Plántate Café, a specialty coffee & plant shop in Lavapiés!


Specialty coffee shops are in demand in Madrid, and thankfully so. I’m sorry old-school bars, but after trying high quality espresso, it’s really hard to enjoy your café con leche anymore.

This feeling was particularly strong for Kevin, a Canadian who’s been living in Spain for eight years and is the owner of the newly-opened Plántate Café. “Everybody who’s into coffee will be able to tell you a story about their first good cup,” says Kevin. “After that moment there’s no turning back.”

Plántate Café by Naked Madrid

Kevin’s first was in London at Brown’s of Brockley, and it literally changed his life. While living in Lavapiés for years, he longed for a good cup of coffee so badly that he’d bike up to Malasaña’s Toma Café every morning. When the daily trek turned unsustainable, he decided to buy their coffee beans and start making cold brew at home. Then he got a V60 to make filter coffee.

Little did Kevin know, he was slowly becoming a coffee connoisseur. “Opening up a coffee shop was just a side project.” But as is often the case with side projects, they become your full-time job. And that’s just what happened.

Plántate Café by Naked Madrid

Kevin opened Plántate Café in July. Before setting up shop, he and his two friendly baristas – Antonio (Spain) and Fernando (Brazil) – went to train with the top roasters at London’s Square Mile so they could bring their skills back to Lavapiés.

Plántate Café by Naked Madrid

The guys at Plántate Café are fully dedicated to spreading the specialty coffee culture done right, and proud of the relationships they have with their suppliers. They get their house espressos from three top roasters: Puchero, from Valladolid; Right Side, from Barcelona; and Square Mile, from the UK (whose decaf is said to be the best in the world).

Plántate Café by Naked Madrid

Their drink menu features the musts: flat white, macchiato, cold brew, filter coffee, an assortment of teas, and more.

Plántate Café by Naked Madrid

And if you’re in the mood for a snack, you can order toast with avocado, a cup of yogurt with chia seeds or cake.

Plántate Café by Naked Madrid

You can also buy plants such as cacti and orchids (hence the name, Plántate Café), plus magazines and coffee-making gear from leading brands like Hario (Japan).

Plántate Café by Naked Madrid

Since opening they’ve received a lot of local love from the neighborhood, thanks to a balance of excellent coffee and treats at fair prices, a friendly staff and a great ambience.

Plántate Café by Naked Madrid

So come on in and check it out!

Info

  • Instagram: @plantatecafe
  • Address: Calle Mesón de Paredes, 28
  • Metro: Tirso de Molina / Lavapiés




María Pandora, a dark and artistic champagne bar in La Latina


If you’ve ever spent an evening watching the sunset with a liter of Mahou in Parque Las Vistillas (and if you haven’t, get on that ASAP), you may have spotted this beautiful, borderline-creepy cocktail bar.

María Pandora Café by Naked Madrid

María Pandora Café by Naked Madrid
Cryptic, dripping golden letters read MARÍA PANDORA, and the sound of a dramatic poetry reading demand the curiosity of passersby not yet in the know.

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Once inside, you’ll already be hooked: every inch of the walls is covered with sinister sketches, the tables are adorned with misshapen melted candles, and vintage furniture adds the finishing touch to make you feel like you’re in a haunted mansion.

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But despite the ghoulish vibe, the servers here are cheery and chatty. When we ordered champagne and white wine, our server plopped a frozen raspberry in our glass, assuring it would add a little somethin’-somethin’.

Oh, and the tapas here are my kind of food: mounds of candy and fruit.

María Pandora Café by Naked Madrid

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But the best it yet to come. A meeting point for lovers of art, the bar also functions as a stage for poetry readings, microteatro, and literary chats several nights of the week. The wall of antique books are for sale (but the century-old portraits of the owner’s family are not).

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Sign up for an event, order a glass of bubbly, and if you get there early enough, grab a window seat. María Pandora does not disappoint.

*Just note that their opening hours can be a little funky – they tend to open at 7pm except on Mondays, although sometimes they throw private events. So it’s best to call ahead to make sure they’re open!

Info

  • Website & Facebook
  • Phone: +34 910 42 82 13
  • Address: Plaza de Gabriel Miró, 1
  • Metro: La Latina or Ópera



Honest Greens, feel-good food that tastes good too


For me, eating is always an emotional experience. I want to eat food that makes me feel good, both physically and mentally. Depending on my mood, that can mean very different things. Sometimes all I want is a creamy croqueta or my mom’s mac and cheese… but other times, my body begs for whole grains, greens, and lean protein.

To be completely honest (pun intended), I didn’t realize how much I missed healthy, home-cooked meals until I found Honest Greens. This brand new spot in Nuevos Ministerios may at first glance look like just another hipster cafe, but I swear it’s something special.

Honest Greens in Madrid features an airy space and an open kitchen

The space itself is impeccably decorated and practically begging to be Instagrammed. The open kitchen means you can watch all the magic happen. But even more exciting is the fact that most of the menu items are on display right in front of you, so you can browse the options before making your (very difficult) choice.

Honest Greens by Naked Madrid

This is one of those places where I would happily devour anything on the menu, so ordering is a considerable challenge. Luckily, they break it down into a nice and simple process: choose between a market plate or a garden bowl, then pick your sides or protein. Easier said than done.

The market plates come with either chipotle marinated chicken, rare beef, tuna tataki, homemade falafel, or black pepper tofu. Each is accompanied by a fresh green salad with pesto dressing and organic sourdough bread with herbed butter.

Market plate with chicken and vegetables at Honest Greens in Madrid

Chipotle chicken and seasonal vegetables

Is your mouth watering yet? I’ve barely gotten started. After you choose your base, you get to add extra sides from an overwhelming list. Cold options include coleslaw, beet salad, creamed eggplant, lentils, hummus, and roasted watermelon (yeah, you read that right). Hot sides include mashed pumpkin, baked cauliflower, roasted beets, herbed potatoes, seasonal vegetables, and organic sweet potato, each with creative garnishes ranging from spirulina to spiced yogurt.

I highly recommend the chicken, and although the beef was a bit raw for my liking, it’s received rave reviews from plenty of my friends. You can’t go wrong with the seasonal vegetables or the sweet potatoes, which add some color and carbs to the plate. And speaking of carbs, the bread might actually be the best part of the dish. Freshly grilled and soaked in butter… how can you argue with that?

Market plate from Honest Greens in Madrid with beef and sweet potatoes

A market plate with ternera madrileña and roasted sweet potatoes

Garden bowl salad toppings at Honest Greens in Madrid

Salad fixin’s

If you want to put vegetables front and center, opt for a garden bowl instead. Spicy kale, ginger honey goat cheese, peanut chili lentils, sesame greens, wild coconut quinoa… with names like that, you can hardly imagine the possibilities. Each bowl is filled to the brim with various veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, and dressings. You can also add any protein for an extra boost.

Oh, and did I mention there’s a soup of the day?

Once all that has sunk in, turn your attention to the drinks. They’ve got cold pressed juices, homemade fruit-infused waters, wine, beer, and vermut—plus organic fair trade coffee. In fact, one of the highlights of the place is the adorable coffee truck parked outside, advertising their specialty beans.

Fruit flavored waters at Honest Greens in Madrid

Self-serve aguas frescas

The portions here are generous and filling, proving once and for all that it’s possible to feel fully satisfied after a healthy meal. But if you manage to save room, try one of the sugarless and gluten-free desserts. Their takes on classics like carrot cake and apple crumble might not be exactly what you’re expecting, but they have their own charm. If you’ve got a real sweet tooth you might be disappointed, but it’s totally worth it to at least give them a chance.

The best thing about Honest Greens is that it combines the trend of vegetarian and vegan cafes with a selection that caters to meat-eaters as well. While I love a good veggie burger and am slightly addicted to kale, I won’t deny that every meal can be improved by a grilled chicken breast or a juicy steak. For me, this place is the best of both worlds.

Business cards at Honest Greens in Madrid

The business cards say it all

Whatever dietary camp you belong to, you’ll find something here that fits your tastes. And the next time you’re craving some good, honest greens… well, you know where to go.

Info




Plenti, a great new café & brunch spot in Barrio de Las Letras


I love seeing new family-run places like Plenti pop up in Madrid. Opened just two weeks ago in Barrio de las Letras, the café already feels like it’s been around for a while thanks to the friendly service and comfortable ambience.

Plenti Madrid by Naked Madrid and A Second Art

Plenti Madrid by Naked Madrid and A Second Art

Before opening Plenti, owners Sophie (England) and Gonzalo (Spain) had both worked in the restaurant business for years, and spent last year training at Sophie’s mom’s café in Brighton.

They found most of the furniture and decor items at flea markets and antique shops in England, and brought it all back with them in a van. That’s why the menu is written on an old chalkboard that reminds me of my elementary school days.

Plenti Madrid by Naked Madrid and A Second Art

And the food is served with vintage cutlery and tableware.

Plenti Madrid by Naked Madrid and A Second Art

There’s also a long bench in the back from Munich, the typical kind you’d see at a German beer garden.

Plenti Madrid by Naked Madrid and A Second Art

The menu features a nice variety of fresh and tasty dishes at great prices, so you can try a few different things, or just have a light snack. There are three types of main dishes – huevos a la cazuela (egg casseroles), open sandwiches and salads – all ranging from €4-6. Breakfast items include yogurt cups with fruit, nuts and cereal, and different types of toast, ranging from €2-3.50.

We ordered two “huevos a la cazuela.” The first had tomato sauce, peppers, green onion, black beans and guacamole. So simple and delicious.

Plenti Madrid by Naked Madrid and A Second Art

And the second had tomato sauce, mozzarella, pesto, black olives and cherry tomatoes… also excellent.

Plenti Madrid by Naked Madrid and A Second Art

We also tried the open sandwich (similar to a “tosta”) with guacamole, cherry tomato, green onion, and Greek yogurt – my idea of the perfect snack.

Plenti Madrid by Naked Madrid and A Second Art

Lastly we had a fresh salad with cherry tomato, green onion, avocado, and celery. As you can see I have a weakness for avocado and this all hit the spot entirely.
Plenti Madrid by Naked Madrid and A Second Art

As for drinks, Plenti offers freshly squeezed juices, typical sodas from England, and excellent coffee. You also can’t miss out on the desserts that Sophie makes from scratch. We had the homemade flapjacks and banana cake, which reminded me so much of my grandma’s recipe.

Plenti Madrid by Naked Madrid and A Second Art

So folks, all I can say at this point is I’m happy to now have Plenti in Madrid, and know you will be too.

Photography by Jose Luis Magaña from A Second Art (Facebook & Instagram)

Info:




Boconó Art Wall, Madrid-based photography by "A Second"


About three weeks ago I went into a new specialty coffee shop in La Latina, Boconó, and ordered a cortado to go. The next time I stopped in, I had the chance to sit down with the owner, Carlos, and my friend, José Luis, who happens to be a regular Boconó customer. Our conversation gave me plenty to write about for a first post on Naked Madrid, but there’s so much more to the story!

Bocono Coffee Shop Madrid by Naked Madrid

What do you do with a big white wall?

As we were talking, we couldn’t help but notice the blank wall in need of attention. José Luis, who’s a photographer, took out his phone and started snapping photos of coffee cups located around the café, adding filters and creating unique images. One thing led to another, and we all agreed we should transform that floor-to-ceiling canvas into a photo gallery.

Then…

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Now

Boconó Art Wall by Naked Madrid and A Second Art

The process

It took José Luis, Andrea (another friend) and I over a week to get it all set up. I couldn’t possibly count how many hours we’ve spent in Boconó’s basement cutting paper, fitting photos and tinkering with random bits of material. Nor how many trips we’ve taken to the print shop and hardware store. Not to mention how many picture frames we bought, and how many we broke…

Boconó Art Wall by Naked Madrid and A Second Art

Boconó Art Wall by Naked Madrid and A Second Art

Boconó Art Wall by Naked Madrid and A Second Art

Boconó Art Wall by Naked Madrid and A Second Art

And today, as I look at the wall, I see so much more than beautiful artwork on display. I see the entire creative process that went on behind it, from the first day we sat down with Carlos at his café and pitched the idea, to the way the photos catch your eye even as you walk down the street and peer through Boconó’s window.

Boconó Art Wall by Naked Madrid and A Second Art

It’s thrilling to see how that seemingly random idea is now something real.

Boconó Art Wall

No longer a big white wall, Bocono Art Wall has become a showcase for local Madrid artists. Come and enjoy your coffee and take a look at the featured exhibits which will change monthly. If you’re an artist and want your work to be showcased, get in touch with A Second on Facebook.

Boconó Art Wall by Naked Madrid and A Second Art

Current exhibit – A Second / Art

The first installation features the images shot at Boconó itself – photos that capture the essence of its coffee, ambience and the neighborhood. All photos are by José Luis Magaña, creator of A Second, a Madrid-based platform meant to create, inspire and share art projects in the city (show some support by liking the Facebook and Instagram pages, please!).

A Second Art by José Luis Magña photography Madrid

More to come

Thank you, Carlos, for your generosity and openness to create a space that supports artists in your café. We look forward to collaborating with you on the Boconó Art Wall and other art-related projects that are currently in the works.

Stay with us as we announce upcoming exhibits, as well as other venues in the near future!

Info

  • #boconoartwall
  • Where: Boconó Specialty Coffee Shop (calle Embajadores, 3)
  • Who: @bocono.coffee @asecond.art @nakedmadrid
  • When: February 17, ’17 (ongoing)

Also read our full article on Boconó, a Specialty Coffee Shop in Plaza de Cascorro

 

 

 




Boconó, a Specialty Coffee Shop & Roaster in Plaza de Cascorro


Having grown up in a family-run café, it goes without saying that cozy coffee shops have a special place in my heart. And Boconó is one of them. Recently opened and situated in Plaza de Cascorro, at the start of the Rastro flea market, here you’ll find top-quality coffee from around the world – lovingly roasted on site – plus homemade desserts and an ambience to suit all moods.

Bocono Cafe by A Second Art Photography Jose Luis Magaña

The feel

Having coffee here feels like going into a hipster café in Brooklyn, NY. It’s a small space with modern decor, yet you have several seating options: a bench in the window, high tables with stools, and low couches to get comfy in. Whether you feel like meeting a friend for coffee, reading or working on your laptop (they’ve got fast WiFi!), Boconó is always a good choice. The baristas are friendly and speak English. Plus everything is homemade and the coffee is beyond excellent.

Bocono Cafe by A Second Art Photography Jose Luis Magaña

Bocono Cafe by A Second Art Photography Jose Luis Magaña

Bocono Cafe by A Second Art Photography Jose Luis Magaña

More than a café, a new concept in Madrid

Last time I went, I got the chance to speak to the owner, Carlos, who’s from Venezuela (his son works alongside him, too!). Carlos had opened cafés in Venezuela but his dream was to open the first specialty coffee shop in Madrid. He said that the city has a big coffee culture but not specialty coffee, which is a concept that’s popular in other countries. After years of hard work, his dream finally came true on January 6th.

Bocono Cafe by A Second Art Photography Jose Luis Magaña

All the coffee grains at Boconó are carefully selected based on the rigorous SCAE (specialty coffee association of Europe) quality standards. What’s more, it’s roasted by a “master roaster” and served by professionally trained baristas with top-quality machines.

A latte art school and coffee haven

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Boconó is also unique because it has a special license to train baristas. In fact, one of the baristas, Sergio, participated in the national “latte art” contest (the foam design on coffee). That’s why each coffee you receive with have a unique and beautiful foam design on it. They’re also going to have coffee tastings and other coffee-inspired events.

Art, events, furniture, and more!

Boconó Art Wall by Naked Madrid and A Second Art

Pop in to Boconó café today (a few months after the publication of this article) and you’ll immediately see a wall of photographs, Boconó Art Wall, created by the Madrid-based art platform, A Second, and the creators of Naked Madrid.

Bocono Cafe by A Second Art Photography Jose Luis Magaña

You’ll also see restored furniture all around that you can actually purchase on site. Not to mention the downstairs area is being refurbished to host events in the near future. So stay tuned!

Boconó is also child- and pet-friendly!

Bocono Cafe by A Second Art Photography Jose Luis Magaña

Photos by José Luis Magaña from A Second Art (asecondart.com / @asecond.art)

Info:

  • @bocono.coffee
  • Facebook & Website
  • Address: Calle Embajadores 3
  • Metro: Tirso de Molina & La Latina

 

 




Café Barbieri: A 114-year-old Art Noveau café in Lavapiés


Café Barbieri first brought modernist charm to Madrid’s working class district, Lavapiés, in 1902, and although the barrio has evolved dramatically over the last 114 years, the interior of this elegant bar hasn’t changed one bit.

Some things have changed though – Café Barbieri is owned by a charismatic chap from New Delhi and staffed with bilingual youngthings. It also now has a small terrace, but this is not why you’d come here – its appeal is truly the interior.

The whole place is lined with mirrors which back then were a symbol of wealth. These mirrors are now aging well, stained a smoky bronze colour with dots of grey rust creeping in from the edges. The ceiling is framed with grids of ornate girders that are connected to decorative cast-iron beams, typical of older buildings in Lavapiés. Although never on, there are ceiling fans too – something increasingly rare in Madrid.

At the back of the bar is a grand piano on a small raised stage. Almost every evening there’s a live music session often featuring the piano, and this place does food too – typical Spanish stuff but with an edge.

The worn white marble table tops and red velvet seating lining the dining area mark this place out as opulent, but that’s really not the vibe – it’s chilled and cosy and attracts a spectrum of people, from the intrepid tourist who’s braved it down the hill, to the unassuming local who fancies a read of one of the papers on offer.

Café Barbieri by day

Café Barbieri by day

Café Barbieri's beautiful ornate cieling

Café Barbieri’s beautiful ornate ceiling

The grand piano taking centre stage, and look at all those beautiful mirrors

The grand piano taking centre stage, and look at all those beautiful mirrors

Look at that original tiled floor!

Look at that original tiled floor!

The bar has a great selection of spirits & vermouth on tap

The bar has a great selection of spirits & vermouth on tap

Café Barbieri by night

Café Barbieri by night

Café Barbieri is also on the same street as the Greek foodie place, Egeo, so there you have it, your night is planned!

Info




Pum Pum Cafe, a new Lavapiés coffeeshop and weekend brunch spot


Situated on C/ Tribulete, 6 is the new establishment Pum Pum Cafe. It was brought to my attention by the charismatic Jordan, well known by the coffee-lover community for his tenure as a barista at the popular Toma Cafe in Malasaña. The tastefully exposed brick pattern of the wall is a remnant of the conversion process from the butcher shop that previously occupied the space. I’m always keen on discovering new cafes to perch with my laptop. One can easily foresee this business becoming another thriving watering hole in the barrio.

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Pum Pum stands out amongst the competition for its breakfast/brunch offerings: a splendid eggs benedict and avocado tostada, an assortment of healthy juices, baked goods and organic products. Their mission is to offer breakfast at all hours of the day as to not discriminate against those who wake up at 5pm after a rowdy night. Aficionados of coffee will be as thrilled as I was to see that Pum Pum is equipped to prepare V60 and chemex filter coffees. 

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The owner Papo is from Argentina, his brother Dam operates the kitchen, barista Jordan hails from Australia and the cafe manager Ira is from Ukraine. Papo has an adorable and well behaved infant son who can be seen on site at the weekend. Their hours during the week are 9am-9pm and their weekend brunch hours are 10am-9pm. This location is strongly recommended to any lovers of coffee and breakfast.

Photo: Steph Gutovska

Photo: Steff Gutovska

Info

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The Place: Come, eat, and stay a while


NOW CLOSED

Eduardo opened The Place for the reason we all hope anyone would open a restaurant: he wants you to come over and try his food.

His finely tuned menu is the result of years of travelling around the world. Every dish we tried transported us to a different place, but every ingredient used is home-grown in and around Madrid.

This is reason enough to make The Place “the place to be”, but while we were there, other punters didn’t seem in any hurry to leave. They came for a coffee, suddenly had a cheese/meat platter in front of them, then dinner, and before they knew it, were holding a Caipirinha. Folks were getting totally carried away, confirming that The Place is also a pretty nice place to hang out.

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You can come to The Place for any reason (food, cocktails, wifi), but we were here for dinner, and as you do here in Spain, we decided to share everything.

The Asian-style Waka-Mola Salad with a guacamole and soy-sauce dressing is how I shall make salad from now on. The tabbouleh told tales of the Middle East, and the French-style quiche was packed full of Mediterranean vegetables. The subtle spices in Eduardo’s pumpkin soup momentarily transported me to India before I was hoisted north to Iceland with the Viking Veggie toasted goats’ cheese sandwich, and back to earth with a rustic baked ricotta cheesecake.

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As you can see, Eduardo has a bit of a thing for cutlery. The hallmarks on each handle tell a story, and if you look closely, you’ll find pieces from all corners of Europe, which is exactly where he picked them up. My teaspoon was made in Sheffield between 1900 and 1940! If you’re into cutlery too, you’ll find a haul of Spanish gems in the Rastro every Sunday.

There’s also an unusually good selection of artisanal beers – blond Czech lager and Cibeles Imperial IPA are on tap – and several bottled beers. You’ve also got plenty of local wines to choose from, plus an extensive cocktail and spirits menu.

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The front of the restaurant has a large solid-wood table, ideal for either groups or MacBooking soloists, and when summer eventually arrives, the wall-to-wall windows will be flung open. Even better is the snug through the back where the seating is comfy and cosy and stylishly un-matching. If you can, nab the sofa next to the wood-burning fireplace and upright piano and have a jangle on it if you graduated beyond Chopsticks.

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Info

  • Address: Calle del Noviciado 16
  • Metro: Noviciado & Plaza España



New Cucos, a family-style restaurant in Arturo Soria


Sometimes when I go out to have lunch or dinner I can’t  help but think that an important part of customer service is missing. So when I had dinner at New Cucos with my friend, when we went outside afterwards, we could only say how well we were treated and what a wonderful dinner we had.

New Cucos is a family-style restaurant in the neighborhood of Arturo Soria. This closeness and warmth can be seen in the way Juan (the owner) treats everyone who works there, as well as all the customers who are having dinner or lunch.

The restaurant is located on the quiet street of Arturo Soria. It is a large space with a perfect covered terrace for more intimate dinners or larger celebrations. The terrace provides a very cozy place where you can talk quietly without being bothered by the next table, and then there’s also a smaller and equally cozy interior. The first day we decided to sit in inside, as Real Madrid was playing and we wanted to see the match. The second day we sat in the covered terrace, great decision.

The Food

New Cucos has a simple and traditional menu with very good quality ingredients. The portions are generous, in fact, the most popular dishes on the menu are large sharing platters; these can be great among a group of friends, or even just for two.

First we went for the warm burrata salad with cherry tomatoes. It was simply delicious. Great quality, never tried the burrata and I have to say I totally loved it.

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Burrata Salad

Then we decided to try the spring rolls with vegetables and prawns – a highly recommended and delicious dish as well.

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Spring rolls

By the time we had to eat our third dish, we were already full, but how can you say no to a plate of ravioli? These were filled with pumpkin and cheese sauce – simply spectacular and very rich. In fact the second time we went we couldn’t help but order them again.

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Ravioli

The second day we also ordered a delicious mixed salad. For me, nothing beats a well-prepared mixed salad.

Salad

Salad

As for the rest of the menu, in addition to the dishes to share, they have a small selection of fish and meat dishes. I have to say the South African ostrich burger looks delicious.

Prices are very reasonable. The first day we had three dishes, three glasses of wine and two beers for 47 euros. The second day our bill came out to 33 euros.

I’d also like to highlight once again that we received fantastic service both times we went; the staff was attentive, asking if everything was fine, and very importantly, without putting any pressure on us to leave. That sort of thing is very noticeable and makes your dinner even better.

Nothing else to add, New Cucos points out on Twitter: “eat and drink in an oasis” And I couldn’t agree more.

So, “Mucha mierda” (or “break a leg”) to Juan and the rest of his family. I’m sure we’ll see each other again soon!

Info

  • Where: Calle Arturo Soria 84
  • Metro: Arturo Soria
  • Tf: 913774039
  • Twitter
  • Monday to saturday 11 to 1.