Amargo, the city's best veggie burger (and much more)


The title says it all.

On a cozy corner in Malasaña, Amargo Place To Be lures you in with its fairytale facade, enveloped with ivy and illuminated by twinkle lights.

Inside, the vibe is both industrial and homey. Friendly faces will greet you (not always a given in the city) and you’ll be overwhelmed by a menu so international you’ll forget where you are.

Nigiris, Mexican nachos, giant croquetas, dim sum, lasagna with wonton pasta and pine nuts, duck magret over hummus and a raspberry coulis….

But as we’re all biased—especially when it comes to food—what I wanna sell you on is their veggie burger.

I can’t even bring myself to try anything else from the impressively diverse and delicious menu, because when I come to Amargo, I only have one thing on my mind: that thick and savory soy burger piled high with zucchini in tempura, a fried egg, a thick slab of goat cheese, green shoots, caramelized onion, crispy onion crunch, and the special house sauce.

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Go starving—just half of this monstruous burger fills me up.

They’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (from 9am-2am every day!), have a fantastic menú del día (€11.90 M-F and €13.50 on weekends and holidays), and boast a lengthy drink list that includes signature cocktails and organic wine (!!!).

But wait, there’s more.

If you venture downstairs (follow the 19th-century painting in which a stoic aristocrat dons some fly ass Nikes), you’ll find the seating area where diners become audience members.

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Since last year, Amargo has hosted concerts throughout the week. If you’re dining in (make sure to make a reservation—it fills up!), it’s just €2 to enjoy anything from flamenco to soul to acoustic while you eat. When I went, I was treated to Chisara Agor‘s achingly soulful voice.

Check out this month’s programming on Amargo’s website.

The incredibly talented Chisara Agor and the amazing Christian García-Fonseca Secher on cajón.

The mindblowingly talented Chisara Agor and the amazing Christian García-Fonseca Secher on cajón.

If you’re somehow not yet experiencing sensory overload, the lower level also functions as a revolving art gallery. The current artwork is by local visual and urban artist Misterpiro.

Just some pals having a very candid laugh.

Just some pals having a very candid laugh.

In a hurry? Amargo also does speedy-quick orders to go.

You have no excuse.

Info

  • Website Facebook
  • Instagram: @amargoplacetobe
  • Address: Calle Pez, 2
  • Phone: 910 84 79 90
  • Metro: Callao, Noviciado, Tribunal

 




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!

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Zoco Comidero: Eat well and feel great at Madrid's first (and only) flexitarian restaurant


NOW CLOSED

I don’t eat meat, but one of my life rules is: never go to a Vegetarian restaurant.

I’ve been jaded by too many poorly thought-out ventures where the food is created from fear of meat rather than love of veg. Vegan and vegetarian cuisine has existed all over the world for millennia, so where did the culinary black hole come from and why has it left us in such a veg-hating dark age feeling hungry and dehydrated?

Last week, a friend of mine recommended veggie-friendly Zoco Comidero and I might just have seen the light at the end of the tunnel.

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Rarely do you come across a restaurant with this much respect for food. The concept: flexitarian – a primarily vegetarian diet which occasionally includes meat or fish. In other words, there’s something for everyone.

No longer does the vegetarian friend have to eat a racion de patatas bravas for dinner, or the carnivorous friend have to suffer through a fish-less fillet or a tofurkey burger (a what?).

At Zoco Comidero, the menu is hugely varied and every dish is put together professionally. Everything on your plate hit the kitchen worktop raw and intact and has been prepared freshly with no external influences.

We kicked off Tuesday evening with a kale and kiwi smoothie, an arepa stuffed with an almond-based vegan cheese and chlorella pesto (a delicious black seaweed pesto).

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Feeling healthy yet? We shared two tostas: one with goat’s cheese and a juicy baked tomato and the other with a generous portion of beetroot-marinated raw salmon and homemade mustard. For mains we had a risotto made with kamut (an ancient large wheat grain), and prawn chop suey.

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This was all underlined with a trio of deserts: an intense gooey dark chocolate brownie (the secret ingredient: avocado), quinoa ‘cheesecake’ and a face-twisting lemon curd.

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By now the word “healthy” is in the background. Exotic flavours, textures and presentation of the food resonates more than anything else. I love Marbell’s zen and her way of transmitting it to us urban wildlife through edible flowers and doses of colour.

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This is Marbell, the brains and owner of Zoco Comidero

Zoco Comidero is just off the beaten track but in the real heart of Madrid’s old town. The restaurant has an elegant interior with low lighting, good music and a bonus view of the palace. There’s also a fun downstairs lounge which gets going on weekends. Every Saturday and Sunday, Marbell tries to organise a chilled bit of live music from 10:30 pm onwards so stick around after dinner for good DJs and Venezuelan bands.

Info

  • Address: Calle Moreria 11
  • Metro: La Latina



Urso Hotel & Spa, Take a holiday (from a 'holiday')


When you tell people that you live abroad the general response is usually something along the lines of ‘Oh you must feel like you’re on holiday all the time!‘ or ‘Think of all the sun and sangria!’ to ‘You must be perma-tanned!’ Admittedly, whilst there is a lot of sun and I do feel like I’m on ‘holiday’ when I look up at all the pretty balconies in Malasaña, La Latina and the like, I’m most certainly not perma-tanned (without the help of something I purchased from Space NK) and life’s mundane tasks have a way of finding you wherever you live *read/washing/ironing/cleaning/taking the bins out.

So no matter whether you’re fortunate enough to live in a sunny clime (in this case the marvelous Madders) there comes a time when you fancy a holiday within the city; if true indulgence floats your boat then look no further than the exquisitely elegant and seriously stylish, Hotel Urso.
Urso Hotel & Spa by Naked Madrid

Nestled on Calle Mejia Lequerica, Hotel Urso is a relatively small but perfectly formed boutique hotel. Discovered through the Mr and Mrs Smith website (which I cannot recommend enough) it’s the kind of hotel you’ll never want to leave. Fluffy white robes adorn the bathroom door, there for the taking when the spa takes your fancy. Pillows so soft, that lifting your head up from one feels like a chore (or maybe that was partly due to too much gin the night before). But still, it felt like having a glimpse into how the other half live – all freshly brewed coffee, sumptuous soft furnishings and complimentary welcome fizz at the hotel bar.

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Service wise, Hotel Urso couldn’t be faulted. In a country that often leaves a lot to be desired on that front (why do I have to beg for a bill?!) nothing was too much trouble. We forgot our toothbrushes – two new ones appeared by magic. My mum on arrival managed to fall up the stairs – turns out marble floors, heels and mimosas don’t mix (but cue an ice pack appearing at lightning speed) – I can only stress here that apples don’t fall far from the tree and that making an entrance must run in the family!

When check out time swung round (which wasn’t until 12; a Mr and Mrs Smith perk might I add) neither of us wanted to leave – or part with the 400 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets.

It’s worth noting that if splurging on a night away isn’t an option – unless money starts growing on trees (as a deluxe room wasn’t cheap) they have jazz nights every Thursday and the pop up restaurant ‘The Table By’ which are well worth a visit, with a different chef dominating in the kitchen each month.

I left Sunday morning plotting how many private classes I’d have to teach so that I can return, and soon. Should I be lucky enough to do so, my mum will be wearing flats.

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Forasteros, a Madrid-based swing, gypsy-jazz and folk band


As a hub for artists and creative are types from all over the world, Madrid’s local live-music scene is energetic and diverse. As always, your friends at Naked Madrid are here to provide you with the best options as how to maximize the potential of your nights out. The first local musicians to be featured in this series are the swing, gypsy-jazz, folk group Forasteros.

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They have an interesting backstory because their members had all met by chance. The band was formed when its founder, lyricist and guitarist, Tom Buzz Cox from London, crossed paths with Tara during a Vaughan System teacher training course. Swing instructor Julia Hampson, also from London, was brought onboard as the violinist after an encounter busking the streets in Lavapies.

Tom recruited Hinata Myojin, a bassist from Japan, through another band in the community. Clarinettist Ricardo Vasquez from Texas/Mexico was discovered upon his response to an advertisement. They are unclear on how drummer Fernando Iglesias from Madrid entered the fold, strongly implying that he materialized out of thin air.

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They write in Spanish, English, French and even Japanese. Ricardo and Julia have a classical background and are well-versed in swing and Jazz. Overall the group combines aspects of gypsy-jazz, folk and swing while also being open to anything that takes their fancy: twisted Latin rhythms, funk, DnB hints.

Their ambition is to make people laugh, dance and feel while also “talking about difficult shit.” says Tara Lowe, their singer and lyricist, who I have known for the greater part of the year as two of my close friends were her flatmates. Lowe, a long-term expat from Cardiff enjoys writing songs about everyday life that are “cheeky, honest and indulgent.”

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Forasteros’ songs have addressed some of the more relatable aspects of living in Madrid with their songs “Landlord from Hell, title self-explanatory, as well as “Banks of June” which focuses on lust and broken hearts. Their track “Springtime Shuffle” centers on opportune new beginnings while “Cuando” is just about dancing.

Forasteros performs a lot in Lavapies in the venues of Gato Verde, Taberna Alabanda, La Tortuga, La Tabacalera and Centro de Creacion y Investigation. Their First EP, “Hello you!” was recorded at The Treehouse Madrid Studios on the label of Vestizo Azul Records. It is available free on Bandcamp. Check out their video of Devil in the Trees” from their new EP.

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Info

Follow them on Facebook & their Bandcamp page and be sure to see them perform live! Their EP Hello You launches on the 12th November at Intruso Bar – with supporting artist Taiacore. Tickets can be purchased at GiglonThe first 50 people to arrive will get a free EP and poster.




5 Best Cafe-bookshops in Madrid


Coffee shops selling books? Bookshops selling coffee? However you call them, here’s round one of my favorite places for coffee and books in Madrid (see round two, here). What I like about these places is that even if you’re not into reading, the vibe is always nice and cozy, plus you can order tea, wine, beer, whisky, you name it.

So if you feel like grabbing a quiet table to read or work at alone, you can do that. And if you feel like meeting up with a friend or even a client, you can do that too. Here goes!

1. La Libre

la libre cafe bookshop madrid by Naked Madrid

This is my mom’s favorite cafe in Madrid. Why? Because a few years ago while she was visiting me in the dead of winter, we went in to warm up after a visit to the Reina Sofia Museum around the corner. When she asked the waiter for a coffee, he said, “No ma’am, I think you need a whisky.” He couldn’t have been more right, she said. They also have nice teas and things to nibble on, from breakfast pastries to empanadas.

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Address: c/ Argumosa, 39
Metro: Atocha

2. La Ciudad Invisible

Rebujito at La Ciudad Invisible cafe travel bookshop by Naked Madrid, in Madrid center

I frequent La Ciudad Invisible more than any other cafe on this list, mainly because it’s closest to where I live and it has the biggest space. A travel bookshop selling food and drinks, this cafe has two floors, huge windows and high ceilings, plus plenty of large tables, couches and comfortable armchairs, making it a great place for getting work done and meeting friends. Plus it sells a killer Rebujito for 2€ (a really refreshing yet deceptive drink from the South containing sherry, white wine and soda water) and it’s across the street from one of my favorite restaurants in Madrid, Bar Lambuzo.

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Address: c/ Costanilla de los Ángeles, 7
Metro: Opera & Santo Domingo

3. La Infinito

La Infinito cafe bookshop Madrid by Naked Madrid

This little corner café-bookshop lies in Lavapiés and serves up coffee, books & art on a daily basis. Not only does it have a welcoming ambience and lots of light streaming in through its tall glass windows, but it also prides itself on throwing tons of events, from theater performances (one of which took place in the café’s bathroom!) to a very popular Sunday brunch with live jazz music (must make a reservation), and much more.

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Address: c/ Tres Peces, 22
Metro: Antón Martín & Lavapiés

4. La Fugitiva

La Fugitiva cafe bookshop in Madrid by Naked Madrid

This one’s the most bookstore-like of all. Since books are the centrepiece at this cafe, I love that its window-seats and tiny bar are truly nestled between towering bookshelves and overflowing tables displaying both bestsellers and rare reads. La Fugitiva has all you need from a café–coffee and sweets–and all you could ask for from a bookstore–readings, talks, presentations, workshops, and of course, that distinct smell of books.

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Web
Address: c/ de Santa Isabel, 7
Metro: Antón Martín 

5. Tipos Infames. Libros y Vinos 

Tipos Infames Madrid bookshop cafe Malasaña by Naked Madrid

Tipos Infames Madrid bookshop cafe Malasaña by Naked Madrid

Right off calle Fuencarral in Malasaña, this trendy bookshop café and wine bar is a favorite of many in the neighborhood. I like this place because it has a lot of seating area, a full bar and high ceilings, making it feel open, friendly and comfortable. It’s a great place to go with friends for a quieter conversation in the afternoon. Plus they’ve just launched a new chapter called “El Aperitivo es Sagrado” (the aperitif is sacred), which entails live music on Sundays before lunchtime and a complimentary glass of vermouth with a purchase of a book!

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Address: c/ San Joaquín, 3
Metro: Tribunal

 

Wait! It doesn’t end there! Here’s Round 2 of Madrid’s Best Coffe-Bookshops

 

And if you’re looking for our favorite cafes in Madrid without books, here you are:




El Campo de Cebada, a mix of live music, politics & drinking


I’ve been in Madrid for 5 months now and I want to share somewhere with you. There’s nowhere as special to me as El Campo de Cebada for a place to relax. It’s quite unique in what it has to offer. It’s a free space where you can lie in the sun, the shade, drink beer and listen to live music or play sports. It’s even a place where green and reform-minded political groups go to spread their word. Oh, and they have a theatre. How awesome is that?

Any lover of sun, sociality and really cheap booze, should come to El Campo de Cebada.

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from plataformaarquitectura.cl

It’s not just some commercialized private space. After the collapse of a sports complex in the same area, an association of neighborhoods bought the plot with a grant from the City of Madrid. From here, people in the surrounding area had a stake in how to invest the money.

The idea was to create an inclusive temporary space where the community could get involved and where they could create value. Instead of an empty disused space, the creation of El Campo de Cebada allows people to do sport, socialize and pursue other projects. But, yes you read correctly – temporary. Cebada is there to fill in the vacuum and it will leave when the community gets the funding for a new sports complex.

And this is one more reason for why it’s special. It’s not going to be there forever.

Mercado de la Cebada Market in La Latina by Naked Madrid

I promise you’re yet to find anything like it. From your first encounter, by La Latina Metro you’ll probably be surprised to see passers-by cramming around spy-holes in its graffitied walls and people flowing endlessly in and out of its gate. The hum of enjoyment comes from somewhere.

What could be so interesting?

If you go over for a peek…

First you hear the noise. Like a school when it breaks and you can hear the happy roar of children playing.

You see lots of people. Football, basketball, socializing, Botellón (people casually drinking outside) and of course, smoking. There’s art all up the walls. There are people sat in wooden stands and others on benches. All walks of life can be found, from musicians, entrepreneurs, students, workers, the old and the young; from the sophisticated, to the -let’s say- drunk.

Mercado de la Cebada Market in La Latina by Naked Madrid

I can’t help but feel welcome. Everyone is sharing one place. They’re all happy. The sun makes everything look good.

Plus, I get the pirate vibe from the makeshift DIY atmosphere! And that’s hard to find, I assure you.

My advice: grab some beer or cold drinks and a friend. Take a ball, Frisbee, guitar or book (if your alone!) and go. Go and relax. Soak it in.

If there was ever a day made for this, that day is Sunday. Starting early, like 10am, you can walk around El Rastro and see all the goods and wares they have to offer in what is Madrid’s massive open market. I managed to get a guitar for only €50! And then head for Cebada.

At around 1pm, live music begins. It’s often similar faces keeping the spirit alive, with the odd newcomer in between. But it has always been exciting. I’ve seen an amazing barbershop quartet, a comedian guitarist, a charming folk singing couple, improvisation, blues and some Spanish classics.

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from plataformaarquitectura.cl

Here until 3am is the perfect place to grab a Mahou and relax in the sun. You’re welcome to stay all day and I like to make an afternoon of it.

On some weeks you can also find the same space (with the music!) turned into a political hive-mind. People from all parts of the (Leftist) political spectrum set up stalls to give you information. From memory there were anarchist stalls, socialist stalls, ones on green issues, democratic reform and women’s rights (hot topic right now). I’ve even gone there and found a local ecological food market mixed with talks on green consumerism and responsible business models. If politics is your cup of tea – this place is too. You can also sharpen up on your Spanish.

There are always things going on at El Campo de Cebada. Check out their website from time to time. Up and coming is a festival from the 4th to the 9th and a TEDx Madrid Salon talk on July 14th (here’s TEDxMadrid’s official site)

You know you’ve found somewhere special when you stumble across a space for bringing a community together for fun and for raising awareness about important issues affecting everyone. If there is one voice here, for me it says ‘we are a community and we can act’.

Sports and music, beer and politics, speaking Spanish. I really can say no more.

So, if you want to be somewhere and not feel like an anonymous person at a bar or club, go there. You want to chat in the sun with friends, beer and music? Go there. I’ve had some amazing experiences and I think you’d be missing out. So, go, go, go!

El Campo de Cebada
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Events Calendar
Address: Plaza de la Cebada, 4

 

 




Flowers are nice (but this First Date is better) Part 1


Date

The moment: Check your phone or ditch all together

I get nervous and will probably continue to get nervous when planning a first date. It’s not easy. It can even be daunting. You might have just met the girl/boy on a drunken Saturday night and you find yourself trying to come up with a way to entertain, show off, and come across as interesting and intelligent all at once. So I’m back to getting nervous and with little idea of what might or might now work.

Topics of interest can be hard to find but I believe that the location of the date should tie into the conversation. So rather than the usual routine of restaurant then drinks, this is a bit more dynamic and Madrileño (known for going to lots of places on one night).

The idea behind my method is to take your date to at least 3 different places on a given night. Each place will compliment each other and yet offer a very different component of the night. I have included a route order to help. All the places will be in walking distance from each other.

Part 1 is taking the arts and culture route. Not the Prado and its thousands of archangels, but more modern and contemporary offerings. Something more quirky to get the conversation flowing.

This in no way will guarantee you get laid on the first night. Too many factors depend on that result. However, it should reduce those awkward silent moments because you’re grasping for a common topic. Quick tip for the awkward moment, just kiss him/her. There is no perfect moment. Only the courage to move your head forward 5 inches.

 

Act One: Fundacion Telefonica in Calle Fuencarral 3

Art exhibition

Fundación Telefonica

We start in the Fundacion Telefonica on Fuencarral. This gallery is always free and almost always open, except Mondays. It regularly changes the collections and usually has photography showing. I am no art student but when you are confronted with space geese and watching a video of their training to fly to the moon, it makes you smile and realise we live in a great place (Moon Goose Analogue, 2011-1012, Agnes Meyer-Brandis). So quickly check out the website and see what’s on, the stranger the better as you don’t need to be knowledgeable. Only a sense of humour is required.

Best time: 18-20h

Metro: Gran Via

 

Act Two: Aiò in Corredera Baja de San Pablo, 25 (mentioned in a previous article)

Aió

Now that we have started down the cultural road, we cannot go too formal with the restaurant. It needs to fit the setting but shouldn’t cost too much. Aio is an Italian restaurant that offers aperitivo for dinner. Aperitivo means you just buy drinks at a slightly higher price and are able to eat from the buffet at your heart’s content. The food is typical Italian with pizza, pasta and salads on offer. Aperitivo is incredibly popular in Italy since the crisis hit, as a way to entice consumers to leave their homes. You cannot reserve a table but there’s always a positive atmosphere.

Best time: 20-22h

Alternative: la Mucca is an excellent restaurant. You can make reservations and also sit outside on the terrace. It is the more high quality and expensive option.

Metro: Tribunal/Gran Via/Callao

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Act Three: Microteatro por dinero in Calle de Loreto Prado y Enrique Chicote, 9

Theatre for little money

What surprise will await?

You then continue the night by going to Micro Teatro, a bar where you can watch a small theatrical performance for only €4. You can enjoy drinks upstairs and then when your number is called out, you will descend the stairs into the basement and go into the designated room. All groups are at most 15 people and you come face to face with the actors in the small room. Each little play lasts around 15 minutes, which is good because not all are great. It never fails to create another conversation and even if you only understand 50%, it will still be entertaining.

Best time: 22-24h

Alternative: Bar Lambuzo: an Andalusian tavern offering Micro Teatro every Thursday night from 9pm-11pm in their downstairs wine cellar (21h-23h if you will J!), with sessions every half hour for 4€ (more information in a previous article)

Metro: Tribunal/Gran Via/Callao

 

The Final Act: El Perro de la parte de atras del coche (or just el Perro) in Calle de La Puebla, 15,

El Perro club

Once you still have energy and need a club, I recommend El Perro, which is around the corner. This club is free entry before 24h, otherwise entry is €10. The music varies a lot. Not a huge dancing room means even if it is not packed will have you feeling like enough people are present.

Best time: after 24h

Alternative: Wind down with a cocktail instead of some dance moves at 1862 Dry Bar in Calle Pez 27, which is open to 1.30am and until 2am on weekends. The martini like many of their cocktails is thoroughly worth it.

Metro: Tribunal/Gran Via/Callao

Martini cocktail

 

 

 

For other great date ideas in Madrid, check out these off-the-beaten-path cultural centres, restaurants and bars!

  • Bar Lambuzo, a family-run Andalusian tavern in the centre of Madrid offering activities in their wine cellar, from wine tastings to microteatro! 
  • La Paca, the perfect Malasaña bar & café offering movie nights, art, markets, music and Chema!
  • Mercado de Motores, Madrid’s coolest vintage & food market that takes over the city’s old train museum once a month! 
  • La Buena Cerveza, an international and imported beer shop in Madrid offering beer tastings, workshops and more
  • Beer State of Mind, go on a route to discover Madrid’s best craft beer bars, you’ll love them all :)

 

 

 

 




Martinis, Margaritas and more


Gin tonic, rum with coke and whiskey and ginger ale. All great drinks but very repetitive. What about an Old Fashioned, Vesper Martini or just on the rocks? Sounds much sexier. Cocktails are becoming a bigger trend and the quality is improving, as are the bartenders standing behind the bar.

So if you want to impress a date or your friends with some classy glasses and just plain cool-looking cocktail bars, I present you a list of some very fine venues. These venues have some excellent bartenders and the service is guaranteed to be great.

So stop deciding which gin you will pair with what tonic and enter the world of James Bond and Don Draper.

1. Le Cabrera in Bárbara de Braganza, 2

Le Cabrera cocktail

This is one of the best looking and coolest cocktail bars in Madrid. Unofficially also known as the best cocktail bar in Madrid. Opened by Diego Cabrera who hails from Quilmes, Argentina, every detail has been tended to. Although Diego has recently left the bar to open a new venue, the bar has still retained all its quality. The idea behind the bar came when Sergi Arola offered Diego, who was looking to have his own place, to be part of his project to turn the lower half of Le Cabrera into a bar.

This cocktail bar, even for all its beauty, would be worth very little without the men and women standing behind all the bottles and fruit. The bartenders regularly take part in WORLD CLASS, a competition of the best bartenders in the world, going through to the finals for Spain.

To get to the cocktail bar, you have to go down the stairs when you arrive inside. Upstairs they have a restaurant in which I have never eaten. All cocktails cost 11€ and are well worth it.

Recommended Cocktail: Old Fashioned Bourbon.

The trick with the Old Fashioned is to stir the ice for long enough (approx. 5 minutes) in the glass. The Bulleit Bourbon is a truly excellent one and has recently been launched in Spain.

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Metro: Chueca / Colon

 

2. Costello in Caballero de Gracia 10

Costillo bar

Great cocktails and live music! I just love this combination. On the ground level you will find an excellent bar with house bartender regularly offering you to challenge him by making up a cocktail on the spot. All you have to do is to tell him if you prefer it sweet, sour, etc., and if you want to have a specific ingredient. Then this wizard will create it.

Downstairs is a basement with a stage and a further bar (no cocktails). Regularly offering live music of Spanish bands, this is what makes Costello unique. One of the best concerts I went to in Madrid was with the front man playing the saxophone.

Very easy to find as you start to walk to the massive McDonald’s on Gran Via and from there, the bar is located in a side street. On weekends, you will want to arrive before 22h or will have to wait a little outside.

Pineapple cocktail

Recommended Cocktail: Make your own! Or choose the Missionary’s Downfall (picture above)

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Metro: Gran Via / Sol

 

3. Only You – Barquillo 21

Only You hotel bar

Opened less than 6 months ago, this hotel is very chic and modern. The reception area shows a wall of white suitcases for starters, and they have a blue room where a cup of tea or a Martini would not be out of place.

What also impresses is the friendly customer service and bright back bar lights. You can clearly see the different type of spirits on offer and nothing is hidden away or obscured.

On Thursdays, they offer an AfterWork with a different concept and music each week. The cocktails cost 11€. The menu offers a large selection of different drinks. I would recommend trying one of their 5 own creations. The menu card will also explain to you what type of flavour the different gins have.

Recommended Cocktail: Barquillo Boyz

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Metro: Chueca

 

4. Bon Vivant in Calle San Gregorio, 8

Bon Vivant bar

Another Gastrobar that recently opened in Madrid. It does concentrate more on being a restaurant but the cocktails have a great flair about them. If you order the Piña Colada it will be presented to you in a pineapple—a very real, very big and delicious pineapple.

The cocktail bar is located at the back with bright back bar lights. Take a seat at the bar and watch the bartender create the cocktail in front of your eyes. There is a lot of action; the crushed ice is made by hacking a large block of ice with a pick to pieces. Goggles are not included in the experience.

Bon Vivant bar

Recommended Cocktail: Pisco Sour

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Metro: Chueca

 

 

 

If you’re more of a beer person than a cocktail person, check out our posts on Madrid’s rising beer scene:

Or check out our favorite Madrid rooftops where you can have both!




Toni 2, a piano bar for the vintage crowd


Tucked away on a side street off Chueca, Toni 2 is a legendary piano bar that sends you on a trip down memory lane. When the dim-lit bar opens at 1am, a grand piano takes center stage. Patrons crowd around, resting their G&T’s on the piano’s long frame while they listen to nostalgic soloists sing songs such as “My Way” by Frank Sinatra, accompanied only by the pianist.

Tony 2 Madrid Piano Bar by Naked Madrid & Las Mesas de Vanessa

When my friend, Vanessa, and I were writing this article, one thing was clear–we never actually plan on going to Toni 2. It’s the kind of thing that just happens out of the blue. We’ll be out with friends in the center when someone makes the clever remark, “hey, how ‘bout we go to Toni 2?” At that point, there’s no turning back.

Tony 2 Madrid Piano Bar by Naked Madrid & Las Mesas de Vanessa

Describing Toni 2 is no easy task. People often call it classic live karaoke, yet it’s far more charming and unique than that. Amidst the smartly dressed over-60 crowd are plenty of patrons from the newer generation; perhaps these 30-something-year-olds stray too far off calle Hortaleza, or perhaps they too long for an old-fashioned mix of music and cocktails.

Tony 2 Madrid Piano Bar by Naked Madrid & Las Mesas de Vanessa

The piano bar’s décor is straight from a scene from Mad Men or the Godfather–red velvet sofas, a dark wooden bar, columns, mirrors, and live classic tunes being sung by those who have lived these songs; not just listened to them. Last time we went, a man sang “I See Trees of Green” by Louis Armstrong. His heartfelt, raspy voice sent chills up our spine. And if you’re familiar with Spanish classics, expect to also hear songs by Raphael and Jose Luís Perales.

Tony 2 Madrid Piano Bar by Naked Madrid & Las Mesas de Vanessa

If you’re thinking about singing here, we suggest you learn all the lyrics by heart, and know how to sing on key. Neither the pianist nor the crowd will let an amateur sing here purely for the sake of entertainment. Toni 2 is meant to give people a special place to sing down memory lane.

Tony 2 Madrid Piano Bar by Naked Madrid & Las Mesas de Vanessa

Although there’s no entrance fee, the drink prices at Toni 2 are higher than at the bars across the street; a G&T will cost you 10€ and a glass of wine, 7€. It goes unsaid that these prices are for the ambiance, which is stellar beyond belief.

So, let’s cheers to the good old days!

*This article has been written by me and my friend, Vanessa, who writes Las Mesas de Vanessa, a fabulous Madrid restaurant blog.

Toni 2

Address: c/ Almirante, 9
Metro: Chueca
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