Madrid’s Cultural Eateries
Cafè el Mar (Tiendita Organica)
Were it not for the original tiling of a Salon de Peluqueria that continues to adorn the entrance, you could easily walk past the Café el Mar. But if you peer inside, you will discover a quaint haven of organic eating. Since its opening a year ago, the Café el Mar has been promoting its ecological culture, offering a predominantly vegetarian menu along with speciality teas and home baked goods. Tucked away in the corner of the shop you will find the Tiendita Organica selling organic produce including the vegetarian hamburgers that feature on the menu, and rustic crates cradling locally grown fruit and vegetables. Glowing with a love for all things natural, the café transports its guests to the countryside with the odd sound effects of cows mooing and birds chirping. This is the ultimate farm kitchen in the heart of the city.
To visit Spain without indulging in a cup of hot churros would be like going to Italy without having a gelato. And there are plenty of churrerias in Madrid to help you find Spain’s sweet staple, including the newly opened D’Ch. This tiny modern vendor is solely dedicated to serving freshly made churros twenty-four hours a day. With various options ranging from a cup of five churros with chocolate sauce or D’Churro Rellano (filled with chocolate) for €1, and the D’Ch Nata with ice cream for €2, the guests are truly spoilt for choice.
Very few bars are emblematic of their neighbourhoods. And yet, La Inquilina is a vibrant melting pot of food, culture and soul. Immerse yourself in this espacio creativo where art and food coexist in harmony, and creative freedom thrives alongside chilled cañas and tapas. Served in traditional terracotta bowls, the tapas are available for €1 each, and in three varieties to choose from, making this buzzing cove perfect for all thrifty and curious visitors. Most of Madrid’s bars offer more than just food and drink, and La Inquilina embodies this tradition by hosting photography and art exhibitions, micro theatre productions and dramatic monologues.
Dotted along Madrid’s streets dwell many cervercerías, buzzing with locals and layers of conversation echoing from their doors. But few are as enriched with times gone by as Casa Álvarez. Founded in 1920, it continues to anticipate the wave of customers as a line of saucers wait on the bar especially for desayunos. The delectable display of home-made churros and croissants are on offer, but the pincho de tortilla reigns above these authentic desayunos options. Tuck into a fluffy, golden slice rich with olive oil, soft pieces of potato and onion, and sip on a cafè cortado whilst gazing at the black and white photos of the past.
Taberna Tirso de Molina
Sharing its name with its very home, the Taberna Tirso de Molina certainly stands out as the heart of the plaza. Brimming full of Madrileños, its outside terrace makes for a perfect backdrop against the evening sun, and conversation surrounding the ritual of tomar. Despite the French-inspired façade, which makes it easily mistaken for a Parisian-style tavern, the taberna’s menu couldn’t be more Spanish. The Choriza a la sidra available as a tapa for €5, is a speciality to savour alongside a chilled glass of tinto verano for €2,40.
Rarely in Madrid can you follow your nose from half way down a street, the succulent scent of pollo asado gripping the senses, and be lead to the city’s many rotisseries. But with its rotisserie in full motion early in the morning, Las Chicas is certainly the exception that fills Madrid’s streets with the comforting aroma of its famous roast chicken dish, available from €3,55 for half a chicken por llevar. One of the liveliest culinary hubs of the city, Las Chicas is unbeatable for value and the best pollo asado experience Madrid has to offer.
Madrid’s Sunday Markets
Spain‘s capital never sleeps – not even on Sunday mornings. A morning stroll around Madrid will lead you to the city’s markets, where local crafts and delicious fresh produce at bargain prices are sure to sweep you off your feet. Here are our favourite weekend markets in Madrid.
Ciento y pico (Mercado de diseño y artesanía y creatividad)
Whilst hordes of tourists flock to El Rastro Mercado every Sunday, divert in the opposite direction towards Malasaña barrio instead and explore the Ciento y Pico Mercado de diseño y artesanía y creatividad. Ever since its launch in July, this quirky collection of stalls has been thriving with artisan goods and crafts every weekend. As you roam through this mini maze of local creativity, look out for Afri’s Cookies; scrumptious petite treats freshly made to order. Also among the array of artisan designers are Delia Cruz whose ingenious handbag design is inspired by DNA, and Tes Bijoux’s unique accessories.
From Friday to Sunday once a month, but check dates on the website.
El Rastro beckons many tourists on Sunday mornings while the rest of the city remains fast asleep. Throngs of stalls bejewelled with antiques web out in every direction from Plaza de Cascorro, trickling through the long and narrow streets of La Latina like a cobbled stream. Europe‘s biggest Sunday market is the perfect place to drift along from stall to stall collecting quintessential hand-painted fans, vintage flamenco dresses, second-hand goods and local artwork. Whether you’re on a bargain hunt, or casually basking in the bustling atmosphere, this monumental flea-market is what Sundays are made for in Madrid.
Open Sundays and Public Holidays from 8:00-15:00.
By Esha Chaman