My Go-To Spots in Malasaña
After almost 8 months of living in Malasaña, I have begun to hone in on my favorite spots around the neighborhood. Known to some as the Brooklyn of Europe, the barrio is filled with young people and alternative, funky spots for a coffee, a beer, or a meal. There are newer chain restaurants close to Calle Fuencarral, monuments to the evident gentrification of the neighborhood, but as you venture toward the Noviciado metro station you are bound to stumble across some gems: the kind of locales that you almost don't want to blog about, for fear that other people will discover them, too. Almost.
Many times this year I have walked down Calle de San Vicente Ferrer and glanced over at El amor hermoso bar, wishing I had a moment to stop in. Finally, one chilly Friday night in February, the time was right, and I headed over with my partner for a drink. The bar was packed; we watched through the floor to ceiling window for a while as a fashionable woman stroked the dachshund in her lap, then decided to move on. A Tuesday in March we tried again, this time accompanied by two friends of mine who were visiting from the United States. I was determined to impress them, and El amor hermoso seemed like the perfect destination to show off my knowledge of the neighborhood. We gratefully slid onto high barstools and ordered four aperol spritzes from the friendly bartender, who had questions about our respective nationalities. The flowery decor and expansive, modern bar make this spot a romantic favorite.
Just across the street you can find Carmencita Brunch, a surprisingly spacious restaurant that specializes in eggs benedict. There is something about the classically European combination of breakfast, coffee and bar that I find irresistible. Carmencita is trendy without feeling like Instagram bait, and serves up unusually large portions of egg dishes and coffee. Like most brunch locations in the neighborhood, the cafe seems to attract a fairly international crowd, and waiters will happily switch to English if you need. Even on a Sunday around 11am, a few friends and I were able to snag a table after a few minutes of waiting. For those that rise late on the weekends, Carmencita stays open until 4:30pm.
When dinner time comes around, I can never resist Superchulo, a vegan and vegetarian restaurant on Calle de Manuela Malasaña. The restaurant specializes in colorful dishes that provide the nutrients you might be lacking if, like me, you can't help but indulge in frequent helpings of patatas bravas. I tried the rainbow pizza, which was served piping hot and packed with flavorful roasted vegetables and vegan cheese, as well as a seasonal pesto pasta dish. Plan to share a couple of plates here so that you can get a taste for the variety of textures and flavors the kitchen whips up. You will certainly not leave hungry.
Even as I get to know Malasaña better, I still frequently notice new spots that I want to check out–and every time I try a restaurant for the first time, there are a few things on the menu that I want to go back and try. But for now, I'll be keeping the rest of my recommendations close to my chest. Happy exploring!
Time is flying . It's already May, there's only a month left in the school year, and I have already had to make the decision whether or not to renew... keep reading