April 12, 2013 - Posted by Erin in Books, Food and wine, Madrid, Spain

Yes, Plaza Mayor is lovely, and checking out the world’s oldest restaurant, El Botín, at least once is pretty cool too, but, like any good traveler must know, these types of places rarely are local favorites. With that in mind, here are a few of the spots that I frequent the most, and that typically don’t make it on to the tourist radar.

Coffee and work
On any given day, you’ll find me hanging out at (loitering?) the cafés of Madrid’s Malasaña neighborhood, bumming off free WiFi and sipping on a comforting cup of joe. My favorite, favorite spot is Pepe Botella, where the old-school café serves up their caps with a tasty cookie (which is really all that it takes to win me over). Other favorites include Tipos Infames, where I can surround myself with literary inspiration in the bookstore/wine bar/café/art gallery, and La Bicicleta for its wide open space and occasional early-morning hip-hop music (right up there with cookie-awesomeness). Finally, if you’re just looking for coffee (even coffee grounds) and don’t give a rip about WiFi, head to Toma Cafe; what I consider to be the epicenter of emerging coffee culture in Madrid.

I’m not going to lie: I don’t shop a lot in Spain. I find most clothing (save for shoes!) to be overpriced and/or under quality, at least in comparison to what I can find back home. That said, I never pass up an opportunity to visit Maxi at Antigua Casa Crespo. In his 150-year-old family shop, he and his wife sell the ultimate Spanish summer shoe: the alpargata (AKA the espadrille). Available in loads of styles and colors, the 100% made-in-Spain shoes cost — if you can believe it — under 10 euros for the basic style. Between the shoes and the friendly service, I never tire of going back for more. (Read more about Antigua Casa Crespo in the article I wrote here.)

My mouth-watering go-to is always La Ardosa – I just can’t ever get enough of their juicy tortilla, which I’m convinced must taste better given the Spanish-tiled walls and dusty-bottle-covered shelves. Then, when it comes to market experiences, I’m afraid I can’t hang with El Mercado de San Miguel (sorry!) – it’s nice, really, but jam-packed with people (eh hem, tourists), which I find not so fun. Instead I go to El Mercado de San Antón (especially for a nice selection of croquetas) or to Mercado de la Paz, where I can marvel at fresh produce and have my pick of pastries. Finally, for a proper sit-down meal, I go for the funky and inventive plates at La Gabinoteca.

My favorite somewhat-hidden spot to see is the Museo Sorolla, an inner-city mansion-meets-museum that houses the work of Valencia-born artist Joaquín Sorolla. Once his home, the museum is still furnished with his belongings, making it a lot more inviting than its other art-filled counterparts. And what I especially love are the gardens — free to enter, and filled with flowers and fountains, they remind me of a mini Andalucian paradise.

So now you tell me: What are you favorite spots in Madrid or in your city?

7 Responses to “My Madrid favorites”

  1. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas Says:

    I walked my family up and down all of the streets of Malasaña a few months ago because Lauren took me there in September. Great brew!

  2. Pauline Says:

    Ah! Madrid! This post brings back so much memories – I was in Madrid for World Youth Day 2011 and while I didn’t have a chance to really explore the city, I loved it and quickly made a resolution to come back. Thanks for sharing the secrets of Madrid!

    As per hidden spots in Toronto, I’d say go to Baldwin St. for good eats and amazing coffee. T.A.N. Coffeehouse makes the best almond-milk-latte I’ve ever had to date!

  3. Erin Says:

    Oh how I hope to make it to Toronto one of these days! I’ll definitely refer to your recos, though, when I do!

    Hope you liked Malasaña, Cat – it’s my favorite part of the city. Lots of grit and personality :).

  4. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures Says:

    I seriously can’t get past that first image! That looks like the most amazing coffee ever!!!!

  5. Marta Says:

    Wonderful post, need to try some of those places, I’ve been wanting to go to the Gabinoteca. I really like the “azotea” of the Cibeles Palace and the El Capricho park. I really like Flash Flash for family lunches and then Murillo Café after a visit to a museum or the carrot cake at Delic.

  6. Shana Says:

    I don’t know how we never ran into each other. I was almost always at Pepe Botella and Tipos Infames!

  7. Agness Says:

    Madrid is on my bucket list so I will keep this post in mind. I’ve heard so many good things about the Museo Sorolla so I simply can’t wait to get there. Besides, I look forward to having a plate of paella 🙂

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