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.




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!




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)

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L'Artisan Furansu Kitchen, a Passionate Mix of Japanese and French Cuisine


Take the light, subtle flavors of Japan and the rich, expressive taste of France. Add the culinary artistry and craftsmanship of acclaimed chef, Stephane Shoji, and you’re in for a dining experience that’s nothing short of spectacular.

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L’Artisan Furansu Kitchen offers a mix of traditional Japanese and contemporary French dishes, featured on a parallel – not fusion – menu. The 14€ menú del día (set lunch menu) changes daily, offering original creations that stay true to the restaurant’s dual heritage while featuring international touches, keeping patrons coming back for more on a regular basis.

Decor

A charming red door on an unassuming street in Barrio de Las Letras provides the first hint of L’Artisan’s unique character.

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As you step inside, the simple decor imbues Japanese minimalism, with an unadorned bar area and a long table with the open kitchen in the back.

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By contrast, downstairs you’ll find a warm, romantic atmosphere, with Japanese-inspired art and exposed brick walls that are typical of traditional Madrid cuevas.

Story

L’Artisan Furansu Kitchen was opened four years ago by Paris-born chef Stephane Shoji, who has both French and Japanese heritage. Shoji refined his culinary skills in kitchens around the world, before bringing his “passion project” to life in Madrid. In every dish he expresses his international culinary background and philosophy on cuisine as a craft that brings people together.

Cuisine

We went for dinner and followed our server’s recommendations wholeheartedly, dish by dish, wine by wine. While waiting for our starters we were given delicious tomato soup with an unexpected garnish – popcorn!

L'Artisan Furansu Kitchen by Jose Luis Magaña A Second Art 2

For starters, we ordered the ají no tataki, mackerel tartare with green onion, ginger and aubergine caviar. It was so light and refreshing, the kind of dish I’d order every time and never get tired of.

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We also had the oh-so-rich buta no kakuni, soft pork belly slow cooked for 12 hours in sweet soy sauce. The meat was extremely tender and served in broth that retained all its flavor.

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For entrees, we tried the oven-roasted butterfish marinated in saikyo miso which was our favorite dish of the night – simply out of this world.

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We also had the lamb chops offered as a special that night. I just don’t think you can go wrong with any dish here.

L'Artisan Furansu Kitchen by Jose Luis Magaña A Second Art 2

For dessert we ordered the apple crumble which came highly recommended. A happy silence came over our table as we took the first bite. No words necessary, just go and try it!

L'Artisan Furansu Kitchen by Jose Luis Magaña A Second Art 2

Photography by Jose Luis Magaña from A Second Art (@asecond.art)

Restaurant info

  • Facebook
  • Website 
  • Instagram@lartisanmadrid
  • Address: Calle Ventura de la Vega 15
  • Reservations: reservaslartisan@gmail.com
    +34 91 4203172
    +34 626 792 905



Ana La Santa... Baby it’s cold outside


Being an expat in Madrid seems to equate to a couple of things; you’re highly likely to favour drinking a caña over a coffee (it honestly works out cheaper), most of your wardrobe will consist of Zara purchases (although that may just be me) and I’m pretty sure that come Autumn time, you start to long for Sunday afternoons curled up in a pub with a fire and a glass of red for company. Whilst Madrid can offer a visitor many things (often wall to wall sunshine), it doesn’t really pack a punch on the pub front…

However, Ana La Santa has been become my default option for when I’m craving cosiness, and there’s good reason why.

Situated in what is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful plazas in all of Madrid, Ana La Santa, the bar and restaurant that occupies the ground floor of the hard to miss Hotel ME, is without doubt the chicest (and next best thing) that’s akin to a Gastropub that you might find back in Blighty. Picture a roaring fire, squidgy sofas, easy on the eye staff and the kind of simple style that is more often found in Scandi-land and you’d be on the right page.

Ana La Santa by Naked Madrid

This season’s buzz word for urbanites is hygge.

Pronounced hoo-ga, this Danish word defies literal translation. In essence it means enjoying life’s small but soothing moments – perhaps nibbling some croquetas de jamón with one hand, whilst sipping a perfectly mixed Gin and Tonic in the other…

It’s about investing in emotional well-being through the simple and homespun. That’s exactly what I managed to achieve there on a bitingly cold Tuesday evening. I left feeling with a slightly larger waistline and feeling that our host (the wonderful Alba) was a new friend – the service was THAT good.

When Spain’s not sunny (and trust me it happens) I urge you to bunker down amid soft cushions, flickering candles and bask in the warmth of Ana La Santa. All that’s left on your part is to find yourself a Spaniard to snuggle with.

Info

 




MOEGA: A Galician Bakery That'll Put Your Abuela to Shame


Madrid is a city that loves its bread. On nearly every block you’re likely to encounter the mouth-watering aroma of freshly baked barras, baguettes, and pastries wafting out of one of the city’s many panaderías. But if you’re looking for something beyond the standard selection, you’ll be happy to know that there’s a new trend sweeping the streets of the capital: artisanal bakeries.

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At the forefront of this fad is MOEGA, an authentic Galician bakery opened just over a year ago by Manoel Cabana and Jon Padrón. Its storefront in Barrio de Las Letras is minimalist and unassuming, perhaps reflecting the simplicity of its concept: to bring traditional Galician baking methods to Madrid. According to one customer, MOEGA’s bread tastes just like something her grandmother might make—a hearty, flavorful, handmade staple made from nothing more than flour, salt, water, and a lot of love.

During a rare respite from the constant flow of customers, I was lucky enough to have the chance to talk with Manoel. He explained that in Galicia bread is often still made in the traditional way, without the artificial leavening agents found in mass-produced products. Instead, the loaves are made with masa madre and left to ferment naturally due to the lactic acid bacteria present in the dough. The result is moist, flavorful, and slightly sour—perfect for toast, sandwiches, or just devouring straight from the bag.

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MOEGA offers several different varieties of bread, from simple bollos to centeno (rye) to maíz con pasas (cornbread with raisins) and even the occasional preñao (a mini loaf stuffed with chorizo).

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But what truly makes this place stand out from the rest is their other specialty: Galician empanadas, double-crusted delicacies that bear more resemblance to large savory pies than the bite-size empanadas you might be used to.

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Here you can stick to classic flavors or sample something more creative; filling options include beef, tuna, veggies, octopus, scallops, sardines, and cod with raisins. If you’ve never tried empanadas gallegas, this is definitely the place to do it.

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Prices range from €0.60 for a bollito to €3.60 for a massive loaf, and the empanadas are priced by the whole unit from €16 to €23. It’s a small price to pay for a truly authentic taste of Galicia. And if you don’t have your own Galician granny to bake for you, MOEGA is certainly the second best thing.

Info

  • Facebook & Instagram
  • Address: Calle León, 26
  • Phone: 633 13 30 25
  • Metro: Antón Martín
  • Hours: Monday to Friday 10:00-15:00 & 18:00-21:00, Saturday 10:00-15:00, closed Sunday



De María: Fabulous Argentinian Restaurant


I discovered this fabulous restaurant not too long ago, called De María, as two people recommended it to me on separate occasions. Since then it has become one of my go-to spots in Madrid. De María is one of those restaurants that always leaves a good impression on everyone who dines there; the food is great, portions are generous and the price is fantastic.

De María is popular to say the least; photographs of famous patrons line the walls: athletes like Beckham and actors like Javier Bardem are just some of the familiar faces who have enjoyed this wonderful restaurant.

Interior

De María has several locations. So far I’ve tried three of them and none was disappointing.

The menu is varied and contains good-quality ingredients. You can choose from a variety of mouth-watering starters, such as “chorizo criollo”, or vegetable dishes, pastas and salads and, of course, the traditional Argentine beef. The last time I dined here we weren’t very hungry so we opted for a lighter menu. Something that stands out to me about De María is that you always get tasty snacks to nibble on while you wait for your food to arrive.

De Maria

The chimichurri and pepper sauces are a must, as is the cream cheese spread. During the summer they usually bring a glass of gazpacho or salmorejo. When it’s cold out, they tend to bring you a creamy vegetable soup – in our case, we got a delicious pumpkin soup.

As a starter, we went for the grilled Provolone cheese. It was simply exquisite and even more when covered with one of their tasty sauces. “Chorizo criollo” is another must.

Provolone

After the cheese plate, my friend and I ordered salads; she ordered a mixed salad and I had a caprese salad – light, fresh, and deliciously paired with a beer and a glass of white wine.

Salad

Salad

We decided to skip dessert because we weren’t too hungry, but the waiter didn’t seem to care: he brought us each a glass of tangerine sorbet and a yogurt and mango sauce (on the house!), along with their traditional shots.

Dessert

Shots

De María’s prices are very reasonable. We paid about €21 each. So if you want to enjoy Argentinian cuisine and a friendly atmosphere, this is your place. It also has the advantage of having several locations so finding a table will not be a problem.

The locations I’ve visited are:

  • De María: Calle Hortaleza, 81, 28004, Madrid
  • De María: Calle Preciados 32, 28013, Madrid
  • De María:Calle Correo 2, 28012, Madrid

You can find all the locations listed on their web

If you want to enjoy more Argentinian restaurants in Madrid, then check out our article on Casa Federica.




Fogg Bar, Spanish Craft Beer and Artisanal Cheese in Huertas


Madrid’s craft beer scene has been flourishing in recent years with several bars and vendors popping up to meet an increasing demand. Fogg Bar, a new establishment situated on C/ Moratin in Huertas, stands out for serving exclusively Spanish-made artisanal beer on tap along with delicious cheeses.

Fogg Bar in Huertas Madrid by Naked Madrid

My friend Diana and I ventured in on a quiet Tuesday night and perched ourselves at the bar. We were able to chat with the charming proprietor, Marisol, who helped us decide which beers to sample. She and her husband opened this bar in September.

Fogg Bar in Huertas Madrid by Naked Madrid

They take a lot of pride in collaborating with smaller breweries and cheese distributors, often hosting tastings and gatherings where attendees can meet the brewers.

Fogg Bar in Huertas Madrid by Naked Madrid

First I sipped #5, the Columbus Goes North, an IPA from La Quince, a brewery in Madrid. This was followed up by #6, the Sweet Milk Stout from Four Lions, a distributor in León.

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I was impressed with the presentation of the tapas that accompanied each drink, as well as the butifarra, a typical Catalan sausage. I was quite taken by this establishment and recommend it to all craft beer aficionados looking to taste Spanish-made beers.

Info

For more on Madrid craft beer, check out:




Casa Mira – Best Turrón in Madrid


Today I want to talk about one of the capital’s gems, Casa Mira. It is probably one of the oldest establishments in Madrid and has become a meeting place for gourmands. What’s their secret? Homemade recipes and premium products. Not to mention great customer service.

CASA MIRA

Casa Mira was founded in 1855 by Don Luis Mira, a master craftsman of turrón (traditional Spanish pastry similar to nougat). Turrón is probably the most commonly eaten dessert around Christmas time in Spain. It’s most likely of Moorish origin and by the 15th century, it was one of the most famous desserts in the Spanish court.

Casa Mira traditional pastry shop in Madrid by Naked Madrid

Don Luis’ story is a mix between legend and truth. One day he decided to leave his native town of Jijona – with only one cart, two donkeys and his turrón – to find good luck in the capital. Legend has it that he had to restart the trip several times since he sold the entire supply before reaching his first stop.

Casa Mira traditional pastry shop in Madrid by Naked Madrid

Today, Casa Mira’s turrón continues to be just as irresistible. It is 100% handmade, making it probably the best in the country. Don Luis started his business with a little shop in Plaza Mayor; now it is one of the most famous pastry shops in the capital, not to mention one of the most beloved among Madrileños.

Casa Mira traditional pastry shop in Madrid by Naked Madrid

Entering Casa Mira is like traveling back in time. The decor is elegant and vintage. The feeling is magical, making you feel as if it were still the year 1900.

Casa Mira traditional pastry shop in Madrid by Naked Madrid

Casa Mira is not only famous for their turrón; they have all kinds of traditional handmade sweets. Marron Glaces, Glorias de Jijona (pastries made of marzipan and egg yolk, wrapped in sugar and rolled by hand), Yemas de Nuez (pastries made with egg yolk and nuts) and of course, Fruta Escarchada (candied/frosted fruit).

Casa Mira traditional pastry shop in Madrid by Naked Madrid

They also serve typical sweets according to other holiday seasons, such as Roscón de Reyes.

Casa Mira traditional pastry shop in Madrid by Naked Madrid

But my favorite has to be Spanish breakfast pastry, pan quemado (‘burnt bread’), which is similar to a brioche or sweet bread roll, and costs just €2.50 each. The best way to eat them is to cut them in half and toast both slices, then add butter and jam…. pure heaven.

Casa Mira traditional pastry shop in Madrid by Naked Madrid

The prices are overall very reasonable. Although the turrón is not the cheapest you can find in Madrid, considering it is handmade with a century-old recipe, it is worth every penny. A bar of turrón costs around 16 euros and makes for the absolute perfect gift at Christmas time, whether for someone in Madrid or a loved one back home.

Info

  • Web
  • Address: Carrera de San Jerónimo nº30, 28014, Madrid
  • Tf: 914296796 and 914298895

For more Madrid gift ideas, check out:

Best Gift Ideas from Madrid

El Riojano, Madrid’s best pastry shop is right in the centre and it has a hidden tea room

 




Espadrilles: 3 places in Madrid to get your hands on one of Spanish footwear's greatest items


Summertime is here, and while many of us have already done a little bit of vacationing, there’s a little Made in Spain thing that is made for a truly authentic veraniego: the espadrille (alpargatas). Before I spent a lot of time in Spain, my summer footwear was just about limited to flip-flops and other summer sandals (and let’s face it, they really hurt your feet, and in my case, your tolerance for them stands at zero when your heel cracks for the first time). But then when I walked around major Spanish beach towns, it wasn’t flip-flops that were the main shoe of choice: they were espadrilles.

Now wait, you’re probably thinking: All Spaniards wear the wedge ones everywhere? Nope (except for the woman at my gym who wears them on the exercise bike and to lift weights); there’s actually a lot more variety of them than the ones you normally see in New York, Miami, LA, London, or Palm Beach. You can find them in just about every shoe store around (and even in Zara!), but as a true proponent of finding things that are really authentic and handmade, here are three places where you can get your hands on them in Madrid, some more traditional and others more modern.

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1. If you’re looking for something traditional… Casa Hernanz

A few years ago, when I was an alpargata novice, I checked, like any good New Yorker does, The New York Times. I had seen an article about Casa Hernanz, just off Plaza Mayor. And this is without a doubt the most emblematic place to get espadrilles in Madrid, While we often tend to get concerned about a place’s proximity to Plaza Mayor because of the fear of it being a tourist trap, coming here, like going to the rooftop bar at The Hat or eating your way through the Mercado de San Miguel, is absolutely worth it (while an expensive relaxing cup of café con leche is not).

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Founded in 1840, and in the fourth generation, you’ll find the wide selection of threads and fabrics the family produces. And of course, the star product- the espadrilles themselves. It’s no wonder you’ll find a line out the door onto the street

...on a Friday at 10 AM

…on a Friday at 10 AM

Be sure to try everything on! You want them to be snug at first because they stretch out over time!

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Casa Hernanz
Calle de Toledo, 18
28005 MADRID
Tel.: +34 913 66 54 50
Hours: Mondays and Fridays 9:30 to 1:30 PM/4:30-8; Saturday 10-2 Closed Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays
Metro: Tirso de Molina (Line 1), La Latina (Line 5)
Website

 2. If you’re looking for a “capricho” (to treat yourself)… Mintandrose

Modeling my Skorpios along the Alameda de Apodaca in Cádiz

Modeling my Skorpios along the Alameda de Apodaca in Cádiz

Mintandrose is a fairly new player in the espadrille market, but their 100% handmade models are making a splash not only in the fancier parts of Spain, but also abroad, including in American retailers such as Nordstrom and Anthropologie. With single-soled and double-soled models in a variety of hues (such as all black, white with a black tip, or marine blue with a white tip), this is your go-to for a splurge.

The main way to buy them is online, but in my experience the best thing to do is to try them on. You want them to be SUPER TIGHT because since they’re all made by hand, they’ll gradually grow looser (my first pair is now a little too big for my feet). They also make canvas models and the line has expanded to include sandals and bags.

Should you want to try them on, the website offers a list of stockists. I went and got one of my pairs at Etbang in Chueca (which I will have to go and write about at a later date).

Some of the selection of Mintandrose at Etbang

Some of the selection of Mintandrose at Etbang

Mintandrose
Online Shop
stockists
If you want to try them on go to…
Etbang
Calle Pelayo, 66
28004 MADRID
Tel.: +34 626 56 04 82
Hours: Monday-Saturday 11:30-2:30 PM, 5 PM-8:30 PM
Metro: Alonso Martínez (Lines 4, 5, and 10), Chueca (Lines 5)
http://etbang.com/
 

3. If you’re looking to go where the locals go (and for other shoes all year-round, too)… La Alpargatería

IMG_2936They say that Chamberí is one of the city’s most castizo, or authentic, neighborhoods, in this ‘hood (which is my favorite to live in) there’s a hidden gem of a store at La Alpargatería. If you associate García de Paredes with the Extranjería office where your drop off your prórroga paperwork, than just know that this street is so much better than that. A lot of my haunts happen to be on this very street, and when it’s time for my pairs of espadrilles in the summer, this is my spot. I bought my family matching ones for our family vacation last year in Greece; let’s just say that I got them converted (or at least that’s what I’d like to believe).

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The most basic model, which comes in a whole plethora of colors, is €7.50. That’s what I call a great quality/price example. My favorite color is crudo (which is a type of off-white) because it’s the perfect neutral tone that goes with most of my wardrobe, and it deals better with urban wonders that would get a white pair very dirty in no time. I’ve also gotten my black wedges there, perfect for those who like the idea of tying the rope up your ankles, but would rather buckle in at the top.

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They even have new models, which you can see in the picture above, that have a rubber sole as opposed to the traditional one. This is perfect for city-dwellers who love their espadrilles, but want a little bit more safety in their step.

La Alpargatería isn’t just a place for summertimes espadrilles; they also have Victoria sneakers, ballet flats (aka manoletinas) in a wide plethora of colors and fabrics (suede AND leather), and if you need some zapatillas de casa (because going barefoot in your piso compartido really isn’t going to fly), they’ve got you covered.

La Alpagatería
Web
Calle de García de Paredes, 74
28010 MADRID
Tel.: +34 913 08 32 11
Hours: Monday-Friday 10 AM-2 PM/5 PM-8 PM; Saturdays 10 AM-2 PM
Metro: Gregorio Marañón (Lines 7 and 10)
 

Check out our new Made in Spain category for more on local designers and producers. And feel free to make some recommendations!  

You may also like our previous post on: Best Gifts from Madrid