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About Your Guides

James Fraser

Founder and director of Adventurous Appetites, James has been living and working in Madrid for over twenty years and has what one might call an "unhealthy knowledge" of the better and more authentic bars and restaurants. He speaks English and Spanish fluently, as well as Italian and French and will be able to help you with any language difficulties that may arise. He will easily help you navigate through menus and advise you on local food and drink favorites. Formerly a financial journalist in London, James studied Classics and Italian at Edinburgh University and has always had a strong interest in European culture. His passion for the people and culture of Madrid is evident in the way he's able to provide interesting snippets of information about all things Madrid, plus advise you on what must not be missed during your visit!


My favourite tapas: Alcachofas en flor a la parilla. Melt-in-your-mouth artichoke hearts cooked on the grill to give a toasted crunchy outside


My favourite tapas bar: I don't actually have one because I like hopping from one to another, but high on the list would be La Castela in Calle Doctor Castelo 22, 28009 Madrid. Always packed, but if you can elbow your way in it has a great bustling atmosphere and great food to wash down with a fresh Albariño white wine or caña (small beer). I am a big fan of the chipirones encebollados (grilled little squid with caramelized onions) and the rabo de toro (fall-off-the-bone bull's tail stew)


My favourite sit-down restaurant: Rincon de Jaen I in Calle Don Ramón de la Cruz, 88, 28006 Madrid. Great Andalusian bar, my favourite is the bandeja de mariscos (seafood tray!!), Change the cigalitas (Dublin bay prawns - a lot of work for not much meat) for carabineros (huge red prawns) and then have solomillo trinchado (juicy sirloin steak you cook yourself on a hot stone - it comes accompanied by a big plate of potatoes, peppers and asparagus). Don't order dessert straight off, as after the meat you will get free chocolate ices, chocolate covered glacier fruits and a digestive liqueur!


My favourite museum: Museo de Sorolla, Madrid's first impressionist artist, his light is fantastic. Housed in his old dwelling, a very digestible collection!


My top tip on Madrid: Come prepared to dive into the busiest bars and be charmingly pushy. Don't order all your food at once, but order one plateful, see what others around you are eating, and point and smile!!!

Danny Donnellan

Half Irish and half Spanish, Danny has lived in Madrid most of his life. Graduating in Economics from Madrid University, he is bilingual in English and Spanish but also speaks Italian, French and German. He knows Madrid like the back of his hand and has probably experienced most, if not all, of the bars and restaurants in Madrid, making him a tapas expert! Working in the food industry, importing seafood from Ireland, he not only knows his seafood, he is a true foodie and considered quite the gourmet. He will share great insights on Spanish culture, society and history on your culinary adventure and explain just how Adventurous Appetites works and the philosophy behind what we do. 


My favourite tapas: Zamburiñas a la plancha, mouth-watering grilled Queen Scallops on their shell with a splash of olive oil and garlic.


My favourite tapas bar: I wouldn't know where to start, but one place I like going over and over again is Lamiak in Calle Cava Baja 42, 28005, Madrid . It is a modern style Basque tapas bar with great atmosphere and great selection of pintxos (canapes) and tapas, a pleasure to go to sip the crisp local Basque white wine Txakoli. Top pintxo is Bonito con tomate frito huevo duro pimiento y gulas. (Albacore tuna with tomato, egg, red pepper and surimi !)


My favourite sit-down restaurant: Cucurucho del Mar in Postigo de San Martin 6, 28013 Madrid. A small, nicely decorated Galician restaurant specialised in seafood, though they have great meats also. The food is all homemade style and the seafood is the freshest I have seen, plus the prices are very reasonable. If you are an adventurous seafood fan, I would go for a small starter Revuelto de algas y caviar de Erizo (Scrambled eggs with seaweed and sea urchin roe followed by a Mariscada, Shellfish Platter - they have them for 2 -4 people, and it has a bit of everything! If you are not big into seafood, try the Revuelto de ortigas y setas (Scrambled eggs with Nettles and wild Mushrooms) and then an Entrecot de Ternera gallega (Galician Veal steak). Leave some room for the homemade desserts and liqueurs - you will want to buy a bottle to take home!


My favourite museum: Caixaforum, More than a museum, it's a foundation where they hold different types of exhibitions art, architecture, photography, design, etc. The unusual building itself is worth a visit. The small scale makes it easy to visit if you don't have much time, too.


My top tip on Madrid: Adjust to the Spanish chaos and timetables, and blend in with the locals. Get a great view and perspective of the city from the Rooftop of the Palacio Cibeles (City hall) or the Circulo de Bellas Artes.

Miriam López

Miriam is our one authentic Spaniard on the Madrid team. Originally from Leon, she has lived in the US and Germany and is a qualified translator and interpreter. Her passion is now dance, and she is a funk and hip-hop dance instructor. She will give you unique insight into Spanish culture and show you the local bars and restaurants while you sample the tantalizing traditional cuisine.


My favourite tapas: I love berenjenas con miel y salmorejo - battered aubergine (eggplant) served with honey and a cold tomatoey soup, a dish from the south of Spain.


My favourite tapas bar: Casa del Abuelo. There are three, but I like the one in Barrio de Salamanca, Calle Goya 57, 28001 Madrid. A great traditional tapas bar from the 19th Century - I love their prawns!


My favourite sit-down restaurant: Finca de Susana just moved to Calle del Principe 10, 28012 Madrid. A white table cloth place but really great value. They don't take reservations; so, get there early (1300h for lunch, 2030h for dinner) A great place - I love the way they cook fish and meat, and they have great desserts, as well.


My favourite museum: Everybody is familiar with the great galleries in Madrid, such as the Prado or Reina Sofía, but I would like to focus on less known places such as Fundación Mapfre or Fundación Telefónica. These buildings, in the very centre of the city host very interesting temporary exhibitions dedicated to great painters (Sorolla, Picasso), galleries (Fundación Mafre is showing works from Musée D'Orsay) or photographers, architects and scientists such as Nikola Tesla (Fundación Telefónica).


My top tip on Madrid: Take the metro, it's clean, safe and quick (though you may not need it much in the very centre) and don't be afraid to take it even at 1 am on weekends - you'll be pleasantly surprised. Try and practice your Spanish with the locals, and I promise you'll find most of them kind and charming!

Charlie Charlwood

Charlie has lived in Spain for more than 22 years, between Valencia and Madrid. He has worked in the Entertainment Industry for the last 25 years in various roles, has been an Events organizer and has led guided tours over the last 3 years. Although he likes to watch his diet he also loves Spanish Gastronomy (sometimes too much!!!) and will take great pleasure in  recommending the best tapas, wines/beers etc. in each bar. He has a very good knowledge of the Spanish culture and although not a Historian will be able to give you interesting facts and anecdotes about Madrid and its history, and of course advice on what not to miss while in Madrid,


My favourite tapas: I am a great fan of the Tortilla (Spanish Omelette) which is delicious and filling, or otherwise Croquetas, basically béchamel balls usually filled with Ham or other meaty ingredients..Mmmmmm!


My favourite tapas bar: I don't have a favourite favourite but a place I really like is called el Anciano Rey de los Vinos, right opposite the Cathedral, in Calle Bailen 19, 28013, Madrid. They do a fantastic Puff Pastry Tapa filled with Bulls meat!


My favourite sit-down restaurant: El Urogallo For a bit of outside eating in the Casa del Campo (The Spanish Kings' hunting grounds) with views over the man-made lake. Great to get out of the bustle of the city centre and do steak cooked yourself over hot coals, octopus and their home-made pâté with orange marmalade. You will find yourself surrounded by fit cycling Madrileños and their families having a swift beer after their exercise.


My favourite museum: El Prado Museum. One of the World’s best Museums, OK it's huge and you probably won’t get round it all in one day but very well worth a visit. Houses all of the Spanish painter Goya’s best works..


My top tip on Madrid: When in Rome (Ok Madrid), go with the flow. Don’t expect to eat at English or US times, in Spain dinner starts around 10pm. Don’t be afraid to try things you’ve never heard of before and if you don’t know what something is called just point and use sign language, the Spanish are very helpful if they see you are trying!

Ivan Bagh 

Of Syrian/Russian origin with a Spanish passport and a weird accent, Ivan lived in Valencia for 20 years. Recently moved back to Madrid, he will give you a unique insight into Madrid and Spanish food, drink and culture. Studying Philology in Damascus University he is trilingual in Spanish, Arabic and Cherkes and fluent in English and Valenciano. Having worked in show business and public relations he enjoys interacting with people and will really enjoy showing you around the city he is rediscovering, and sharing his experience of Spanish culture, society and history, as he explains how Adventurous Appetites works and the philosophy behind what we do.


My favourite tapas: Rabo de toro - bulls’ tail stew, which falls off the bone and melts in your mouth.


My favourite tapas bar: I like moving from one to another, but a place I have discovered with a traditional yet modern feel is Serafina in Calle Espoz y Mina 4, 28004 Madrid. A modern bar area, while upstairs it feels a bit like a home with sofas and fireplaces. Spanish food but with Oriental and Italian touches. For something fresh I like the Escalivada (a mix of roasted and marinated vegetables), the Huevos Rotos (ham, egg and chips - Spanish style!) and, if you can find a friend to share it with the Chuleton (a huge T-bone steak) is great. 


My favourite sit-down restaurant: Having lived in Valencia for so long it is difficult to find a paella that lives up to the standard, but a place I do go to get good paella in a nice atmosphere is  La Barraca in Calle de La Reina 29, 28004 Madrid. Renovated since I went there many years ago, it still has an authentic feel and sells great rice dishes. Have a few, but don't fill up on starters before you hit your paella.


My favourite museum: The Thyssen. One of the big 3, but really quite visitable. Renowned for having minor masterpieces by major masters and major masterpieces by minor masters, it gives you a much more digestible overview of art over a period rather than by artist with good temporary exhibitions.


My top tip on Madrid: Eat,drink and party till late and get up late in the morning. There is no hurry in Spain, not so much mañana mañana, but do take things slow and soak up the Spanish culture, Spanish style!

Thomas Larsson

Thomas is originally from Sweden, like IKEA, but he doesn´t come in pieces! In fact he´s a professional dancer. He left his home in Stockholm for a job in Madrid back in 1988 and has been here ever since. In the 90´s you could see him every week on TV in the most popular programs. Touring around the country for many years with different shows has given him great experience of Spain's food and wine culture, from North to South, East to West and after 30 years in Spain he feels almost more Spanish than Swedish!! .Still in showbusiness, he is also working as the newest  member of Adventurous Appetites and will guide you through Madrid and its history and culture, with elegance and humor.


My favourite tapas: Pulpo and Gambas al ajillo - Octopus and Garlic shrimp. I didn't think I would be a fan when I came to Spain but certainly became one after trying them.


My favourite tapas bar: I like the Mercado de San Miguel,  Plaza de San Miguel, s/n, 28005 Madrid.. Not only one bar but many in the same place. Perfect to try out many different things in a great, vibrant atmosphere. 


My favourite sit-down restaurant: Marisqueria Ribeira do Miño  in Calle Santa Brigida 1, 28004 Madrid. .A very popular restaurant to have fresh seafood and wine. Makes you feel like you´re in Galicia for a few hours, munching through mountains of prawns, crab and much more.


My favourite museum:  The Royal Palace. - Not really a museum but the rooms shown there really transport you back in time. Jawdropping!  I particularly like the armoury, the pharmacy and the exhibition of Stradivarius instruments


My top tip on Madrid: I love to have a stroll in the Retiro Park. Sit down and have a cold beer and watch people walk by. Perfect for a sunny Sunday!

Guillermo Valero Rojas (Seville)

Guillermo, originally from Cadiz, has lived in the USA and Malta as well as in Latin America and Africa through his work in International Co-operation. Proudly Andalusian, when not giving classes as a qualified diving instructor, he loves to share his experience and show off his now home-town of Sevilla. He will ensure that you see a really local side of the city and help you choose a great variety of what he considers the best local tapas.


My favourite tapas: I love Garbanzos con espinacas y huevo duro - chickpeas with spinach and boiled egg. I love platos de cuchara - homemade food  eaten with a spoon!!!!!


My favourite tapas bar: Hard to say in Seville, where every street is full of bars but Bar Ambigú in Calle Feria 47, 41003 Seville, is definitely one of my favorites, where there is always something new to try from its endless menu, which combines the most traditional Andalusian food, with some imaginative ideas from nouvelle cuisine.


My favourite sit-down restaurant: Nazca, in Calle Baños 32, 41002 Seville. A Japanese-Peruvian restaurant in Seville, where you can try the best tuna from Andalusia cooked with the best of Asian and South American fusion, at a good price. It has become an attraction for both locals and visitors.. You are best to book in advance or get there early  (before 14:00, the “official” lunch time).


My favourite museum: The one I visit most often is CICUS, Centro de Iniciativas Culturales de la Universidad de Sevilla (Center for Cultural Initiatives of the University of Seville) Calle Madre de Dios 1, 41004 Seville, which always has  new and interesting temporary exhibitions, Europeans movies and documentaries, and jazz concerts.


My top tip on Seville: Rent a bike and go cycling from one side of the city to the other, along the river. Cross the bridge into the Triana neighbourhood and discover new bars and tapas on that side of the town. Allow yourself to be guided by your instincts, go into any bar that takes your fancy and ask the waiter for a cold beer or a good wine and just point at the tapa(s!) that most catches your eye!!!

Nayra Pluma (Seville)

Nayra was born in Jerez de la Frontera, where the Sherry wine comes from! Having spent the last 7 years working overseas in such lovely places as The Maldives, The Paradise islands in Malaysia, Madagascar, and a couple of years in the UK, she is now spending some time in her own country, Spain.


A Marine Biologist, Diving Instructor, as well as a Yoga Instructor, she is fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese, has basic Italian and is learning BSL (British sign Language).

She missed the historical, cosy cities in Andalusia, and Spain's tasty food. So now she is back, working in customer care and client relations for passengers of the cruise ships which disembark in Cádiz, and taking people on our Seville Roman Bike tour!

She loves being outdoors, feeling the breeze on her face. Having discovered a new interest in history, she has joined our team to combine her passion for nature and history. She will be delighted to accompany you on a great bike ride through the stunning countryside around Seville to discover the amazing ruins of Itálica, where the Roman Empire first settled in Spain.

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