Vuida de Vacas was the name of the tavern that belonged to the former inn, the Posada de San Antonio, at number twenty-three of Cava Alta, in the Madrid neighbourhood of Los Austrias. The property was acquired by our grandfather, Segundo Vacas, and his wife, Victoria Sastre, at the beginning of the 20th century. When Segundo passed away, the restaurant became Vuida de Vacas (literally, the widow of Vacas).
The former inn occupied the front half of the building. There were twenty-four rooms set around a dining room, where the more affluent, temporary guests would stay, and another area for long-term residents – many of them honey collectors from the village of La Alacarría. On the ground floor of the building were storerooms for potatoes, nuts and cheese. The inn formed part of a corrala – a residential building whose living quarters opened onto an outside patio. La Corrala was a characteristic Madrid tenement building with long communal balconies, dating from the 16th to the 19th century but which live on today in the more traditional barrios of Madrid, namely Lavapiés and La Latina. Vuida de Vacas tavern was open to the public throughout the day, and when it was not serving meals, it was a place where the clientele came together to play cards and dominoes. Right up to the building’s restoration in 2006, everything in the kitchen was prepared on a coal-fired iron range.
The restaurant has always been a family business, run by Segundo and his wife, Victoria; later, by our father Juan Vacas and mother Carmen, apart from the years when the tavern was looked after by the de Francisco-Gomez family – Agustin, Pepa & their daughters Paula & Antonina, who shared the building with us during those years.
In the 1970s, Belen, Juan Carlos and Javier Vacas took over the running of the restaurant, and alongside Carmen, continued to serve the exemplary traditional cuisine established by their grandmother, Victoria Vacas.
Due to the restoration of the original building in 2006, Vuida de Vacas relocated to Calle Águila in the same neighbourhood, but remains a stalwart of the Madrid restaurant milieu in the Casco Viejo. Javier, Juan Carlos and their team continue to offer a wide variety of traditional Spanish dishes, cooked according to the original recipes. Only the best ingredients are used, and the atmosphere is low-key and welcoming.