With its grand imperial boulevards and its copious theaters, palaces and monuments, it is small wonder that Madrid attracts tourists in swarms. But where can you continue your tour of the city’s many delights whilst also taking in a lunchtime snack or some traditional tapas? This is our guide to Madrid’s most historic, welcoming and delicious cafes and coffee shops.
The Café de Chinitas is, first and foremost, about flamenco. Indeed, it is one of Madrid’s best-known haunts to witness this most evocative and idiosyncratic of Spanish traditions, strongly associated with the the large and often persecuted Romani community of Andalucía in the south of the country. Attendees can pick from a wide range of tapas snacks, or from heavier favorites like paella and tortillas, all while indulging in the local wines and passing a riveting evening watching skilled flamenco dancers and musicians.
The Café de Oriente is a vision of elegance and sophistication in the ornate Habsburg-era district of Central Madrid. Facing the Spanish Royal Palace across the grand Plaza de Oriente, this is a luxurious establishment which fully lives up to its profoundly privileged location. A gourmet experience, the cafe is as popular with local business and social parties as it is with the steady stream of tourists coming to rest and enjoy some tapas after a visit to the Palace.
The so-called “Secret Garden” may be the worst-kept secret in Madrid, as the frequent queues on the street outside attest. Attracting all manner of visitors, El Jardín Secreto is one of Madrid’s most refreshingly distinctive cafeterias, accommodating all comers in a zany and eclectic environment which draws inspiration from some of its wackier Northern European and American counterparts. The Jardín particularly prides itself on its trademark cakes and pastries, which are a great shout for weary travelers wanting to sit a while and indulge a sweet tooth.