Travel

Centro

Establishment neighborhood
Le Marché Aux Puces
Calle de Fernando VI 2, Centro
Aside from expertly tailored clothing (predominantly for guys), Le Marché Aux Puces offers an assortment of beautiful coffee table books and accessories, all housed in an imposing, dizzyingly beautiful former bookstore. A dream for the male sartorialist expect everything from Balenciaga to Dior clothes-wise with a stellar selection of all the additional accoutrements—ties, foulards, cufflinks—required to be stylishly suited and booted head-to-toe.
Casa Lucio
Calle Cava Baja 35, Centro
Walking through the heavy-wood, tavern-style entryway to this eatery is akin to stepping into the Madrid of yesteryear—the plates are monogrammed, the waiters are suited-up, and the clientele spans politicians, locals, eccentrics, and the occasional royal. Casa Lucio is an olive oil soaked slice of the old-world, traditional yet incredibly refined with a classic menu of gastronomical favorites to match. Try the huevos estrellados—crispy, salty fried potatoes topped with broken runny eggs and be sure to linger over your desert for the all-important sobremesa (loosely translated as post-dinner debate and conversation) that keeps Madrileños firmly planted the table until the early hours.
La Fábrica
Calle Alameda, 9, Centro
This sprawling multi-functional space sits in the heart of Madrid’s cultural center and makes for the perfect place to catch your breath from hours of museum hopping. After a Mediterranean-inflected lunch at the modern, light-filled café (while you’re there, ask to see the dinner menu and make a reservation on the spot if the pasta and hearty fish dishes appeal), stop by the photography-only exhibition space and supporting bookstore. Finish by picking up a bottle of a Spanish red, artisan-crafted leather clutch, or a piece of artisan-made silver jewelry at the meticulously curated concept shop supporting local design talent.
Rughara and Casa Quiroga
Corredera Alta de San Pablo, 1, Malasaña
It’s impossible to talk about indie furniture/décor/gallery hybrid Casa Quiroga, without mentioning its big sister, Rughara, as the two are actually an extension of each other, both physically and conceptually. Rughara’s particular brand of quirky, mix-and-match merchandising, which incorporates racks of clothing, themed displays of home accessories, and a curated assortment of vintage furniture proved to be so popular with the local artsy types that an expansion into the neighboring storefront was inevitable. The resulting space serves as a showroom for more vintage wares, local designer goods, and the occasional performance and meeting space for the aforementioned artsy types.
Antigua Casa Crespo
Calle del Divino Pastor, 29, Centro
GP stumbled on this teeny mom-and-pop—which turned out to be the most fabled espadrille shop in the city—on her last visit to Madrid. Inside, find rows of wooden cubbies packed to the rafters with traditional rope-soled, canvas espadrilles (or alpargatas, as they’re known to the locals) in every conceivable color and silhouette and priced at way below what one might expect to pay for such well-made shoes. The owners—fourth generation espadrille craftspeople, mind you—close up for siesta, so plan your visit accordingly.
Mercado San Ildefonso
Calle de Fuencarral, 57, Centro
In a city of great markets new and restored, it's tough to stand out, though this hipster concept does a pretty good job of it with an edited selection of distinct street food stalls. Don't expect any banh-mi though, the furthest you'll get from tapas here are the Mexican tacos and the Peruvian ceviche. Located in Malasaña, the market is packed at work lunch hours and then again late at night when the offices close. With plenty of cocktail and wine bars dotted throughout, this also makes a fun late night destination for groups.
Panic Bakery
Calle Conde Duque, 13, Centro
Unlike other European cities, Madrid didn't boast much of a bread scene until graphic designer-turned bread baker Javier Marco came along with his artisanal sourdough and opened Panic in 2012. To this day, he sells six basic loaves, for which people continue to line up around the block, complemented by some incredible cakes baked by HomeCake. You'll occasionally find some pretty epic sandwiches (bocatas) here too, along with his magic touch on the traditional Pan Tomate. Make sure to ask about their occasional bread baking workshops.
Café del Jardin del Museo del Romanticismo
Museo del Romanticismo, Calle San Mateo 13, Centro
While we wouldn't recommend spending a ton of time at the Museum of Romanticism itself, the tea salon and garden are another story altogether. This teensy cafe is something of a local's secret: Set in a lush, and yes, sweetly romantic courtyard behind the museum, it's an idyllic spot for an afternoon break. Make sure to snag a seat outside at one of the tables around the fountain and order a slice of the famous home-baked cake.
Queseria Cultivo
Calle Conde Duque, 15, Centro
While the Panic bakery next door brings artisanal bread into focus, the Queseria is all about artisanal cheeses from Spain and beyond. In their vast and heavenly vault you'll find a surprising variety of national cheeses across the spectrum, along with the very best of the rest of Europe. The shop is the work of three pioneering cheese producers coming together to raise awareness of their craft in Madrid. Not only do they bring rare regional varieties here, they also teach classes on everything from cheese-making to photography.
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