Tapapiés: a guide to everyone's favorite food and culture festival in Lavapiés

It’s that time of year again. The air is turning chilly, the leaves are starting to change, and the millennial obsession with all things autumn is taking over social media. But here in Madrid, there’s a whole different reason to be excited. With October comes Tapapiés, the annual festival that inundates the streets of the Lavapiés neighborhood with delicious food, cheap drinks, and live music.

For 11 days at the end of October (this year’s 7th edition lasts from October 19—29), dozens of restaurants and bars in Lavapiés offer a very special deal. Each one develops their own signature tapa, and offers it to the public for just €1.50. For an extra euro, you can also get a botellín (a 250 ml bottle of beer) to wash it down. The event is sponsored by Barcelona’s Estrella Damm, and at most places you can choose between a regular beer or Damm Lemon (beer and lemon soda).

A bar advertises its participation in Tapapiés with the festival's official poster.

A bar advertises its participation in Tapapiés with the festival’s official poster.

Lavapiés is known for its incredible cultural diversity, with large immigrant populations from all over Africa, South America, the Middle East, and Central Asia. As a result, it’s full of international eateries offering everything from Senegalese thieboudienne to Syrian sweets. A good number of these establishments participate in Tapapiés, which means that in one night you can practically eat your way around the world, just by exploring the neighborhood’s sloping streets.

The delicious "Crepioca" tapa from Saboor Tapioca in Lavapiés

The delicious “Crepioca” tapa from Saboor Tapioca

In other words, this festival is every adventurous foodie’s dream come true. There are various strategies for tackling the overwhelming amount of options (122 tapas in total) and chaotic crowds. You can simply wander around, dropping into whatever bars you come across and trying your luck. Each one usually advertises a photograph of their tapa with a huge poster out front, so you’ll know more or less what to expect. Don’t forget to stop by Mercado de San Fernando and Mercado Antón Martín, where several vendors also participate.

A tray of tapas at Toscanaccio Italian bakery in Lavapiés

A tray of tapas at Toscanaccio Italian bakery: marinated eggplant, walnuts, goat cheese, and sun-dried tomato pesto on spelt bread

If you’re (A) a picky/allergy-prone eater or (B) determined to try as many different tapas as possible, you might want to consider a more organized strategy. Ask for a brochure at any of the participating places—you’ll get a pocket-sized booklet that contains a list of every single tapa being offered, as well as a color photograph and a detailed ingredients list for each. They’re all plotted on a numbered map, so you can plan out your ideal route. Be warned, though: it’s hard to stick to a set plan when there are so many tempting options around every corner.

Dishing out the "Moqueca de Mandioca con Pesto" tapa at Maloka Bar Brasileiro in Lavapiés

Dishing out the special tapa at Maloka Bar Brasileiro: yuca in a coconut milk sauce with peanut pesto

My advice? Grab a group of friends who aren’t afraid to elbow their way through some crowds and try as many new things as possible. This is not an activity for those who would rather settle in at a cozy restaurant for a relaxed dinner.

Expect to eat standing up while balancing a beer in one hand a a tapa in the other, and shouting at each other just to be heard. It’s messy, it’s crazy, it’s loud—and it’s totally worth it.  The frenetic and colorful spirit of the neighborhood is never more alive than on a night of Tapapiés.

"Carrillada melosa" from Maldito Querer in Lavapiés

“Carrillada melosa” from Maldito Querer: braised beef cheeks in a sauce of caramelized onion, garlic, herbs, and Pedro Ximénez reduction

To complete the experience, it’s essential to attend one of the various outdoor performances by local musicians, dancers, and entertainers that take place throughout the event. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons and evenings, you can catch live music and shows at nine different designated spots (a full schedule is included in the brochure). There’s also the simultaneous Chollopiés festival, which spotlights the neighborhood’s local businesses by offering special discounts on certain products.

Plaza de Lavapiés on a night of Tapapiés

Maybe you live in Lavapiés and want to get to know your barrio better. Maybe you’ve never been and want to see what all the hype is about. Or maybe you’re just hungry, thirsty, and low on cash. Whatever the case, Tapapiés is bound to become one of your favorite events in Madrid. If you go into it with the right mindset, a healthy appetite, and a handful of coins, I guarantee that come next October, there’ll only be one thing on your mind. Who needs pumpkin spice lattes, anyway?


Check out our roundup of Tapapiés’ offerings last year!

El Sombrero Azul – pupusas, yuca, enchiladas and more

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

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


What’s a pupusa, you may ask?

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


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


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

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

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


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

Also check out:

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.


Go starving—just half of this monstrous 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.


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.


  • 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!


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


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.


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).



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.



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.


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.


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.


  • 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.

Urso Hotel & Spa by Naked Madridlllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll
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.


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.

Forasteros image 2

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.

tortuga frizzy hair

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.”


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.

Forasteros 4


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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

campo de cebada madrid

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.

cambo de cebada

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
Events Calendar
Address: Plaza de la Cebada, 4



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


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)


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



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 :)