El Brote: a brand-new mushroom restaurant in the heart of El Rastro

Mushrooms: they’re an inspiring subject one can easily get carried away with, especially after paying a visit to El Brote. Years of academic mushroom knowledge and on-the-ground wisdom were literally delivered to us on a plate and I’m now a devout mushroom apostle on a mission to spread the message to the foodie people of Madrid.

El Brote's dining area

El Brote’s dining area

El Brote (the bud) is a small and cosy restaurant on Calle de la Ruda run by two mushroom enthusiasts, Eduardo and Alvaro. Every corner of the place is mushroom-themed, even the floor. Its décor is earthy, humble and a little eccentric, and the original features of the building have been beautifully highlighted throughout the room.

Abstract mushroom artwork

Abstract mushroom artwork

Various gospels of the mushroom bible

Various gospels of the mushroom bible

The 0th floor of El Brote

The 0th floor of El Brote

A mushroomy display inside the floor

A mushroomy display inside the floor

Both Eduardo and Alvaro were keen to explain each dish on their 10-item menu and made recommendations based on the season and their own personal preferences which, funnily enough, were different.

There’s a specific order in which you must eat each ingredient.

… they explained as each dish was brought out. They suggested we start with the unseasoned mushrooms so that we could taste their pure flavour, then slowly begin combining the other ingredients together to get a feel for the dish as a whole. The flavours were subtle and delicious both separately and collectively – a sign that someone behind the scenes really knows what they’re doing.

Trumpet mushrooms with a raw egg yolk and herbs

Trumpet mushrooms with a raw egg yolk and herbs

Red mushrooms with pak choy, gnocci and pumpkin gratin

Red mushrooms with pak choy, gnocci and pumpkin gratin

Black mushrooms with beans, squash and leek

Black mushrooms with beans, squash and leek

Try their wine too, it’s really good. We also noticed that every single table in the restaurant was sharing a bottle of red between them… such a beautiful sight.

TIP: El Brote have very few tables and they don’t take evening reservations so aim to be the first to arrive as we were, because within 10 minutes of arriving, the place will be full!


Veggie Nirvana at VivaBurger in La Latina

In the foodie hotspot Plaza de la Paja, in barrio La Latina, lies a vegetarian oasis with an oddly beachy vibe, complete with pale teal walls, distressed white wood, and beaded curtains.

VivaBurger in La Latina by Naked Madrid

You can sit inside or at one of their lovely terrace tables in this little nook of La Latina. While there’s almost always a full house (and for good reason), the staff works like a well-oiled machine, and the owner treats everyone like family.


Everything on the menu is vegan or vegetarian—and seriously delicious. Being shamefully addicted to cheese, I was admittedly nervous to try their vegan burger of the day. But it exceeded my expectations in every way: filling, creamy, and flavorful, it left me more than satisfied. It comes with a salad or soup, fresh fries, and a drink (can be wine or beer too).




If you’re not feeling a veggie burger, the eatery offers an alternative menú del día: they celebrate a different country every day with a rotating international menu. Indian curry garam masala, Greek salad and musaka, Peruvian avocado ceviche, Moroccan couscous, Argentinian vegetable parrillada and empanadas… and about 20 others.




For dessert, I had a fresh mint green tea smoothie. Having a huge sweet tooth, it wasn’t what I was expecting, but it was flavorful and refreshing, especially on such a hot day. If you order dessert a la carte, instead of with the lunch special, you have lots of other options like their scrumptious carrot cake or vegan ice cream.


Amazingly, the burger for the menú is apparently a more “basic” veggie burger. If that’s basic, I can only imagine the full menu is mind-blowing. I’ll for sure be back for more.


  • Facebook
  • Website: vivaburger.es
  • Instagram: @viva_burger
  • Address: Costanilla de San Andrés 16
  • Phone: 91 366 33 49

Kittens & coffee at Polineko, an ethical cat cafe in La Latina

You may have heard of the Japanese concept of a ‘neko café,’ or a cat cafe, which has made a splash in the world’s biggest cities in recent years.

In Japan, the idea was born because most landlords don’t allow pets. So animal lovers go to a cat cafe and pick which cat they’d like to play with. Each time they visit, they spend time with the same cat, forming a relationship with him or her. It’s kind of like having a part-time pet.

In other cities though, like London and New York, it works a bit different. You simply pay to hang out in a feline-filled cafe, and the cats roam free while you sip a latte and relax.


The latter has arrived to Madrid. There are a handful of options, but my favorite is Polineko, recently opened in La Latina. It stands out for several reasons:

  • Its authentic Japanese style. Between the decor, the Japanese snacks like doriyakis, and the anime-themed items in their shop, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a real neko café.


  • Its mission. Above all, Polineko aims to foster loving relationships between humans and their feline friends. Unlike other cat cafes in Madrid, you can touch and play with all the cats, and almost all of them are available for adoption. They partner with animal protection agencies like ALBA that facilitate the adoption process, guaranteeing that all cats are healthy and vaccinated, and that they end up in loving and reliable ‘furever’ homes.



  • Its staff. Everyone who works here is incredibly friendly and knowledgable, from Steven (the warm and open co-owner), to Juan (barista extraordinaire), and its other co-owner, Melisa, who I didn’t meet but is a veterinarian and does free behavioral consultations for your cat every Friday!


  • The environment. The cafe is spacious and opts for couches instead of tables and chairs. There’s free wifi and they won’t bat an eye if you choose to work on a laptop, or if you prefer to sit on the ground and play with the kitties.



  • The coffee. It’s delicious. That’s all. Oh, and they have every kind of milk variety you can think of. Try it with almond milk!



In addition to coffee and Japanese snacks, Polineko also offers bowls of cereal (Froot Loops and Lucky Charms, oh my!) and Japanese beer and tea.


Polineko is open Sunday-Thursday from 11am-10pm, and Friday and Saturday from 11am-11pm.

Prices are as follows:

  • 4€ for 30 minutes and a beverage
  • 6€ for 30 minutes, a beverage, and a Japanese snack
  • 6€ for an hour and a beverage
  • 8€ for an hour, a beverage, and a snack

The staff is also planning to launch intercambio nights soon—stay tuned for more info by following them on social media.

Here are more cat pics.





Photos courtesy of Polineko and the author.



  • Address: Carrera de San Francisco, 11
  • Metro: La Latina
  • Facebook 
  • Instagram & Twitter: @polineko_madrid
  • Website: www.polineko.com
  • Phone: 680 85 83 89

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.


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.


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


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).


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!


  • 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

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.


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.


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).


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.





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.



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.



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.



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.




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.


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.



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.


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.


Bocono Coffee Shop Madrid


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!


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

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




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

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

Bocono Cafe by A Second Art Photography Jose Luis Magaña

The feel

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

Bocono Cafe by A Second Art Photography Jose Luis Magaña

Bocono Cafe by A Second Art Photography Jose Luis Magaña

Bocono Cafe by A Second Art Photography Jose Luis Magaña

More than a café, a new concept in Madrid

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

Bocono Cafe by A Second Art Photography Jose Luis Magaña

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

A latte art school and coffee haven


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

Art, events, furniture, and more!

Boconó Art Wall by Naked Madrid and A Second Art

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

Bocono Cafe by A Second Art Photography Jose Luis Magaña

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

Boconó is also child- and pet-friendly!

Bocono Cafe by A Second Art Photography Jose Luis Magaña

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


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



Finocchio - fine dining in Lavapies

Finocchio is a suave addition to the Lavapies foodie scene and has been a favourite of mine since it opened just under a year ago. It reminds me of Italian restaurants in the UK – atmospherically lit, candles on the table, a full but no-fuss menu, accessible sophistication without the price tag – perfect, right?


Like all good Italian restaurants, Finocchio presents you with an aperitivo the moment you sit down. By this point, you’ve probably clocked the wine fridge, but the house wine is also a fantastic choice. Once poured, don’t worry about where on the table to put it so it isn’t blocking the view of your fellow diners – you’ll find it in an iced wine stand next to your table.


Just as you’d always hope, your dish comes out the kitchen hot and all of you are served at the same time. Want some parmesan? Here’s a pot – put as much on your food as you want. Want some black pepper? Here’s a pepper mill. Leave it on the table – it’s yours for the night.


Sous chef (left), owner and head chef (right)

One more thing… Last year, Finocchio won the Tapapies award. The votes are in: this place is perfect.


  • Address: Calle de Embajadores 64
  • Metro: Lavapies, Tirso de Molina, La Latina

Leave El Barrio for El Imparcial, in Tirso de Molina

I’ve started jokingly referring to Gran Via as my Madrid version of the River Thames. Should you know London, you’ll know that when it comes to being a dweller of the affectionately nicknamed ‘smog’, you very much fall either the North or South camp thanks to the watery divide; and to this end I feel that the same can be said for Madders. If you’re Fuencarral side of Gran Via you tend to spend your free time hot footing it around the streets of Malasaña and Chueca. Whereas if you veer down towards Sol, you can usually be found whiling away time between La Latina and Lavapiés. Either way, had I not crossed the ‘symbolic’ gulf provided by our very own Oxford Street equivalent, I may never have found El Imparcial.

El Imparcial by Naked MadridInconspicuous and almost completely nondescript from the exterior, El Imparcial is quite the find upon entering. On the right hand side your greeted by a pocket-sized bar where you can grab a coffee or a cana. However, make your way up the impressively sized staircases and you enter into an Aladdin’s Cave of all round prettiness. I’m loathe to bandy around this term liberally, but the high ceilings and beautifully restored décor can almost be described as ‘breath taking’ – close one eye and squint with the other and it does have a touch of the old Palace De Versailles about it.

El Imparcial by Naked MadridPart concept store, part restaurant, El Imparcial straddles a line where you literally want everything that you see. Cocktails, they’ve got them in spades. Food, well there are morsels so delicious that it wouldn’t be uncommon to not want to share your starter *apologies to my fam as I inhaled the bao buns without as much as a thought of ‘did you want to try one?!’

El Imparcial by Naked Madrid

El Imparcial by Naked Madrid

Last but not least are the Wallpaper magazine worthy purchases waiting to adorn your casa. El Imparcial stocks a carefully (and I’d hazard a guess, lovingly) curated range of stationary, magazines and books – apt really considering the building once housed a newspaper.

El Imparcial by Naked Madrid

Food wise they offer a complete smorgasbord of delights. We wolfed down (amongst other treats) Roasted black cod with miso edamame beans, oxtail croquettes and a lip smackingly good buttifara pizza with scamorza. Our lunch lasted for hours, dinner…even longer. It really is one of those places that seems to draw you in and make you not want to leave (or maybe after the array of cocktails placing one foot in front of other could’ve been tricky and partly to blame for the desire not to budge).

Did I mention just how pretty it is? *and that’s just the staff. Book well ahead or find yourself lingering outside, nose pressed against the glass wanting to get in.


  • Facebook & Web
  • Address: Calle Duque de Alba, 4, 28012 Madrid
  • Metro: Tirso de Molina