Eighteen ninety four must have been a good year for Madrid’s lovers of all things sweet. For in that year two of the city’s institutions – one a pasteleria, the other a chocolateria – were founded.
Right at that pointy end where Calle del Arenal and Calle Mayor meet, in Puerta del Sol, is La Mallorquina, an old pastry shop that’s been serving both locals and tourists alike since 1894. I came upon this place this morning entirely by accident as I was en route to Palacio Real. And what a find!
First I noticed the colourfully decorated pastries in the windows, then, as I peeped inside, the morning rush of customers – some ordering their take aways, others standing shoulder-to-shoulder at the bar quietly sipping on a cafe con leche and perhaps finishing a Napolitana. I coudn’t resist and had to join those standing at the bar. With my broken Spanish I simply pointed at what seemed like the least challenging pastry I could find, a sort of vanilla slice it turned out, then ordered cafe con leche, apparently a must.
Service here is fast and the entire bill, for coffee and pastry, should be no more than a couple of euros. For brekky with a difference, La Mallorquina is worth a try.
My next discovery is heaven for chocolate lovers. And I only found it because I overheard an English tour guide proclaim to his charges that this joint is the most famous in all of Madrid! Also founded in 1894 is Chocolateria San Gines (Pasadizo de San Gines, No. 5 / Tel. 91 – 365 65 46). Here they have the cups lined up along the bar, ready and waiting. A basic order is churros plus a cup of thick chocolate. And I do mean thick. Sadly, some of us just don’t have the stomach for it. I finished only about a quarter of my cup. Maybe that is why the waitress didn’t seem too pleased with me.
The chocolateria is open day and night, which is a good thing because tourists can come in during the quieter hours of the day, avoiding the night time crowd. But why do that? For the full and best experience, mix with the locals, I say.