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Chocolateria San Gines in Madrid is, I think, slipping

I am very fond of chocolate. The Spanish chocolate con churros was a dream come true for me--that pudding-y hot chocolate drink is a wonderful way to start the day.

Five years ago, I went to Spain for the first time and of course hit the place recommended in the Rick Steves Spain book, the Chocolateria san Gines. And it was wonderful. Of course the ambience helped, but the actual stuff was really good.
This May I came back to Madrid at the beginning of a lovely long Spain trip. Went back to Chocolateria san Gines, of course. And, well, the setting is still the same. And the churros were still piping hot greasy goodness. But the chocolate was . . . not very good. It seemed thin, watery. The flavour was mediocre. And certainly the base was that weird Spanish preserved milk rather than fresh milk, although to be fair that's normal.

Since then I've been traveling around Spain and having chocolate con churros at classy places and decent places and quick-bite-by-the-bus-station places. Most of them, including ones where clearly the guy took some hot milk and quickly stirred in a sachet of mass-produced chocolate powder, had better chocolate than Chocolateria san Gines (although none had better churros and some had churros not nearly as good).
If this wasn't just a bad day, seems like sometime in the last few years they stopped putting in the effort.

Posted by
1617 posts

Thanks for relaying this experience.
It's a bummer when a place retains its name and appearance
but loses what made its high reputation.

I'm recalling now that the best hot chocolate I ever had Stateside was at one of the original restaurants in the Horton Plaza in San Diego when it was new and Postmodern architecture was still on the rise. Time has passed, and I don't think there's anything at Horton Plaza today that would be at the top of anyone's lists.

Posted by
9363 posts

I was at Chocolateria San Gines a few weeks ago and it was the same as always. I'm not sure why you would assume it wasn't just an off day. It seems a little unfair to say they "stopped putting in the effort" if you have little to compare to. This was my third trip there in the past four years, and I always stop there.

Posted by
4594 posts

We were there, I think 4 years ago. I didn't have the chocolate, but the churros themselves were great. DH had both, and said he didn't see what the fuss was about. He enjoyed the churros, but found the chocolate thin and pedestrian. Nothing bad, just not worth a return visit. I guess he was expecting more, given the reputation.

Posted by
208 posts

We were there in April of this year. It was our first time and the churros were indeed hot, crispy, greasy and good. We were very disappointed with the quality of the "hot chocolate". It had a weird, thickened taste to it, and the quality of the chocolate itself was mediocre. It tasted basically like thickened Nestle Quik. We later found out that they thicken their hot chocolate with corn starch, which explains a great deal. Also, the quality (therefore cost) of the chocolate used makes all the difference. They may have changed chocolate brands over the years. By the way, the recipe they use is available online. Our hot chocolate standards are based upon Parisian hot chocolate. In Paris, we generally get our hot chocolate from Jacques Genin, Patisserie Venoinese, Un Dimanche a Paris, and Jean-Paul Hevin. Skip Angelina- overpriced, crowded, hurried service, and not the best quality available.

Posted by
244 posts

Haven't been to Chocolateria san Gines but if there is a Valor.es located near you it's amazing.
Sometimes we just do the Chocolate over ice cream.