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.

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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




What to See in Barrio de Las Letras


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.

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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.

Plaza Jacinto Benavente

Plaza Jacinto Benavente

Calle Lope de Vega

Calle Lope de Vega

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.

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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.

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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

Plaza Santa Ana

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.

Monument Calderon de La Barca

Monument Calderon de La Barca

Monument Federico Garcia Lorca

Monument Federico Garcia Lorca

Teatro Español

Teatro Español—Madrid’s oldest theater

 

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Check out all the spots in Barrio de Las Letras featured on Naked Madrid!




El Sombrero Azul – pupusas, yuca, enchiladas and more


It’s not uncommon for even the most veteran madrileños to stumble upon tucked-away eateries they’ve never noticed. That’s exactly what happened to me when I was strolling along the surprisingly calm Calle de las Hileras near Plaza Mayor. The spicy smells stopped me in my tracks, but what brought me inside was the menú del día written on the window in puff paint.

Monday through Friday, El Sombrero Azul offers a menú salvadoreño-mexicano that includes a bebida (Coke products, beer, sangria, or wine) with a starter big enough to fill you up (like the pupusas shown below), a cocktail (margaritas, mojitos, you name it) along with a delicious main entree. And for dessert, you can choose from coffee/tea, cheesecake, bizcocho de tres leches, and more. All for 12€.

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What’s a pupusa, you may ask?

Most countries have their own version of a warm, breaded ‘sandwich’ filled with meat, cheese, and/or veggies. Food pockets, if you will. Pupusas are the food pockets of El Salvador, and El Sombrero Azul has them down to a science. Shown above are two veggie versions, one with zucchini and the other with frijoles and cheese (my favorite).

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Admittedly, I was a little disappointed in the main entree options, but only because I’m vegetarian. Meat lovers will feel right at home here among the pastelitos de carne, cazuela de cochinita pibil, tacos flauta, and the plato de carne. However, the accommodating staff offered me some pretty good alternatives, like fresh yuca (above) or huevos rancheros.

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If you have room after the first two courses, kick back with a fresh cocktail. Pictured is a delicious blackberry margarita, but they also have mojitos and micheladas, as well as fresh Mexican fruit juices and horchata (although those aren’t part of the menú).

TIP: The best time to go is during the week, because on weekends and holidays the menú price is 15€.

Oh, and the same space hosts a totally different concept by night: it’s called La Cueva de Lola, and it’s all about Spanish food and flamenco shows. Post to come soon on that!

Info

  • Facebook
  • Address: C/ Hileras 6
  • Metro: Ópera or Sol
  • Phone: 910 18 54 53

Also check out:




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)

 

 




Killer Cocktails at NH Collection Madrid Eurobuilding


I haven’t always been able to call Malasaña home. In fact, since decamping to Madrid almost eight years ago, there have been a plethora of places that I have indeed called ‘home’, if only for a short time. There was the awful place on Calle Barco (complete with a landlord who just used to rock up unannounced and sit in his dressing gown on the sofa, true story). There was the hovel in Iglesia where running water was frequently considered a luxury. There was even a place near Moncloa where mould featured heavily as part of the interior design.

However, in the midst of all of this, I found a lovely little place to call mine near Cuzco. Since migrating south to Malasaña and having become a fully fledged member of the barrio, I rarely find myself back up north as it were, but given that it’s August and the city feels like your own private playground (due to the lack of folk in the sweltering oven that is Madrid), I decided to spread my wings, as it were and make a pilgrimage to my old hood.

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The reason for making it to the Eurobuilding Hotel was that I’d heard whisperings about their killer cocktails. Having just got back from three weeks in Vietnam, where drinking beer felt like a national past time, I figured my bikini bod (or current lack thereof) would thank me for laying off the hops. We’re also not talking any old cocktails here either; the menu (which changes annually) was created by cocktail maestro, Diego Cabrera.

NH Collection Madrid Eurobuilding by Naked Madrid

So I went hopeful that the tipples would trump the kind of ropey offerings served up during a happy hour in your bog standard beach bar. Given the heat and the thirst that I’d worked up thanks to the mercury melting temps, I sampled three delights (as well as a sneaky bit of tapas to ensure that I could remember the journey home – tempura prawns and a veal-stuffed potato, both equally delish and devoured within seconds). Whilst they offer all the classics, the specially curated menu is unique to say the least. Pairings of flavours are quirky and presentation is paramount. Being a huge fan of Pisco (sadly at the moment it’s the closest I’ll get to Peru), I tried a Sherbert Shurb Punch. The recipe for which was to be found niftily on the back of my coaster, a nice touch.

NH Collection Madrid Eurobuilding by Naked Madrid

The outdoor terrace was also the perfect spot to people watch and watch we did as the Real Madrid team bus sailed by en route to the nearby BernabeuSo if you’d struggle to sell the place to your man friend there’s definitely something for the boys on offer; its close proximity to the stadium makes it the ideal place to enjoy a celebratory tipple. Which given Los Blancos’ current form, could be happening more often than not.

Info

  • Website
  • Metro: Cuzco
  • Address: Padre Damian 23
  • Phone: 913537337



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



Sahuaro: Mexican magic in the heart of Madrid


Hecho en México. That’s the slogan of this brand new eatery located right in the historic heart of the city, in La Latina’s Plaza de Cascorro. DSC_0061-1024x683

If you’ve spent any time in the homeland of the Aztecs, the Mayas, and the michelada, you’ve probably already fallen in love. Mexico is a country of rich history, cultural diversity, and undeniably delicious food. A couple of years ago I spent a summer living in the rural part of the Yucatán peninsula, and I still dream about it to this day… especially the tortillas.

No, I’m not talking about the egg and potato variety (although those have a special place in my heart as well). And don’t give me any of those floppy flour burrito wrappers. I’m talking about fresh tortillas made from corn, water, and salt. That’s it.

Fresh Mexican corn tortillas

Look at that bundle of pure, corn-based joy.

Sahuaro’s got ’em. As soon as I saw the basket of tortillas arrive at the table, lined with a linen cloth and covered to keep in the warmth, I knew this place was the real deal.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. As soon as we sat down we dealt with the primary priorities: drinks and guacamole. Sahuaro’s drink menu is one of the most exciting things I’ve read in a while. They offer frozen margaritas and classic mojitos for just €3.90, with a choice of strawberry, tamarind, guava, and passion fruit flavors. There are also several other options for under €6, including tropical cocktails and several variations on the iconic michelada (beer with lime juice and spices).

Passionfruit mojito and frozen margarita

Passion fruit mojito and frozen margarita, with a guest appearance by guacamole

Every self-respecting Mexican establishment offers guacamole; but few do it as well as Sahuaro. They serve it right in the avocado skin, atop a mountain of crunchy totopos (corn chips). It’s the perfect blend of avocado, salt, olive oil, and lime, proving that good guacamole doesn’t need to be fancy—just fresh. We were also brought a selection of four sauces with varying levels of spiciness. Each one was unique, and spice-seekers will be satisfied, if not particularly challenged.

Fresh guacamole and corn chips

When it comes to guacamole, Sahuaro keeps it simple.

For the next course, we ordered the house selection of tacos. It includes one of each variety offered on the menu: Guerreros (pork carnitas), Norteños (marinated beef), Del campo (grilled veggies), and Yucatecos (cochinita pork). They were all delicious, but the Yucatecos were the clear winner (although maybe that’s just my nostalgia speaking). The sauce was rich and tangy, the pork tender and juicy, and the pickled onions the perfect accompaniment.

Mexican tacos with pork, beef, vegetables, and pickled onions

My personal taco motto: always get one of each.

Finally, we dug into the chipotle chicken entrée. It was swimming in creamy, slightly spicy sauce, served with refried beans and (hallelujah) more guacamole. Naturally, of course, we ordered an extra basket of tortillas to go with it. But the surprise hit here was the rice, which came in a coconut shell etched with intricate designs. Soft and subtly seasoned, it provided the perfect complement to the rich and hearty dish.

Chipotle chicken, refried beans, guacamole, and rice

Pollo al chipotle

I’ll certainly be returning as soon as humanly possible to sample the rest of the menu, from the salads and ceviche to the enchiladas and desserts. Sahuaro also offers a menú del día during the week and brunch on the weekends, so you can satisfy your cravings no matter what time it is. It’s the perfect place to come for a casual drink with friends or even a date; the interior is elegant and colorful, and the enclosed outdoor patio features tropical plants and comfy couches (plus plenty of fans).

The interior dining area, decorated with indigenous art and bright colors
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Whether you’re nostalgic for your own travels to Mexico, or you’ve always wanted to visit and see what all the hype is about, this place is for you. Sahuaro has done what few restaurants can, combining authentic regional cuisine with an ideal atmosphere, a prime location, and affordable prices. Come, relax, and let yourself be carried away to paradise.

Info




I went loco for Le Coco.


Picture the scene. Lashing rain. Lightning illuminating the dirty teabag coloured sky. Rumblings of thunder so fierce that part of my apartment window collapsed (true story, that’s not just for dramatic effect). Oh and have I mentioned that this is July in Madrid, not November in Blighty? So you can only imagine my level of ganas when it came to venturing out into a monsoon on a bleak and downright bloody freezing Thursday evening.

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The reason for rallying was that my Mum was in town and I didn’t fancy having to try (and realistically fail) to produce dinner from the slim pickings in my fridge. So off we waded to Le Coco; a short stroll over to the neighbouring barrio of Chueca with our brollies in tow. From the outside Le Coco is dinky and unassuming, well, that’s what I could make out from my rain soaked fringe at least. But upon entering, not only was it a haven of dryness, it was a cosy one at that.

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Le Coco by Naked Madrid

As soon as we were seated (which was immediate) we were handed a drinks menu. We happily plumped for pisco sours, which brightened both of our moods – shame the same couldn’t be said for the colour of clouds that loomed ominously. Anyways, enough of my weather related whining, let’s get cracking on the food because boy we did we eat our bodyweight. In our defence, as it felt like winter outside we definitely packed in enough dishes to help us with insulation.

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So first there were prawn dumplings, plump, juicy and incredibly moor-ish. I ate 6 without breaking a sweat – although sweat I did, when I dragged myself to a 9am pilates class the following day to work them off. Next came tempura langoustine that rendered me speechless. Friends will confirm that this only usually happens when I’m asleep, so for a dish of something shrimpy to shut me up, well, we’re talking about the unfathomable here. They were amazing. Genuinely. Le Coco is worth a visit for this reason alone.

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Now some peeps might have been full after those couple of helpings, not us. Remember the rain, well it had started up again by this point, which gave us the perfect excuse to plump for tacos, a burrata the size of my fist, before ending with the crème de la creme of pasta dishes – and I’ve been to Puglia, I think I know my stuff. It heaved with lobster, crab and cream. I don’t know what they did with these three ingredients but it was downright orgasmic. Hell, if that dish were a man, maybe I’d date it – frankly it was infinitely more delicious than the bulk of Tinder’s offerings. I jest, but really, for a place that looked on first glance similar in style to many, many places in the area, the food was anything but predictable.

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We wrapped the evening up with a couple of celebratory cavas for making it out of the house to battle the elements. And I left having forgotten that my red suede shoes (or my Dorothy/Wizard of Oz shoes as I liked to affectionately refer to them) are basically now akin to soggy road kill. Sometimes things don’t look that pretty from the outside, Le Coco goes to prove that it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

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Info

  • Website & Facebook
  • Address: Calle de Barbieri, 15
  • Metro: Chueca
  • Phone: 91 521 99 55



Jack Percoca: The Little Italian Joint with Big Hearty Food


“The amount of food on the plate says a lot about the person who put it on the plate,” laughs Luca. “I serve my customers like I serve my family.”

Naples-born Luca is a professional restaurateur. For eight years, he travelled around the world opening and running game-changing restaurants before finally settling in Madrid and opening Jack Percoca Bar & Kitchen, a cosy little Italian restaurant in the heart of the city’s Conde Duque district.

The bar area

The bar area

The cosy dining area

The cosy dining area with lots of natural light at lunchtime

The sheer wealth of experience Luca has picked up over the years becomes clear from the moment you walk in. A great deal of thought has gone into the style and layout: the lighting is soft, there’s no ‘short-straw’ table, the service is attentive, and the food is flawless.

FOOD FOR FOUR (TO EIGHT)

To start, we ordered Burrata Tricolore, served on a bed of rocket with slices of perfectly ripe tomato and drizzled with Luca’s famous basil pesto. We also ordered a bowl of “Smoking Bullets”: deep-fried, cheese and ham-filled rigatoni, like an Italian take on croquettes. We loved the tomato-laden Bruschetta and, on the opposite end of all spectrums, the (intensely) Creamy Meatballs.

Smoking Bullets, Creamy Meatballs, Bruschetta and Burrata Tricolore

Smoking Bullets, Creamy Meatballs, Bruschetta and Burrata Tricolore

The Bruschetta

The Bruschetta

Feeling full yet? For mains, we had the Spaghetti Burger – a succulent home-made burger perched on a crispy basket of spaghetti – and the Steak Tartare with chunky chips. The Donna Sofia pizza is right up there with the best pizzas in Madrid, but the colossal Truffle Mac and Cheese was, as usual, the star of the show.

The Spaghetti Burger

The Spaghetti Burger

The Truffle Mac 'n' Cheese

The Truffle Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Despite being pretty full, we ordered the Margherita Cheesecake and the Amaretto Connection for all of us to share, because when a dessert is good enough (and you know what I’m talking about here), you’ll find room for it.

The Amaretto Connection

The Amaretto Connection

WELCOME TO PROHIBITION-ERA NEW YORK

This excerpt from the menu sets the scene for the restaurant perfectly:

“It’s the era of prohibition and the state has declared war on alcohol. Social downfall in America has reached rock bottom and liquor is squarely to blame. But New York City has been hit by a new wave of crime – the black market. The word on the street is that immoral men are brewing their own high-proof alcohol. Hip flasks of this “moonshine” are stuffed into the boots of liberated women to supply hundreds of “speakeasies”. It’s also the beginning of the underground jazz movement – inspiration is thriving in these illegal alcohol-fueled parties, but only the coolest guys and dolls in town are in the know. It was here, in a speakeasy beneath the streets of New York, that Sandy met Jack…”

The infamous black market liquors of the Prohibition era echo throughout Luca’s cocktails, which are strong enough to cut through all three hearty courses and still leave you feeling merry.

A selection of the classic cocktails

A selection of the classic cocktails

Jack Percoca Bar & Kitchen is humbly priced, but with big hearty food, strong cocktails and a charming atmosphere, this Little Italy eatery is determined to keep Madrid’s restaurant scene on its toes.

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