Archive for the Chueca (Justicia) Category

Madrid – Chueca – Cocktail Bars

Posted in Centro, Chueca (Justicia), Madrid, Madrid Comunidad, Spain with tags , , , , on April 13, 2017 by gannet39

In Spain I tend to be a G&T drinker, partly because that’s what the weather calls for and partly because they do them so well. Some places have as many as a dozen different G&Ts on the menu with a wide selection of gins and garnishes. Of course all these bars do other cocktails as well.

So, here are a few favourites…

La Cocina de San Antón (Intermediate B), top floor, Mercado San Antón, 24 Calle Augusto Figueroa,

I’ve reviewed this restaurant elsewhere and it’s okay, but I much prefer to come to their roof top bar for a drink rather than to eat. It can be hard to find a seat, and the service can be frustratingly slow, but otherwise it’s a good place to be on a sultry summer evening in Chueca.

La Terraza (Advanced B+), sixth floor, Hotel Principal, 1 Calle Marqués de Valdeiglesias,


The tiny reception area gives little clue as to the wide expanse of the rooftop terrace of this newly opened hotel (in 2016). The neo-Renaissance building is much older of course, built in 1907.


You get great views of Gran Via including the Circulo de Bellas Artes opposite which also has a great roof top bar.


It was the weekend of San Isidro when my friend Ethel and I went so we got to watch the fantastic firework display in El Retiro park from the comfort of our chairs.

Food is also available by famous Michelin Chef Ramón Freixa, but it ain’t cheap. Bear in mind most roof top bars will be more expensive than elsewhere. eg €19+ for a G&T.

Bar Cock (Advanced A), 16 Calle Reina

The name sounds like it should be a gay bar, especially as it’s in Chueca, and indeed the venue was once a brothel, but in fact this is a venerable old cocktail bar which first opened its doors in 1925. Ernest Hemingway, Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra, Audrey Hepburn, John Wayne, George Clooney and Pedro Almovadar have all drunk here.

It’s most famous proprietor was Perico Chicote who also owned the equally famous Museo Chicote around the other side of the block at 12 Calle Gran Vía.

Cock can be hard to get in… so don’t arrive looking too scruffy or wearing trainers. There’s a nice chilled vibe though once you’re there though.

Diurno (Intermediate B+), 37 Calle San Marcos,

This is a very cool, modern, low-lit bar with lots of seating. A favourite spot of mine for a nightcap.

I had a great G&T made with Puerto de Indias gin and served with strawberries and a cinnamon stick for €6.


D’Mystic, (Intermediate B), 5 Calle Gravina

A friendly gay bar a couple of doors up from Taberna Angel Sierra (see my Chueca – Tapas Bars post). Great mojitos for only €6.50. You get free hugs from the staff when you enter!


Madrid – Chueca – Architecture

Posted in Chueca (Justicia), Madrid, Madrid Comunidad, Spain with tags , , , , on February 26, 2016 by gannet39

There’s not that much to see in terms of Modernisme architecture in Madrid, except for Palacio Longoria on the corner of Calle Fernando VI and Calle Pelayo in Chueca.

It was built in 1902 by the Catalán architect José Grases Riera.


Casa X

I’ve read that it’s the best example of Modernisme in Madrid, a movement more associated with Gaudi and Barcelona.


It currently houses the Spanish General Society of Authors and Editors. Sadly I don’t think it’s open to the public but you can see photos from inside by clicking on this link.

Wall motif

Another building I like is the Casa de los Lagartos at 1 Calle de Mejía Lequerica. On the ground floor it houses the Patrimonio Communal Olivarero olive oil shop mentioned in my Chueca -Food Shops post.


It’s called the Lizard House for obvious reasons. If you look at it from the side you’ll notice that the building is only five metres wide so there are only two flats per floor.


It was designed by Benito González and it’s a very rare example of the Wiener Secession, an Austrian art movement (Klimt was a member), which is characterised by geometric simplicity and symmetrical decoration.

A couple of streets along from Palacio Longoria is Calle San Tome which has some nice residential blocks.


20160514_154925And nearby Teatro Infanta Isabel at 24 Calle del Barquillo has quite an unusual facade.


On the same street on the corner with Calle del Almirante is a nice house with big windows know as ‘balcones cerrados’, or enclosed balconies.


At 2 Calle del General Castaños is the Parroquia de Santa Bárbara although you get a better view of the front from Calle Barbara de Braganza.


And that’s about it for nice architecture in this barrio. I’ll keep looking though.


Madrid – Chueca – Food Shopping

Posted in Centro, Chueca (Justicia), Madrid, Madrid Comunidad, Spain with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2016 by gannet39

I always like to take a full suitcase home with me and these are my favourite places to stock up on my Spanish ingredients…


The old Mercado de San Anton used to be really quiet with only a handful of unexciting vendors. Now there are several modern artisanal stalls including a fishmonger’s…

Eye eye

…a bacalao seller…

Salt Cod

…and a greengrocer’s.

Mushrooms & Tomatoes

And my favourite…

Octavio (Advanced A), Second Floor, Mercado de San Anton, Calle Augusto Figueroa 24, Tel. 91 593 0241,

They have fantastic Bellota (acorn fed) ham here, some of the best I’ve ever eaten (A+), along with some great Iberico (B), all vacuum packed (‘embassado’) and ready to travel.



From the same stall, I like to get a quarter wheel of Manchego Curado and some Membrillo (quince jelly) to go with it. A lot of other gourmet specialities are available too.

On the next level of the market there are several innovative tapas stalls which are filled with throngs of people every night, making it a great new place to go in the already vibrant Chuecan food scene.

Reserva y Cata, 13 Calle del Conde de Xiquena,

A wine shop specializing in top quality local wines. I’ve always found them very friendly and they’ll let you taste wines if there’s a bottle open.

I usually get a bottle of my favourite red; Juan Gil 12 meses, a Monastrell from the Jumilla DO.

Patrimonio Communal Olivarero, 1 Calle Mejia Lequerica,

A cooperative with a huge selection of olive oils from every region of Spain. Given that Spain is the biggest producer of olive oil in the world and produces more than second place Italy and third place Greece put together, there is a lot to choose from (over 150 brands).

A lot of the oil here is available in two or five litre cans but most of it comes in litre or half litre bottles, and there are also presentation packs with several varieties of strange shaped bottles which would make nice presents.

Most brands proclaim their oil is made using artisanal methods, in particular first cold pressed cold-extraction. Prices range from €3 to €30 for 500 ml.

The shelves in the shop correspond to the regions the oils are from, but you also need to know your olive varieties and which ones you like. Here are some of the most common types:

Arbequina is very common and is grown in Aragon and Catalonia. The olives are small and are also good for eating.
Cornicabra is from Toledo and makes up 12% of Spanish production.
Empeltre, grown in Aragon and the Balearics, is also good for eating.
Hojiblanca, my favourite, is from Cordoba and is famed for its slightly bitter taste.
Manzanillo or Manzanilla aka ‘little apples’, is from Seville. It’s a prolific bearer of larger fruit and is grown worldwide.
Picual from Jaen has strong but sweet fruit. It’s good for eating and is responsible for 50% of Spanish production and 20% worldwide.

I got some bitter cloudy (unfiltered) Hojiblanca ‘Cortijo la Muralla’ from Ruen in Cordoba which was delicious drizzled on good bread.

Cortijo la Muralla







The building it’s in is called the Casa de los Lagartos. If you look up at the roof you’ll see why. After you’ve seen this next place you could pop down the road to see Palacio Longoria on the corner of Calle Fernando VI and Calle Pelayo. Architecture post here.


La Duquesita, 2 Calle de Fernando VI,

This picturesque pasteleria is just a few doors down from the olive oil shop above.

La Duquesita shopfront


The Little Duchess

‘The Little Duchess’ has been selling great cakes and chocolates and other baked goods, since 1914.

La Duquesita display

The staff are very friendly and will let you take pictures inside when asked.

La Duquesita counter

Several scenes from Spanish period movies have been shot in here.

Horno San Onofre, 9 Calle de Hortaleza,

An old bakery famous for selling Roscón de Reyes, the traditional cake served on Epiphany (the twelfth day of Christmas.


Their window displays of unusual breads are quite photogenic.


La Vieja Castilla, 3 Calle Gravina,

A cool little deli where they often have food and wine samples for customers to try.

Cacao Sampaka, Calle Orellana,

This modern shop is a gourmet chocolateria with a big selection of flavor combinations that I find very difficult to resist. Their café is supposed to be good too according to Lonely Planet.

Poncelet, 27 Calle Argensola,

A cheese shop with more than 300 varieties of cheese, over 80 of which are Spanish. This is a rival for La Boulette in the Mercado de la Paz in Barrio Salamanca which also has over 300 cheeses in its range. Open from 10.30 Monday to Saturday.

Aldaba, 4 Calle Belén

A homewares shop with a big selection of kitchenalia. I always find something to add to my collection.

Isolée, 19 Calle Infantas,

This is a very cool deli, clothes and home wares shop. I have to stay away from here or I’ll blow all my wages.

Not food related I know but while we’re on clothes Calle Fuencarrel has lots of fashion stores. In particular I like Mercado de Fuencarrel, which has several great little shops stocking independent designers. I also drop in to Carhartt at 3 Calle Augusto Figueroa nearby.

Madrid – Chueca – International Restaurants

Posted in Centro, Chueca (Justicia), Madrid, Madrid Comunidad, Spain with tags , , , on February 24, 2016 by gannet39

Zara (Intermediate A), 8 Calle Barbieri,

This longstanding Cuban restaurant is another favourite of mine. It’s quite kitsch with gingham tablecloths and dated decor but don’t let this put you off, the food is great. The proprietor is a lovely woman who speaks some English and will give you good recommendations.

The three of us shared a plain avocado and raw onion salad to start, along with runner beans and ham (B+).

We had our starters with daiquiris, of which the plain and banana flavours were great (A), though not really the synthetic tasting strawberry (C+).

My roast pork with black beans and rice was really good as was my friend’s ‘ropa viejo’ (which translates as ‘old clothes’) aka shredded beef, also with beans and rice (both B+).

The winner however was the calves liver and onions (A).

Roast banana sounds like it could be dessert but it’s actually a side dish. It tasted really nice too (A).

Our Valdepenas red ‘Senorio de los Llanos’ (A) made a nice change from rioja.

The bill came to about €25 each, great value. You shouldn’t need to reserve if you get there early but it will be full by 10pm.

This review was written in 2011 at the old Calle Infantas address. I haven’t been to the new location on Calle Barbieri yet.


Al Jayma – Cocina del Desierto (Intermediate A-), 1 Calle Barbieri, Tel. 91 523 1142,

Very popular and good value-for-money Moroccan restaurant with a nice ambience. You can sit on floor cushions or around tray topped tables. The service is ok although the woman who runs it could try to smile a bit more.

To start we had an unmixed carrot and yogurt salad which was quite plain but very generous (B) and tabule (A) which was great.

There are several couscous dishes on the menu but we went for the tajin selection. My Tayin de Pollo con Limon was excellent (A) but my companion was a little disappointed with her Tayin de Cordero (B) which had too many prunes and no dried apricots.

The Montepardo Tempranillo red we had was also very good (B+) at only €8.40 a bottle.

Our bill came to a paltry €18 each. Perhaps for this reason they are always busy so make sure you reserve to avoid disappointment, or get there at exactly 8.30 when they open and you may be lucky.

Baco y Beto (Intermediate C), 24 Calle Pelayo,

Suggested by the Guardian for their internationally (Cuban, Costa Rican, Catalonian, Canarian and Italian) influenced cocina creativa, but I was sadly disappointed.

The recommended patacónes (green plantain puff pastry tarts filled with avocado and served with mashed beans and cheese) that had attracted me were no longer on the menu, at least when I went at lunchtime.

Media of Setas Rebozadas con Salsa de Trufa, breaded wild mushrooms with truffle sauce. The mushrooms were tasteless and the sauce did nothing for me (C).


Cordero Confitado Sobre con Patacón banado con una Crema de Cilantro y Curry, or confit of lamb with fried green plantain and ‘bathed’ with coriander and curry sauce, was equally uninspiring (C).


Glass of Ribera del Duero and one of Madrid brought it to €25.

Maybe I made bad choices, or maybe the kitchen had a bad day, either way I won’t be back.

Visited 2016, pics uploaded Feb 2017.

The Taj Mahal (Intermediate B), 12 Calle Belen

This Indian restaurant is okay if you really need a change, although I dislike the seeds they put in their papads, and their Chicken Madras lacks depth of flavour.

There must be somewhere better for spice lovers…

More Chueca restaurants:

Traditional Madrileno restaurants here.

Traditional Spanish regional restaurants here.

Modern Spanish restaurants here.

Bars and cafes here.

Food shops here.

Google map with everything on here.

Madrid – Chueca – modern Spanish restaurants

Posted in Centro, Chueca (Justicia), Madrid, Madrid Comunidad, Spain with tags , , , , , , , on February 23, 2016 by gannet39

cociAs you’d expect in trendy Chueca, there are plenty of modern Spanish restaurants.

Olé Lola (Intermediate A), 28 Calle San Mateo,

This is the kind of place I’d open myself if I had the money.

The décor is best described as modern baroque. The vibe is classy meets casual. I love the dark reds used for the lightbox and the comfy velvet sofas. I have another existence as a party promoter and I use the same colours for my décor.

The soundtrack was pretty cool too; from Young Disciples to Purple Rain.

The service I received was friendly and efficient and the food was modern and tasty ‘cocina creativa’.

Their ‘Huerto Brasa’ grilled veg was very good (B+).


And I enjoyed their sliders, especially the Chicken and Foie in a black bun (A) but also the Wagyu beef burger in the white bun (B+), both of which tasted great when dipped in the German mustard dotted on the slate.


They even had one of my favourite Spanish reds; Habla del Silencio (A). It was as it they’d seen me coming.


A bit expensive (€3.50 for the glass of wine) but definitely a place I’d love to return to.

Gastromaquia (Intermediate A), 8 Calle Pelayo, Tel.91 522 64 13,

This is a great little place with bright modern decor and efficient service. The food is especially good value at lunch times.


For the €13.90 Menu del Dia I had the wonderful Sopa Fria de Remalacha (chilled beetroot soup) (A+)…

Chilled Beetroot soup

…followed by Tigres (mussel shells stuffed with breadcrumbs and fried) (A).


The final dessert option, Crema de Curry con Espuma de Chocolate y Helado de Vanilla, was vanilla ice cream with a swirl of chocolate mousse and a sauce of egg yolk and curry spices; inspiring and delicious (A+).

Paxaran & de & dessert

To drink I had two glasses of lovely Verdejo and a Patxaran with lots of ice with the dessert. Bliss.

On another occasion in the evening I had Papas (baby potatoes on skewers with a chilli dipping sauce), Ensalada di Entresca (belly tuna on a bed of radicchio and other salad dressed with a balsamic reduction) (A+) and Pincho de Secreto (a spit of small chunks of marinated pork) (B), three glasses wine and a dessert (forgotten!) for €33.35.

This is slightly pricey for tapas but their ideas are innovative and interesting and have very tasty results. Definitely somewhere to check out on a regular basis.

Celso y Manolo (Intermediate B+), 1 Calle Libertad,

A new place (in 2016) that gets lots of rave reviews. Ethel and I enjoyed it but felt it didn’t quite live up to the hype.

The table we we had reserved was quite small and generally the place felt a bit cramped when it was busy. Our service was a bit dim and not particularly friendly. Refreshingly though they open at 19.30  every evening. Video here.

If I remember correctly the standout was the Arroz Campero (A).


A dish they are very proud of is the Chuleton de Tomate de Huesca con 6 Cosas Ricas, or beefsteak tomatoes from Huesca with with six nice things (avocado, mango, papaya, cucumber, red onion, coriander) and olive oil (B+).


The Croquetas de Bacalao, cod croquettes with pine nuts and raisins are fine (B).



Another star dish is their Taquitos de Venado con Salsa de Frambuesas y Arándanos; discs of venison loin served with a raspberry and cranberry sauce and a potato puree which made a nice change (B+). The recipe is at 6.59 in this video.


To drink; the Ribera del Duero from Hacienda Solano was okay (B).


€60 for two was fair enough. Modern, bright, innovative. I’d go again.

La Cocina de San Antón (Intermediate B), 24 Calle Augusto Figeroa,

This is a restaurant on the top floor of Mercado de San Antón, the refurbished market in Chueca. It’s a good location with lots of seating inside and a coveted terrace overlooking the street.
I had the Menu del Dia for €14 which involved a spinach, orange and pork salad starter (B)…


… followed by some more pork steaks with potatoes (B).


I had glasses of the Señorío del Cid Roble for €3 and the Viña Monty Crianza €3.20 both of which were fine (B).

The bar manager and bartender outside find it hard to crack a smile but the rest of the staff were nice enough. Notwithstanding the average food and mediocre service, the terrace is a good spot to come on a sunny day or a warm evening.

Mercado San Ildefonso (Elementary B), 57 Calle Fuencarral,

This ‘street market’ is actually a trendy food court which is currently becoming the fashion in the UK as well. Basically there are about a dozen vendors in small stalls around a central area with tables and a bar at one end. The bar charges €3 for a doble of Mahou which is about average.

At La Croquetterie I tried the Langostino, Queso, Jamon and Pollo croquettes which were all fine if unexciting (B). However the Boletus was excellent (A) and this is now my favourite filling. Really need to learn how to make these. I paid €8 for six croquettes.


At Bovinus I had an excellent steak (B+) which was sliced up tagliata style. The vendor told me the meat was from the north of Italy rather than Spain, which is interesting because at the time of writing the UK is going mad for aged beef from Galicia. The grass is always greener…


And a place to avoid:

Bazaar (Intermediate C), 21 Calle Libertad, Tel. 91 523 1505,

A nice looking place that’s amazingly cheap but best avoided if you like good grub. I have eaten here and was impressed by how low the bill was but not the food. I still remember finding an alien item in one mouthful, which impresssed me in the wrong way. The same applies here as in my review for La Finca de Susana, another member of the same chain, in my Plaza de Canalejas post.

More Chueca restaurants:

Traditional Madrileño restaurants here.

Traditional Spanish regional restaurants here.

International restaurants here.

Tapas bars and cervecerias here.

Food shops here.

Google map with everything on here.

Photos from April 2011 and February 2016.

Madrid – Chueca – traditional regional restaurants

Posted in Centro, Chueca (Justicia), Madrid, Madrid Comunidad, Spain with tags , , , on February 22, 2016 by gannet39

As befits a capital city, there are heaps of great regional restaurants in Madrid, particularly in Chueca. This first one is my favourite.

Ribeira do Miño (Intermediate A+), 1 Calle Santa Brigada, Tel. 91 521 9854, Metro Tribunal, GEM ALERT!

If you only go to one of my recommendations, make it this Galician marisqueira, a superlative seafood experience I try not to miss whenever I’m in town. It’s very popular so it’s best to book ahead (specify the back room).

First impressions might not be good as it’s located on a dodgy-looking graffiti-daubed side street, which only makes the experience even more special as far as I’m concerned.

Walk through the heaving tapas bar at the front, past the bustling kitchen serving hatches and you’ll find more rooms at the back.

The walls are simply decorated with nets and floats on a nautical theme. Signs prohibit singing (‘prohibo cantar!’).

The first thing you will notice are the large silver trays of seafood being ferried around by the friendly, welcoming waiters. The biggest trays carry the house signature dish, the Mariscada Especial.


This involves several kinds of seafood stacked up high on top of each other. First there’s a top layer of langoustines followed by two kinds of prawns, both large and small varieties.

Also percebes (goose barnacles, an acquired taste for Brits but very tasty when persevered with) and two kinds of crab. The crab claws have been dismembered for you and so are easily dealt with using a nutcracker. However the head shells, filled with a murky soup of brawn, are only for the brave!

You can get the mariscada in two sizes, for two or four people, at a cost of around €15 per head. I like to order the smaller size even if there’s four of us, and then get an extra order of prawns as well.

Rack em up

On the table there is also a big bowl of allioli, lemon quarters and half a loaf of good white bread cut into hunks. I’m half Norwegian on my mum’s side and my family eat prawns with similar accompaniments.

Another good side dish is Almejas al Vapor. They also offer them ‘a la marinera’ (sailor’s style with onion, garlic, paprika and parsley) but I don’t think they’re quite as nice. The clams should be sucked straight from the shells and the delicious broth dabbed up with bread.


Other good side orders are their grilled Pimientos de Padron, smoky grilled green peppers which are famous all over Spain but are particularly good here. They’re usually quite mild although watch out for the odd spicy renegade!

Pimientos  de Guernika

The tuna salad and the patatas fritas are good choices too.

To drink, the Galician Albariño white is the natural choice to go with seafood. I recommend the wonderful Vina Sobreira from the Rias Baixas DO.

David and Nicky

A spectacular end to the meal is the Quiemada, where a brass cauldron filled with burning Orujo (a Galician liquor made from pomace, like grappa) is placed on the table and you are given a metal ladle to stir in a big scoop of sugar.


The waiters can show you how to ladle the flaming liquid from on high so the blue flames shoot through the air on the way back to the bowl, only slightly singeing the table cloths if they splash over the edge. Couldn’t imagine Health & Safety allowing this in the UK!

Fire Guy

After several minutes of ladling, a waiter pours a kettle of coffee into the bowl, the flames slowly go out and the concoction is ready to drink.

If you still have space, the assorted cream cake selection is the natural choice for a group but a good option for one, if your co-diners are wimping out, is the pancakes flambéed in orujo. Generally though the desserts are nice but not amazing.

You’ll also receive a complementary glass of Orujo des Hierbas, a tasty yellow herbal version of the aguardente, to go with your sweet.


Anyway, rest assured, you’re not going anywhere fast after this lot. Good food in a great atmosphere, please don’t miss it!

Extremadura (Intermediate A-), 13 Calle Libertad, Tel. 91 531 82 22

Being overexcited on my first night in Spain for a while, I made the mistake of having a plate of pork and dairy products elsewhere before I came here, so sadly I was too full to appreciate the good food properly.


After a complementary amuse bouche of duck pate with a tasty salad of cabbage, spring onion and oregano (oh why did I do it), I had the starter proper, Migas de Pastor, a dish invented by shepherds for using up old bread.

Here it’s a combination of breadcrumbs, capsicums and small chunks of chorizo, garnished with grape halves. Unfortunately, while the dish was totally delicious (B+) it would have fed several shepherds and was way too much for me.


For my main I had Sollomillo de Cerdo Iberico a la Torta del Cesar (fillet of acorn-fed pork with a small grilled sheep’s cheese) which again was way too much for me and I couldn’t make much headway.


The wine was great though, a 2009 Tempranillo/Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon blend called ‘Habla del Silencio’ from Bodegas Habla.

Habla del Silencio

I was also given an acorn schnapps which had an interesting acorny taste but wasn’t something you’d want to drink a lot of.

Acorn schnapps

The service was good. Ana the friendly sommelier even gave me some tickets to ‘Salón de Gourmets’ a food trade show at the Feria de Madrid. I also had a pleasant chat with the piano player who spoke English quite well.

I’d definitely go again but with an empty stomach next time.

Bocaito (Intermediate B), 6 Calle Libertad, Tel. 915 321 219,

A famous (since 1966) formal Andalucian restaurant mentioned in many guides and with a heavily bestickered front door (Michelin, Rough Guide etc).

The decor is quaint with lots of ceramics, bull fighting pictures and other trappings from Andalusia. The tapas bar is particularly attractive.


I had the Escalope de Ternera (veal a la Milanaise, or Wiener schnitzel depending on your affiliation), with chips.


To drink a Crianza Rioja called Añares.


For dessert a tasty flan (caramel pud).


And a glass of ‘Los Raigones’ Pedro Ximenez dessert wine.


The service was efficient but humourless, despite my strenuous attempts to get a smile out of them.

The food and drink was fine but I don’t think it’s good value for money. Nearby Casa Salvador is cheaper and more atmospheric (see previous post).

La Paella de la Reina, 39 Calle de la Reina, Tel. 91 531 1885,

‘The best place for authentic Paella Valenciana’ according to a travel guide that I’d read when I first came to Madrid in 2001. It’s still going so I’m sure its reputation is deserved.

I recall that the rabbit and snail version I had was very good but again too much for one, you really need to take a companion to help you.

Rabbit and snail was the original paella recipe as it used ingredients readily at hand for the workers in the rice fields.

More Chueca restaurants:

Traditional Madrileño restaurants here.

Modern Spanish restaurants here.

International restaurants here.

Bars and cafes here.

Food shops here.

Google map with everything on here.

Photos from April 2011.

Madrid – Chueca – traditional Madrileño restaurants

Posted in Centro, Chueca (Justicia), Madrid, Madrid Comunidad, Spain with tags , , , , on February 21, 2016 by gannet39

Chueca is my favourite barrio in Madrid. As well as being a vibrant restaurant and nightlife area with a long history of alternative cultures (bastion of the left wing, gay capital of Spain and the spiritual home of La Movida) it also has the feeling of being a real neighbourhood lived in by real people.

I’d quite happily live here myself if I could and indeed I do spend most of my time in the neighbourhood when I’m in town.

Chueca is absolutely heaving with great bars and restaurants. To make my reviews more accessible, I’ve grouped them into different posts:

This post is about traditional Madrileño restaurants.

Traditional Spanish regional restaurants are here.

Modern Spanish restaurants here.

International restaurants here.

Bars and cafes here.

Food shops here.

Google map with everything on here.

Tienda de Vinos (aka La Communista), (Elementary A+), 35 Calle Augusto Figueroa, Tel. 91 521 7012, GEM ALERT!

One of my favourite haunts, I come here as often as I can, especially on cold winter evenings when I need some good simple home cooking to warm my cockles.

The comedor got its lefty nickname during the Franco years when it was a meeting place for radicals. It’s still run by the two smiley great-grandsons of the original owner who give polite, efficient service.

Opening time used to be 9.30 but may be a bit earlier now. You will know when it’s shut by the huge forbidding red doors barricading the whole front of the building. When it’s open the warm light coming through the lace curtains is much more welcoming.

La Communista by day

The decor is very simple and probably hasn’t changed much since 1890 when it opened.

Angel Sierra from the kitchen

Pictures of long gone guitarists, actors and bullfighters adorn the white walls of the L-shaped room.

Angel Sierra corner

You sit with your back against high dark brown wood panelling on plain wooden benches and chairs at long tables with paper table cloths that always fall off when you squeeze into your seat.

Loaf and house red

Nearly all the dishes on the menu are in single figures and you can eat four courses with wine for €25 (though I usually spend less) which is fantastic value in pricey Madrid.

Cheap menu

Typical dishes I have eaten over the years include Lentejas (an overflowing bowl of muddy legumes).

Lentil soup

Also Albondigas en Salsa con Patatas (veal meatballs with chips and gravy).

Albondigas y patatas fritas

Other favourites include Sopa de Ajo (garlic soup with bread), Ternera con Salsa con Champinon (veal and mushroom stew with a handful of homemade chips) and Higado Ternera y Cebolla (liver and onions).

For dessert there are various flans or Queso y Membrillo (fresh manchego with quince jelly). The house red is young, and hence chilled, but still very drinkable, and the orujo is complementary if you ask for a digestif.

Pan de Calatrava

Ok, so the food isn’t the greatest; sometimes the fried mixed veg is mushy, overcooked and occasionally slightly burnt, and the meatballs glisten with grease. But this just reminds me of the cooking style of my own female English relatives, which I find comforting to experience again once in a while!

Mixed veg

In short; good honest value-for-money food with no pretensions in plain but atmospheric surroundings. A classic Madrileño comedor that needs to be experienced.

Casa Salvador, (Intermediate B), 12 Calle Barbieri, Tel. 91 521 4524,

Another old school institution (since 1941) that serves hearty, traditional Spanish food. It’s another Hemingway hangout and his friend Ava Gardner famously danced on the tables here.

It’s a good place to come for a value-for-money Menu del Dia (€22 in 2013).


The restaurant could double as a bull fighting museum as there are some amazing photos of airborne bulls in mid-flight and matadors in trouble.


El Bierzo (Elementary A), 16 Calle Barbieri, Tel. 915 319 110

A typical ‘casa de comida’ restaurant that’s been here since the 1970s. It’s run by an old couple who are originally from San Ciprian de Sanabria, a small village in Leon (i.e. Castilla y Leon, a province to the north of Madrid). They source their produce from their home town and some trustworthy local suppliers like Agustin’s fish shop and Barcelo market.

The philosophy at this casa de comida is to cater for the ‘mileuristas’ (people who earn less than €1000 a month) by offering affordable all day Menus del Dia for €10 or €12 (2012 prices).

I chose water for my bebida option, rather than a glass of wine and instead ‘upsized’ to a full bottle of red ‘Lameda’ Crianza 2008 from the Toro DOC (B+), a wine I hadn’t seen anywhere else before. It went well with their dressed green olives (A).


Whenever I see lentil soup on the menu I can’t help but order it and the Lentajas con Arroz was one of the best I’ve ever had (A+). It was all about the stock but sadly my Spanish wasn’t up to asking how they made it.


Bread in Spain can be awful but the small loaf they supplied was also one of the best I’ve had here (A), kind of like a small Ciabatta.

After this Rinones al Jerez, lightly grilled kidneys with sherry (B+).


To finish a jar of Cuajada, (Junket) with a jug of honey to sweeten it up (B).


I spotted an unusual old bottle called Calisay on their back bar and finished it off for them. The waiter didn’t know where it had come from but it went very well (A) with my pud as it seemed to contain honey as well. I found out later it’s a Catalan quinine and brandy based herb liqueur made with bark from the Calisaya tree.


Next time I’d like to try their Calamari (apparently favoured by a government minister) and their fruit flavoured Gazpacho.

Service is indifferent and the decor is very plain but I have no problem with any of that if the food’s good. They have a small library of old books, including a few on food, which you can peruse between courses.

Total bill €33.50, just inside my daily allowance.

The way I see it, these places offering traditional home cooking won’t be around one day as the more modern trendy places take over.

Casa Manolo (Intermediate B+), 17 Calle Orellana, Tel. 91 308 7378 NOW CLOSED

A nice place with a lovely atmosphere now sadly closed. It’d be worth checking to see who has taken it over.

The building has an old wooden front and frosted glass windows. Inside there was soft lighting, more wood panelling and lovely tiled floors with an antique dresser for displaying the wines. It all felt very relaxing.

I went for the Piquillos o Tomates (I negotiated both) con Ventresca y Cebolla; delicious top quality tuna overlaying caramelised onions, marinated red peppers with good tomatoes and olive oil could (B+).

To drink I had a half bottle of ‘Portos’ 2008 from Ribeira del Duero (A) and to finish the Pudding de Manzana (A), a layered slice of apple sponge drizzled with caramel. The final wonderfully scented Orujo des Hierbas I requested did not show up on the bill.

Photos from April 2011 and February 2014.

Madrid – Chueca – Tapas Bars

Posted in Centro, Chueca (Justicia), Madrid, Madrid Comunidad, Spain with tags , , , , , , , on February 16, 2016 by gannet39

Chueca has heaps of  great tapas bars. Here are a few favourites:

Taberna Ángel Sierra, (Intermediate A+), 11 Calle Gravina, open 12.30pm-2am,, GEM ALERT!

Take the metro to Placa Chueca you will see Ángel Sierra straight in front of you at the end of the square as you come out of the exit (see photo).

Chueca square

This is my favourite bar in Chueca for pre-dinner drinks and tapas.

Angel Sierra

It was once a popular spot to meet or stand outside to watch local life pass by, but sadly you can no longer take your glasses out the door, or indeed smoke inside (tobacco stained ceiling notwithstanding).

Bodegas Angel Sierra

It’s a beautiful old tiled bar (since 1917) with an ancient zinc counter in the front section where everyone stands sipping cañas or glasses of spicy draught vermut whilst picking at small dishes of delicious boquerones and olives.

Cold doble with olives

You can order other tapas from the display case, or if you need a seat you can sit in the mock British pub room at the back (entrance around the side).

This room has an impressive collection of old photos and advertising signs for drinks on the walls. Click on them to get a better view.

You should come just to breath in the history.


La Piazzetta (Intermediate B), 8 Plaza Chueca, Tel. 91 523 8322

The Plaza Chueca experience is all about sitting outside with a cold drink at one of the bars. However for dining I think you’re better off going somewhere on the side streets around it, but if you must eat in the square, this place selling Italian food is ok.

I had four kinds of grilled veg, some Ravioli Pecorino y Pera (a nice combination but too much of it) and a good bottle of Mesoneros Ribera del Duero for €33.10

Café Comercial, 7 Glorieta de Bilbao (on the corner with Calle Fuencarrel),

Stop press! This place was undergoing renovations in 2016, but I revisited in February 2018 and am happy to report that the facelift has been completed and is very sympathetic to the original.

From 2011:

A classic Madrid cafe, founded in 1887 but I’m guessing they had a refit sometime in the 50’s.

It’s a huge place with a big bustling downstairs area with an ancient revolving door, brown leather seats, lots of mirrors and worn marble.


In the evening I like to sit outside with a copa of cognac (maybe after going to Ribeira do Mino which is nearby (see my post on regional restaurants in Chueca.

In the mornings I prefer the quieter upstairs where you can sit on one of the red mock-leather sofas by the windows to do the crossword with a plate of hot Churros and a Cafe con Leche by your side. Some days there will be groups of old guys gathered round a chess board but it’s usually very peaceful.

Cafe Commercial upstairs

The coffee machine is constantly on the go as are the tiny oompaloompa waiters. They will attend to you eventually, so you can start the crossword while you wait. If you need a newspaper there’s a stand right outside the cafe that sells UK papers. The cafe also has free wi-fi (‘wee fee’).

Stop Madrid (Intermediate B), 11 Calle Horteleza,

Stop Madrid

A seemingly unremarkable bar except that in 1929 it was the first bar in Madrid to start selling charcuterie.


Great care is still taken to source the best ingredients and over fifty wines are available by the glass.


I had a glass of decent red Somontano (B) with…


… a canape with a slice of grilled goats cheese made even more delicious with a splodge of fig jam on top (A).

Goats cheese

I love black pudding and I love smoked food but sadly the Smoked Morcilla didn’t work for me (C).


Sidreria El Tigre (Elementary B), 30 Calle de las Infantas,,closed Sunday

A legendary bar, due to all the free tapas they give away with every drink. The clientele are a combination of a few locals and lots of tourists, particularly Americans it seems, and the atmosphere is always buzzing.

I went on a Sunday night when they weren’t as busy as usual. If you can’t get in the original place, they have two other locations at 23 Calle de las Infantas (open every day) and 23 Calle Horteleza (closed Monday).
For me, a large glass of red (C) was accompanied by several canapés topped with slices of serrano ham (B), cooked ham (C), chorizo (B-), all spotted with a gloopy (salmorejo?) sauce (C), a garlic mushroom (C) and croquettas (B-).


It’s unarguably great value if you don’t mind mediocre grub and battling to get in in the first place. Personally though I prefer to have better food and more elbow room.

El Respiro (Elementary B), 34 Calle Infanti

Another rough and ready cheap tapas bar that’s always very lively with a studenty crowd in the evening. The wine isn’t the best and the complementary tapas are a bit too greasy (lots of potatoes and sausage), but there’s something about the place that keeps bringing me back.

And there are plenty more!

More places to eat and drink in Chueca:

Traditional Madrileño restaurants here.

Traditional Spanish regional restaurants here.

Modern Spanish restaurants here.

International restaurants here.

Food shops here.

Google map with everything on here.

Photos from April 2011 and February 2016.

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