Madrid’s Barrio de las Letras is a timeless neighborhood that stays true to its Spanish roots, while still giving a modern feel that leaves visitors coming back for more. With its amazing food, culture, and ambience, you can’t go wrong when it comes to exploring this classic barrio.
Here are a few insights into its history, hotspots and 3 restaurant recommendations!
History with a Modern Twist
Barrio de las Letras, also known as Huertas, is less than a 10-minute walk from Sol and was once home to some of the greatest Spanish writers. The streets are paved with recognizable quotes from writers such as, Miguel Cervantes and José Echegaray.
There are even plazas and streets dedicated to writers such as Plaza Jacinto Benavente and Calle Lope de Vega. The houses of some of these writers still stand today and are open to the public, such as Casa Museo Lope de Vega which offers free guided tours.
Nowadays, this historic neighborhood has become a trendy spot for people to get together and have a drink paired with a few tapas. Calle de las Huertas is the main street where you can easily find great shops, cafes, and some of Madrid’s finest eateries.
While exploring the side streets that branch off the main road, keep an eye out for the various boutiques, art galleries, bookstores, and antique shops that make this neighborhood so authentic.
Must-Sees in Barrio de las Letras
Plaza Santa Ana is a well-known hangout spot in this neighborhood. Here you can find a number of restaurants with outdoor seating areas that are perfect for enjoying the ambience with a nice wine or beer.
Plaza Santa Ana is also where you can find monuments of Calderón de la Barca, Federico García Lorca, and the Teatro Español, making it a popular spot for tourists.
3 Restaurants in Barrio de las Letras
This neighborhood is a hot spot for some of Madrid’s oldest taverns and restaurants that serve typical Spanish dishes and tapas. Here are some of the best ones.
Cervecería Cervantes is a favorite among the locals. It’s decorated with beautiful tiles that give a traditional Spanish feel. Every time I walk past this bar, it’s always packed with people enjoying tapas and beer. This cervecería is known for its seafood that can be ordered in small portions. So stop in and try them all!
Another go-to place is El Lacón on Calle de Manuel Fernández y González. This place has been around since the 60s and has been considered a classic ever since. It’s known for its drink and tapa deal, meaning that with each beer you order, the waiter will bring a small plate of tapas to your table. Not only is this restaurant famous for its incredible deal, but it’s also known for its full plates such as, cocido Madrileño and the meat or fish tablas that can easily feed 3 people or more.
And if you’re looking for a place that has it all, Casa Alberto is the place for you. This restaurant is hard to miss with its red exterior, antique writing, and open door which allows people to take a peek inside.
When first entering Casa Alberto, it’s hard to get past the crowd of people drinking and ordering tapas at the bar. But once you’re in the dining room, you are guaranteed a great sit-down meal. For starters, the croquetas de jamón are an amazing way to start your meal. Another great starter is the gazpacho de melon with a prawn tartar. This gazpacho gives a modern twist on the classic Spanish plate by creating a sweet but savory infusion.
Not only are their appetizers high quality, but so are their main dishes. Casa Alberto makes an incredibly flavorful and hearty callos a la Madrileña that’s perfect for a mid-day feast. As a U.S. Midwestern girl who loves red meat, I had to second guess myself after trying the ventresca de bonito. This fish plate was grilled to perfection topped with quality olive oil, fresh garlic, and a side of potatoes.
Make sure to leave room for dessert because Casa Alberto won’t disappoint. Their cream-filled crepes topped with homemade blueberry and cheese ice cream are the perfect go-to dessert. But if you’re looking for something with a bit of an alcoholic twist, the apple and cider sorbet is highly recommended.