Translated into English, el Parque del Buen Retiro means the Park of the Good Rest. Unfortunately, the weather was overcast on the day we visited, and the dark skies made us worry if it was actually possible for us to have a good rest. After all, the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain. Brownie points if you get the movie reference. And if you didn’t recognize the quote, go watch the movie. Now.
El Parque de Buen Retiro’s gates clearly give off the feeling of “I used to be owned by royalty,” but you truly don’t realize just how big the park is until you go inside and walk up the stairs. One of my favorite things was how some of the trees had been cut in the shape of semi-spheres. I thought they resembled giant mushrooms, giving off a Wonderland-like atmosphere.
Further into the park was el Palacio de Cristal, which has a beautiful pond in front. The palace was built to resemble The Crystal Palace that had been built in London for one of the Great Exhibitions in the 1800s.
During our visit, there was a temporary exhibit inside the palace sponsored by the Reina Sofia called Imagined Memories. The exhibit was done by Mitsuo Miura, a Japanese artist who has lived in Spain since 1966. Around the Palacio, there are colored circles on the floor with another identical set hanging above from the roof. Created between the two is an imaginary object, a column, which suggests the creation of a new architectural space. Viewers are to imagine forests of columns.
There are also strips of color along the inner base of the building, Miura’s way of suggesting a sketchy drawing of an indefinite plan. Overall, Miura’s exhibits intended to remind viewers that architecture is no more than the physical delimitation of an already existing space, and constructive elements are no more than lines drawn in the void. It’s a profound exhibit that took us a while to fully understand, but we appreciated the thoughtfulness of the artist.
We retreated all the way back to our hostel, but we knew that we couldn’t hide forever. Afraid that it may rain again, my friend suggested that we eat dinner nearby the hostel and go to San Wich, a Chilean restaurant known for its burgers. San Wich is a tiny place; there were only about four tables that barely fit two people each. You order and pick up at the counter.
We arrived just as the place was opening for dinner service, so we had the luxury of taking our time to order. The menu had a lot of creative names, such as Osobuco al chocolate and Austral. My friend went with the Como Cabra (€7.50), a beef hamburger with sun-dried tomato pesto, goat cheese, grilled eggplant, and arugula. My friend chooses not to eat beef, though, so she asked if the burger could be made with grilled chicken instead. The owner was more than happy to comply. The burger, stacked high with goodies, had an impressive presentation. The large slice of goat cheese had been grilled, enhancing the flavor. Even the eggplant, which my friend usually hates, tasted good.
I ordered the A lo pobre (€7.50), a beef hamburger with mozzarella cheese, caramelized onions, bacon, and a fried egg. The burger came out as a hot mess – in a good sense – with melting cheese and egg yolk dripping down the sides. No matter what angle I tried, I just couldn’t get a picture that did the burger justice. I definitely used a fork and knife to eat the burger. The combination was heavy on the protein, but I couldn’t deny that the bacon, egg, and beef tasted really good. It was like a breakfast burger. The caramelized onions’ sweetness also helped to tone down the meaty flavor. The fries that came with both burgers also were good: crispy, not oily, and not over salted.
San Wich is a great place to have a decent burger in Madrid. The prices may set you back a little more than you would prefer, but the unique combinations and flavors make the restaurant worth trying. San Wich also serves hot dogs and sandwiches made on homemade bread, both equally as creative as their hamburgers. Although the place is small, you’ll definitely feel that San Wich stays true to its philosophy: “Porque un buen sandwich es justo y necesario.” Because a good sandwich is just and necessary.
Calle Hortaleza, 78
28004 Madrid, Spain
Mon-Sat 8 pm – 12 am
Tue-Sun 2 pm – 4:30 pm