A couple more places to check out in Madrid.
On Calle de Cadiz is the tiny and cosy Malaspina (Calle de Cadiz 9). It came recommended with my free Madrid map, and so on my penultimate night, after yet another tiring day pounding the pavement, photographing, I decided to take the easy way and follow the guide. No self discovery this time. I wasn’t disappointed.
The interior is mostly timber, lit by the soft glow of light bulbs that lend the entire space an old-world ambience. With the small tables occupied by lovers and parties of 3 or more, I head straight for the bar. The bar man is friendly and sympathetic to tourists. Hearing my lousy Spanish accent (“Una cerveza, por favor. Gracias”), he instinctively responds in English. When I order something called “Lacon” he helpfully explains that it’s smoked ham. Not bad, but it was just ham on toast! The Japanese tourist next to me was more adventurous and had Jamon Iberico. After finishing only about quarter of his plate he’d given up. Too salty, he said.
Venta el Buscon
Just around the corner from Malaspina is Venta el Buscon (Calle Victoria 5). I hesitated a little before finally stepping inside. I should have really gone somewhere else. With AC/DC playing aloud on the music system, I was beginning to think that I’m in some kind of Aussie themed pub, ala Walkabout in London.
The waiters look rough and ready, but friendly in a particularly busy night. Still, I prefer to keep things simple and contain myself to just a glass of sangria, yet even that took longer to deliver than I’d preferred. Two well-dressed gents who sat to my right opted to walk out.
Venta is not my best experience in Madrid and so I cannot recommend this place. Others are, of course, welcome to make up their own minds. It probably just wasn’t my night.
El Casco Viejo
Finally, we come to El Casco Viejo (Calle de las Infantas 26), located right in the hip part of Madrid’s bar district. Those with anti-bullfighting politics shouldn’t come here. This cerveceria’s walls are lined with photos of old bullfighers and bullfights. Old fashioned and simple, El Casco Viejo remains very popular amongst locals and tourists. Here I had a big helping of jamon Iberico which, like the Japanese tourist in Malaspina, I had to abandon half-way through. It’s way too salty! The serving is really best for two or more people.