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Olde Madrid Restaurant

100% Local

418 6th St.
Racine , WI 53403 (view map)
Phone: (262) 619-0940 Website: http://www.oldemadrid.com/ Hours:

Lunch
Tues – Fri 11 am – 2 pm
Dinner
Tues – Thur 4:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Fri – Sat 4:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Closed Sun & Mon

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Details

The world of tapas is supposed to be a small one; small portions, small  prices, small talk.

For chef Manny Salinas, the traditions of tapas are big. They, alongside the  ideals of his Spanish mother, are the foundation for Sixth Street's Olde Madrid  restaurant.

"My parents taught me to be polite, and I'm old school basically," Salinas  said about his propensity to walk through the dining area greeting customers. "I  think it's very important that the customer see who's actually behind the  scenes, who is making the food and who owns the place. And they take that to  heart, that you come out and talk to them and actually stand by the food … I just want to appreciate the people that come here and I want to let them know  that I appreciate them."

Appreciation and gratitude are never far removed from any conversation with  Salinas. Having grown up in Illinois, and having worked at such large-output  operations as the Marriot Hotel and Abbott Laboratories, Salinas said he is  grateful for the knowledge he's gained as a chef. And after earning a culinary  arts degree from the College of Cook County, Salinas was appreciative when Shogun co-owner Michael Choi mentored him and advised the opening of his own  restaurant.

Something different

"I had the chance to do whatever I wanted with this building. I could have  done Mexican. I could have done whatever, another Italian place, but there's so  many of them, I think with this we hit the monopoly because nobody has this.  It's something different," Salinas said. "We didn't know if it was going to work out or not. Nobody knew about tapas here in Racine, so it was a scary thing to  do, first of all, and I just thought it was a smart decision because I already  knew the food and I grew up eating it."

As Salinas tells it, the history of tapas originated some 300 years ago with  Spain's King Alfonso.

"Everybody did everything the king did. If he wore his hat on one side,  everybody did it."

At some point the king came down with a stomach ailment and could no longer  eat large portions of food, so his staff began bringing him smaller portions of  the food he enjoyed, along with his customary glass of wine. When flies began to  land in the wine, the king's staff decided to take one of the small plates of  food and set it over the beverage. Everyone in Spain soon began to serve their  food over a glass of wine in the tapas (meaning lid) style.

Abundant choices

With 18 hot tapas and 11 cold tapas on the menu ranging in price from $4.99  (for the baked goat cheese) to $8.99 (for the seared scallops), customers  shouldn't have a hard time trying something new with each visit. Add to that,  nine paella options ($8.99-11.99), two soup options ($3.99) six entrée options ($13.99-$22.99) and four deserts to choose from, and no one should leave  hungry.

"I'm very gracious with food. I'm not skimpy at all … I've always liked it  when you go out and you get big portions for the money, and people here always  end up taking it home; always," Salinas said. "They eat some, but because they  have the tapas … and then the paella on top of that they can't finish it  all."

Paella is a Spanish dish consisting of a rice base, Saffron (at about $850  per pound, it gives the dish its signature flavoring), Spanish paprika and  extra-virgin olive oil.

The meat or vegetables that are added are cooked separately and bring their  own flavors to the dish.

While the paella dishes are meant to feed three or four people, the tapas are  presented as a la carte options.

"It is not coming with fries, it is not coming with mashed potatoes, it's not  coming with any other thing. It's just what you order," Salinas said.

"The idea of the tapas is really fun and they're all really good," Mike  Thielen of Racine said, after his fourth visit to the restaurant. "If you can  have lots of really little good things (it works out)."

Atmosphere galore

Voted the second-best new restaurant in 2007's Best of Racine County, the  orange walls inside Olde Madrid help make the restaurant pop when walking down  Sixth Street after dark. Once inside, the plants emerging from the walls and  wooden table and chair setup bring a unique atmosphere to a unique  restaurant.

"I really like it. I like the atmosphere," former Racine resident Greg Ross  said of the restaurant that opened after he moved to Michigan. "It has a nice  open atmosphere but not too noisy and I thought the selection was nice, the  portion size was right. Sometimes you go to places and the portions are just too  big. The portion size was nice and the food was excellent. I thought the value  was really good."

A dream come true

Admitting that he's always wanted to open his own restaurant, Salinas began  his cooking career as a high school student working in a pizzeria and at a fast  food joint. He eventually became a prep cook and from there he worked for Jim  Spodick, owner of the Historic Century Market, for three years.

"Believe it or not I never touched food at home, even though my mother is  from Madrid," Salinas said, slipping into a Spanish accent when saying the  city's name. "She did all the cooking at home."

Olde Madrid has been molded, over the course of the past half year, into the  restaurant that Salinas, 28, envisioned. The current winter menu is the second  in the restaurant's short history. Salinas said he plans to add to the menu this  spring.

In all, Salinas said he would like to update the menu three times this year,  adding more of his original tapas recipes with each edition. The ultimate goal  is to some day have in the neighborhood of 130 menu options (with new choices  arriving every year he stays in business), while also keeping the favorites around.

Popular food

The baked goat cheese is one of those favorites. Salinas said it is ordered  by nearly 90 percent of his customers.

"It's just something that everybody can share. It comes in a bowl, you put  the fresh goat cheese in there, you bake it in the oven and then you get toasted  bread with that and it's something you just dip in there," he said. "I make my  own marinara sauce and mix it together with the goat cheese and it's just  outstanding. The flavors that come out of there and the bread, you can't beat  it. A warming dish that's not so expensive. It's only $4.99 and maybe four or  five people can eat out of there. People love it."

Repeat customer Mark Lukow of Caledonia agreed. Having tried the seafood  bisque, seared scallops, The Matador paella, baked goat cheese, garlic chile  shrimp, gourmet cheesecake and orange zest flan, Lukow mentioned that his group  of three could have gone anywhere because the meal was being paid for through an  expense account, and they chose Olde Madrid.

"The first place I ever had tapas was in Puerto Rico, San Juan, and this was  in like a 5-star hotel in a historic district, and from what I remember from two  years ago, their quality compares favorably with the tapas I had in San Juan,"  Lukow said.

Salinas counts on repeat customers like Lukow and  Thielen, as well as word-of-mouth testimonies to keep the customers coming  through the doors at Olde Madrid. And as long as the lights are on and the doors  are open, people should feel welcome to come in. Salinas promises never to turn  away anyone with an appetite at any time.

That's the kind of appreciation for his craft and his customers that Salinas  hopes will keep him in business for decades to come.

"My goal is to be here as long as the beautiful people of Racine let me stay  here," he said. "I will still be cooking 20 years from now, if God lets me and  the people let me, I will still come out and greet them, I will still be cooking  their food."

Reviews

This little place feels like you are coming home. There is great atmosphere and you can be sure that you will have enough to eat and be pleased with the efforts of the staff. Everyone is hospitable, the food is outstanding - nothing fancy or exotic - and the staff will do their best to mmake sure that you are pleased with your meal. From the bread with hummus to the desserts, you can definitely have a great meal at a reasonable price at Olde Madrid........

The food is always wonderful. You get exactly what you want, if you want more, they bring it. The signature dish "seafood gumbo" is out of this world..... safron broth with chicken, scallops, andoulille sausage, and shrimp....oh,and rice, and topped with my favorite things, cilantro, advocado and onions ....to die for....New on the menu is Cornflake encrusted scallops, my favorite is the goat cheese, no, the garlic shrimp, no, the beef kabobs.... it is all great.....you must go. Oh, and great, friendly service.

Vernon Hills, IL

 
9/21/2010

I can honestly say this was one of the best meals I have ever had. I went with my folks and some family friends who have been going here since it's opening and they claimed it was the best Tapas spot ever.

For Tapas I was blown away at the portions and freshness of the food. we got 5 plates between 5 people and probably had 2 plates left over with nothing over $9 except the gumbo. The meat was fresh, flavors authentic, and combinations were completely unique. My dad ended up asking the chef for his gumbo recipe and he was nice enough to put it down in chicken scratch on a ticket (the chef is the owner).

If you are startving I recommend the Paella....for 14 bucks you get enough food to feed 5

Local Rewards

Reward Details: Get $5.00 off every $30.00 spent, not valid with other offers (Expires: Never)

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Expiration 03/31/2018
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Expiration 01/31/2018
Provided by Olde Madrid Restaurant
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This little place feels like you are coming home......

There is great atmosphere and you can be sure that you will have enough to eat and be pleased with the efforts of the staff

Expiration 03/31/2018

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