary critic scene taking notice of the amazing vegan food coming out of Madrid. Maybe La Tía Carlota will catch the attention of The Guardian’s almost vegan food critic, and to be fair, it wouldn’t surprise us if she made her first Madrid vegan stop here.

We sincerely love what the family behind La Tía Carlota and Distrito Vegano are doing. Everything in made in the neighborhood, from ceramic plates to the bread from the local bakery. They even renovated the space themselves. While it may be called a gastrobar (with incredible food), it’s still a very family and local place with a lot of heart. We wish them all the success, as they truly deserve it. Thank you Pablo and family for having us.

Did you know this is the newest of 28 all-vegan establishments in Madrid? Yep, Madrid is one of the most vegan-friendly cities in Europe

Gasp! Where does a one start?

Don’t worry a second longer because we’ve got you covered.

Introducing the Alternative Traveler’s Vegan Guide to Madrid! Easy to find resources for everything, including:

  • The best places to get vegan food with omnivores
  • All the vegan, vegetarian, and vegan option places, grouped by neighborhood
  • Where to get the best plant-based versions of every traditional Spanish dish
  • The best gluten-free vegan food, including for celiacs
  • Where to shop for vegan groceries and other vegan items
  • Resources to get involved in the vegan scene
  • What bars allow dogs AND humans
  • Plus much more!

Click here to learn about the Alternative Traveler’s Vegan Guide to Madrid!

Sign up to be notified about pre-ordering and our exclusive hefty discount for subscribers!

* indicates required


You may also like

%d bloggers like this: