A traditional tapas bar in a funny old corner shop.They serve good ham and gulas (funny little eels). It's a cool place to visit because it is on the edge of the red light district and run by a very camp couple. They serve drinks, bitch with customers and chase out drunks and undesirables whilst neatly arranging your ham and goats cheese tapas. We felt welcomed and entertained. Check out the wig shop down the road.
Calle Hortaleza, Chueca
Near to the Paseo del Prado there are narrow streets with lots of bars and tapas bars. This one was fab. It is full of groups of young people. The decor is scruffy-glass beads dangling in the window, green splodges on the walls and menus on pretend paint palettes. It says "pulperia" on the window and octopus is definitely the best thing to choose. We also had razor clams and green chillies. The service was really friendly and the wine was cheap and good. It didn't seem super happening at 1 on a Sunday morning, but a great place to chill out.
Calle Jesus, Centro
Wonderful wine and tapas bar that is small enough to get to know the owners well and who may even treat you to a glass of cava gratis! The tapas are amazing and the design of the bar is intimate yet light and airy unlike many tapas bars. Very reasonably priced (for a student!).
Chueca, Calle Pelayo 24
Metro: Chueca. Turn left off Plaza Chueca and Pelayo runs parallel.
This is a bar on the popular road Calle Hortaleza. This road is full of fun bars, but this one is by far the best. They serve amazing cocktails, AMAZING and the bar has a slightly Morrocan feeling to it with lots of cushions on the floor and even a big double bed to sit on, but you will be very lucky if you actually get it!! There is a great vibe in the bar - very laid back! But get there early as it can get very busy, some nights you will find people actually queueing outside!
A definate must, by far my favourite bar! Also they have amazing food, especially the Samosas!!!
Calle Hortaleza, nearest tube - Alonso Martinez or Gran Vía.
Situated in the heart of Chueca, Madrid's vibrant and welcoming gay district, Aquarella is a bar you'll want to go back to. Tucked away on Calle Gravina, you will notice the flickering lights and luxurious interiour of this quiet bar. Take a seat on one of their antique chairs and you will be waited on by a friendly, handsome waiter. An intimate hide away, you can go with friends, a lover or alone. If you do go alone, be sure to brouse through Aquarella's small but always interesting collection of second hand fiction. Order a cocktail and keep your voice down. If you become a regular, the waiters will invite you to a drink. Que disfrutes.
Turn left down calle Gravina, just out of Chueca tube station. It's a 30 second walk from the metro, next to a funky hairdresser's.
Smokey blues bar which gets impossibly packed on the free gig nights on Tuesday-Thursday - get there early to get a seat. Top quality musicians squeeze onto the minuscule stage.
Between Sol and Opera on the top part of c/Hileras, just down from Plaza de las Descalzas
Typical local bar - great selection of European beers and the best Patatas Bravas in Madrid! Head down at dusk on a warm summer's evening to soak up the traditional Madrid atmosphere. There are dozens of tapas bars lining the street facing the park, and often buskers providing a bit of live music.
On the corner of Calle de Valmojado and Calle Illescas (Parque de Aluche), Aluche; nearest metro: Aluche/ Campamento
A wonderful, authentic free-entry flamenco bar. It is a small tiled cafe where singers, guitarists and dancers walk in and play. Camaron de la Isla is supposed to have arrived one night and sung until 10am. One night, we stayed in the back room and saw totem faced Andalucian gitanos necking bottles of Bacardi, and playing the most gut-wrenching bare-souled music you could witness.
It's on Cava Baja, in La Latina.
As a university exchange student in Madrid, there was no better place to hang out and meet new people. Very laidback and no-frills vibe, almost like a local. Open beer and calimocho bar most nights.
Luchana,15, Bilbao Metro station, right next to the Palafox cinema
Friendly, cool, laid-back bar for arty, student types with electronic music. Grab the centre wooden platform to lounge on low-seating with your friends. Open 23 - 2.30 (closed Mondays)
Olmo 31, Antón Martin metro, Info 91 521 48 54
At 14-19 euros the night, it is certainly cheap. Morisco style, chill-out, weekly parties and 24 hour opening make this a desireable spot in the centre. Two to 14 beds per room.
Calle Cañizares, 6; Tel: 91 369 28 07; Metro: Anton Martin; www.catshostel.com/
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