This budget-friendly vegan paradise is tucked away on an unusually quiet street in Lavapiés, overlooked by passersby save those who stop to notice the small inked letters on plywood proclaiming ‘Vegano. Ecológico. Local.’ A step inside reveals the exposed brick and faded wallpaper walls of the bar, and rough-hewn timber posts framing the restaurant behind. 

Potted plants scattered about add a touch of green to the softly lit interior.

Suspended on rope cords draped artfully across the ceiling, the handmade flower petal lampshades seem to float over the tables, illuminating the imperfections of the white washed plaster walls and white vintage metal chairs and giving the restaurant an authentic artisan look. 

The decor extends even into the toilets, where you’ll find a huge ceramic coil-pot sink and toilet pull chains knotted with bits and pieces of pottery. Here the imperfections of life and craftsmanship are celebrated, but you won’t find any imperfections in the cuisine. Listed on a seasonal menu well marked with dietary symbols for gluten-free and raw-vegan, the wild and wonderful plates are excellent for sharing tapas-style. A dollop of a mysterious green concoction crowning the delectable cremini mushroom caps, with a dash of crushed walnuts on top constitute Funghis Rellenas. If they don’t have these in the afterlife, I for one am not going.

I have a particular penchant for champiñones, but the tacos got rave reviews as well. A blend of corn, sunflower seeds, avocado, and a mystery ingredient with chili sauce all nestled into the curve of a tortilla. Served on a unique handmade ceramic platter of course.

This was followed by a bowl of zucchini spaghetti with a delicious vinegar sesame seed sauce sprinkled with raisins.

This was a tough act to follow, but the slice of chocolate banana torta finished off the feast and was well received by all.

If you look about thoughtfully while finishing off your €1.70 chato of local organic wine, or bottle of local craft beer if you are so inclined, you can spot small white ceramic figurines diving into and out of the walls just above your head, or taking a rest like this one on the corner of a shelf. 

I’m looking forward to taste testing the carrot wine next time, see you there. Did I mention plates are extremely reasonably priced, at €7-11 euros apiece?

LA ENCOMIENDA

Calle La Encomienda, 19
Madrid