This year La Negra Tomasa celebrated their 20th anniversary, and it’s not hard to see why they
have stayed in business for so long. With live music and mojitos flowing every night,
La Negra Tomasa is the place to be for a fun and delicious night out in Madrid.
Hidden Cuisines of Madrid, A Three-Part Series: (3) La Negra Tomasa
By Dylon Goris & Aidan Kim
Pics: A. Kim
It’s 3:45 pm when we arrive at La Negra Tomasa. It’s the afternoon, siesta time (that is, for the 18% of the Spaniards who still sometimes take a midday nap), long before a Spaniard would think about having dinner, but the atmosphere inside feels more like 10:00 pm on a Friday night. On a stage in the corner of the restaurant, one man sings joyfully, another switches off between scraping a stick against a güiro and playing the trumpet, and the third plays a synthesizer. Together, they create the rhythmic salsa sounds that fuel the frenetic aura of La Negra Tomasa.
In Madrid, this is as close as you can get to getting a taste of Havana. Inside, the walls are adorned with pictures of the homeland and warm tones that make you feel like part of the family instead of a customer. This year La Negra Tomasa celebrated their 20th anniversary, and it’s not hard to see why they have stayed in business for so long. With live music and mojitos flowing every night, La Negra Tomasa is the place to be for a fun and delicious night out in Madrid.
Without a reservation, the wait for a table was substantial: about 45 minutes. Waitresses carried tantalizing plates past us dispersing the mouthwatering smell of Cuban cuisine throughout the restaurant. By the time we were seated we were ravenous.
The meal was well worth the wait. We started our feast with a three-part appetizer. First up was fried yuca served with a delicious garlic sauce. Considered a delicacy among the Cuban people, the yuca, served fried, was a plentiful and satisfying starter, perfect to share between friends and get the appetite roaring. Next on our appetizer list was a plate of tostones, otherwise known as fried plantain. Accompanied by a savory red sauce, the tostones pleased the tongue and the soul, proving to be the perfect comfort food — you may have a hard time putting them down. Our last appetizer, and perhaps the most impressive, were the Papitos rellenos. A large ball of potato filled with ground beef, the large rellenos balls were the best stop on our appetizer tour; our only regret was that the plate only came with three delicious balls.
Our main course was still the highlight of our dining experience. The first dish was a traditional Cuban delight, ropa vieja, served with congri, which is black beans and bean sauce served mixed with white rice and a Cuban tamal, a variant of the better known Mexican tamale but made with beef mixed with cornmeal and cooked in banana leaf. The ropa vieja was a succulent and tender serving of shredded beef stewed in a tomato-based sauce. It made one feel as though they were eating their Cuban grandmother’s ropa vieja in traditional, sunny Havana. The congri rice and beans it was served with was the perfect accompaniment to the savory meat. The Cuban tamal was an interesting delicacy. It is unique in its composition and its preparation, a delicate medley of the sweet flavors of corn and banana leaf and the savory beef that lay within. It is a unique taste, and an absolute must for those culinary adventurers seeking to immerse their taste buds in authentic Cuban cuisine.
The second dish was a plate of masas de cerdo, a dish made up of pork chunks, served with the same congri and tostones we dined on. The congri and tostones once again did not fail to disappoint, and the pork was perhaps the biggest winner of the night. Delicate, tender and juicy to the bite, the pork was a masterpiece of Latin cuisine. If Cubans know how to do one thing, it’s how to make delicious pork. Paired well with a bowl of black beans (in case your serving of congri simply wasn’t enough), the meal is not only delicious but plentiful — you may find yourself feeling guilty for not being able to finish it all.
All in all, La Negra Tomasa is a must visit for tourists and Madrid natives alike for authentic Cuban cuisine and culture. Eat your fill then get up and dance the night away at the best Cuban restaurant Madrid has to offer.