New old best restaurant in Spain – Casa Mingo

Casa Mingo, Madrid
Casa Mingo, Madrid - click to enlarge

If only all restaurants in Spain were like this! It is classic (hasn’t changed in decades – neither have the waiters, who, by the way, are friendly!), opens at 11 am, and is non-smoking!

What this means it that we can go there with our baby and eat with him before 1pm! Seeing as he has a siesta at 2pm, there is practically no other restaurant in Spain we can eat lunch at these days – oh, and all the others are mostly smoky too, so 100 more points to Asturian Cider House Extraordinaire Casa Mingo for keeping the nicotine out as well.

(Meanwhile, here’s an amusing article in El Mundo where bar and restaurant owners weep for their certain future of economic ruin if the Health Minister continues with her evil plans to remove smoking from every bar and restaurant in Spain: ‘Nos arruinan a todos’. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think every bar and restaurant in the UK, France, Italy etc went to the wall when smoking was banned there!)

Anyway, this isn’t meant to be another anti-smoking post, just a message from a parent thankful to have a clean atmosphere to take his son out to an early lunch in – “Ole por Casa Mingo!”

(How to get there etc: links)

P.S. Oh, and this photo of the best Asturian Chorizo in Madrid is for Jose/Valenciason – I think Gary would like it too:

Casa Mingo, Madrid

39 Replies to “New old best restaurant in Spain – Casa Mingo”

  1. The food must taste strange without all that yummy smoke.

    Regarding bars going out of business: no, not all of them have. A hell of a lot have, though. In Britain, about 52 pubs go out of business a week – and many publicans agree that the smoking ban is a significant contributing factor.

    In many ways, banning smoking is no defence of freedoms: it’s really just the removal of a freedom.

  2. Good food, unpretentious, friendly waiters, not expensive and no smoking. Love it!
    In the UK, a lot of the pubs closing are old-man’s pubs that were on their last legs anyway (men and pubs), smoking ban was just the final nail in the coffin (so to speak), and certainly not sole cause.

  3. @Annie “a significant contributing factor” is what I said. Of course it’s true that there are lots of factors which contribute to pubs closing down. That’s the main reason why I didn’t say a smoking ban is the ‘sole cause’.

    I must say I find it slightly odd to laugh at the fears of business owners, especially when the mocking is coming from someone who runs his own business.

  4. @Tom – I don’t mean to laugh, but I think the following is ridiculous:

    – To put fear of loss of business over fear for their own health!
    – To consider that this alone will ruin their businesses

    Clearly people don’t just go to bars to smoke, they go there to drink, eat, hang out, socialise, escape the wife/husband/kids etc

    And an intelligent business owner would say “Oh well, times change, I’ll have to change with them, I’m sure there will be other ways to keep my customers coming in, I’ll just work out how to find them” – instead of this ‘something changes = doomsday” approach.

    Easy for me to say I know, but I hope when something happens to change the way my business might work, I’ll make changes ahead of time to mean things continue as usual, or suffer the consequences and accept it’s my fault for being too stuck in my ways to change and look at new models.

  5. This is a cruel post, Ben. I love Casa Mingo, and if that is the cider chorizo then that’s one of my favourites. The only problem is that even though it’s so big, it can get crowded at certain times. Last time we had to go to the upstairs bit and…it was full of smokers. Yuk. A trip to the Goya ceiling next door is obligatory before or after the meal.

  6. Smoking has been banned in bars and restaurants in some localities here in the U.S which just means the smokers go outside in front of the establishment and light up! Not all that pleasant for those just walking by. Now there is a move in DC to allow businesses to ban people from smoking in front of their building! And in my town in Maryland, they want to ban smoking in los columpios.

  7. @tom Sorry, I was actually thinking of what publicans themselves have been saying since the smoking ban came in, not your comment in particular.
    The Goya ceiling at San Antonio de la Florida is indeed amazing, and interesting that the Ceramics School up the hill in the Parque del Oeste might open to the public in the future too. Could put this secret bit of Madrid with its various Goya associations on the map

  8. @MrMark – “there are now 2 Wetherspoons!” – this would be a plus if there were, say, 200 before. I went into a Wetherspoons pub once. It was the the most soulless, miserable, office-like leisure spot I’ve ever witnessed. And I used to live in Swansea. I hear they pour a good pint of Fosters, though.

  9. I just came back from my annual visit to NYC, which I consider the best city in the world in terms of culinary excellence (at least to my knowledge) and I believe one of the factors for being such a top world city to eat is the smokefree environment (appart from other more evident reasons such as the diversity of the offer, the innovation and audacity of chefs and the prime ingredients used mostly everywhere).

    In this day and age going to a restaurant seeking a enjoyable experience and having to put up with the the fumes from your dinner companions is a insult from both the smoker and the owner of the establishment that allows this to happen.

    Hopefully things are changing (a bit slowly in Spain) and more sense will be put (either voluntarily or law-enforced) into the catering business.

    I remember that in my university days (in Spain) you could smoke in the classrooms, at least during exams, and that was not so long ago (I’m 34) !!!. That would be outrageous in Spain these days.

    1. @Parubin, that’s classic, smoking in exams. You could write the answers on the ciggies before the exam, then smoke the evidence! The perfect ‘chuleta’!

  10. @Interesting article that. Again, it is more about pubs not doing enough to change with the times, plus the credit crunch and cheap booze in the supermarkets…

  11. Haha … that chorizo reminds me of a href=”” rel=”bookmark” title=”New old best restaurant in Spain – Casa Mingo”>this scene in National Lampoon’s European Vacation. I may have to watch this with Spanish subtitles if it’s available. Audrey Griswold … classic.

    Re: smoke in Spanish bars it is mindboggling what a distinction there is between Spain and the US. I lived in New York for four years and hardly noticed anyone ever smoking. Here in Barcelona you choke on smoke at some bars. That said I don’t think the Spanish have anything on the Japanese!

  12. This is one of my favourite restaurants in Madrid. Their chicken is famous, and they do a pisto dish with tuna that’s amazing. Smokers note – while the weather is good, they have tables outside where you can smoke. I only go to Mingo’s when the weather is good.

  13. Ben! You are killing me! Of course that’s one of them beauties made with sidra! How cruel! I’m glad you have a place to take your son without worrying about his tender lungs. Enjoy the chorizo for me.

  14. We used wrigleys spearmint gum for chuletas – put it in the freezer, unwrap the individual sticks, write answers on the gum and re-wrap. In the exam open, consult then consume – a healthy alternative to cheating using cigarettes!!

    I feel my old friend heartburn arriving just looking at the chorizo, but I’d still eat it!! The cheeses are fab too…

  15. Ben – you are a wonderful and wise fellow and I agree with you almost always… and that sausage looks fantastic!

    But when you said this in response to Tom’s comment:

    “…an intelligent business owner would say “Oh well, times change, I’ll have to change with them…”

    I felt compelled to say something. When you say “times change”… well, in this case politicians changed the times. They may have changed times for the better, or not. They may have accurately represented the wishes of their constituents, or not. Spain may be better off for this ban, or not. Bar owners may also be better off, or not.

    But my point is that “times” didn’t just change – someone is telling the business owner what he may or may not do in his own business. That is, to some people, an intrusion of government in business that is not theirs.

    I am not a smoker; and I have seen smoking bans succesfully implememnted in many cities/states/nations. But I always have an uncomfortable feeling about the state’s role in how a person runs his own business.

    I am not comfortable with the shrug of the shoulders and the glib remark which comes down to this: “oh well, they outlawed something I don’t like, so it’s OK”. What will you say if “they” outlaw something you DO like?

    I have heard that in China many blogs are removed from the internet because “they” do not find them appropriate…

    it is a fine line and a slippery slope.

  16. Well said Jon!! Said exactly what I always wanted to in response to this- no problems with business owners making X or Y decisions but the state is usually what wrecks what once may have been one of the z great things a country had- please check out a recent article on France named something like- “Adieuu la Belle France- you are now just as bland as Britain”!!

  17. Mingo: wonderful place. It certainly has not changed in the last 25 years. I went there a few times in the early 1980’s and has not changed much at all. And still same fabulous chicken.
    “I am not comfortable with the shrug of the shoulders and the glib remark which comes down to this: “oh well, they outlawed something I don’t like, so it’s OK”. What will you say if “they” outlaw something you DO like?”
    It is no a question to outlaw someting you like or not like, but it is well proven that it is unhealthy to both the smokers and the people around who do not smoke, and I don’t understand why the non smokers have to suffer.

  18. well Pippa, I guess if it was my world I would let the owner of the bar decide whether he wanted to allow smoking; the employees would decide if they wanted to work in a bar that allowed smoking, and the customers would choose to enter a bar that they enjoyed.

    I think most people are capable of making simple choices in their own life, and I’m not always convinced that the government of the day is correct. In the past governments have approved some pretty drastic and now-unpopular positions.

    I also understand the larger societal cost of bad health decisions – like smoking and drinking. I can understand many of the arguments in favor of outlawing – or at least discouraging – self-destructive behavior.

    But I am not sure that I want “other people” to tell me what to do and control my actions. Every personal freedom we are asked/demanded/required to surrender in the name of “a well-ordered society” should be questioned very deeply before being sacrificed.

  19. @Jon, My comment was not about the ethics etc of government decisions ruling our life, it was simply saying that IF the government does something that impacts business for these bar owners, they will have no choice but to adapt and move forward. Or give up.

    I believe that any intelligent bar owner will not have to go under just because of the smoking ban. If you read the article inthe spectator linked to in MrMark’s comment above you’ll see it takes a lot more than just a smoking ban to close pubs in the UK.

    And frankly, I’m happy for a democratically elected government to make these decisions, even if some businesses may suffer as a result – that’s the risk of running a business after all, that fashions, laws, economics etc are in a constant flux that may affect our models. That’s why it’s so important to stay on our feet and adapt!

    You also say: “But I am not sure that I want “other people” to tell me what to do and control my actions. Every personal freedom we are asked/demanded/required to surrender in the name of “a well-ordered society” should be questioned very deeply before being sacrificed.”

    Well, I think the smoking question has been explored pretty darn thoroughly and, in fact, for far too long considering the health risks – and if at least 4 or 5 other democratic European countries have already come to the conclusion that it is better for the majority to take smoking out of bars and restaurants, then I’m pretty sure it’s not going to start a slippery slope to the end of our personal liberty.

  20. “Well, I think the smoking question has been explored pretty darn thoroughly and, in fact, for far too long considering the health risks..”

    cars are pretty dangerous, too… not to mention the pollutants that they create.

    And don’t forget the mountain of discarded computer hardware piling up at the local dump – awaiting shipment to some poorer land where the dangerous and toxic parts can be stripped out by less fortunate people who can make a few pennies by recycling…

    society allows ever so many dangerous activities. Where do you decide to draw the line? Smoking is dangerous – so are motorcycles and snowboards and sex in many cases. Don’t forget that foods like cheese and sausages can cause health problems!

  21. not bothering with the smoking comments, just getting to the meat of this issue: Best roast chicken around and with a bottle of killer austurian cider, Casa Mingo is heaven on earth! 🙂

  22. Ben, thank you for your suggestion of this non-smoking restaurant!

    I’m moving to Madrid on Nov. 3 — might you help point me in the direction of some other non-smoking restaurants that you know of and find good enough to take Leo to? I’m allergic to tobacco (I’ve got asthma and had allergy tests) so yes, I will be sticking to a lot of non-smoking places too! It’s not so bad, I can be in a bar for about an hour or two without having breathing problems (hence the desire to still move to a country where smoking is quite popular) but if you have any suggestions off the top of your head… I’d be happy to hear. 🙂

  23. Ben the UK is going after drink now so yes it is pretty much part of a slippery slope. Same goes for New York’s ban on trans-fat foods in restaurants.

  24. When one’s choice to poison affects others unwillingly, then sure as Casa Mingo makes great chorizo, sidra and chicken, should any conscientious government leadership intervene, no question.

  25. “…any conscientious government leadership (should) intervene”

    Oh boy, are we going to discuss the huge anti-abortion rally now too? This appears to be a case where the conscientious government leadership is in favor of causing death as a matter of personal choice and a sizeable minority is opposed…

    please discuss

  26. Guys! This is not the place for the abortion debate! Carry on in the forum in you like, but this isn’t the place for it, it is totally off topic! Any more posts about that topic here on the blog will be deleted as they are asking for trouble I don’t need!

  27. I don’t know if this on on the No Fumadores list, but there’s a vegetarian restaurant I like called Al Natural at the top end of C/ de Zorilla, which means it’s behind the Palacio de Congreso. It’s non smoking, but does have three meat dishes on the menu – just to cater for Non veggies (like me)who go along with the carnephobes.

  28. @Richard @Amy – that reminds me, we went to El Granero on Clle Argumosa in Lavapies this weekend, a real old favourite, and reall yold too! Non-smoking of course, and amazing vege food, a menu del dia for 10 or 12 euros I think. It’s a real classic. Have to try your place next Richard!

  29. sorry Ben – you’re right we were getting way off topic. No offense intended to anyone, I was just enjoying the debate. Back to the sausages…

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  31. friendly waiters??! in Spain?! I almost laughed out loud when I read that. Check out my blog if you are interested in Madrid or Spain in general. Some quirky, wacky stories on it!

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