Want to know a secret? I’m on a mission to travel the world. I want to visit every single country on earth, explore their culture, eat their food, listen to their language and marvel at their places of worship. But I have no intention of getting on a plane to do this. I don’t have to – these countries have come to Madrid.
We walked through the long tunnel entrance deep into the ground floor of a 1970s residential building, entering what felt like a cellar bar in Žižkov (the Lavapiés of Prague). The food looked incredible – big, hearty, hot and perfect for one of the coldest nights of the year.
In the darkest days of Spain’s financial crisis, Catalina Lescano Álvarez and a team of unemployed women from Peru and Colombia set up a little restaurant in Madrid’s Oporto neighbourhood. Going by the name of Sabores del Mundo, it was a brave and passionate project with two key objectives: to create employment for immigrant women and to provide a filling meal every day to vulnerable members of the local community.
Austere expressionist paintings, an antique mahogany piano, dark red walls and white doily tablecloths. Restaurante La Polonesa’s old-world style is like a time traveller’s collection, and the nostalgic food fits in perfectly.
Yunie Kebab is run by a Lebanese husband-and-wife team who took over a charming seventies diner and changed nothing about it but the menu. They now serve up incredible Lebanese food, and quite possibly the best hummus in Madrid.
Illuminating the dimly lit end of Calle Cabestreros is a little Cuban bar serving authentic Cuban food to the soundtrack of the Caribbean.
Amazing food brings people together – inside Dakar, everyone eats alongside one another, no matter whether they’re from Senegal, Spain or anywhere else.
Owned by a Syrian baker called Jihad, Pastelería Salamat has the best selection of baklava I’ve found in Madrid – and some amazing Syrian flatbread too.
These €1 street-style samosas are the most authentic item of Indian food I’ve found in Madrid so far. In fact, they’re just like what you can find in India.
Wander around Lavapiés’ maze of connected high streets and find dozens of Asian spice stores firmly grounded – gentrification is going to need to work hard to push these neighbours out.