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.
Meet Laye. He was once one of the young black men you’d see running from the police with a big white bag slung over his shoulders. Perhaps you were there, and maybe even stepped aside to let him run past.
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.
Cervecería Azul y Blanco takes its name from everyone’s favourite Mediterranean colour combination, but as its bold colours fade to dark grey and dusty pink, this little corner bar slips into a bygone era and has become totally kitsch.
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.
Mercado de la Cebada has been through some ups and downs over the last couple of centuries, but what didn’t kill it made it adapt.
The tinned food craze is sweeping the hipster capitals of the world but Spain has long been aware of the treasure inside these little tins.
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.