Scouring my Rick Steves’ Spain guide for good eats in Madrid, I stumbled upon a Madrileno lunchtime staple – fried calamari sandwiches. Being a sandwich and calamari fan, I began plotting our day’s activities to end up at El Brillante for lunch.

Some of the best calamari we tasted on our trip to Spain must have been reserved for this concoction. The crisp, tender calamari held up well between the French baguette slices. Who needs lettuce when you’ve got the crunch of calamari?

Walking into El Brillante with wadded-up napkins and other debris littering the floor, we found our way to the counter. We obviously missed the lunch rush.  The sandwich paired with a Coca-Cola Light made a good match.

What do they put in their diet cokes in Europe that make them taste so much better than in the States? It’s probably better I don’t ask.

It may not be the lunch of champions endorsed by any health institution, but it’s a winner in my book.