Much like a municipal bin, a no-frills bar is never more than 50 metres away from you in the centre of Madrid. Going for an impromptu caña was never easier, be it at a train station, on a train, in a hospital or even next to a funeral parlour.
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.
Curiosity often gets the better of me, but I like to think I’m prepared for what lurks behind the curtain. In 2015, however, I was forbidden to look. The man inside the tiny ticket window told me: “Sorry love, this isn’t for you.”
We’ve already declared our love for Bar Lozano but, after spending some time there recently, we noticed that its popularity seems to be waning once again. It might seem like we’re fighting a losing battle at times, but I for one refuse to give up.
Growing up in Chueca was eye-opening for Miguel. He was exposed to things that some parents would do their best to protect their child from seeing. He was surrounded by drugs, sex, filth and death – the foundations upon which Chueca’s character is built.
Why are so many iconic no-frills Spanish bars closing, and what does this mean for the future of Spain?
One end of Calle Cabestreros opens out onto the buzzing 24-hour Plaza Nelson Mandela so you’d be forgiven for not paying much attention to the opposite end. But illuminating the dimly lit end of the street with a distinctive dusk-pink glow is a little Cuban bar blasting Caribbean music through its sealed windows.
The dust may have settled in Ajenjo Café but, with nearly 40 years under its belt, the place has developed a ghostly charm that fills your head with visions of its heyday.
Botellón is a favourite pastime in action, but it’s seriously testing the innate Spanish tolerance for noise and is causing friction across all of society.
Hidden deep within Lavapiés, and almost always closed, this stunning cobbled patio took some serious discovering.