Drinking Beer in Madrid

Well, my bit of Madrid, at least

*none of the photos taken in this post were taken by me
** all of the opinions are mine and “fluid” to say the least.

Hipsters love their beer, almost as much as their tattoos and their facial hair.
Hang on! thinking about it, all those blokes I grew up with were hipsters not North Notts Coal Miners*
(*sounds crazy to younger people…but in the past…britain made things and mined things, rather than running hedge funds, avoiding tax and buying everything from China)

When I came to live in Madrid, 12 years ago now, beer existed but only Mahou or other chemically altered nasty lager beers. and you could spit on the floor and throw anything you liked on the floor in a bar. and smoke at people, and shit on the floor or in the milk or anywhere you liked. They were simpler days.

Madrid is a better place since I came here. Obvs. The bread is still shite and people do still enjoy spitting on the floor and shitting in the milk, but…..but….real beer has arrived, and arrived hard. While having your beard trimmed by a lumbersexual you can look out of the window and see a bar selling artisinal beer from any angle. So here are some places to enjoy liquid bread if you happen to be in the people’s republic of Lavapiés

O.G! La buena pinta. Maybe the first beer shop/bar in Madrid. In Lavapiés market. Sells beer to take away with you or beer to put into yourself there and then. Generally has 4 good beers on tap (between 3,50€ and 5€ a pint). La buena pinta is also involved with 2 other bars close by….

the good one….Bar Casa Zoilo

..one of my favourite old skool bars, now even better as it has at least one IPA on tap and loads in bottles. Reasonably priced.

the not so good…El Pedal. a shame…cos it’s really near my house. Unfortunately, rather expensive (minimum 5€ a pint going up to 7€ or so) and not very comfortable. Staff aren’t particularly friendly either

couldn’t find a picture of the bar. i could probably take one from my balcony, but i’m still in my jim-jams and drinking a mug o’tea. give me a break.
Chinaski

18 different beers on tap from all over the place. Pint of pilsner erquel for 3,50€ if you fancy a decent lager beer. Do check how strong the beer you’re ordering is….i’m not a big fan of anything over 7percent and they have quite a few that are up to 10 or more. I’m still very manly of course.

Cafe Pavon
Next to Teatro Pavon. Was an always empty cafe bar until it became a hipster paradise. No proper beer on tap but they always have a few artisinal beers from madrid in bottles. terrible service, they can’t cope if there’s more than 3 people in the bar so you might be in for a long wait. Also, almost always full of ridiculously attractive people. They should really have a bouncer on the door so people like me aren’t allowed in. For bog lovers, the bogs aren’t great.

(course, make me look stupid googleimages, only have pictures of this bar farely empty)
there is a specialist beard barber opposite but you have to have a booking. and speak english i think, as the barber refused to speak spanish to me. which is his right.

La Caleta

WordPress gives you various information about visitors to your blog: which pages they read and which country they were in and if they came by way of a google search, what they were googling that led them to your blog. The other day someone found my blog by searching pie drinking porn. I imagine he or she must have been very disappointed with my recipe for oxtail shepherd's pie. And people looking for hot lesbian badgers are going to be equally disappointed with this post.

La Caleta has been around for qute a few years but recently moved up the hill from Calle Tres Peces to Calle Santa Isabel and into a huge space that used to be an Indian restaurant. Calle Tres Peces is undergoing quite a change these days…what used to be the most depressing old man bar el aperitivo has been done up nicely in the way these places are transformed by dimmed lighting, half decent music and decent free tapas. Opposite is la infinita….book shop cafe with wifi. Don't order the house white…i have a glass of it in my hand at the moment and it's ropey to say the least.

Back to La Caleta. It's a gaditana bar which means it's a Cadiz themed place. Massive picture of Camarón on the wall as you walk in. Videos of Camarón on big screen at the back. If you've never listened to La Leyenda del Tiempo then I beg you to do so.

Cadiz is also famous for battered and fried fish which is served in paper. Sound familiar? Battering was invented by the Phoenicians apparently and Cadiz was a Phoenician city. There you go. I'm not sure when the English got into battering.

 

I order a racion of the bienmesabe. This is chunks of cazón, a sort of flat shark (rock salmon in english..if you've ever heard of that) which is cut into chunks and battered. The batter definitely has a bit of cumin in it. Bienmesabe is one of those things that is great when done well, and appalling when, more often than not, fucked up. A bit like the way a pint of Guinness can be the best thing in the world, or quite the opposite. I ordered it as I assumed it would be ther stock in trade as a Cadiz style bar. Very nice.

Not cheap though, that racion and a doble of beer was 13€

Now….to cruise the internet for sexy young ferrets covered in gravy

 

Casa Revuelta

la revuelta (1 of 1)This place is about as old skool Madrid as you could find. You’ll never find it empty but if you’re lucky you might be able to squeeze yourself into a space at the bar.

To drink? Why, vermut of course!

Casa Revuelta is most famous for its battered loins of bacalao, which cost you about a euro and change, and are worth at least twice that. As regards free tapa with your drink, Casa Revuelto can toy with your emotions…on one visit you’re euphoric when given a plate of thick pork scratchings…the next you’re slapped in the face with a plate of the worst imaginable tapa, peanuts in their shells. Did I say slapped, I should’ve said head-butted. I make much the same face as my neighbour’s cat made at me the time I accidentally closed the door on his tail (a mixture of pain, betrayal,heartbreak and confusion.)

I used to live around the corner and came here more regularly, generally on my day off and just before having a menú del día. After a hiatus of maybe one or two years, I went back and yourman behind the bar smiled and said “vermut con casera?”

Here’s a google map for it. It’s in Puerta Cerrada, just down from Plaza Mayor. Casa Revuelto

While you’re there, don’t miss the chance to have another vermut in Bodega Ricla

Bodegas Casas

The barrio of Pacifico is an undiscovered gem, a gold mine, the milk. To mix the metaphorical. And the languages.

Bodegas Casas was founded in 1923 by Don Gregorio. His father was a shepherd who, for some reason, had a large collection of clay pots, which can be seen around the bodega. But not in this photo. What with me being rubbish with a camera.

The wee iron fence there serves the purpose of separating the gentlemen from the ladies. Hard to tell if this is enforced still, as I was there on my todd.

Possibly the best vermouth you’ll have in Madrid. Or anywhere I’ve been, at least…which is a…handful…of places.

The vermut used to be homemade until PC “has the world gone mad” came in and ruined everything. I’m not even allowed to beat my wife anymore. Or own slaves

You can buy a litre bottle to take away with you for €5,20.

I was tempted

Le petit bistrot

Voulez vous!

I’m not sure what that actually means. I was in remedial french at school…sat with the kids that couldn’t read English never mind a second language. I was even threatened with suspension because the head of year told me I had deliberately failed the exam that was to stream us into levels after a couple of weeks of repeating the days of the week and some numbers. If only they’d tried to teach us how to say woodland animals in French, I’d probably have gone on to do a masters at the Sorbonne.

Despite this trauma, I’m decidedly a francophile. I’ve even met upwards of half a dozen French people and liked all of them. A croque monsieur is preferable to an english toasted cheese sandwich, a portuguese tosta mixta or a catalan bikini. However, I’ve never spent more than five days in Paris (where i was forced to share a bed with a young Matt Briggs, now of the South Yorkshire Fire Service. If ever I was destined to be bi-curious, having to share a bed with an excessively flatulent yorkshireman put the kybosh on that) and only two day trips to Calais. 50% of those trips are just a blur though.

Coincidentally, two unconnected friends had told me how good this restaurant was (i mean…two friends who don’t know each other. I’m not contrasting them with my connected mafia friends) AND I happened to get into a conversation just yesterday about french onion soup. As you do. So it seemed like fate when my friend/son Andy suggested we go there for lunch today.

It’s a bit pricey at the weekends, 17,50€ for the set 3 course menu…with a glass of wine…and the menu del día is replete with dishes that require a 3€, 4€ addition to this set price. There were 4 of us drinking wine, so the waiter left the bottle.

I went for onion soup. I just deleted the word french from that…because you wouldn’t say you had an italian pizza in a trattoria, would you?

I’ve never had onion soup before, i realised. And certainly not french style with bread and cheese on top. Tasty enough. I wouldn’t mind experimenting myself with this.

Main course, with my sophisticated pallet i opted for the hachis parmentier…oui, tres chic, non?

…..it’s basically shepherd’s pie…and what could be better than that. Good to see that British food so impresses the french they have their own versions. Mind you, the french did more for British culture than any other invader of the land…so I think it’s right that we pay them back with delicious food. In the background is Andy’s burger with goat’s cheese. Never sure where to put that apostrophe to make the possessive…how many goats are involved in the making of cheese? And not like it’s theirs anyway…they’d not be able to spread it on their baguette, what with their impractical cloven hooves.

For pudding, once again the French looked to their former subjects for inspiration…rice pudding with nutmeg.

Nice experience and a pleasant place. I think I would have preferred a surly waiter in a wine stained vest and a gauloise hanging from his lip rather than a reasonably polite and attentive fella. Bit more than I would normally spend on a lunch. But at the end of the day…sommes comme un coq en pâte

(Thanks to the lovely Caroline for the second photo…as i managed to delete mine from my phone after stuffing the shepherd’s pie hachis parmentier into my gut)

mercado san fernando

Following the recent trend for doing up markets in the city, like the san miguel in austrias and san anton in chueca, the people’s republic of lavapiès has done the same with the mercado san fernando. I get the impression that this new incarnation has been…incarnated…without what might be left from taxes after the PP has creamed off their cut.

As well as a host of new stalls and bars, they’ve got new opening hours…no more closing for a couple of hours in the afternoon and it’s even open on saturdays and sundays.

Lavapiès seems to be at the forefront of the new “real ale” movement…well, not exactly real ale…widening horizons from mahou and….err…mahou sin alcohol…to…other beers. There’s a bar on calle argumosa called el pedal which claims to carry 200+ beers…and in the mercado there’s a shop selling all sorts of beers…german wheat beers to british IPAs…if you can’t wait to get your new beer purchase home, you can drink it there. Big bottles of german weizenbier are about 2,50€

There’s all your normal market stalls such as fishmongers and greengrocers…as well as delis selling weird foreign products

…like mint sauce, apple sauce and dijon mustard. Looking at the price he’s selling his coleman’s for…i’d guess he won’t be open that long. He does lemon curd too.

There’s a place that sells ready made greek food and greek products. There’s also a bar that sells wine by the litre from large vats

As well as the new places, there’s still the traditional old boy bars

…cañas in all the traditional bars seem to be 1,20€ including a tapita.

Just another place that adds to Lavapiès’ reputation as “the best barrio in madrid”

Sunday caña crawl

Decided to leave the house and cross the rubicon of Gran Via to see if a café’s claim, backed up by a friend of mine, that they served the best coffee in Madrid was true. Toma cafè on calle palma. Teeny tiny place which wasn’t helped by a couple of bikes being parked in there. Group of six americans and a trendy japanese couple filling the place meant I had to get my coffee “to go”

Coffee was good and was nice to see those two great nations putting their histories behind them and choosing to ignore each other and enjoy their coffees instead. Best in Madriz? Iunno to be honest, it was good but i made a tactical error and took a cappuccino…think i’d need my usual cortado to truly make a judgement. I should fall on my sword like Brutus.

So, i found myself in a part of town I don’t frequent too much and thought…instead of studying, why don’t I throw lager beer and free tapas down my throat instead? I couldn’t come up with a decent point against this proposal, so that’s what i did.

First stop: La Pomerada

A bit incongruous in an area that would like to think it had its hipness turned up to 11. Asturian place. Marca to read, telly in the corner. Caña for 1,40€ and decent free tapa. There’s a comedor out back and their menu del dìa was advertised at 12€…which ain’t bad for a sunday

Taberna de Abajo


On a street parallel to the last one. Old skool. Barman has no voice. Judging by the silk scarf he wears around his throat, it’s something medical…or he’s very gauche and chooses not to speak. Must be hard in his line of work.. He has crabs too. And clams and percebes. I just got a small plate of crisps as a tapa though. The spanish can’t say “crisps” it’s a consonant cluster which doesn’t occur in spanish…actually,i can’t think of any that do….so it comes out as “crips”….obviously not a worry for our barman as he can’t speak. Caña was 1,40…which ain’t easy when you can only communicate with fingers. I’d be tempted to make them either 1€ or 2€

Bodegas El Maño


An old favourite. Not much to say. Paella as a tapa, 1,40€ for the caña. Couple of decent old skool places on same part of the same street. Possibly my caña goggles had kicked in at this point as was a group of women of a certain age who were very attractive. And i’m almost exactly that age!

Carmencita bar


Seems to be american run. Doing a roaring trade in brunch and burgers. Mimosas are bucks fizz to us, and they were serving them in jugs. I do approve of that. Caña was 1,40€….but the tapa was mixed nuts! (Add your own ” for fucksake”)

Decided to head back to la republica de lavapiès

Stopped for a drink near anton martin martin. I couldn’t actually remember the name of the bar…but i googled “perroflauta bar anton martin” and it was the first choice…that tells you enough…

Parrondo


Not much to say. Perroflauta is the spanish for crusty. Perro=dog, flauta=recorder. Nice enough in there, though i don’t think i got a tapa.

Lamiak

Not the shit one on cava baja, the one just off the top of calle ave marìa. Turned my nose up at offer of crips or olives as a tapa. Beer goggles fully functional. Fell deeply in love with a woman in a tartan skirt and boots.

Vinícola Mentridana

An old favourite. Wine bar. Vermouth on tap.

Bar that used to be called los nogales but iunno now


One of the best examples of a shitty old man bar that has been taken over by people with either enough taste or not enough money to fuck it up. Turn the lights down a bit, hummus as a tapa, couple of comfortable chairs, rolling gnomes instead of el fary and bob’s your giddy aunt.

Tapa was russian salad on bread and some olives. Barmaid was doing a good deal of talking to herself. Although she could’ve been talking to my food

Almost home…O’Pazo de Lugo


Opposite my gaff. Inscrutable old gallego barman and to offset that, a very friendly young cuban barman. Prawns always there as a tapa. Neil diamond was playing. Not live, obviously.

Casa Zoilo

Somehow Casa Zoilo has managed to elude me for the last 9 years…not many bars in my barrio can say that. Possibly this is because you’d have no reason to walk along Calle de la Huerta del Bayo…unless you lived there..or, like me, you were on a Yelp-inspired wild goose chase and looking for a non-existent portuguese restaurant called Casa Janes on that street.

It certainly puts the old in old-skool. A friendly old couple run it. There’s a massive old fridge…from the 1930s or so i’d say in behind the second part of the bar…and you can buy various things to take away…litres or cans of beer, soda water, litre bottles of wine or sherry.

Very little to say about it. It has no pretensions…there’s a telly in the corner of the back bar, there’s the ubiquitous slot machine in the corner, music doesn’t come from a computer or a disc jockey (who could tell the difference anyway) but a radio sitting behind the bar.

I got a caña for 1,20€ and it came with a small bowl of patatas revolconas…mashed potatoes mixed with paprika and topped with fresh pork scratchings. A work of genius that combines two of humankind’s greatest achievements: a) mashed potato b) pork scratchings.

There’s no comedor so if your wee tapa isn’t going to satisfy you, you’ll have to make do with raciones of cold meats or cheese….or bocadillos filled with..cold meats and/or cheese. The bocadillos ranged from 2,50 to 3,50€.

All in all, a taberna muy castiza

Bodegas lo maximo, lavapiès

Shining example of an old man’s bar taken over by people without enough money to fuck it up. Zinc bar. Half decent music. Armchairs. Disco-ball. As well as your usual beer, wine and (bottled) vermouth…they also do Negroni…which is gin, vermouth and campari served in an old-fashioned glass…and is strong…to say the least. On a campari tip, they also do Spritz…white wine, campari, soda, ice n’a slice…try asking for that in a north nottinghamshire pit village. Having escaped such a mileiu…i was happy to order one

Too much campari in this one…end of bottle…i had to have it topped up with white wine

You can’t see glitterball here..but it’s above these chairs which are on a raised platform. Ideal if you want to be the centre of attention.

Sundays they do paella. Normally there’s tostas and salmorejo.

Achuri

I’ve been coming to this bar for years. I always refer to it as the communist bar…of course that’s not in the least bit pejorative coming from me..quite the reverse. I called it that because you can read diagonal here..which is about the most leftist newspaper we have in Spain…although it’s only printed weekly..and the posters decorating the bar express good left-wing sympathies. Truth be told, it’s a bit perroflauta (crusty/bongobonghi/dancingfool)…but don’t let that put you off…staff are friendly enough..tercios are cold and the food is good and cheap. Free tapas with your drink are a bit on the stingy side though..almost always olives or crisps or the dreaded bowl of peanuts

That’s not the full menu…and they do do a menu del dia during the day.

What i’ve had here:

  • Bocadillo (large bread roll…well..half a baguette) of sausages and mojo picòn (spicy canarian sauce…which i’ve since discovered tends to have almonds in it…but i didn’t die, so i assume theirs doesn’t
  • Bocadillo of bernabè…minced meat, spices and peppers. Bocadillos are 3,50€…so it’s often an option for me if i’ve missed my tea and can’t go to bed after work on a growling stomach
  • Papas arrugadas…a canarian speciality…small potatoes cooked in their skins in very salty water..drained and then they are put back on the heat to get rid of any excess moisture…so the skins wrinkle a bit and are covered with a fine white salt dust…then you put mojo picòn on them..or the more coriandery mojo verde
  • Croquetas of lacòn. Gammon croquettes.
  • My ex, whose name i do not care to remember, had the leeks au gratin and thought they were great.

It’s only 10pm on a friday night..that’s why the eating section is empty. Actually, i think the only people inside the bar at the moment are me, the waiters and a handful of people who are hoping that some people who have tables out on the terraza leave soon…it’s september and still balmy.

Lingua Franca

http://www.rastrobar.com/

Great bar, just off the rastro. Run by Bryn (either a scouser or a woolyback not sure) and Guadalupe (not a scouser, from Seville…(i’ve often thought that there was a decent correlation between Liverpool and Seville…sense of humour and general economic status))

Full english breakfasts for 7,50€…that’s with your orange juice and your tea and coffee. And the sausages….the sausages…well…they’re more than nice.

There’s books there in english..two seperate rooms. If you want to practice your ingles, i’d say it’s a great place to go…and if you don’t..same applies

Maybe one of the newest bars in the barrio. I’m hoping it takes off

Bodegas Rosell

Down a street to the right of Atocha train station, a gem…bodegas rosell.

Points in its favour: vermouth on tap, old skool decor. Not much else to say.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking

Playa Lavapiés

Calle Argumosa is blessed with 30 bars. I thought we’d hit critical mass at 29…but oh no.

La Playa opened up last summer and originally had sand on the floor for that beach feel. Luckily, elf & safety made them get rid of the sand every other week and replace it with fresh sand, and they soon got bored of doing that and elbowed the sand idea. Good. I ‘ate sand.

Not a bad place for a drink…alhambra on tap and in tercios, decent range of wine. No vermouth on tap 😦

In terms of food…dunno…never eaten here. They do toasted sandwiches, nachos, guacamole…that sort of affair.

Spanish coffee is, to put it mildly, a bit wank…luckily La Playa is one of the four or five places in the barrio that have italian Illy coffee

(you might find this blog a bit Lavapiés-centric…but i live here…and it is the best barrio in Madriz)