Find your local no-frills bar and make it your local

I’m on the corner of Street of the Miraculous, and Bitterness Street!

… laughs Mariano Casado Francisco. Rather than name his bar after the streets on which it resides, as so many no-frills bars do, he has named his bar after himself – the way his customers would inevitably have called it anyway.

Bar Casado is an archetypal, no-frills, Madrid bar. The shiny tiles adorning three out of four walls are arsenic green (my favourite green)…

There are two small windows granting the sun afternoon access to the bar. Their wooden frames are painted tortilla brown…

Inside the classic glass display cabinets with soft, golden rims are packets of tinned seafood – even more no-frills than the usual trays of seafood tapas.

A mishmash of iconic bar stools know their place, right beneath the three-inch-deep aluminium shelf – just enough room for a caña and a tapa.

Mariano’s bar is full of characterful objects…

Mariano tells me about the medallion on his old till. His friend, a police officer, gave it to him…

The proud aluminium bar divides the tiny space into two, leaving room for maybe just 10 customers at a time. Such a layout is very revealing of its clientele; groups would struggle to fit in here. This bar feels like a kitchen – a bustling, cramped space, where all the action is and where everyone wants to be. In such close quarters, rubbing shoulders is mandatory and, in this case, it feels deliberate.

Mariano’s bar is about the individual customer, the one who wants to build a rapport with the owner and maybe even with fellow punters. This concept is not unique – we can find it in every neighbourhood in Madrid, and that’s exactly what I want you to do.


Mariano’s bar isn’t just my 157th recommendation of a no-frills bar to explore. In fact, I’m not even recommending you go. Being on the road to Extremadura, it could be quite a hike for a caña. Instead, close your eyes (but wait till the end of this article), think of your nearest no-frills bar, and consider making it your local. Not sure where your nearest no-frills bar is? Perhaps it’s on my map.

Now, let’s imagine that everyone living in Madrid did that. It might just take a little bit of attention from Madrid’s busiest barrios, because why should they get all the customers?

Okay. Ready? Close your eyes.


  • Address: Calle de la Milagrosa, 19
  • Nearest metro: Alto de Extremadura (L6)
  • Opening hours: in theory, from 7 am to 1 am, every day

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