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.
“Do you know about the toy hospital?” a friend asked. “It’s the last one in the whole of Spain and the owner is about to retire – you have to write about it!”
Estadio Vicente Calderón, a colossal oval fortress that has dominated Madrid’s riverside skyline since 1966, is about to be demolished. One month since its closure, local bars which once thrived from the custom of football fans are now eerily quiet.
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.
Why are so many iconic no-frills Spanish bars closing, and what does this mean for the future of Spain?
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.
Since 1961, El Brillante has been the first and last port of call for millions of Atocha’s passengers. A first caña stood at the bar sets the tone for the rest of your stay, and that final bocadillo de calamares leaves you with a belly full of fondness for Madrid.
Mayorista de Chatarra is a local scrap metal dealer in Lavapiés that’s been going strong for over 100 years, and especially for the last ten.
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.
Muelles Ros – selling exclusively springs – has been run by the same family for three generations, since 1894.