Street spotlight: Calle Ruda, a tiny portal between La Latina & Embajadores


It goes without saying that there’s no shortage of things to do in Madrid. In fact, sometimes there’s so much, you don’t know where to start. On those days when the sun’s shining and you’re itching to get out of the house, sometimes it’s best to just walk to a cool part of town and let the city do its thing. We’re here to give you some inspiration.

Calle de la Ruda

La Latina and Embajadores—bustling multicultural hubs—are connected by a string of tiny streets full of surprises. One of them is Calle Ruda, which takes you straight from Mercado La Cebada to Plaza Cascorro, and makes the very short walk well worth it.

Calle Ruda by Naked Madrid

Onis, for old-school charm

If you enter the street from Calle Toledo, you’re greeted by the classic corner bar, Onis.

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This place is the definition of castizo. Tapas in the glass display case, tobacco machines, weird arcade games, and a grumpy server who has probably been here since the place opened (which was 1976, I’ve learned).

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Ruda Café, for coffee

Looking for something more modern? We got you. Keep heading down Ruda and you’ll come across Ruda Café, a new (opened last year) coffeeshop that’s riding the wave of java experts that has hit Madrid in recent years. We’re not mad about this trend. And yes, they have wifi. They also sell packaged artisanal coffee and tea, jam, art, and coffeemakers.

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De Piedra, for handmade jewelry

But there’s only so much coffee you can drink (unfortunate, I know). So now that you’re fueled up, you’re ready to browse the cute little shops of this gem of a street. If you’re a fan of jewelry and creepy mannequins, pay a visit to De Piedra, an artisanal jewelry shop at C/ Ruda 19. They haven’t been at this location long, but the store has been open for some 15 years.

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Molar, for records, books and cassette tapes

Next you’ll come across my personal favorite place on the street, Molar. Think record store meets bookshop.

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They even sell cassette tapes, which is not something you see every day in Mad City.

Mamá Elba, for something sweet

Got a sweet tooth? Mamá Elba has been open a mere 3 weeks, and is already drawing a loyal customer base. Their selection of ice cream (including vegan and gluten-free), cakes, and coffee will leave you overwhelmed by heavenly choices.

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Erre Catorce (R14), for art and design

R14 is another brand new spot on the street, just open for a month. It’s a modern interior design shop, with local art, restored vintage furniture pieces (from around the world, namely Scandinavia and the US), apparel, and lots of cool home decor.

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Soon they’ll be putting on events to promote and discuss interior design and art, so keep your eyes peeled and follow them on Facebook.

La Tienda de Cerveza, for craft beer

Next up: craft beer. Okay, I lied before, THIS place is my favorite. La Tienda de Cerveza is a must in La Latina (and in the city, really). The shelves are lined with hundreds of bottled or canned craft beers and ciders from both Madrid and around the world. They have a few tables in the back, and they hold tasting events often. An absolute must for cervecerxs.

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Tienda Biológica, for something healthy

Something I love about Madrid is that you can eat healthy without going bankrupt. Tienda Biológica is living proof of this. This small organic food shop sells health products at reasonable prices, and it’s run by the sweetest lady.

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La China Mandarina, for a great meal in a modern space

And last but not least (and not even covering half of the street’s spots), for a great meal and a laidback ambience, visit La China Mandarina at the end of Calle Ruda (closest to Plaza Cascorro). It’s one of those places that masters the art of offering both very traditional and very modern cuisine on the same menu. So if you’re craving a tortilla de patatas but your friend has a hankering for a vegan burger, there’s something for everyone.

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They have great wifi and won’t roll their eyes if you work on your laptop all morning (I know from experience).

Calle Ruda is just one of a plethora of tiny goldmines in Madrid. If none of these spots call your attention (tough crowd!), we suggest you still come to the area on a beautiful day and just get lost. You can’t go wrong.

 




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…

Bocono Coffee Shop Madrid

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

 

 

 




El Guaje de Lavapiés, an Authentic Asturian Oasis


Tucked into the Mercado de San Fernando is a tiny piece of Asturias. From the queso gamoneu to the blue-and-yellow flags marking their territory on every spare inch of the bar, you’ll feel like you’re really there.

El Guaje de Lavapiés is a sidrería that offers some of the most high-quality Asturian ciders, cheeses, and cured meats Madrid has to offer.

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Rafael, the owner, is known around town as “El Guaje,” a term used to refer to someone younger than you in Asturias. El Guaje opened up shop 10 months ago, and is happy with his success, although his dream is to open a full-size restaurant.

El Guaje de Lavapiés, an Asturian oasis by Naked Madrid

Is the space enormous? No. Does it have wifi? Also no. But what it does have it much better: delicious food, good prices, and no big chain of production and distribution—everything comes straight from our northern neighbors and is grown and made naturally.

Here you see El Guaje’s tosta con membrillo y cabrales—toast with quince paste and blue cheese produced by rural dairy farmers and cured in natural caves (€3.50).

El Guaje de Lavapiés, an Asturian oasis by Naked Madrid

Of course, you can also buy these products in bulk to take home and enjoy later.

El Guaje de Lavapiés, an Asturian oasis by Naked Madrid

But if you’re like me, and nothing hits the spot like a good craft beer, El Guaje’s got you covered, with a selection from Caleya of pale ales, IPAs, ambers, etc., as well as your trusty Estrella and Mahou.

El Guaje de Lavapiés, an Asturian oasis by Naked Madrid

If you’re lucky, you’ll arrive in time for the show—there’s an open space at the center of the market, which happens to be right in front of this bar, where they put on dancing shows, plays, and other cultural events.

¡Puxa Asturias!

Information

PS: Right in front of El Guaje is another one of our favorite stands, Mercado de Lisboa. Check it out!

 




El Andariego, Your Argentinian Corner Bar in Madrid


A few years ago I went out with friends to see a play at a small theater in downtown Madrid. I don’t remember where we went (we took a taxi there and back, and I just followed along), but I do remember the street was lined with independent theaters and arts spaces, and afterwards we went to a sweet corner bar that I instantly fell in love with. I’d always wondered where that bar was…

Here comes the crazy part. Last month I moved to Calle Ercilla, near Embajadores. As I was walking down my new street one day, I started seeing theater after theater… It all looked too familiar, so I kept on walking and low and behold, there it was! The bar I had gone to all those years ago is called El Andariego, and it’s just how I remembered it.

Ariego Argentine bar by Naked Madrid

It turns out El Andariego is a neighborhood favorite and pretty well known throughout Madrid. It specializes in Argentinian dishes, the star being the “entrañas” (entrails) which are out of this world, and other grilled meat dishes (€12.50).

Ariego Argentine bar by Naked Madrid

Then of course they have a selection of homemade empanadas (€2.50-3.50). We tried the spinach and criolla ones which both hit the spot.

Ariego Argentine bar by Naked Madrid

Ariego Argentine bar by Naked Madrid

We also ordered an off-the-charts quiche made with spinach, squash and pumpkin seeds; plus the provoleta, melted provolone cheese (€6 each and delicious).

Ariego Argentine bar by Naked Madrid

Ariego Argentine bar by Naked Madrid

El Andariego also offers vegan options like baba ganoush and hummus, plus a selection of Mexican dishes. As I was watching other plates land on patrons’ tables, I spotted an impressive mountain of quesadillas that I’ll have to try next time.

So far I’ve eaten here twice and each time the bill came out to a total of just 22 euros for 2, including a glass of red wine each. Granted we shared everything but still, it’s very affordable.

So I can say the food, drinks and prices are all great. The only downside? It can get a bit cramped but that’s pretty typical of Madrid bars, especially the good ones. Everybody wants in!

Info

  • Facebook
  • Address: Calle del Labrador, 12 (corner with Calle Ercilla)
  • Metro: Embajadores

 




Mercadillo Lisboa: A fun Portuguese snack bar in Mercado San Fernando


Brand-new Portuguese eatery Mercadillo Lisboa was waiting for the right moment to join the mercado scene until, six weeks ago, just in time for Tapapiés, it finally opened up in the best spot in Mercado San Fernando. Enter through the main doors, head straight to the middle and turn right – they’re there next to the fun bar Sondelata, which sells blue wine and carrot cava.

Mercadillo Lisboa is owned and run by three pals – two from Lisbon and one from the Canary Islands. Only two of them are in this photo because the other is camera-shy – he hid around the corner.

This is a great place to get authentic Portuguese food, from a variety of quiches and the classic Pastéis de Belém, to empanadas, arancini and everything bacalao. Here are a few photos of their snack food, very proudly displayed by the jolliest of the three musketeers:

Vegetarian spinach quiche

Vegetarian spinach quiche

There are lots of quiches here

There are lots of quiches here

Empanadas and cod croquettes

Empanadas and cod croquettes

Arancini

Arancini

Strawberry cheesecake (wow)

Strawberry cheesecake (wow)

You can also buy a selection of Portuguese beers and wines (including vinho verde), plus an almond liqueur (licor de amêndoa) specially driven over from Portugal by the guy on the right. I bought their last bottle a couple of weeks ago and with it came this story – suddenly €12 seemed like an absolute steal. You’ll be glad to know that they’ve since been back to Portugal and brought another few bottles for us, but get it while you can – or I will!

Lots of Portuguese wines and liquors

Lots of Portuguese wines and liqueurs

A selection of Portuguese beers

A selection of Portuguese beers

Pull up a chair at Mercadillo Lisboa or mingle in its sphere of influence with a vinho verde and a bocadillo de bacalao. And just so you know, you’ll probably bump into me.

Info

  • C/Embajadores, 41
  • Metro: Lavapiés/Embajadores
  • Facebook

Opening hours:

  • Mon: Fri: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm, 5:00 pm – midnight
  • Sat: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Sun: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm



Taco Maya: A brand-new no-frills taco joint


José Manuel – a well-known chef in the Madrid taco scene – has just opened a brand new, no-frills taco joint in Madrid with his partner, Joe. This colourful and fun eatery is located in a beautiful old building just a five-minute walk from barrio Lavapiés, and has a lovely chilled terrace plus a cosy dining area inside.

Taco Maya's cosy, minimalist dining area

Taco Maya’s cosy, minimalist dining area

It’s possible that you may have stumbled across José Manuel before: he used to own Taquería Maya in Huertas, where José met Joe! With a new team member and a more relaxed location, Taco Maya has a winning formula, and dare I say the best Mexican food I’ve had in Madrid?

THE FOOD

Everything is made from scratch by José himself, from the nachos to the tacos and every ingredient is bought in fresh that morning. It’s for this reason that the menu sometimes varies depending on what order comes in that day, and there’s an array of tacos, quesadillas and nachos to try.

The menu - full of options for all!

The menu – full of options for all!

This is what we had:

Lemon and Strawberry Margaritas

Lemon and Strawberry Margaritas

First of all, the Lemon and Strawberry Margaritas are incredible – like nothing you’ve ever had before, I promise! The strong kick of tequila was also a great start to the evening.

The Nachos

The Nachos

We had three types of nachos: Courgette and corn from the cob (vegan), Guacamole and coriander (also vegan), and beef. All were absolutely delicious, and the guacamole was like something I’d make at home in secret so that I could put in as much coriander and fresh red onion as I wanted.

The Beef Tacos

The Beef Tacos

2 x Cheese Tacos and 2 x Lamb Tacos

2 x Cheese Tacos and 2 x Lamb Tacos

The beef and guacamole tacos were juicy and moreish, and that extra squeeze of lime cut through all that tender meat perfectly. The veggie options included cheese and guacamole quesadillas, but pictured above we have courgette tacos and two tacos with a creamy vegetable and corn mix and plenty of fresh coriander on top. Having said all that, the tacos themselves were so fresh and you could really decipher their flavour.

Tequila!

Tequila!

To end the evening, José Manuel offered us a wonderfully smooth tequila. He also gave us a salt-sugar-chilli mix for the usual tequila ritual, and now I’ll never be able to have just salt again.

José Manuel himself!

José Manuel himself!

The tacos are great and the terrace is a real treat. This humble eatery has a bright future – check it out and be a part of it.

Info

  • Address: Paseo de Santa María de la Cabeza, 60
  • Metro: Embajadores
  • Facebook and Instagram
  • Phone number: 911 733 374 / 642 194 285

Also check out:




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




Gibraltar, an authentic Moroccan restaurant in Lavapies


My close friend Kameron “el ProfeSoul” Sterling has been an excellent resource to me in my mission to shed light on the endearing establishments hidden within our multi-cultural barrio of Lavapies. “It’s all about the fellas,” he said charismatically as he led me into Gibraltar, a charming Moroccan restaurant situated on C/ Casino by the Embajadores park. Entering this location was akin to leaving Europe and entering Morocco–the authenticity made visible by its lively crowd of Moroccan gentlemen who were sipping tea, bantering in French and casually shooting the shit.

Gibraltrar Moroccan Restaurant in Lavapiés by Naked Madrid

Kameron was greeted warmly by the head server, who presented us with delicious mint tea. Kam is well acquainted with this establishment considering its essentially in his backyard. He recommended that I try the al harira, a thick, spicy soup containing chicken, tomatoes and ginger with other herbs.

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This was followed up by our respective main courses: a Tajine of chicken with prunes, almonds, egg, and vegetables & a Tajine of Lamb, couscous and vegetables. Both of these Tajines were phenomenal, with their spectrum of fresh flavors dancing on our palates.

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The staff of this establishment are extremely amicable and efficient. The head server, who was quite vocal to me about exactly how fond he is of Kam, was able to guess correctly based on my accent that I’m from New York. I felt very much accepted as an outsider.

Kam and I left this establishment incredibly full and pleased with ourselves—the check was 11€ each. I strongly recommend this establishment to any adventurous eaters who are searching for a colorful window into a completely different world.

Info

Address: Calle Del Casino 16
Metro: Lavapies, Embajadores
Phone: 606 78 75 67
 

Also check out:

Baobab, an Authentic Senegalese Restaurant in Lavapiés

Tribuetxe, a Basque Pintxo Bar in Lavapiés

Lavapiés and its market: the real food emporium!

Badila — you need this restaurant in your life

 



Perdizione, a hidden Tex-Mex Burrito shop in Lavapies


Until quite recently, kebabs and falafels had the monopoly over nighttime snacks in Lavapies. My favorite new Tex-Mex hole in the wall is hidden due to its awkward branding.

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Perdizione, a pizza franchise with another location in Legazpi, has partial ownership of this site—the sign above the door says “Perdizione Pizzeria” which causes passersby to be none the wiser that inside can be found hearty and filling burritos and other Mexican treats.

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For 4 euros you can get an enormous burrito of cochinita, vegetables or chicken, and for an additional €1.50 you can add on nachos, guacamole and a beer. Tacos cost 1.50. I smiled when I saw that they offered Negra Modelo, my Dad’s favorite beer from his native city of Mexico D.F. The staff of this location have always been super majo.

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Once I earned regular status I offered my council to the owner—this establishment needs to focus on its strengths and prioritize the burritos and its branding as a Mexican joint.

Info

Facebook
Where: Calle Miguel Servet 9
Metro: Lavapies, Embajadores
 

For more on Mexican food in Madrid, check out: 

Madrid’s Best Mexican Joints

Also in Lavapiés: 

Baobab, an Authentic Senegalese Restaurant in Lavapiés

Tribuetxe, a Basque Pintxo Bar in Lavapiés

Cafelito, a trendy spot for coffee lovers in Lavapiés




Pecados Argentinos, Freshly-baked Argentine Empanadas in Plaza de Cascorro


When I am scurrying between my private lessons I sometimes get swept up in a blinding hunger. Empanadas are often the most practical solution because they can be both served and consumed quickly, leaving me full, satisfied and capable of fighting onwards. Pecados Argentinos is a shop situated in Plaza de Cascorro that sells delicious, filling Argentine empanadas as well as other products from the land of silver.

Pecados argentinos en Plaza de Cascorro by Naked Madrid

Earlier this year I was dabbling with the idea of relocating next to Buenos Aires and I made a point of befriending the staff of this establishment so that I could pick their brains as to what life there entails. The staff of this shop are a group of lovely ladies that greet their clients with terms of endearment such as mi amor and cariño. The Porteño accent is my favorite of the various forms of Spanish that I’ve been exposed to—when they speak it’s almost as if they’re singing and my instinctive response is to melt. Several times I have entered this location while rushing between point lessons and have lost track of time due to the hypnotizing nature of their accents during our small-talk.

Pecados Argentinos, Freshly-baked Argentine Empanadas in El RastroThe establishment offers 11 different types of empanadas and my intention is to eventually sample all of them. My favorite thus far is filled with mushrooms and both mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Another that has aided my recovery from crippling resacas is their empanada of chicken, mozzarella cheese and caramelized onions. I’ve also enjoyed their staple empanada, which is filled with tuna, red pepper, & onion. The empanada stuffed with mushrooms makes my mouth water.

Not to mention their typical Argentine desserts filled with dulce de leche…

Pecados argentinos en Plaza de Cascorro by Naked Madrid

The next time you find yourself navigating the Rastro flea market, I strongly recommend you picar a few snacks from this charming establishment.

Info

Web
Facebook
Address: Plaza de Cascorro 11
Contact: 910 840 505
 

Looking for other spots in La Latina and Lavapiés area? Check out: 

Tribuetxe, a Basque pintxo bar

Los Chuchis Bar, downright good food in Lavapiés

Cafelito, a trendy spot for coffee lovers in Lavapiés

Lavapiés and its market — the real food emporium!

Cosy Wine Bars in La Latina