No-frills bars

La Figal: the charming 1940s bar opposite the Brutalist church

15 January 2018

One of the best things about this accidentally retro bar is how much fun it is to explore. There are secret, time-bending portals connecting the endless labyrinth of dining rooms… or so it seems. When the same short, middle-aged waiter in a waistcoat kept appearing every time we entered a new room, we wondered how else he could have got there so quickly.

The simple explanation is that La Figal is run by three almost identical brothers, and it was the way each of them spoke to us as if they’d met us many times before that brought us to such an abstract conclusion.

The waiters' portal to the back dining rooms

The waiters’ portal to the rear dining rooms

Restaurante La Figal first opened its doors in the 1940s, and in 1982 it was taken over by three Asturian brothers, Manuel, Emilio and José, who named the bar La Figal after a fig tree that grew above their family home.

Although the majority of its 1940s decor remains intact, parts have been updated over the years, giving the bar an eclectic look that has stood the test of time. The atmosphere follows a similar rule: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, so if you want to see what Spain was like in the 1980s, La Figal is a gem of a time warp with a daily post-church crowd to match.

Let me take you through each of the labyrinthine spaces in this beautifully kitsch bar…

The front mezzanine dining area

The front mezzanine dining area

The back mezzanine dining area

The rear mezzanine dining area

The menu above the back bar area

The menu above the rear bar area

The mezzanine dining area

The mezzanine dining area

The front bar area

The front bar area

The bar at the back was busier than the front, with punters tucking into generous tapas with their cañas

A view down to the back bar area

A view down to the rear bar area

And now through to the rear dining areas…

Through to the back dining areas

The mirror-clad corridor leading to the rear dining areas

The intermediate back dining room

The intermediate rear dining room

Displays of botijos in the intermediate back dining room

Displays of botijos in the intermediate rear dining room

The deepest dining room, with fake windows

The deepest dining room, with fake light-box windows

Those beautiful grey speckled-marble walls and smoky mirrors below the mezzanine…

Back through to the bar area

Back through to the bar area

BEHIND THE SCENES

I love this place… there aren’t many like it left in Madrid. Would you mind if I took some photos?

After the brothers gave us a guided tour, in turn, through the bar, mezzanine and dining room, we were invited for a free drink at the bar to chat about why we were taking these photos. José also took us through his Google reviews, proudly swiping past ratings of 4 and 5. When he came to a 1, he told me that the reason they got such a low score is because the customer was jealous of his receding hairline.

INFO

  • Website & Twitter
  • Address: Calle de Buen Suceso, 4
  • Nearest metro: Argüelles, Line 3
  • Opening hours: Mon-Sat 6 am-12 am

You may also like

Leave a Comment