Jan 27, 2010

Capsule Reviews of 10 Captivating Places to Check Out in Madrid

I recently did some reviews for a city guide for very little pay (*sniff *sniff) so I thought it a good idea to also share the fruits of my labour with you, my dear readers. This list isn't my top 10 but these venues are some of my favorites in the city. As you can see by the addresses, I don't get out of the barrio nearly as much as I should...


La Inquilina, Calle Ave Maria 39. - This hip bar has a featured wine of the month for 2 euros a glass and great bohemian decor with antique suitcases piled above the door, and a wall covered with retro posters in the back. This is my local and I bring all my visiting friends here.


Bar FM, Calle Olmo 35. - An unusual old man bar that boasts some surprising and eclectic ornamentation, such as, a painted folk-art rendition of a beefcake Adonis, calabashes dangling from the rafters, a large b&w poster of a 1950s biker, African wire figurines and, featured with a spotlight is a framed poster of 1980s pop sex goddess, Samantha Fox, coyly beckoning us to touch her. The charming owner, Paco serves delicious jamon and cheese plates as tapas and his adorable dog, Luna is always nearby with her pleading eyes, begging for a little treat.

Cafe Barbieri, Calle Ave Maria 45 - Despite its notoriety for poor service and overpriced beverages, Cafe Barbieri's ambiance, flourishes of art nouveau, moldings, high ceilings and antique mirrored walls, makes this spot an inspiring place to write or read or hangout with friends. There's a haunted ghostly feel about the cafe at night. The stopped clock and abandoned piano remind me of Miss Havisham from Dicken's Great Expectations.


El Juglar, Calle Lavapiés 37 - This is a sweet spot to shake it. It's super boho, chill and 'of the barrio' so it reflects the varied ethnic fusion of Lavapies locals. Djs spin a slick mix of retro funk and soul but Sunday nights belong to Flamenco.


Retiro Park - This is the lungs of Madrid and one of Europe's loveliest city center parks. Here you can stroll, admire sculptures (there's even one of Satan), drink beer, picnic, paddle in a small lake, listen to drumming, lie on the grass, watch lovers make out, watch perverts watching the lovers make out and smell the rose garden but keep a fierce eye on your stuff because this park is a hotspot for pickpockets!

The rooftop of Círculo de Bellas Artes, Calle de Alcalá 42 - Without a doubt, this rooftop offers the most stunning, and breathtaking views of downtown Madrid, especially at sunset.


La Venencia, Calle de Echegaray 7 - A savoury taste of a bygone era. Amidst the dusty bottles, dark wooden barrels and yellowed tobacco stained antique posters and crumbly walls, you'll be able to savor the authentic flavor of 5 types of Jerez (sherry). As if time has stood still, your order will be marked on the ancient wooden counter with chalk just like the old days. This unique place is a must visit while in Madrid.


Candela, Calle Olmo 2. - Famous for its spontaneous eruptions of pure flamenco, this spot is hot after 2 - 3 am. That's when you'll see hipsters queuing down the street as it's an awesome after-hours watering hole to dance in.


Cine Doré, Calle de Santa Isabel 3 - One of Madrid's original cinemas, this Art Deco building was made in 1923, and shows films in original version - no dubbed films here! This art house cinema is under the control of Filmoteca Española (national film library), and screens films ranging from silent era to recent festival winners.


Bar El Tres, Calle del Doctor Drumen 3 - Lots of places around Atocha station boast bocadillo de calamares (calamari sub), some even say theirs are the best in Madrid. Don't believe their hype. Bar El Tres, La Casa de los Bocadillos is the real deal! Their bocadillo de calamares brava (hot sauce) is the best I've had in Madrid. Sweet jesus it's tasty stuff!

Photo credit: All photography by Shehani Kay, except for Venencia, which was taken by my brother on the sly with an iphone because they don't allow photos and I got scolded when I pulled out my camera.


Amy Segreti said...

I will definitely be taking your advice, as I can see your taste is similar to mine. I love Venencia - in fact, I was just there last night for about three hours. I go probably three times a week... and I live near Suanzes (green line 5, way too far)!

Do you like the Malasana / Plaza Dos de Mayo area as well? It seems like you might... that's my preferred area. There are some amazing cafes over there.

Glad I found your blog.

Shehani said...

I love Malasaña for the street art and I sometimes go to a Brazilian bar called Kabokla to dance but I have to admit, I don't know the area very well - just the odd late night bar hopping tours. It's hip and young pero a veces, estoy un poca vaga para salir mi barrio favorito, Lavapies... ;)

Madrid Attractions said...

Retiro park really is very nice and one of my favorite parks in the whole world. I do not know Bar el Tres and some other locals you mentioned, but promise I will check them out. :)
Very good list, BTW.

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