The pintxo bar concept steps up the rep and becomes a slightly smarter, slickly-branded restaurant with quite attentive service. This is the Basque pincho, a more artistic combination of elements: goats cheese with marmalade, tortilla with anchovy mayonnaise and many more, all piled neatly on a card-sized slice of baguette bread.
There are some great combos: Morcilla vizcaína con pimientos is the most predictable it gets, but the bacalao concoctions (al pil-pil or en ajoarriero) are delightful.
There are also some great deals – two oysters and a glass of cava for 8€, wine is under 3€ a glass and all the pintxos are 2€ each, calculated by the number of toothpicks left on your plate. Brits have a rep for ‘disappearing’ these counters of consumption, and the Spaniards hate this penny-pinching scam, so don’t try and cut your bill in any way whatsoever.
Very busy on weekends.
Metro Gran Via / Tribunal
A cosy new performing arts venue – with bar – on one of my favourite streets in Madrid. We haven’t seen a show here yet, but have spent a solid couple of hours drinking and playing Trivial Pursuit on a Saturday night. We sat next to a lamp made out of an old boot; the furni varies from stools to armchairs and there are a couple of interesting variations of candelabras and some noble attempts at swirly abstract art. It was unwise of them to have run out of Bavarian white beer on what could’ve been their busiest night, but it is still early days for them; we’ll be paying them repeat visits for performances.
Metro Anton Martín / Atocha
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A refit of a neglected space just a few metres from Plaza del Dos de Mayo, La Granja is still finding its feet, so a repeat visit is definitely in order. Decor is cosy and service is very friendly from the Italian manager, who whipped up one of the most delicious hummus platters I’ve ever tasted as soon as he opened in the early evening.
No plans for a set menu yet, and choices are still limited, but we’d encourage you to support it in its early stages and give us some feedback.
The name demonstrates just how far Malasaña has become a hipster colony, more gentrified and pricier than it was just a dozen years ago; whether it really is similar to its distant cousin in New York – Brooklyn, is another matter.
We hear that the Del Amo sisters of Tupperware fame have taken over this space, formerly Garaje Sonico. The bar is a medium-sized space with a comfortable glow from ball lights hanging over the bar, a brass ceiling and a wooden floor, assorted sofas and furni and shabby-chic touches. There is a small stage at the back too. Old pinball-machine display screens have been touched up and exhibited on the walls, the drinks are well priced (copas start at €5) and the crowd dress like the bohos across the pond. Go there and have fun.
A mouthful of a name for such a small venue, but it’s quite entertaining whether you’re in a group or just as a couple. Music ranges widely from classic rock to glam-goth with some live gigs on the tiny stage, but veers towards dancey pop and nineties/noughties classics. The bar is fairly quick and entry is a tenner.
Metro Callao / Santo Domingo