I can’t say anything nice about the hotel my company booked for me on my last trip to Madrid (so I won’t say anything at all), but the neighborhood where it was located was a nice surprise.
La Latina, just south of Plaza Mayor and the major tourist center, is a bit grungy but trendy at the same time, offering plenty of bars and restaurants for a 30-something crowd. At 9PM the cobweb of alleys and streets come alive with young professionals and urbanites out and about for cocktails and tapas.
What to do
Buy some espadrilles! Most guide books will lead you to Calle de Toledo for espadrilles or alpargatas. I bought six pairs at Casa Hernanz (Toledo 18, Subway: Sol or La Latina). For the most basic style, in any color imaginable, the cost is 4,25€ ($6) and the prices rise gently from there for other styles and fabrics. Next door, across the street and around the corner you will find competitors, all priced nearly identically, some offering different styles in the windows. They really are comfortable and perfect to throw in a suitcase (they pack flatter than a laptop).
Calle de la Cava Baja – Great street for wine bars, tapas and restaurants. Just a few to try…
- Taberna Tempranillo, Cava Baja, 38, Metro: La Latina, 91 364 15 32 – A busy wine bar with a great atmosphere, this place offers dozens of wines by the glass or bottle and a great selection of tapas for a pre-dinner rendezvous.
- Julian de Tolosa, Cava Baja, 18, Metro: La Latina, 91 365 82 10 – I treated myself to an amazing Castilian dinner at this popular and lively restaurant with only five choices for the main course – three steaks, two fish. I chose the white asparagus to start, served with Spanish olive oil and mayonnaise, the most popular fish in Spain, hake, and the not-to-be-missed baked peppers.
- Cava Blanca, Cava Alta, 7, Metro: La Latina, 91 365 05 03 – A very hip, below street-level space, white interior with white furniture. The food is modern and certainly unique. A nice option if you need a break from Spanish food.
And of course, I can’t go to Spain without searching out some Padrón Peppers! Find out more, including how to cook them, here – How to make Padrón Peppers.
El Tigre, Calle Infantas 30, +34918819901 - I can't wait to try one of Madrid's famous "free tapas bars" and this one is all the rage with locals and visitors.
Helpful info on all of Madrid’s neighborhoods can be found on MAP Magazine’s website, Madrid's #1 English magazine.
Check out Spotted by Locals to "experience cities like a local", specifically Madrid.