Do you know David Munoz, the Spanish wonderboy? One of the fastest chefs to reach the 3rd Michelin star, Mr. Munoz is the mind behind DiverXO, the only three stars restaurant in the Spanish capital. Also, generally recognized as “mad cooking genius”.
After opening his main restaurant in 2007, quickly gaining the highest recognition in 2014, he started his second adventure, StreetXO, in 2012. The restaurant sits on the top floor of El Corte Ingles (an upper-class Spanish department store) in one of the trendiest neighborhoods of Madrid, Salamanca. In opposition to what happens at DiverXO, there is no possibility to make a reservation here. The queue at the entrance is usually an hour long (yes, even on a Tuesday night!), so be ready to wait a bit!
The place is composed of a single high table running on the three sides of the open kitchen. There are a couple of tables on the sides, but we recommend a spot on the stools around the kitchen to enjoy the best view of it. Waiters are responsible for drinks only, while the food is managed directly by the chefs. That’s the most prominent characteristic of the restaurant. There is no barrier between customers and kitchen, the place is alive, dynamic, where guests are invited to watch and admire how the ingredients are put together and prepared to create the dish. Like guests at a food truck in Bangkok or a ramen bar in Tokio!
Inline with the venue, the food style is Asian fusion. Munoz and his brigade create a weekly changing menu mixing with experience Spanish traditions and East Asian typical products. In this way, we find “Hong Kong style cocido”, a beef stew with taro and chilli, or “Japanese pigeon”, pigeon marinated with yuzu and red miso. Of course, there is no lack of South-American products, like achiote and causas limeñas. Cutlery and dishware are reduced to the bare minimum, enhancing the sensation of being at a food cart venue. All food is prepared directly in front of customers, ordered directly to the chef in front of you and propagated to the appropriate person by a series of shouts.
What looks messy and disordered is a prodigy of rationality and kitchen training. We could describe the workflow as “chaotically smooth”. We never lacked anything, from water and wine refilling to description of the dishes (in English) from the kitchen staff. The head chef, Jonathan Setjo Sanz, born in Bali and raised in Madrid, is recognizable by his distinctive colored mohawk. He diligently coordinates and monitors the organization of his brigade, ensuring a stellar service in what would, otherwise, end up in a complete mess.
The food is between amazing and incredible. We loved every single dish we had here on our multiple visits. We even liked the cocktails (a rare thing)! We can’t say what we most enjoyed. The grilled octopus marinated in citric solution and combined with black pad-thai is just amazing, with bold flavors savvily mixed to reach a perfect balance. Tandoori baby lamb achieves a similar degree of perfection, with the meat being perfectly cooked and its fatness regulated by the tandoori sauce. The menu is composed of, more or less, 16-18 dishes. Our recommendation is to have at least two of them per person, plus one to share. Portions are not enormous, and we think ⅓ of the menu is the minimum amount of courses needed to start understanding this cooking style.
Delicious tip: there is no dessert list (luckily!), but in front of StreetXO there is a venue of Rocambolesc. Rocambolesc Heladeria is an ice cream parlor founded by Jordi Roca, one of the three brothers from El Celler de Can Roca (three Michelin stars in Girona). As expected from a venue owned by the pâtissier of one of the best restaurants in the world, the quality of its ice cream is excellent!
Street XO is one of the best places where to dine in Madrid, and in Spain in general. It’s one of our destinations every time we go to the Spanish capital and a place where to get a glance at what happens at DiverXO. After many years of unsuccessful tries, we finally secured a place at Munoz’s flagship restaurant, and we can’t wait to write about it! In the meantime, Street XO is on the spot!