La Latina - a different Madrid is waiting for you
La Latina is said to be the living neighbourhood of the Madrid working class people. It is a very fascinating area as it is so different from the areas nearby downtown. The streets are narrow, houses more colourful, less people on move.
There were small or tiny restaurants - not as many as in other areas but they were nice. You always got some extra when you bought something.
Especially nice were the old fashioned and still kept street signs which look like they would be made of porcelain. It is typical only for this area. One very interesting and very international small restaurant, which was Iraqi. The two very polite, funny and nice young guys working there were from Romania and the other one from Syria. We Finnish customers...
I know very well that it's a habit to give the customer something salty free of charge (peanuts, olives or other tapas or mezedes type of small things). But these guys brought us a such a big PORTION of many different kind of olives that we were totally full and had a difficulty in eating it all!
La Hora de Comer..... Time To Eat!!
It would be irresponsible to not include a tip about eating times in Madrid.... after all, it may be different to your local customs, and could mean you miss out on some great food!
Firstly, el desayuno, breakfast is fairly non-existent as a meal here. Typically you will find:
- zumo de naranja, freshly squeezed orange juice (delicious!)
- cafe, coffee or
- chocolate caliente hot chocolate
with a tosta or churros/porras
These will be served no later than 12h00.
For lunch, things get interesting.... in fact, if you are on a budget or with an energetic trip planned, I most recommend you get to a good place to eat at this time.
Almost every eating establishment will offer a menu del día, ranging in price and quality. Basically this will be a set menu (usually with a selection) to include
- pan, bread
- vino o refresco, wine or soft drink
- 2 platos, courses
- postre, dessert and
- cafe, coffee
.....at a cost of around 80% the original price. This can be a great value and certainly a good way to eat lots when you need the energy for the day!
You will find this available from around 14h00-16h00 from Monday to Friday, and not usually at weekends. *Note that after this time you may not find a place to eat until the evening.*
Prices are around 8-12€ per person. Of course there are a few pricier restaurants, but these prices by far reflect the majority of places you will likely encounter.
Finally, para cenar, to dine in the evening.... Don´t even think about eating before 20h00..... in fact, los madrileños won´t emerge for their meal before 22h00 and arriving at a restaurant before this time may leave you feeling you´re in a ghost town! It´s certainly not a good time to judge the popularity of a place ;)
Many restaurants open from 21h00, and are often open until midnight or even later.
There is a growing list of food establishments in my tips if you are looking for ideas. I hope this guide is useful to you :)
Go to the Hawaiian Bar in Plaza Santa Ana (I'm sorry, I don't remember the name of it). They give you a Hawaiian lay, a flower, and one of those little umbrellas for your drinks. The drinks are like smoking volcanos and coconuts and scorpions and come with like 3 foot long straws. It's a lot of fun.
Joy Eslava (Calle del Arenal, 33), with 6 bars distributed across 3 floors, is still the city’s most popular nightspot - on any night of the week it is a favourite queuing venue for both citizens and travellers alike.
Gabana 1800 (Velázquez, 6) is the flagship of the Madrid dulce vida and is a cocktail-sipping hangout for the city’s gorgeous people…and often a few Real Madrid futbolistas.
Ave Nox (Lagasca, 31) has a lively atmosphere and is another prime place-to-be-seen. Teatriz (Hermosilla, 15), set in a charming theatre, is a very popular venue that is worth visiting if only to check out the décor (by Philippe Starck y Mariscal).
Fortuny (Fortuny, 34) is an intriguing ‘disco-restaurant’ in a historic little mansion that has certainly seen the glittering footsteps of more than a few of the city’s brightest stars.
The Dekonya is an essential nightlife spot. It's a dim litted bar with colorful walls and a long hallway that takes you to a 'backroom' with a dance floor. Trendy and cool.
Fun fact: its name means 'as a joke' ;-) None