I’m proud to say that I grew up frequenting the neighbourhood bars of La Latina with my dad, and I have fond memories of their no-frills charm. But it took me many years living abroad in Denmark to appreciate the cultural richness of my barrio, and it came mixed with nostalgia and grief at the places that had closed.
‘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.
I don’t use the word cool very often, but having your photographs turned into hand-drawn works of art? Now that’s cool. Welcome to my first ever art collection of local artists’ paintings and illustrations inspired by my photographs of Madrid.
Over the weekend, I had an idea: to set my Zoom background to one of my favourite no-frills bars. When I joined my meeting, I was met with laughter and bewilderment, with one friend even asking how I got into a bar despite them being closed.
Bodegas Rojo, like any diamond in the rough, lies unbeknownst to many, tucked away on a residential street. Families and groups of teens walk by but few so much as throws a furtive glance its way.
The bares típicos are one of the things I deeply love Spain for. The way you can pop in for a coffee in a glass, a caña, a tapa, a few words with the person behind the bar and other people in the bar – a sense of connection to simple uplifting things.
Where I’m from, little buildings like this that look very different from those around them tell us where a bomb fell during WW2. Many pubs were destroyed during the war but new pubs were quickly erected (priorities) and they look a lot like Casa 42.
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.
Allí está Maribel y los demás, sobre todo entre semana es raro el día que no ves a alguien con quien ya te habías topado en el mismo lugar. Mismo lugar, la bodega, y mismo lugar, el espacio que ese conocido ocupa en ella. Los habituales de los bares, tabernas y bodegas funcionan así, ya sabes.