‘Gracias por su visita’ , a photography project and zine after my no-frills heart, emerged out of British photographer Joseph Fox and designer Lizzie Frost’s desire to create something that was simple and fun, and a way to connect with Madrid.
It’s mid-morning by the time sunlight illuminates the grey facade of this no-frills gem in Estrecho, but the neighbours have been visiting Los Pepes since sunrise, just as they’ve done for years for their desayuno of churros and bracing café con leche, writes Juan Carlo.
Madrid’s no-frills vegan and vegetarian restaurants are built on radical foundations. None of the restaurants I’ve listed below shy away from expressing their opinions on feminism, anti-speciesism, communism or even all-out anarchism, and nor should they. What makes Madrid such an exciting place to live is the people’s unrelenting will to fight for what they believe in – a hangover from decades of oppression combined with real concern for the future we’re hurtling towards.
The prices are low, the quality is fine, the service is quick, the menu is in Spanish and the soul and decor of the bar is utterly no-frills.
Emerge from Lavapiés’ metro into the Mediterranean Maghreb. Meander through its narrow, winding streets lined with candy-coloured facades and Juliette balconies, and catch a glimpse of the Middle East and Africa, but also Asia, Latin America and of course, Madrid.
In the thick of bustling Indian restaurants and foreign food stores, a jazzy facade with bold retro lettering stands out from the crowd. This neighbourhood veteran is Bar El Jamón, the Godfather of Lavapiés.
Bar la Peña is a real gem, and one of the last truly no-frills bars on Calle Santa Isabel. The young-at-heart owners, Isabel and Francisco, are a couple from a small coastal town in Galicia, and, like all proud Galicians, they take their pulpo very seriously.
Suddenly the pace picks up. Stacks of hot churros and porras rush out of the kitchen while the waiters frantically steam chocolate and place together dozens of cups and saucers. In this churrería, the staff know their customers’ routines well: suddenly hordes of classy old ladies walk in, order vast amounts of chocolate and churros and kick off their Friday evening with a bit of scandalous family gossip.
In the depths of the financial crisis, biologists Guillermo and Laura took over the neglected family olive grove and embarked on a risky project: to make farming a sustainable way of life once again.
Have you ever been walking along the street in Madrid and thought to yourself: ‘Quick caña and tortilla?’ Me too. If you happen to have that thought whilst on Calle de Fuencarral, you’re seconds away from making it a reality. But if you’re half way across the city, jump on a metro – it’s worth the ride.