A Latin American fusion restaurant with a relaxed vibe and kitschy decoration. Casa Jaguar is the perfect place for a relaxed dinner with friends in Madrid.
As odd as this might sound, Casa Jaguar, in the heart of Madrid reminded me of Brooklyn. This had nothing at all to do with the decoration. In fact, the huge mural, a copy of Henri Rousseau’s “The Dream,” and the wicker furniture were meant to transport us to a Latin American oasis just steps from the Ópera subway stop. The bar was lined with aluminum siding and the walls were covered with wooden boards to complete the effect. Why Brooklyn, then? I think it had to do with the fact that this Latin American fusion restaurant was totally unexpected, kitsch and very much a hipster hang out. Of course, those things all appeal to us (as much in Brooklyn as in Madrid).
When we arrived around 9pm on a Friday evening we had to wait a bit for a table. The server, wearing a knit peruvian hat with earflaps and a tee shirt told us that we could wait at the bar in the meantime. While Casa Jaguar has great reviews for their cocktails (we saw a gorgeous looking pisco sour heading to a table); we were more in the mood for a beer that night. There were several international beers and we decided to try La Paceña, a Bolivian beer made in La Paz. It was a smooth beer that matched the relaxed surroundings. Behind the bar was what amounted to a shrine of alcohol topped by a painting of a woman who stared boldly back at us from behind a bouquet of pink flowers and an inky blue background.
We were seated after a short wait at a cozy table along the wall and our waiter told us about the daily specials including arepas filled with corvina, squid and shrimp with a lime and avocado mayonnaise. I’m allergic to avocado, but the kitchen was very accommodating. The arepas were the size of my palm and were served on a plate that looked like a slice of a tree trunk, very much in keeping with the restaurant’s theme. The golden arepa was thin and crunch, not at all like the thicker soft versions I’d tried before. This was more like a little sandwich filled with tender fish, and a flavorful mayonnaise (mine with just lime and Pedro’s with the added richness of avocado.)
For our main course we ordered the roast pork with sweet potato pureé. The meat was tender and the sweet potato pureé provided the perfect contrast the the salty meat. We also tried the tacos al pastor. It was the perfect dish to share since there were two tacos along with some house made tortilla chips and salsa. For dessert we shared a slice of lime cake which had the texture of cheesecake with a bite of citrus. It was the perfect end to our relaxed dinner, although I definitely recommend sharing since the dinner itself was very filling.
If there is one drawback to this Latin American fusion restaurant it might be the very fact that it is fusion. If you are looking to recreate a trip to Peru or Argentina, you might find yourself wondering about the different flavor or twist on an old favorite. The only other negative might be the price. While it is par for the course in Madrid to expect higher prices (it is the capital after all), main dishes ranged from 11 to 18 euros and once you add in starters, drinks and desserts dinner is easily 30 euros per person. That said, there is a Menú del Día for only 12 euros, so if you’re looking to try the restaurant and shell out a bit less, come for lunch!
All in all, Casa Jaguar has great food and great atmosphere. Did I mention that their music selection was spot on? It was unexpected and familiar at the same time and a perfect place for a special dinner while in Madrid. We will be back for the food…and maybe to try that pisco sour. Ruskommended with 4 boquerones.