Varsovia Bar – Cocktail o’ clock in the run-up to Christmas


It’s safe to say that bars in Malasaña are pretty much ten a penny. There’s possibly more bars than beards, and that’s saying something. What’s not so common though, is to find a bar that looks super appealing from the street, yet for one reason or another you’re yet to make it inside.

This had been the case with Varsovia for literally, months. I’d strolled past it almost daily either on the way to work or the gym, however, I’d never actually been. So feeling high on hump day vibes last Wednesday, I decided to suggest it to a friend for a long overdue catch up, and to see if what was on the inside was as engaging as the exterior.

Bar Varsovia Madrid

It was rammed. This might be partly due to Madrileños being on a countdown to Christmas and therefore not really needing to have their arm twisted when it comes to a post work copa. But even at 8pm (a slightly weird time to be boozing here) – not quite after work, definitely not post dinner – but the atmosphere was buzzing.

We quickly discovered that it was one of the waitresses’ birthdays so a chorus of Cumpleaños Feliz rang out as we entered, and a cake appeared from nowhere – which the lovely Virginia even offered to share. First impressions count and the immediate feeling was one of friendliness and very much that it was a local bar, for local people.

The cocktail list is extensive but we thought we’d pace ourselves and start with a gin. Virginia kindly recommended that we sample a Nordes (one of my faves hailing from the North West of Spain) which even came with a little tapa of manchego cheese.

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I’m always beyond thrilled when you’re offered a food freebie in Madrid, as whilst it remains commonplace in the south of Spain, it’s a lot less common in the capital unless you’re offered some bog standard olives. Manchego cheese has become a cheese of choice for me and for this reason alone I was delighted.

Gins slurped, we thought we’d then sample some of the hard stuff. A gin cocktail that was nameless (we explained that it was our spirt soulmate) and we were promptly presented with a concoction that was gin based but laced with juicy apple flavours.

Cocktails in hand, we were able to chat whilst appreciating the background tunes which weren’t offensively loud , as can so often be the case. I was told that come weekends, DJs frequently take to the decks and kick-out doesn’t happen until 3am – leaving you plenty of time to get the party started.

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Varsovia seemed to offer something for everyone. Cocktails for those looking for some for weekday (or weekend) glamour. As well as vermouth for those who like their tipples to be a little more traditional.

Don’t make my mistake of walking on by. Stick your head in and give it a try (apologies for the terrible rhyme, clearly there’s a frustrated poet in me itching to get out).

Varsovia Info

  • Facebook
  • Address: Calle San Andrés 33
  • Metro: Bilbao

 




Gin and on it at Le Cocó


Sundays (if you let them) can frankly be a little bit rubbish. And in the winter – even worse. Chances are you’re nursing a mild to moderate hangover. There’s life admin to smash. And then the potential doom that often comes when you spy the return to work on the horizon.

This often means that Sundays don’t have that carefree Friday feeling. They’re the waiting room for the working week. However, as I discovered last Sunday, it definitely doesn’t have to be that way and Sunday Funday most certainly doesn’t have to remain as some intangible insta friendly phrase – especially not in this city.

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Le Cocó, the cosy little Chueca spot that I reviewed back in the summer, is now playing host to ‘Gin and Cookie’ afternoons. You show up, you drink gin, you eat cookies. There’s not much not to love. Between 5-8pm on both Saturdays and Sundays, there’s a DJ on the decks helping you to keep your party pants on until your alarm pretty much goes off on a Monday morn.

Le Coco by Naked Madrid

In my previous Le Cocó post I mentioned just how how lovely the decor is and now that winter is really starting to bite, it’s the perfect place to bunker down for an afternoon and enjoy some copas in good company.

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It goes without saying that each bite of the cookies was well worth the calories. The red velvet ones in particular deserve a mention as I could’ve happily munched the lot – but clearly needed to leave some room for the perfectly mixed G&Ts.
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So if like me, you’re keen to eek out the dregs of the weekend until the bitter end, make a date at Le Cocó. Remember, the weekend isn’t over until the fat lady sings. Or in this case, you’ve eaten all the cookies.
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Info




Where to Take Your Mom in Madrid – Round 2


Knowing where to take your mom in Madrid can be tough, especially if she’s already visited you five or six times. So here’s a follow-up to my first version of this post with some fresh ideas, some favorites, and some recommendations from fellow Naked Madrid writers – and my mom, too, of course. She also helped me edit this whole piece. Thanks ma! 

Not to mention these ideas are great for any out-of-town guests. Here goes:

1. Museo del Romanticismo for an intimate art experience

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Madrid has several charming museums worth visiting, and if you’re like me, you’ll appreciate their small size. My mom and I loved Museo de Artes Decorativas and Museo Naval; but we enjoyed Museo del Romanticismo the most. Something about wandering around someone’s former mansion makes it unique, and each room tells a different story. Just stay on the grey carpet or the attendant will scold you, like she did my mom when she wanted to take a closer look at the 19th-century furnishings and art! Plus it has a wonderful tea room.

For more ideas, check out Madrid’s obvious and not-so-obvious museums (and how to get in for free!)

2. Mad Improv events for fun and laughter

Mad Improv jams at VeraContent

This was such a great discovery. My mom has been to Madrid several times over my ten years of living here, yet we never quite found the right way to spend an evening out that didn’t just involve food. Mad Improv is an English-speaking theater group that holds shows (right now on Thursdays at La Escalera de Jacob) and regular workshops and jams at VeraContent (Naked Madrid’s sister company).

Jams cost 3€ and include a first drink. Anyone is welcome to get up and join in on improv games, or you can just watch if you’re on the shyer side – understandably so, as you’ll see some pretty impressive improvisors up there. Either way, you’re going to laugh a whole lot. I promise.

Here’s a full post on Mad Improv to find out more.

3. Juana la Loca for excellent Spanish food

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Juana la Loca is an exceptional family-run restaurant in La Latina, serving Spanish food with lots of fusion and lots of love. Everything you eat here is exquisite, from the pintxos at the bar to the main dishes. I had been several times before I finally got the chance to speak to one of the family members, the son, who explained everything on the menu with such passion. Culinary arts clearly run in the family.

4. Bosco de Lobos and Ana la Santa for cozy and chic diningBosco de Lobos Madrid

I wanted to include a few more restaurants on this list so I asked for recommendations from Cat, one of Naked Madrid’s most active writers. With no hesitation at all, she said: “Bosco de Lobos and Ana la Santa are both mum pleasers!” Bosco de Lobos is situated in a beautiful courtyard of an architecture school in Chueca, and its casual-chic look immediately lures you in. Ana la Santa also has a great location, right in Plaza Santa Ana. Cat especially recommends going here when it’s cold outside, as it’s the perfect place to warm up.

Check out Cat‘s articles on Bosco de Lobos and Ana la Santa – I’d definitely take her word for it.

5. Chuka for Japanese ramen and gyozas

Chuka Ramen Bar Portada

Once you’ve had your taste of Spanish food, you shouldn’t feel bad about going to an international restaurant. Really, it’s okay. Madrid’s culinary scene is full of fusion cuisine from all over the world, and Madrileños love it. Chuka is one of our all-time favorites for ramen, gyozas and baos. And we just found out the owners are actually two Americans who have been living in Madrid for over a decade. Go figure!

Here’s a full post on Chuka. Another great restaurant nearby is L’Artisan Furansu Kitchen, offering French-Japanese fusion cuisine and a menú del día that changes daily.

6. Salmon Guru for fun cocktails

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Before going into Chuka we had a half hour to kill so we walked down the street and got a drink at Salmon Guru. This funky bar has a great cocktail selection and truly unique decor. If we’d stayed a little longer and sampled another round, my mom thinks we might have solved the mystery of what “Salmon Guru” actually means.

Read our full post on Salmon Guru here.

7. Swinton & Grant for when you’re working

Swinton & Grant art books and coffee Naked Madrid

Coffee shops are always great places to park your mom while you’re working (or napping). If she hasn’t brought her own book with her, she’ll surely find something to read at Swinton & Grant – a café that sells art books and also has a downstairs gallery – while enjoying a cortado, a spicy ginger soda, or a beer.

Another one of my mom’s favorites, mentioned in the previous article, is Café La Libre, right by the Reina Sofia museum. She couldn’t resist going back twice on her most recent visit. And we always make a pit-stop at Desperate Literature to check out their international book selection and delightful event calendar.

8. Templo de Debod for stunning views

Templo de Debod Naked Madrid

This beautiful ancient Egyptian temple is perched on a hill providing breathtaking views of the city, making it the perfect spot to watch the sunset or have a picnic. Templo de Debod is also a great place to walk to after a visit to the Royal Palace or the Cerralbo Museum which are both a hop skip away. You’ll find a free-entrance museum inside the temple – one of Mad Improv’s organizers, Summer, said her parents loved it.

9. Casa Pueblo for another cocktail

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I’ve been going to this bar since my first year in Madrid. You can bring anyone here – a date, a friend, a colleague. There’s something warm and special about Casa Pueblo that makes me keep coming back. And my mom couldn’t agree more. There’s also a small stage in the back where they regularly put on live music. 

10. The Rastro for a Sunday flea market experience

When I asked for a recommendation from Leah, she said: “My mum absolutely loves the Rastro, of course. She wants to buy everything but can’t fit it in her suitcase, but she always manages to squeeze something in like a spoon!”

Leah has been writing about and capturing the Rastro for years on her awesome blog, Madrid No Frills, and instagram accounts @rastrolife and @portaitofmadrid. Here’s her latest Rastro-inspired post: Seven eccentric museum-worthy collections found only in the Rastro

11. Shopping day in Malasaña – and a mandatory drink afterwards

Mojitos at Cubanismo, a rooftop bar in Malasaña

Mojitos at Cubanismo, a rooftop bar in Malasaña

When it comes to shopping, I like getting it over with in one shot on Calle Fuencarral (which merges with Gran Vía if you want to hit all the big stores like Zara and H&M). Afterwards, there’s beer and tapas waiting for you at some of our favorite spots. I recommend going into one of the happening food markets in the area – Mercado de San Ildefonso or Mercado de San Anton – both with great outdoor seating areas.

Another amazing place for a post-shopping drink is El Paracaídas. This multi-story and multi-purpose concept store actually has two rooftops – our favorite is Cubanismo, a tropical rooftop escape!

12. Food tour for insight into Spanish bar culture and cuisine

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Another Naked Madrid writer, Melissa, recently went on the Context Tavernas and Tapas Tour in Barrio de las Letras. Melissa is a true foodie, and works as a full-time writer and translator at VeraContent, where she researches Spanish food on a daily basis. She said the culinary tour was truly insightful, and a wonderful way to better understand the history and nuances behind Spain’s delicious cuisine as you enjoy every bite.

Read Melissa’s full article on the Context Travel Tours here.

 

Don’t forget to read round one of Where to Take Your Mom in Madrid for more ideas!

You might also like: Take a Peek Inside 5 Historical Madrid Bars

Of course Madrid is full of more options that mothers will love, so please feel free to share in the comments!




Context Tavernas and Tapas, a culinary tour through the bars of Huertas


If you’ve done any traveling lately, you might have noticed that food tours are rapidly becoming a global trend. Companies around the world now offer guided visits to restaurants, bars, and markets, promising to let you in on culinary secrets or show you how to eat like a local. Madrid is no exception. In fact, this city has more than its share of options, thanks to its vibrant dining scene and world-famous cuisine.

I recently had the chance to participate in a food tour for the very first time, thanks to Context Travel. The company offers “tours for the intellectually curious” in cities across the world, including several in the Spanish capital. Many are focused on history or art, but this one was especially intriguing: Savoring Madrid: Tavernas and Tapas.

According to the Context website, the goal of this culinary tour is to define the concept of tapas through tastings at tavernas in the city center. Like all of their Madrid tours, it’s meant to offer an in-depth look at local culture, customs, and in this case, cuisine. But considering the dozens of bars, restaurants, and specialty dishes that are scattered throughout the city, how could it be possible to cover such a broad topic in just 3 hours? That’s what I intended to find out.

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Intricate mosaics decorate the exterior of one of the many historic bars in Huertas.

Hungry for history

The tour began at 7pm outside the Westin Palace hotel, close to many of Madrid’s main tourist attractions. Context limits the size of their tours to create a personalized experience—this one consisted only of me and a couple who were on vacation.

Our guide was Tessy Carrada, a culinary journalist of Mexican origin who moved to Madrid a few years ago. She started off by explaining the basics, with the help of maps and diagrams: what are tapas, where did they come from, and how are they eaten? What makes Spain’s cuisine unique? What can you expect when you go out for tapas in Madrid?

Next she told us how the tour would work. We’d visit three or four places, all in the Huertas neighborhood (also known as Barrio de las Letras). The idea was to show us non-touristy spots, the kinds of places locals go, where we’d get a true taste of the local culture. At each place, she would order a few tapas to share, taking into account our preferences, interests, and appetites. With the ground rules laid out, we set off into the city.

Cervecería Cervantes

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First up was a true classic, a place that was packed with customers even at the early hour of 7:30pm. We ordered drinks, and Tessy explained the particularities of Spanish brewing as we admired the collection of beer cans displayed on the restaurant’s walls. The waiter brought out a plate of giant olives and mussels, exemplifying the tradition of providing something to snack on along with every drink.

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Tessy then ordered several raciones to share: ham croquetas with padrón peppers, manchego cheese, and jamón ibéricoAs we ate, she offered insight on each and every item: how to make croquetas, what makes Spanish ham so special, and how to distinguish true manchego from imitations.

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I’ve lived in Spain for a while, and I’ve eaten (more than) my share of all of these classic tapas, but I’m not exaggerating when I say this might’ve been the best ham and cheese of my life. It took a lot of self-discipline to restrain myself and save room for the next destination…

La Fábrica

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As soon as we entered this colorful, crowded locale we were welcomed with the sights and smells of seafood. We gathered around an old barrel-turned-table and ordered albariño wine to accompany the salpicón (a kind of seafood salad) and boquerones (marinated anchovies) that Tessy suggested. I was quickly reminded of one of the most pleasant discoveries I’ve made in Madrid: despite my preconceived notions about slimy, stinky seafood, here it’s a true delicacy.

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The salpicón consisted of shrimp, mussels, and octopus swimming in olive oil with tomatoes, peppers, and onions. It was fresh, light, and incredibly delicious. A loaf of crusty bread was brought to the table, and Tessy encouraged us to break off pieces and soak them in the flavorful oil.

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The boquerones were perfectly seasoned and accompanied by olives and crispy potato chips. We were also served a small plate of cheese and chorizo—but it couldn’t compete with the perfection we’d already experienced at Cervantes. The star here was most certainly the seafood.

La Vinoteca

Although we attempted to find a spot at the renowned Casa Alberto, at 9pm on a Saturday night it proved difficult. Instead we went to La Vinoteca, which had a much more modern and upscale atmosphere than the previous bars. We ordered wine and cava from an impressively long and detailed list.

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To round out the night, Tessy ordered patatas bravas (fried potatoes smothered in slightly spicy sauce) and two pinchos (small toasts): one topped with spinach, goat cheese, and caramelized onions, and another with potato cake and duck magret.

Although the ambience here was lovely and the wine exceptional, I have to admit that the tapas weren’t quite as impressive as their successors. That being said, they were still delicious, and certainly provided a well-rounded sampling of some of Spain’s most famous specialties.

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For the last course of the evening, Tessy chose a layered trifle of chocolate and cream, as well as a sort of mini apple pie topped with vanilla ice cream. Although these were pretty standard sweets that didn’t exactly scream “Spain,” it’s hard to complain when there’s chocolate involved. After devouring dessert, we parted ways for the night with full bellies, satisfied palates, and a whole lot of newfound knowledge.

An interesting aftertaste

For me the best part of this tour, surprisingly, was not the food itself (although of course it was incredible). As a resident of Madrid, I can get authentic tapas whenever I want, on nearly every street corner. What this experience offered me was the chance to engage with the food I was eating on an intellectual level: to learn why tapas are called tapas, what distinguishes jamón ibérico from jamón serrano, and so much more. It was a lesson in being conscious of what I eat and the history and culture it reflects.

For travelers who only have a few days to sample the best of local cuisine, who don’t speak Spanish, or who simply don’t know where to begin, Context provides an ideal solution. Tessy’s insider knowledge and impeccable taste made for an interesting, entertaining, and thoroughly authentic journey through the taverns of Huertas.

Whether you’re a tourist who wants to experience the tapas culture firsthand, or a seasoned local who wants to learn more about the city you love, you’ll find what you’re looking for in the Context Tavernas and Tapas tour.

To learn more about Context or book a tour, click here.




Navare Bar – The Secret’s Out


You always feel quite smug when you stumble across somewhere that feels yet to be discovered. I was mooching around Chamberi on my way to an appointment, when I mindlessly spotted Navare Bar – and it piqued my interest.

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Inside there were groups of friends chatting animatedly, enjoying a late afternoon merienda. But upon closer look, there was also a downright delicious evening menu. I papped the name of the restaurant on my phone and made a mental note to return with a friend in tow.

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Fast forward a week and I found myself to be one of the locals enjoying this new neighbourhood hotspot. Navare Bar is somewhat impossible to be shoehorned into any set category. You want you breakfast? They serve it. A leisurely lunch with colleagues? You’ve got it. Dinner with your nearest and dearest. They offer it. It’s basically your one-stop shop for all your culinary needs.

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Now to be all things to all people is no mean feat. However, after meeting (and chatting with the owner) it’s clear that the vision for Navare Bar is to be a local place for local people; somewhere that no matter the time of day, you can grab a coffee or indeed a copa with friends.

I was a fan of this concept from the get go. Coming from the UK, I’m used to eating when I want – whether or not that ties in with siesta culture is of little importance. If I’m hungry I want options that will keep my renowned (within my social circle) ‘hanger’ at bay. It also didn’t hurt that the décor was a delight and the plates satiated my fetish for all things chintzy when it came to crockery.

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So the food. In a nutshell it was lip smackingly good. After a full-on week at work I was in need of all the treats. We split prawn croquetas (you get eight, I could’ve quite easily refused to share). This was swiftly followed by grilled vegetables that conjured up the feeling of summer barbecues (and made me feel slightly virtuous after the deep fried delight that was the first tapa).

But the jewel in the crown was undoubtedly the solomillo that came with crushed new potatoes and some kind of sauce that I could’ve quite happily guzzled as though it were a G&T. To surmise, the food is heavenly and I left eager to return for breakfast, lunch AND dinner.

I have no doubt that Navare bar will be a success. The passion of the owner coupled with the zest for life that the local peeps possess, makes it an inevitable recipe for success.

Info

  • Facebook & Instagram
  • Address: Calle de Rafael Calvo, 29
  • Metro: Iglesia & Rubén Darío
  • Phone: 910 26 87 57

 

 




Tapapiés: a guide to everyone's favorite food and culture festival in Lavapiés


It’s that time of year again. The air is turning chilly, the leaves are starting to change, and the millennial obsession with all things autumn is taking over social media. But here in Madrid, there’s a whole different reason to be excited. With October comes Tapapiés, the annual festival that inundates the streets of the Lavapiés neighborhood with delicious food, cheap drinks, and live music.

For 11 days at the end of October (this year’s 7th edition lasts from October 19—29), dozens of restaurants and bars in Lavapiés offer a very special deal. Each one develops their own signature tapa, and offers it to the public for just €1.50. For an extra euro, you can also get a botellín (a 250 ml bottle of beer) to wash it down. The event is sponsored by Barcelona’s Estrella Damm, and at most places you can choose between a regular beer or Damm Lemon (beer and lemon soda).

A bar advertises its participation in Tapapiés with the festival's official poster.

A bar advertises its participation in Tapapiés with the festival’s official poster.

Lavapiés is known for its incredible cultural diversity, with large immigrant populations from all over Africa, South America, the Middle East, and Central Asia. As a result, it’s full of international eateries offering everything from Senegalese thieboudienne to Syrian sweets. A good number of these establishments participate in Tapapiés, which means that in one night you can practically eat your way around the world, just by exploring the neighborhood’s sloping streets.

The delicious "Crepioca" tapa from Saboor Tapioca in Lavapiés

The delicious “Crepioca” tapa from Saboor Tapioca

In other words, this festival is every adventurous foodie’s dream come true. There are various strategies for tackling the overwhelming amount of options (122 tapas in total) and chaotic crowds. You can simply wander around, dropping into whatever bars you come across and trying your luck. Each one usually advertises a photograph of their tapa with a huge poster out front, so you’ll know more or less what to expect. Don’t forget to stop by Mercado de San Fernando and Mercado Antón Martín, where several vendors also participate.

A tray of tapas at Toscanaccio Italian bakery in Lavapiés

A tray of tapas at Toscanaccio Italian bakery: marinated eggplant, walnuts, goat cheese, and sun-dried tomato pesto on spelt bread

If you’re (A) a picky/allergy-prone eater or (B) determined to try as many different tapas as possible, you might want to consider a more organized strategy. Ask for a brochure at any of the participating places—you’ll get a pocket-sized booklet that contains a list of every single tapa being offered, as well as a color photograph and a detailed ingredients list for each. They’re all plotted on a numbered map, so you can plan out your ideal route. Be warned, though: it’s hard to stick to a set plan when there are so many tempting options around every corner.

Dishing out the "Moqueca de Mandioca con Pesto" tapa at Maloka Bar Brasileiro in Lavapiés

Dishing out the special tapa at Maloka Bar Brasileiro: yuca in a coconut milk sauce with peanut pesto

My advice? Grab a group of friends who aren’t afraid to elbow their way through some crowds and try as many new things as possible. This is not an activity for those who would rather settle in at a cozy restaurant for a relaxed dinner.

Expect to eat standing up while balancing a beer in one hand a a tapa in the other, and shouting at each other just to be heard. It’s messy, it’s crazy, it’s loud—and it’s totally worth it.  The frenetic and colorful spirit of the neighborhood is never more alive than on a night of Tapapiés.

"Carrillada melosa" from Maldito Querer in Lavapiés

“Carrillada melosa” from Maldito Querer: braised beef cheeks in a sauce of caramelized onion, garlic, herbs, and Pedro Ximénez reduction

To complete the experience, it’s essential to attend one of the various outdoor performances by local musicians, dancers, and entertainers that take place throughout the event. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons and evenings, you can catch live music and shows at nine different designated spots (a full schedule is included in the brochure). There’s also the simultaneous Chollopiés festival, which spotlights the neighborhood’s local businesses by offering special discounts on certain products.

Plaza de Lavapiés on a night of Tapapiés

Maybe you live in Lavapiés and want to get to know your barrio better. Maybe you’ve never been and want to see what all the hype is about. Or maybe you’re just hungry, thirsty, and low on cash. Whatever the case, Tapapiés is bound to become one of your favorite events in Madrid. If you go into it with the right mindset, a healthy appetite, and a handful of coins, I guarantee that come next October, there’ll only be one thing on your mind. Who needs pumpkin spice lattes, anyway?

Info

Check out our roundup of Tapapiés’ offerings last year!




Take a Peek Inside 5 Historical Madrid Bars


Madrid is full of amazing bars that have played a role in Spanish history. Whether it’s art, literature, or the Spanish Civil War, these bars hold some sort of significance to Spain’s past and are definitely worth the visit.

Here’s a sneak peek into the stories behind our favorite historical Madrid bars.

Fatigas del Querer

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Located in Sol is a restaurant with an exterior as beautiful as its interior dating back to the 1920s. This restaurant will grab your attention with its beautiful Andalusian tiles dedicated to Spanish painter Julio Romero de Torres. Even one of his paintings is depicted on these beautifully detailed tiles.

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Typical free Spanish tapa

Not only is this bar related to historical Spanish art, but it also has an impressively large menu of Spanish dishes such as setas empanadas con alioli. These fried mushrooms with alioli sauce would go great with one of the many vermuts that Fatigas del Querer has to offer.

  • Address: Calle de la Cruz, 17
  • Metro: Sol
  • Phone: +34 915 23 21 31

La Casa del Abuelo

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Just by the name alone, it’s clear that this bar has stood the test of time and still remains a Madrid classic.

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Established in 1906, La Casa del Abuelo has seen Spain at the best of times and the worst of times, including the Spanish Civil War. During this time, La Casa del Abuelo only served garlic or grilled shrimp paired with a Spanish sweet wine due to the food shortage. Since then, this bar’s gambas al ajillo and gambas a la plancha have become a delicious specialty.

  • Web & Facebook
  • Address: Calle de la Victoria, 12
  • Metro: Sol
  • Phone: +34 910 00 01 33

La Venencia

During the height of the Spanish Civil War, this bar was one of the few spots where Republican soldiers and other anti-fascists, such as Ernest Hemingway would go. Taking photos has been prohibited since the 1930’s just in case there were any fascist spies around.

Nevertheless, this bar is incredibly beautiful with its antique bottles and large barrels of wine that haven’t changed since this historical time period. And if you’re a sherry lover, known as Jerez in Spanish, this bar has an amazing variety to choose from.

  • *Cash only
  • Address: Calle Echegaray, 7
  • Metro: Sol, Sevilla
  • Phone: +34 914 29 73 13

1912 Museo Bar

Westin Palace Hotel

Located inside the Westin Palace Hotel is the perfect bar if you’re in the mood for an elegant night out. Rumor has it that this high-end bar has had a fair number of influential guests such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and Ernest Hemingway.

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Established in 1912, this bar still maintains a museum-like appearance with old photographs of the history of the hotel and life in Spain. The bar itself has some of the most high-end alcohols that you can find here in Madrid. Although this place is a little bit on the pricey side, you won’t be disappointed by the service or the selection.

  • Address: Plaza de las Cortes, 7
  • Metro: Banco de España, Sevilla, Antón Martín
  • Phone: +34 913 60 80 00

San Ginés

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And if you’re looking for a break from all the alcohol and tapas, this chocolatería is the perfect place to switch it up. San Ginés has been a Madrid classic since 1894 and is easy to miss while walking through the crowded center of the city. It had even been named “La escondida”, or “the hidden one” by some during the Second Republic of Spain. Regardless, this café has gained a lot of fame over the years and has even been mentioned in great works of literature, such as Ramón del Valle-Inclán’s Bohemian Lights.

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Original image by: @carlas.abreu via Instagram

San Ginés has by far the best chocolate con churros in Madrid. The menu also consists of porras, known as giant churros, a variety of coffees, and even chocolate liqueur. So if you haven’t already, head on over to San Ginés and get your sugar fix.

  • Web & Facebook
  • Address: Pasadizo de San Gines, 5
  • Metro: Sol
  • Phone: +34 913 65 65 46

You might also like: 5 authentic Madrid bars loved by locals




5 Authentic Madrid Bars Loved by Locals


If you came to Madrid for some homemade croquetas or high quality jamón ibérico, you want to make sure that you’re going to the best places. In Madrid, like any other major European city, it can be difficult to distinguish the local favorites from the tourist traps. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to venture off the beaten path to find traditional Spanish delicacies.

To save you the trouble, here’s a list of some of the most authentic bars that can easily be found in the center of the city. So get ready to discover Madrid, one tapa at a time.

1) El Madroño

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This restaurant screams authenticity with its interior and exterior tile decorations that depict Madrid’s history and culture. When walking in, the first thing that will catch your eye is the homemade pastries and cakes that you’ll be anticipating throughout your meal. Once seated, it’s no surprise if a free tapa is brought to your table before even ordering.

El Madroño is the perfect place to order a glass of vermut paired with the delicias de bacalao con mermelada de madroño. These cod bites are fried to golden perfection and served with a side of madroño jam, the fruit from Madrid.

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Delicias de bacalao con mermelada de madroño

  • Address: Calle Latoneros, 3
  • Metro: La Latina
  • Phone: +34 913 64 56 29

2) Bar la Campana

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If you’re looking for the perfect bocadillo de calamares, look no further because La Campana is hands down the best place. Right next to Plaza Mayor, this bar is always crowded with locals, no matter what time of day it is. My personal favorite is a calamari sandwich paired with una cerveza con limón, otherwise known as beer with a splash of lemon. And if you’re feeling extra hungry, you can’t go wrong with an order of patatas bravas or patatas alioli.

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Bocadillos de calamares con patatas bravas y patatas alioli

  • Address: Calle Botoneras, 6
  • Metro: Sol
  • Phone: +34 913 64 29 84

3) Casa Toni

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Found on Calle de la Cruz, this small restaurant definitely stands out against the others, with its worn out awning and window where you can see the chef hard at work. The first thing that you’ll notice while walking into Casa Toni is the chef grilling up portions of pimientos and oreja to a charred perfection. In my opinion, this place has the best sepia ever. This grilled cuttlefish topped with fresh herbs and served with a side of mayo should be enjoyed with a Madrid white wine.

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Sepia con vino Madrileño

  • Address: Calle de la Cruz, 14
  • Metro: Sol
  • Phone: +34 915 32 25 80

4) Casa González

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This half-bar half-artisan store located off of Calle Huertas is the perfect place to enjoy a light round of tapas, and maybe take a few of the goods home with you. Casa González is a cheese lover’s dream with its delicious raclette tosta and variety of other European cheeses to choose from. My personal favorite take-home item is the queso de arzúa, which is a fresh cheese from the north of Spain. After enjoying a nice glass of wine and a tapa or two, don’t be afraid to bring home a bag full of artisan goodies with you.

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  • Web
  • Address: Calle del León, 12
  • Metro: Antón Martín, Sol
  • Phone: +34 914 29 56 18

5) Bodegas Ricla

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About a 5-minute walk from Plaza Mayor is where you can find an old-fashioned bar decorated with bottles of wine that definitely gives a classic tavern feel. You can even take one of those bottles home with you! Just ask anyone behind the counter and they will be happy to help. Besides the amazing Spanish wines, Bodegas Ricla has a pretty good vermut de grifo (vermouth on tap) that goes perfectly with a side of albóndigas, otherwise known as meatballs.

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  • Address: Calle Cuchilleros, 6
  • Metro: La Latina, Tirso de Molina
  • Phone: +34 913 65 20 69

Also check out: What to see in Barrio de las Letras




Cubanismo, a tropical escape in Malasaña


In the warmer months, Madrid becomes inundated with talk of rooftop terraces: which one is the coolest, where’s the best view, who has the best drinks? There are the perennial favorites, the ones that always crop up on tourism sites and lists of local secrets. And then there’s Cubanismo.

On the third floor of the massive concept store and multipurpose complex that is El Paracaidista, this Cuban-inspired cocktail bar offers a hidden escape from the busy streets of Malasaña. To enter the building, you’ll need to sign in at the front desk, and then journey through displays of chic clothing and artsy accessories to reach the bar itself. It may not actually be on the building’s roof… but it makes up for this technicality with an incredible atmosphere.

Cubanismo Madrid (1)

Once you arrive, you’ll be instantly transported back to 20th-century Cuba, or at least a romanticized idea of it. A small indoor area features sofas, mirrors, and old wooden furniture, plus a marble bartop staffed by white-shirted waiters.

Cubanismo Madrid 2 (1)

The terrace is roomy but still small enough to feel intimate. It features wooden chairs with brightly colored cushions, red umbrellas, and a view of the surrounding rooftops. This isn’t the place to go for a panoramic view of the city, but it’s cozy and charming in its own way. At night, flickering candles make it especially romantic.

Outdoor rooftop terrace at Cubanismo cocktail bar in Malasaña Madrid

The drink menu is creative and complete, with something for everyone. For the full experience it’s essential to order a mojito, which comes in a tall glass with crushed ice, fresh mint leaves, a preserved lime slice, and a touch of Angostura bitters. Other drinks include aperitivos that put an original twist on classics like the Negroni and Bloody Mary. The menu offers various rum drinks, among them the intriguing Cavalibre (rum, lime juice, cava, cola syrup, and Angostura) and the Made in Cuba, with hints of cucumber and absinthe.

Gin lovers will also find several tempting options, flavored with things like blackberry liqueur, apricot brandy, and passion fruit purée. While cocktails are definitely the specialty here, they also offer wine, beer, sangría, and even non-alcoholic takes on classic drinks. If you’re hungry, order a snack like guacamole, hummus, jamón ibérico, a cheese board, or ice cream for dessert.

Outdoor rooftop terrace at Cubanismo cocktail bar in Malasaña Madrid

Although the prices are slightly above average, they’re by no means unreasonable. And for the entire month of October, 2017, all cocktails and mixed drinks are 2 for 1 during happy hour (5:00 to 8:00 pm, Tuesday through Friday). This deal also applies to Parq, the full-service restaurant on the floor above—but if I were you, I’d skip the pricey entrées and stick to Cubanismo’s drinks and snacks. After spending a couple of hours here, you might never want to leave.

Info




Macera TallerBar, a modern twist on an old tradition


There are handmade cocktails and then there are handmade cocktails. Macera TallerBar is a pioneer in the latter. One look inside this hip bar and you may be confused—there aren’t any familiar spirits lining the simple glass shelves.

Macera TallerBar by Naked Madrid

Don’t worry, though. What you’ll find is much better. Because instead of the well-known brands of gin, vodka, or rum, there’s only Macera’s own hand written labels.

Macera TallerBar by Naked Madrid

The idea behind Macera’s name is also what makes its bar shelves so unique. Founder Narciso Bermejo took inspiration from paxtaran, a Basque liqueur made by soaking crushed sloe fruits (a blackish berry) in liquor. This traditional technique, called maceration, infuses the host liquor with the color and flavor of whatever ingredient is added.

Macera TallerBar by Naked Madrid

Wanting to put a modern twist on a piece of Spanish heritage, Bermejo began experimenting with liquors and their complimentary flavors. The result is the many unique spirits that make up Macera’s menu today. Think rum infused with cinnamon and orange, gin with rosemary and thyme or red fruit, and whiskey with cherries.

The cocktail menu starts with a list of classics, which are then personalized with your choice of flavor infusion. Turn the page to find the spirits categorized by type with a list of all the different varieties of macerated flavor. If you prefer, you can simply pick one of these and a mixer of choice. No matter which combination you choose, all drinks are accessibly priced at 7€.

Macera TallerBar by Naked Madrid

Macera’s interior is modern and clean with an industrial vibe. In front, a handful of wrought iron tables face glass doors that slide open on nice days. The openness makes you feel like there’s always room for one more, a good thing since this place gets packed in the evenings. When you visit make sure to take a look towards the back, where lit shelves showcase the spirits on deck, all full of spices, herbs, and fruits working their magic.

Macera TallerBar by Naked Madrid

If it’s too early for a tipple, Macera is also an excellent workspace. To keep you going, there are green juices, natural sodas, and coffee, as well as a small selection of toasted sandwiches and homemade desserts. It goes without saying that all of these are made with the same care as their cocktails.

Info

  • Website & Facebook
  • Address: Calle San Mateo, 21
  • Metro: Tribunal or Alonso Martínez
  • Phone: 910 11 58 10

By Danielle Owens

A former Oregonian, Californian, and Bogotana, Danielle is (for now!) settled in Madrid. Since 2014, she’s chronicled her experiences living abroad on her blog, No Longer Native (Website & Facebook)