Yatai Market: Asian Street Food in the City Center


Move over San Miguel and San Antón—there’s a new kind of market in town. 

Let the buzzing neon signs and colorful lights lure you in to the latest addition to Madrid’s foodie scene, the new mecca of an increasingly trendy culinary genre: Asian street food.

Located just off Plaza de Tirso de Molina, Cortezo Yatai Market unites several different vendors under one roof, letting diners sample all the greatest hits of East Asian comida callejera. It preserves the essence of the street food experience, with an atmosphere that’s both casual and chaotic, laidback and lively. Its creative concept combines the shareable dishes, miniature portions, and social atmosphere of Spanish tapas culture with the flavorful flair of Asian fusion cuisine.

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Various vendors are arranged around the perimeter of a large room, with high top tables and stools in the center. There’s a bar in the back offering beer, wine, and cocktails—but if you want something a little more exotic, try a can of tamarind soda or coconut water.

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Once you’ve got a drink in your hand, take a few minutes to wander around and explore your options (there are plenty). At HOTBAO you can take your pick from a variety of stuffed bao buns and several kinds of dimsum.

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Right next door, Funky Chen offers pad Thai, noodles, and rice topped with everything from veggies to duck to soft-shell crab.

On the other side of the room, colorful curries tempt customers to the counter of Asia Cañi. Don’t forget to try one of their rolls, with creative fillings like ceviche de chicharrones and cocido madrileño (yes, you read that right).

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To the right of Asia Cañi you’ll find Le Japonais, offering sushi, nigiri, maki, and poke bowls. To the left, there’s Ramen Suk, with steaming noodles that are a far cry from the powdered soup you might be picturing.

Before you make any decisions, don’t forget to check out Smok Mok, tucked away in the market’s smaller and quieter back room. It may be set apart from the main area, but with everything from vegan options to smoked Japanese BBQ meatballs—and the only dessert on offer at the market—you definitely don’t want to miss it.

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The best thing about Yatai Market? It’s got something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a hearty bowl of curry to warm the soul or you want to sample several smaller dishes, you can design your dinner (or lunch) experience to match your mood.

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Pad Thai from Funky Chen

Not to mention the fact that prices are more than reasonable: you can get a roll or dimsum for as little as €1 or a bao for €4. Larger dishes range from €6 to €14. Asia Cañi even offers combo meals that include 2 rolls, curry, rice, and a drink for just €9.

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Veggie fried rice

If you’re in the mood for something different than the same old neighborhood bar or quiet café, this is the place for you. With the spirit of a classic Madrid market, the hipster vibes of a Malasaña pop-up, and the exotic flavors of a faraway continent, Yatai Market should be at the top of your list.

Info

  • Facebook & Instagram
  • Address: Calle Doctor Cortezo, 10
  • Metro: Tirso de Molina and Sol



YOKA LOKA


Squeezed between aisles of fruit vendors and meat merchants in the lively Mercado Antón Martín, you can find Yoka Loka, a sushi restaurant worth your euros.

Yoka Loka

Their hours may not jive with the Spanish schedule of eating dinner around nine or ten p.m., (since the market in which the restaurant is located closes its doors at nine), but you may want to consider eating out earlier than usual to get a taste of the maki and nigiri rolling out of the kitchen. Or perhaps, it may be better suited for a lunch out on the town.

Happening upon this locale is delightful in itself. It is unexpected to find a sushi stall in the midst of the traditional market products. The restaurant is tiny; a small counter to place your order, a small matchbox kitchen, and a dining room that is comparable in size to a train car. Flanking the small dining area and kitchen are narrow bar areas set up to accommodate a few extra diners. If seated here, you can peek into the kitchen to see what the chefs are up to.

Yoka Loka

Prices aren’t outrageous. For example, eleven euros will buy you the Yoka Loka sampler box with between nine and thirteen pieces depending. Yoka Loka offers some of the truest-to-form sushi in Madrid. Rolls are not sullied by sugary rice or tasteless fish as some sushi establishments in the city are prone to do. Here, quality comes out of the kitchen and is presented beautifully to boot.

Yoka Loka

Order a bottle of Japanese beer to round out the meal and savor the taste of something different than Mahou.

Yoka Loke

Info

  • Web & Facebook
  • Address: Calle Santa Isabel, 5 Planta Baja
  • Phone: +34 610 602 722
  • E-mail: hola@yokaloka.com



La Nodriza, Madrid's loveliest health food store!


Around Christmastime I got an email from Terry and Charlotte who run Desperate Literature, an international bookstore that’s just a street up from Opera. Here’s what they wrote: “We came across a local health and organic food store that we fell in love with. The owner is great… and it’s a crying shame that locals and health-conscious expats don’t know about the place. It only has Facebook, but voila, now we’ve done our part and spread the good news,” inferring it was Naked Madrid’s turn to do the same!

Thank you, Terry and Charlotte, for sending me that email! I finally made it to La Nodriza today and I have to agree – how had I not known about it earlier? It’s just a few steps from plaza Opera and lovingly run by a woman named Lucía, who handpicks each item with careful consideration to customers’ requests and also speaks English. Originally from Spain, Lucía has lived all over the world, having spent years in England, Sweden (she speaks Swedish, too), Chile and even Kuwait and Oman. Long story short, she’s got a lot of stories. Eventually she decided to follow her passion and study nutrition, which led her to open La Nodriza two years ago, “her dream come true.”

La Nodriza health food store Madrid by Naked Madrid

Although La Nodriza is small, it offers an impressive selection of handmade and organic products, ranging from cosmetics and olive oil to fresh produce and yogurt. You can even get a weekly order of local fruits and vegetables. Chances are you’ll find that hard-to-find item here, or you can ask Lucía to order it for you! Not to mention, La Nodriza is also a great place to find a gift for someone back home (like locally produced olive oil or raw honey), or even for someone in town (like Burt’s Bees products).

La Nodriza health food store Madrid by Naked Madrid

What I bought

What caught my eye the most was her wide selection of raw honeys. She has two large containers of honey from local producers that you can purchase by the kilo: one is made with lavender (lavanda), and the other with heather (brezo). Lucía let us taste both of them, which were so pure and delicious. I bought a kilo of the heather honey (€10.50) because it was darker and richer, which is the kind I prefer, and I also got to pour it myself.

La Nodriza health food store Madrid by Naked Madrid

The next thing I bought was organic peanut butter by a brand called Monki. Although it wasn’t cheap (€7.20) and there was another less expensive option, Lucía assured me this one’s quality was well worth it. As I sit here with my Monki peanut butter on toast, all I can say is I second her opinion.

While browsing, Lucía gave us both a piece of dark chocolate with chilli peppers because, “it’s something different.” As we were leaving, she popped two bite-size red apples into our bag. “They’re small,” she said, “but totally fresh and pack in a lot of flavor.” And they do, indeed.

So, people of Madrid, if you’re looking for a place to get your supply of organic, fresh and local products in the heart of the city, you’ve found it. These products may be more expensive than what you’ll find at Mercadona, but they’re oh so worth it!

Info

  • Facebook
  • Hours: Open Tues-Sunday from 12pm-10pm
  • Phone: +34 912 50 29 65
  • Address: Calle Caños del Peral, 5

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La Latina's 'seafood party' in Mercado de La Cebada: The place to see and be seen!


Mercados are the heart and soul of any Spanish city. If you want to get under the skin of the place you’re visiting, make a beeline for the city’s biggest food market. Wander around each section (meat, vegetables, fish, etc.) and you will instantly see what the region’s all about. Then make your way to the mercado’s busiest bar, order what everyone else is drinking and demand your rightful complimentary tapa. If it’s something you’ve never clapped eyes on, even better.

La Latina’s Mercado de la Cebada is no exception. The place encapsulates Spanish culture to almost cliché levels: the heart and soul of Madrid is right here.

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Every weekday, Mercado de la Cebada will sell you fresh produce from all over Spain. There’s also a good selection of local bars in the labyrinth of alleys both upstairs and downstairs, and even a few clothes stalls, toyshops and cobblers for some of the market’s more devout punters.

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But then, every Saturday at lunchtime, Mercado de la Cebada transforms into what I will describe as nothing less than a seafood party.

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The atmosphere is electric; iced molluscs and pulpo are flowing, and groups of friends doing what they do best: sharing food and belly-laughing, plastic cup of valdepeñas in one hand, half-eaten shrimp in the other.

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Grab a few friends and get there no later than 2:30pm. Find one of the aproned chaps hovering in front of his stall, affectionately touching everyone with his fishy hands, and place your order per ración or by weight.

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Before you take your polystyrene plates to the nearest paper-covered stack of crates, don’t forget to pick up your complimentary bottle of wine or cans of beer. Yeah… COMPLIMENTARY! Due to licensing rules, these shops can’t sell drinks. I imagine there’s a slight markup on the prices of seafood but, having said that, the prices are some of the lowest I’ve seen in Madrid, and the quality is some of the best.

There are cups, serviettes, toothpicks and mussel ‘spives’ (spoon-knives) strategically strewn around the stalls – a seafood spectacular with no frills, and all the better for it.

Info

Web – Facebook

Address: Plaza de la Cebada, La Latina, 28005

Metro: La Latina (right outside)

Opening hours: Mon – Fri 9am-2pm / 5-8:30pm; Sat 9am-3pm

Another soulful neighbourhood market, not too far away, is Mercado de San Fernando in Lavapiés

 

 




Madrid's Best Rooftop Bars – Round 4


With temperatures reaching well over 100 ºF (38 ºC), there are only two places you should be in Madrid right now: either in a swimming pool (in the city or the mountains) or on a rooftop bar. If you’re stuck with the latter, not to worry—Madrid has plenty of rooftop bars for you to escape to. To help you find them, Naked Madrid came out with a 3-part series on Madrid’s best rooftop bars last summer, and we’ve been meaning to come out with part 4 ever since. And it’s finally here! All the rooftop bars in this article are located in the center of Madrid, yet each one offers something completely different. Hope you enjoy them all!

Oh and you should also know that part 5 is already on its way…. so stay tuned!

1) The Hat (Sol/Plaza Mayor)

The hat rooftop bar by Naked Madrid

You’ve never seen a hostel like this before; the word ‘hipster’ does not even begin to describe it. High ceilings, art-scrawled walls and an international crowd are what you’ll find here. The Hat’s rooftop bar is open all year round, serving up cocktails and delicious tostas (my favorite is with goat cheese and caramelized onions, and comes with a shot of salmorejo and potato chips), quiche, and some pretty damn good tortilla de patata. Here’s a full post on The Hat for more info.

Web
Address: Calle Imperial 9
Metro: La Latina, Sol, Opera 
Phone: 917 72 85 72

2) Mercado del San Ildefonso (Malasaña)

Mercado de San Ildefonso by Naked Madrid

Mercado de San Ildefonso by Naked Madrid, Madrid's best food market on calle Fuencarral

We all know Madrid’s market culture is off the hook. We’ve got Mercado de San Miguel in Sol for the tourist crowd; Mercado de San Antón (whose rooftop bar we also love and mentioned in Round 1) in Chueca for the cooler and more urban crowd; and Mercado de San Fernando in Lavapiés for the more authentic and cultural crowd, just to name a few. And now we have Mercado de San Ildefonso, which takes the cake for its architecture and impressive use of space. Once an average neighborhood market, San Ildefonso now boasts three stories of gourmet food stalls and two outdoor patios sandwiched between its adjacent buildings. Here’s a full article on Mercado del San Ildefonso.

Facebook
Web
Address: C/ Fuencarral, 57
Metro: Tribunal
 

3. El Jardín Secreto (on Calle Montera, Gran Via)

Salvador Bachiller Jardin Secreto Calle Montera 37 by Naked Madrid, rooftop bar

Jardín Secreto feels like a tiny rooftop garden in somebody’s private home. You wouldn’t expect that it’s actually situated on top of an accessories store – Salvador Bachiller – and on Calle Montera, no less. Smack in the center of the city, in between metros Gran Vía and Sol, you can enter this normal-looking store, pop up to the top floor and take in the fresher air with a drink and a bite to eat. It might not have any views, but it sure has a unique ambience and surprise factor that’s worth experiencing. Here’s a full article on Jardín Secreto for more info.

Facebook
Address: Calle Montera 37
Phone: 915 31 02 60
Metro: Gran Vía or Sol

4. Innside Madrid Suecia (near Alcalá/Plaza de Cibeles)

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I haven’t actually been here yet but many of my friends have raved about it. Judging by its location, the new rooftop bar at Innside Madrid Suecia Hotel looks a bit more upscale than the others on this list – probably best for a night out of cocktails mixed with a killer view. It’s owned by the Meliá Hotel chain, which also owns the famous The Roof” in Plaza Santa Ana, previously mentioned in Round 3), and situated on a street behind Calle Alcalá and El Círculo de Bellas Artes (with yet another stunning rooftop, “Tartan Roof”, mentioned in Round 1). For now, I’ve taken these photos off of the Hotel’s web, yet I plan on replacing them as soon as I get the chance to treat myself to such an experience.

Web
Address: Calle del Marqués de Casa Riera 4
Metro: Banco de España and Sevilla
 

5) Gourmet Experience at El Corte Inglés (Callao)

Gourmet Experience in Callao Corte Inglés by Naked Madrid

Gourmet Experience in Callao Corte Inglés by Naked Madrid

Madrid’s number one department store, El Corte Inglés, finally decided to give itself a much needed facelift and revamp the 9th floor of its location in Callao, turning it into ‘Gourmet Experience’; and it truly is an experience. With an outdoor rooftop and dozens of food stalls, one of which is StreetXO, an affordable version of Madrid’s famous young Michelin-starred chef, David Muñóz’s DiversoXO, you’ll also find stalls serving Mexican, Italian, Spanish and Japanese food, as well as cocktails, ice-cream and much more. Here’s  full article on Gourmet Experience at Callao.

Web
Address: Plaza Callao 2, inside El Corté Inglés, 9th floor
Metro: Callao
 

We’re already working on Round 5 of Madrid’s top rooftop bars. Any suggestions?

In case you haven’t seen rounds 1-3, here you are: 

 




Stunning Local Olive Grove Tour, in English! – Proyecto Los Aires


In 2013, biologists Guillermo and Laura – Spain’s newest generation of olive farmers – took over the family business and embarked on an innovative mission: to connect the local countryside with the city of Madrid and make farming a sustainable way of life once again.

How it all started:

Over a century ago, in a small town in the region of Toledo, Guillermo’s great grandfather planted his first grove of around 200 olive trees, and between the evenly spaced olive saplings grew rows of sun-drenched grapevines.

A hundred odd years later, only the footprints of the old vines are visible, but the olive trees have grown beautifully gnarled and twisted, with silver miniature leaves and shiny hard fruit, ready for the annual harvest of some of the tastiest organic extra virgin olive oil in Spain.

The centenarian olive trees

Guillermo and Laura’s story:

Olive farming has been in both of their families for generations, inspiring them to study biology at university, which is where they met. From early on, they drew sketches on scraps of paper illustrating grand ambitions to re-bond our booming capital with its rural backyard, enthusiastically telling anyone who will listen about the genius that is the organic farming ecosystem (it’s genius).

By mid 2014, their dream had gathered enough steam for them to quit their jobs and make Proyecto Los Aires their life, and for being in the midst of an economic depression, it’s incredible how much they’ve already achieved.

The tour:

On Saturday, we headed out to their stunning olive grove in Arcicóllar, about an hour south of Madrid. When we arrived, we met up with our fellow tour buddies and set off on our educational meander through the olive trees.

Guillermo and Laura led us around their oldest plot and explained the process of creating olive oil: from planting and harvesting to filtering and bottling. Their scientific angle on the entire practice is fascinating, but I won’t say any more – the oohs and aahs are all part of the fun!

The walking tour begins

Taking a closer look at the trees

After the walking tour (and tanning opportunity), we sat down at a shaded table nestled idyllically among the centenarian trees. It was time for the tasting. This involved professionally sampling several olive oils in little blue glass cups, and learning how to tell the difference between generic supermarket oil and top-quality organic oil such as theirs.

And then came the food and wine. Through local connections and friends and family, Guillermo and Laura brought together a plethora of Iberian foodie gems for us to eat. A mercado on a table came to mind, and our tour companions’ similarly delighted reactions included lots of “mmm”s and “oh my God”s and jokey squabbles over who liked the pumpkin morcilla most. We chatted, talking about Guillermo and Laura’s endeavours as well as our own, then gratefully accepted Guillermo’s offer of a top-up of wine to accompany our final wander through the trees (and take a few grove-selfies). Finally, we had the opportunity to buy some of the delicious products we tasted that day.

The tasting (and eating and drinking)

The quaintest little market stall in the world

After an eye-opening and mouth-watering experience, we said our goodbyes to the lovely Guillermo and Laura and hopped on the bus back to Madrid, desperate to get the word out to you!

The project explained:

Proyecto Los Aires aims to promote local agriculture by running educational tours & tastings on their farm and forging a direct link between urban consumers and the rural economy. Their oil (Los Aires Extra Virgin Olive Oil) can be found in gourmet shops such as Oleoteca Murúa at Mercado San Antón. Guillermo and Laura also regularly sell their oil in markets across Madrid such as Mercado de Motores, Mercado Central de Diseño, Nómada Market and Gastro Market. Next time you’re there, go and say hello!

Los Aires olive groves

How to get there:

The meeting point for the tour is the bus stop in the town of Arcicóllar (see location here). Regular buses (see timetable here) will get you there from Madrid’s Méndez Alvaro bus station in just over an hour. If you’re driving, it takes around 50 minutes from central Madrid.

Details & Contact Info:

Tours run year-round on any day of the week or weekend and must be booked at least 48 hours in advance.

Facebook & Web

The website is in English and Spanish! For more information about the tour, pricing, and to book, click here.




Pasta Mito, an Italian Eatery in Mercado de Chamartín — a gem!


In Mercado Chamartin, in the central aisle on the lower floor, you’ll find a brand new, chic little Italian eatery called Pasta Mito. All food is freshly prepared in the on-site kitchen, and the owners definitely know what they’re doing. Also, the brilliant thing about eateries in neighborhood markets is that the ingredients they cook with tend to come directly from the market’s food stalls, so at the same time as being top-quality stuff, eating there is great for local businesses too.

Italian Eatery Pasto Mito in Mercado de Chamartín by Naked Madrid

My fella and I sat in the cosy 3-tabled dining area and, based on enthusiastic recommendations by the owner, we had… (ima write a list):

  • Glass of the house white each
  • Complimentary and HUGE antipasto appetiser
  • Burrata Caprese with fine green pesto
  • Truffle ravioli with only butter sauce and fresh parmesan sprinkled on top
  • Tiramisu in a cup
  • All accompanied by a fresh basket of focaccia

Italian Eatery Pasto Mito in Mercado de Chamartín by Naked Madrid

The food was absolutely incredible and plenty between us – we’re glad we shared! The bill came to €26 exactly, which felt very reasonable for the quality of food and wine and friendly service.

Whilst we were sat there, we saw lots of people ordering to take away. Great idea too, but the dining experience was way more fun.

Italian Eatery Pasto Mito in Mercado de Chamartín by Naked Madrid

The owners are a husband and wife duo. She’s Italian, he’s Spanish and speaks fluent English. We got chatting and he told us that he spent 4 years cooking under Heston Blumental, then worked in one of the UK’s top restaurants for a few more years before coming back to Madrid.

I asked him about future plans and he said that next month, they’re expanding into the veg stall just opposite, which will mean an extra 6 or so tables. Having only opened in September ’14, they’ll be staying put in Mercado Chamartin for now as the business is going well and they seem to love what they have.

Pasta Mito is by far the best Italian food we’ve had in Madrid yet – it’s really quite a gem.

By Leah Pattem

Info

Mercado de Chamartín: Facebook & Web (calle Bolivia 9 <m> Chamartín)

Pasta Mito: Facebook (inside the Mercado de Chamartín, central aisle, lower floor)

 Another market we recommend: 

Mercado de San Fernando in Lavapiés — the real food emporium!




Mamá Campo: A restaurant-market of organic delights in Plaza de Olavide


Plaza de Olavide is one of Madrid’s hidden gems. Situated in the heart of Chamberí between the Iglesia, Bilbao, and Quevedo Metro stops, it’s a perfect place to sit on spring days or balmy summer nights. This leads me to Mamá Campo, another one of those places I discovered thanks to an exquisite brunch photo on the Cup of couple Instagram account. Mamá Campo has an organic market as well as a restaurant and children’s store/center.

The Mamá Campo restaurant serves all ecological products, epitomizing the eco trend all over the city. One Friday in between doctor’s appointments, interviews, and private lessons, I took advantage of the first of many sunny Madrid spring days to FINALLY get a chance to eat lunch at Mamá Campo.

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The décor inside the restaurant is very cool. There’s reusable wood and other products, making you feel one with nature. There are communal tables (where I sat as I was flying solo), very reminiscent of Le Pain Quotidien, as well as normal tables for groups of friends. The best part about sitting  at the communal table was being perched high above on the stool (especially choice for taking pictures with my iPhone).

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As for for choice of dish, I ordered a grilled sea bass filet with sorted vegetables. I was also given an aperitivo of salmorejo with some delicious whole-wheat bread. I was extremely satisfied with my choice and can’t wait for my next visit.

But, like I said, the magic of Mamá Campo isn’t just that it’s a restaurant. The market, on the part of Calle Trafalgar more towards the Bilbao Metro stop just off of Olavide, has a great selection of products to enjoy at home.

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As you walk in, the whole left wall is full of a whole range of produce. You can also buy a sample of organic breads that look absolutely amazing, as well as bio embutidos, sauces, rice milk, almond, coconut milk, and more.

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The aesthetic is very similar to the restaurant, with minimalist painting on the walls, splashes of color, wooden cartons to store all of the produce (as you can see here), and classic woven baskets to store your wares. And it looks like that this could have been kale…

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which for this New Yorker is definitely great news if kale can be found.

The next time you discover Olavide on a sunny day and are looking for some organic produce or a delicious, sustainable meal, then Mamá Campo is your go-to place in this little hidden rincón of Madrid.

 
Web 
Facebook
 
Restaurante Mamá Campo
Plaza de Olavide
28010 MADRID
Metro: Iglesia, Bilbao, or Quevedo
Tel.: 91 447 41 38
 
Mamá Campo
Calle Trafalgar, 22
28010 MADRID
Metro: Bilbao



Salón des Fleurs - Flowers, Tea, and Vintage, Oh My!


Every day is Spring inside Salón des Fleurs. Step inside this quaint store that doubles as a florist and tea room, with a side of vintage products, and breathe in the fresh smell of flowers that are carefully displayed throughout the space.Salón des Fleurs- -Flowers, Tea, and Vintage, Oh My!-Naked Madrid

Twinkling lights adorn the large paneled windows, adding to the charm of this café, if you could even call it simply that. Bright pink, red, and orange flowers are displayed outside next to small tables for those wanting to soak up the sun in good weather.

Salón des Fleurs-Flowers, Tea, and Vintage, Oh My!-Naked Madrid

Sink into one of the comfy armchairs as you consider the all-encompassing tea list. There is nothing standard about the menu at Salón des Fleurs, descriptors such as “black tea,” and “green tea” are merely side notes offered to try to explain the flavoring of such teas as Apple Pie, Cookie, and Champagne and Strawberries.  Coffee is offered too, but with such exotic tea flavors, why bother?

Salón des Fleurs-Flowers, Tea, and Vintage, Oh My!-Naked Madrid

Served in beautiful painted mugs, the tea puts your morning Earl Grey to shame. If you’re looking for a side treat to indulge in, Salón des Fleurs offers cakes and desserts also, including a two-layered fluffy carrot cake topped with rich cream cheese frosting.

Once you have savored your tea as long as possible, explore the rest of the store a bit. There is more than meets the eye, and you might find yourself discovering little quirks throughout the store, such as the multiple clocks in unusual places, all displaying a different time.

Salón des Fleurs-Flowers, Tea, and Vintage, Oh My!-Naked Madrid

A spiral staircase leads to an upstairs vintage section, while the downstairs is more dedicated to the flowers, with a florist freshly cutting stems.

Like their alluring tea selection, Salón des Fleurs offers a variety of flowers, in bright colors, in pots, long stemmed; come here for any occasion and you won’t regret it. Don’t need flowers? Browse the vintage section or warm up with a mug of tea, any excuse to visit this charming spot will do.

Web
Facebook
Where: Guzman el Bueno, 106
Phone: 915 35 23 48
Prices: Tea, €2.6
 
 



Eating Our Way Through Huertas with Madrid Food Tour


On a recent chilly Saturday morning, James and I set out on one of the city’s best ranked activities, Madrid Food Tour. I had never been on a food-inspired tour before, let alone in a city whose food culture I’m quite familiar with. Yet the chance to meet local honey and jam specialists, indulge in chocolate-soaked figs and hop from butchers’ shops to tapas bars while learning historical tidbits did indeed change the way I look at the city I’ve called home for the past seven years.

Madrid Food Tour Harvest and Market Tour by Naked Madrid

Madrid Food Tour Harvest and Market Tour by Naked Madrid

While Madrid Food Tour offers a bunch of different gastronomic routes throughout the city, we went on the one I consider the most enticing — Huertas Neighborhood Food & Market Tour. The home of the tour was Barrio de las Letras, a central neighborhood named after the famous Spanish writers who once resided, scribbled and drank together there in the 1600’s, such as Cervantes, Lope de Vega and Quevedo.

Those of us who live here today know the neighborhood as Huertas, coined after the bar-filled street that runs through it. Unlike many areas surrounding Sol or Plaza Mayor, this barrio upholds a charming and unchanged spirit thanks to its thriving delicatessens, tapas bars and traditional markets. Offerings of old and new spins on local cuisine await you as you walk through its gorgeous cobble-stoned streets. And Madrid Food Tour will let you in on all its secrets.

Madrid Food Tour Harvest and Market Tour by Naked Madrid

Our tour guide, James Blick, was not only an expert on Madrid’s history and gastronomic scene, but also made each and every person on the tour — which consisted of a young Scandinavian couple, two parents from Alabama visiting their daughter on her semester abroad and a group of middle-aged women from Ireland — feel comfortable by asking personal questions, encouraging conversation and creating a wonderful vibe throughout the three and a half hour event.

I also want to note that my husband, also James, doesn’t like cheese (weird, I know) and had told the guys at Madrid Food Tour beforehand. His eyes lit up as he saw a plate of cured meat awaiting him at the cheese tasting, showing how they clearly make it a point to accommodate different tastes and dietary needs.

Madrid Food Tour Harvest and Market Tour by Naked Madrid

James (the tour guide) also engaged in friendly chit chat with all the local market vendors and shop owners — something quintessentially Spanish, I must add. Wherever we stopped for a story and a bite, James knew the locals by name and the stories behind their businesses; those close-knit relationships make the tour truly delightful and offer insight into the city’s day-to-day life. This kind of rapport and insider know-how can only be attained with a great deal of time and care.

Madrid Food Tour Harvest and Market Tour by Naked Madrid

Overall it was clear how much attention was put into designing this tour; every detail was planned to perfection, from the food portions and variety to the timing and storytelling. We had more than enough tapas to fill us all up, yet paced and served up just right so we never felt too full to keep us from walking or having a few more bites at the next stop!

Madrid Food Tour Harvest and Market Tour by Naked Madrid

Since I don’t want to give too much away, I’ll have to wrap things up here. The last thing I’ll note is that I had walked by absolutely every place we visited on the tour on many occasions. Most of these places I had never stopped to think about nor even enter. Now I know that as I stroll along the streets I often frequent such as Calle Huertas and Calle Leon, I’ll see a different side of my adopted city. I’ll also enjoy a handful of new eateries that are now going straight to the top of my list.

Madrid Food Tour Harvest and Market Tour by Naked Madrid

Madrid’s best Italian restaurant is not in the likeliest of places.

Madrid Food Tour Harvest and Market Tour by Naked Madrid

So whether you’re coming through Madrid for a weekend or already live here, don’t hesitate to have the Madrid Food Tour show you around for a few hours, especially if you’re a foodie like me! Buen provecho!

 

To book a tour or read some of their tips on where to find the best food in the city, check out Madrid Food Tour’s web