If you’re want lunch in Madrid, then you should look out for the excellent value Menú del Día (or menu of the day). Most Spanish bars and restaurants offer the Menú del Día which includes a starter, main course and dessert (or coffee). All three courses offer a variety of plates and they also include a drink, be it a beer, coke or sometimes wine – I have been to many places where a whole bottle is offered! Prices are usually very cheap – between 7 and 15 Euros. You should look out for the ‘A’ signs (boards) which are displayed outside bars and restaurants for details of what’s on offer. Even places like the Café de Oriente offer the Menú del Día for around 12 Euros – I love going to the Bar Alameda on C/ Recoletos where you can get a great meal for 7/8 Euros.
Tapas are a great Spanish invention and now renowned all over the world. But probably no place has the variety of dishes which are available in Madrid (I expect comments on this!). My definition of a ‘tapa’ is a small plate of food which accompanies a drink, which seems to be much the same as the definition of the Real Academia Española de la Lengua. The website EsMadrid has a great guide to eating tapas in Madrid, which includes bars, restaurants and shops. Called Tapas en Madrid the Flash-enabled guide allows you to select establishments by district, with a critique and map accompanying each. The variety of tapas is exhaustive and covers everything from meats, poultry, fish, seafood and vegetarian dishes.
Take a look at the Cook’s Tour and Tapas Tour we have on offer.
My Madrid – Andrés Jarabo Perez
Madrid has quite a few places where you can enjoy good cider, usually from the Asturias region – Casa Mingo is one such place. I came across another earlier this month in c/Fuencarral 102 called Corripio. The place offers excellent cider and good ‘snacks’ to go with it. I ordered a glass of cider and empanada (a pastry of tuna in tomato sauce) for 1.55 Euros. The bar is only stand-up and has an old feel to it with large vats in the background. It is located between metros Bilbao and Tribunal, though nearer the former.
In Madrid’s c/Huertas you will find a small bar called La Trocha. This bar has been around for over 25 years, serving the famous Brazilian drink Caipirinha. The way they make caipirinha is by cutting lemons up into small pieces and using a press to squeeze the juice out of them. To this is added ice and sugar with a good measure of the Brazilian liquor Cachaça to finish off – it is simply gorgeous!! It’s so good that 80% of all bar sales come from this drink. La Trocha itself is quite small but very cosy and the jazz music that is played in the background adds to the atmosphere.
Plaza Santa Ana
The Cervecería Naturbier is almost always one of my stopping-off points when going for a night out to Plaza Santa Ana and Calle Huertas. It is in the heart of Plaza Santa Ana and features probably the only microbrewery in Madrid – the beer includes a light cloudy lager and a dark Viennese beer. In fact, you can actually view the large vats towards the back of the pub.
You can also select a great variety of cheeses, cold meats, smoked fish, etc. The downstairs features brickwork vaults where, since July of this year, you can serve your own beers from a tap at your own table (see picture above) – now, that’s cool!! There are also tables outside which look on to the busy Plaza Santa Ana. You may be interested to know that they give guided tours in the morning.
Address: Plaza Santa Ana, 9.
Opening Times: 10 am to 2.30 am.
Metro: Sol and Antón Martín
Cerveza natural El Mundo Newspaper
Most of the bars and restaurants you will find on this site are dedicated to all things Spanish. However, I must say that I have had some wonderful nights out, and [rugby] afternoons in some of these Irish bars and felt they were definitely worth a mention. My personal favourites have to be Finnegan’s and La Fontana de Oro.
Finnegan’s – Plaza de Salesas 9 – Metro: Alonso Martínez – Tel: 91 319 8716
Finbars – c/ Marqués de Urquijo 10 – Metro: Argüelles/Moncloa – Tel: 91 548 3793
Irish Rover – Avda de Brasil 7 – Metro: Santiago Bernabéu – Tel: 91 597 4811
Kitty O’Sheas – c/ Alcalá 59 – Metro: Banco de España – Tel: 91 575 4901
Viva Madrid is a classic old-style Madrid bar which dates from the turn of the last century. It is situated off the popular Plaza Santa Ana, near the 18th century Teatro Español. I have come across a couple of sites which say that the place used to popular with Ava Gardner and her lover, the Spanish bullfighter Manolete; even Orson Welles and Louis Armstrong used to pop in when they were in town. The walls of the bar are decorated in beautiful hand-decorated tiles and there is a huge zinc bar at entrance, where waiters swill out beer glasses under a constantly running water tap.
Manuel Fernádez González, 7
Plaza Santa Ana
Summers in Madrid are always very hot with temperatures often hitting 40° C and above. However, this is the time of year when the whole city takes to the streets and bars and restaurants decamp to the pavements. All over the city you will be able to enjoy lunch or dinner, drink an afternoon coffee or sip a cocktail from one of the many ‘terrazas’ or outside bars. Along the main thoroughfares of Madrid: the Paseo de Recoletos and Paseo de la Castellana, many terrazas open up just for the summer period. Another popular area is Pintor de Rosales (Metro: Argüelles and Moncloa) which is situated next to Madrid’s Parque del Oeste. These terrazas really tend to get going after 10.30 at night and you can often see Madrid’s rich and famous out. The other obvious places to go are Plaza Santa Ana, Plaza Mayor and the Plaza del Oriente.
Tip: the ‘cubatas’ offer the best value for money – these are tall glasses of spirits (whisky, rum, gin, vodka, etc) with a mixer.
Here are some places to consider:
Bolero – Paseo de la Castellana 33
Boulevard 37 – Paseo de la Castellana 37
Pabellon del Espejo – Paseo de los Recoletos 31
ABC Serrano – Serrano, 52 – Rooftop Terraza
La Vieja Estación – Avda. de la Ciudad de Barcelona (Metro: Atocha)
El Viajero – Plaza de la Cebada, 11; Metro: La Latina – Rooftop Terraza
My Madrid is a new feature on the Mad About Madrid site, where I invite people who either live in Madrid or who know the city well, to write about things they like.
The first person I have asked is Juan Dominguez, a 36 year-old director of E-commerce and Business Services in Ya.com, an internet company. He also founded Viajar.com, a leading Spanish online travel agency and has his own blog, e-life. Juan was born in Guadalajara but now lives in La Moraleja, a residential neighbourhood outside Madrid.
Favourite Bar/café Del Diego (c/ de la Reina), the best cocktail bar in the world, and I am not exaggerating a bit.
Favourite Dish(es) Jamón serrano, gazpacho, torrijas.
Favourite Tapas Tortilla de patatas, calamares, or anything in Bar Santander, in c/ Augusto Figueroa (Metro Chueca).
Favourite Restaurant – El Chaflán, in c/ Pio XII. It is expensive but it is definitely worth a visit. Other places that I like are Blue Fish, in c/ San Andres, (the girls who run it are so nice), and Caripén, in plaza de la Armada Española.
Favourite Shop FNAC or, if looking for gifts or furniture, Casa Julia in c/ Barquillo
Last month the top Catalan chef, Ferrán Adrià, opened a new concept in fast food called ‘Fast Good’. This new outlet is located in the hotel NH Eurobuilding and aims to prove that it is possible for a fast food restaurant to provide clients with better, richer and healthier food. Two examples that are cited are: 1. the olive oil in the friers is changed every day and 2. the macedonia comes with the juice in a separate bowl to preserve the texture of the fruit! This is from the NH Hotels press release:
“..we can eat hamburgers made using beef as usual, but garnished with trocadero lettuce, tapenade sauce, or with rucula and gorgonzola, for example; the panini combine ham, asparagus or cheese with sage, pine nuts, crystallised spring onions or even foie; as for salads, we find combinations as exclusive as green beans with fingers of pâté de canard, leek with crystallised chicken and spices, or wild rice with cous-cous, rounded off with a wide selection of lettuces and fruit, always dressed with home-made sauces. Some meals come with non-frozen French fries made at once using olive oil.”
WOW! This sounds great and apparently the hotel chain plans to open up many new Fast Good outlets in the future. Looking at various sources on the web, the prices are very good, too – a meal would cost under €15.
Padre Damián, 23, Madrid
Over the past 20 years there has been an upsurge in the amount of jazz bars in the capital and now you can fin dquite a few dotted around the city. Café Central, close to Madrid’s Plaza Santa Ana, is probably the best known Jazz club in Madrid. Popular in the day when you can have a coffee, but really comes to life at 10 p.m. when the live performances start. Address: Plaza del Angel, 10; Metro: Sol /Antón Martín. Here is a brief selction of other venues:
Café Populart is another popular venue for jazz in the capital and is situated in c/Huertas, 22 – Metro: Antón Martín). Their website gives you a run down of events for the coming month.
Clamores – it is reckoned that some of the best jazz artists appear at this popular venue in c/Albuquerque, 14 – Metro: Bilbao
La Coquette is a small, smoky bar near Puerta del Sol which offers great jazz music and atmosphere. Address: c/Hileras, 14; Metro: Sol or Opera. Live music on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
A short walk from Madrid’s Puerta del Sol you will find a bar called Las Bravas. It is a very simple bar, with standing room only and very noisy. But here you will find some of the best ‘bravas’ in Madrid. Patatas bravas are small chunks of potato, cooked like chips (fries) and served with a spicy red sauce. There are a chain of bars like this across Madrid and the sign inside the bar proudly says that they have patented the recipe for the sauce! I would also recommend the calamares and tortilla, which is served with the bravas sauce, too. At night it is a busy place which echoes to the sound of the waiters shouting: “unas bravas”. It is a good place to start the evening before moving on to Plaza Santa Ana.
Address: C/ Álvarez Gato 3
The Café de Oriente enjoys one of the finest views of any eating/drinking establishment in Madrid. It is situated in the Plaza de Oriente, and is directly opposite the Royal Palace and next to the Opera House. The café is a great place to have a mid-afternoon coffee, or even a hot chocolate and to look out over the plaza. Given the style of its interior, it is hard to believe that it opened in 1983 – it certainly looks like it was built at the turn of the 20th century or even earlier. However, in the cellars/vaults, where the restaurant is situated, you will see the remains of the 17th century convent of San Gil. During the summer its open terrace is a great place for people watching. The menus may be a bit pricey but it is still possible to enjoy a menú del día for under 10 Euros.
Address: Plaza de Oriente, 2
See also: Madrid Restaurants
One of the great pleasures in Madrid is having a coffee at one of the hundreds of coffee shops. You can try anything from your the typical café con leche (in a glass, small cup or large cup) and café solo through to café con hielo (coffee on house) and café cortado. Coffee is ground in front of you and made in the huge, usually Italian, coffee machines. The whole café resounds to the sound of coffee machines, grinders, orders being shouted out and coffee saucers being banged down in front of your eyes. What a treat!
The Cervecería Santa Bárbara in Madrid´s Plaza Santa Bárbara is one of Madrid´s more famous drinking establishments. The main beer on tap is a local lager called Mahou, you can also get a dark beer and alcohol-free lager from the same company. The bar was established in 1947 and is well-known for the huge range of shellfish and other fish which it sells. You won´t get tapas in this bar but can buy its delicious shellfish from a separate bar – cockles, prawns (shrimps), mussels and my favourite boquerones (white bait in vinegar).