Growing up at my father’s coffee shop in New York—the Hungarian Pastry Shop—I remember there was a poster on the wall that featured 50 coffee shops around the world where you can think. Since I arrived in Madrid seven years ago, I’ve always thought that Pepe Botella should be on that poster, photographed alongside the other perfect cafés from Tel Aviv to Reykjavik.
In my mind, cafés aren’t about who has the prettiest foam; cafés should make you feel at home. I first fell in love with Pepe Botella when I was a student. I used to bring my laptop there on Saturdays and Sundays during lunchtime when it was empty, and let the afternoon go by. Ever since, Pepe Botella has been the café I most enjoy going to with friends, family, or alone.
It just fits; whether I want to peer through the bay window with a coffee or a glass of wine, or disappear onto the red velvet benches in the back with a conversation or the newspaper. It’s the kind of place that invites you to stay for hours. And whenever my sister, Amanda, visits me, this is our spot. She likes to linger there as much as I do.
Pepe Botella is situated in the infamous Plaza del Dos de Mayo, named in honor of the Madrileños who rose against Napoleon on May 2nd in 1802, as well as home to Madrid’s breaking experimental movement in the eighties called La Movida Madrileña.
The café is named after Napoleon’s brother, José I Bonaparte, who was dubbed Pepe Botella in Spain for his exorbitant drinking habits (Pepe is the Spanish nickname for Jose). And Plaza del Dos de Mayo is nestled between the streets of Malasaña, Madrid’s trendiest neighborhood that boasts endless cafés and bars. But for me, Pepe is the best.
Also, their coffees come with delicious cookies (called pastas). Every time I ask the waiters for the chocolate ones, they give me two! And their wine comes with blue chips. I’ve never had cocktails there, but I can say that the tables around me usually move on to the gin & tonics by 7pm.
If you liked this article, here’s another one of our favorite cafés in Malasaña, called La Paca:
Address: c/ San Andrés, 12
Metro: Tribunal, Noviciado, Bilbao