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Spend an evening relaxing over tapas at Cafe Madrid

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At Cafe Madrid, diners have a chance to slow the pace of day-to-day life over a good meal with friends, tapas-style.

Cafe Madrid is a small traditional Spanish restaurant with a long menu of tapas dishes to be enjoyed inside the cozy indoor dining room or out on the airy patio.

Tapas are small appetizer dishes that are meant for sharing. Many dishes can be ordered over the course of a leisurely evening to make a meal. Savoring each bite while conversing with friends is part of the dining experience.

The only slightly stressful part of the experience is deciding what to enjoy first from a menu with so many options.

A good choice in this situation would be the tortillas Espanolas, or the Spanish omelet. Not an omelet like Americans are used to at all, this dish comes out looking like a wedge of soft bread baked with potatoes and eggs. On the side there is an avocado aioli-like sauce for dipping that adds richness to the savory flavor of the omelet.

The chorizo, of course, is a Spanish classic. The fatty, spicy pork sausage is served in a garlic and wine sauce and has a slightly sweet flavor to it.

One dish that is consistently tasty is the shrimp in garlic. The shrimp is sauteed and served in a delicious garlic sauce that has a hot and spicy pepper flavor.

The skewered beef, cooked with a flavorful marinade, is excellent. The skewered lamb is also very good, and comes with a sweet honey-flavored dipping sauce.

The grilled chicken is marinated in the same marinade as the beef. It’s normally a safe bet, but unfortunately this time the chicken came out under cooked – a disappointment, but an exception from previous positive experiences with the dish.

On the vegetable side, the grilled portobello mushroom caps are juicy and succulent, and pine nuts and garlic add a nice flavor to the sauteed spinach. The vegetable medley is a flavorful combination of cauliflower, summer squash and tomato sauce. The watermelon salad, made with tomatoes, bell peppers avocado and watermelon, is very refreshing.

Last but not least, the flourless chocolate cake was rich, dark and thick – satisfying to chocolate purists.

Prices at Cafe Madrid vary, but most individual tapas dishes cost between $6 and $9.

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