Little Black Book

How to Eat, Shop, and Instagram Like a Local in Madrid

by Nick Papa
Madrid Madrid street style. Photo courtesy of Sergio Escalante del Valle / Flickr.

The sun shines all winter long in Spain's capital city. Nick Papa sets the tone for a long weekend in Madrid.

MADRID – Barcelona often steals the spotlight, but Madrid is, as Ernest Hemingway said, "the most Spanish of all cities." Spain's modern metropolis is a dazzling destination whose vibrancy and dynamism is seen in its first-class museums, celebrated restaurants, and renowned nightlife. From tapas in the historic Barrio de La Latina to shopping in trendy Chueca, here's how to experience Madrid like a local.

Calle de la Cava Baja
Near La Latina metro station
The La Latina district is home to Madrid's best selection of tapas, and historic Calle de la Cava Baja just may be the best street in the area. Head here after seeing the sights in nearby Plaza Mayor.

Madrid Museum Nacional Reina Sofia

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. Photo by Ferran Fusalba / Unsplash.

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
Calle de Santa Isabel 52; +34-917-74-10-00
Spain's national museum of 20th-century art is home to Pablo Picasso's famous 1937 painting Guernica. Works by Spanish masters Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró are also featured, as are international artists including Diego Rivera, Richard Serra, Donald Judd, and Damien Hirst.

Carrera de S. Jerónimo 8, +34-915-21-33-85
Traditional dishes have been served at this landmark restaurant since 1839. Skip the upmarket dining and head downstairs to the takeaway deli where mainstays include pulgas (cold-cut sandwiches) and callos a la madrileña (tripe, chorizo and blood sausage).

Calle Libertad 21; +34-915-23-39-05
An unpretentious spot in the well-heeled Chueca neighborhood, Bazaar serves modern Spanish dishes like goat cheese salad and roasted tuna with mango. Arrive around 8 p.m. for the best chance of seating without a wait.

Madrid Santceloni

Santceloni restaurant. Photo courtesy of Santceloni.

Paseo de la Castellana 57; +34-912-10-88-40
Despite its two Michelin stars, Santceloni doesn't break the bank. While the restaurant is known for its tasting menu by chef Óscar Velasco, locals go for the cheese, which is said to be the best in Madrid. Create your own cheese board from a selection of over 100 varieties for just €39.

Jardin Secreto
Calle Conde Duque 2, +34-915-41-80-23
Malasaña is Madrid's most popular district for nightlife, and Jardin Secreto is one of its best-kept secrets. Locals pack it out until late, taking in varied offerings from cocktails to cheesecake and much more in between.

Madrid Templi de debod

Templo de Debod. Photo courtesy of Jose Manuel Azcona / Flickr.


Templo de Debod
Calle Ferraz 1; +34-913-66-74-15
The Egyptian temple dating back to 200 B.C. was dismantled from its home near the Nile River and installed in the center of Madrid in the 1970s. The ancient monument creates an unexpectedly perfect setting for a picnic of pulgas from Lhardy.

Madrid concept store

Madrid concept shop El Paracaidista. Photo by Jason Briscoe / Unsplash.


El Paracaidista
Calle de la Palma 10; +34-603-30-91-73
To bring home something uniquely Spanish, head to this concept shop to find a variety of lifestyle products — home decor, clothing, accessories. Added bonus: The shop features a movie theater, cocktail bar and rooftop restaurant.

Hotel Urso, Madrid

Room at Hotel Urso. Photo courtesy of Hotel Urso.


Hotel Urso
Calle de Mejía Lequerica 8; +34-914-44-44-58
The grand neoclassical facade of this early 20th-century palace is original, but the interior of the 78-room Hotel Urso is decidedly modern. WiFi and breakfast are free, while additional facilities include an on-site restaurant, spa, and gym.


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