The Madrileño lifestyle is dedicated to indulging one’s desires with a copious amount of food, wine and entertainment. Walking down the endless cobbled streets of central Madrid, you’ll see a multitude of quirky, mismatched furniture-clad cafes/bars that give you your coffee and cake, often with a glug of gin.
After visiting an array of cafes and bars, here are my favourite cafes thus far:
For sweet treats and cakey nibbles, Monkee Koffee (c/ Vallehermoso 112) is a great little cafe. Located near Islas Filipinas metro station, it is a little far out if you’re based in central Madrid, but it does offer a very delicious chocolate cake (imagine a hefty portion of dark chocolate sponge covered in a thick milk chocolate butter cream icing). Monkee Koffee doesn’t seem to have an extensive food menu but it is a charming little stopover from the cold.
As far as bookshop cafes go, La Infinito (c/ Tres Peces, 22) offers a very wide selection of breakfast and lunch foods, including pastries, salads, sandwiches, tapas, desserts, alcohol… The waiters waste no time and are always running around asking for your orders, a rarity sometimes in the Spanish restaurant business. With differing levels of flooring; mismatched tables, chairs and cutlery, and a mini-book shop in the corner, this cafe ticks the boxes of arty goodness.
La Bicicleta Cafe (c/ Plaza San Ildefonso, 9) is the best cafe-bar for the transition between day to night. La Bici definitely has one of the cooler interiors with graffitied walls and fixie bikes screwed on to the walls, plus old school desk-and-chairs to awkwardly sit on. In my opinion, La Bici is more of a watering hole rather than an eating venue. It does provide a variety of finger foods like sandwiches and tapas, but most customers only seem to go for their very strong gin and tonics. During the late hours, the bar gets incredibly crowded, often with a one-in, one-out system, so if you’re planning for a late one, make sure you get there before the drinkers descend.
If you love ugly, old lady décor and plushy sofas, Lolina’s Vintage Cafe (c/ del Espíritu Santo, 9) is a kitschy person’s haven. The first floor is a casual cafe space with multicoloured chairs and tables, but downstairs is where it gets all-the-more old lady with ugly rugs, lamps and armchairs. Similar to La Bici, Lolina offers tasty treats and hot drinks, as well as elaborate cocktails, depending on one’s mood. Every time I’ve passed Lolina’s, it’s been incredibly crowded, often with people huddled in the corner waiting for a table. I’d say this is very much a girly catch-up or date cafe as you’ll probably see an immense amount of couples sharing/shamelessly feeding each other a slice of cake.
Tupperware is the most famous bar in Malasaña (Corredora Alto de San Pablo, 26), with its 60s vibe, graffiti exterior and eccentric but tasteful internal décor. Situated in the heart of the barrio, you can see why this bar-come-club attracts so many hipsters and artistic folk-alike. Expect to see huge queues past midnight so make sure you get a spot either upstairs in the ‘lounge’ area or downstairs by the bar. Drinks are reasonably priced (don’t try the ‘mojitos’ as they’re from a bottle) and the music is very much 60s, 70s and 80s-orientated: a perfect place for a boogie and bottle of Mahou.