This small hipster hot spot, which roasts its own beans, was one of the first places in Madrid to take specialty coffee seriously. Decorated in white tile and brick, with wooden benches and plants in every corner, the cafe generally offers three types of coffee, plus homemade cakes, pastries and delicious toast made with tomatoes, olive oil and Iberian ham.
BTW: The little table by the window is the ideal place for viewing the local fauna inside. Toma has another location, too, next to Plaza de Olavide.
39, calle de la Palma, Madrid, 28004
If you want to try Madrid’s most sumptuous porras and churros — Spain’s quintessential fried breakfast sweets — this is the place to go. From 7 a.m. to noon, you’ll find locals dipping their churros in thick hot chocolate that could easily be eaten with a spoon. If you’re in a hurry, get your churros to go, but the ideal experience is to sit and enjoy your breakfast like a Madrileño, in the same chairs that have stood here since 1985.
BTW: Grab a place at the end of the bar to see how the churros and porras are made.
74, calle de Ibiza, Madrid, 28009
Sala de Despiece
This trendy new gastronomical spot is, unusually, themed after an abattoir, or meat-slaughtering plant. The walls are clad with meatpacking boxes, and a chopping block doubles as a lunch counter, where you can peek at what everyone else is eating and place your order based on what you think looks best. One prime recommendation: the chuletón cenital, a finely sliced strip steak that you can roll up right at your table
BTW: Get there early. Customers are served in order of arrival, and there’s usually a line at the door.
11, calle de Ponzano, Madrid, 28011
Step inside a temple of typical Madrileño cuisine, with its ideal setting for classic Spanish cooking: checked tablecloths and walls covered with bullfighting photos, old posters and memorabilia from Las Ventas Plaza de Toros. Order the batter-fried hake or the oxtail, two of the restaurant’s specialties since 1941.
BTW: The latest addition is an autograph from Anthony Bourdain in the corner where he had dinner in 2010.
12, calle de Barbieri, Madrid, 28004
For avant-garde cuisine at a reasonable price, StreetXO should be your first stop. This restaurant, located in the penthouse of El Corte Inglés Serrano department store, is run by Dabiz Muñoz, the only Madrid native with three Michelin stars (awarded for his masterpiece DiverXO). StreetXO doesn’t take reservations, and there’s always a line. The secret? Get there an hour before it opens and ask for a seat at the bar. You can watch the chefs slice and dice as they prepare your Madrid-Asian fusion meal to the frenzied musical beat.
BTW: Be sure to try the “Hong Kong Madrid” stew and the Pekingese dumplings.
52, calle Serrano, Madrid, 28001
When Cuenllas first opened its doors, in 1939, it was one of the few places to offer French fare, and its clientele was limited to the privileged wealthy few. Nowadays the restaurant is more accessible, its bar often packed with lovers of bone marrow and fans of ensaladilla rusa, a potato salad made with carrots, peas, prawns and mayo. Pair your meal with one of the wines from the extensive cellar.
BTW: The bar starts to fill up around 8:30 p.m., but if you go before then, you might have the place to yourself.
5, calle de Ferraz, Madrid, 28008
Celso y Manolo
The success of this tavern comes from several sources, the most prominent being its meticulous decor: vintage Spanish travel posters, artisan crafts and the original 1950s counter, paired with 1920s bar stools. But its surprising and original tapas menu is another reason. You’ll be amazed by the fabulous fried calamari and the spectacular tomatoes, which peep over the edge of the bar.
BTW: The kitchen closes at 12:30 a.m., so get your orders in before that. Better to book by phone in advance, too; the restaurant is quite small.
1, calle de la Libertad, Madrid, 28004
You may just be tempted to try all 41 of Salmon Guru’s crazy cocktails, mixed under the glow of neon arrows. Low lighting and excellent acoustics make this the ideal place for an intimate chat. Every cocktail is a work of art, but if you feel it going to your head, an order of oxtail gyozas may help. There’s almost always a line, and it doesn’t take reservations.
BTW: Tell the barista what flavors you like and let him recommend something. He’ll always hit the nail on the head.
21, calle de Echegaray, Madrid, 28014