MADRID Gay Friendly Restaurants
You must be forewarned that Madrileños like their supper late. By late, we mean dinners that often begin at 11 p.m. or even midnight. Then, after, the Madrileños go out and paint the town.
Food is such an important pleasure in this sensual city, it’s really hard to go wrong. In fact, you could easily pass an entire visit living entirely off tapas, knocking around from café to bar and watching the little plates pile up on your table. And you can dine out on these while you enjoy fine Spanish wine almost any time. Gay restaurants in Madrid are of a high quality and get very busy.
While that option certainly has its charm, any number of good restaurants merit a detour should you find yourself in the mood for something a bit more substantial.
Carmencita in the Chueca quarter is a restored tavern dating from 1850. Stylishly redecorated, it features excellent meat and fish dishes. If you’ve overdone the shopping a bit, it’s good to know that the lunch menu is cheaper than that at dinner – for the same good food and the same vintage zinc bar.
For a meal that nourishes the soul as well as the body, hit up Gula Gula (c. Gran Via, 1; +34-91-522-87-64; www.gulagula.net; 30 EUR); it has an outrageous salad bar/buffet, but only half as outrageous as the nightly drag shows and the hunky, punky waiters. The crowd can skew more straight than gay, but it’s a guaranteed wild night regardless.
At Vinoteca Barbechera (Gravina 6) wine bottles line the walls, and the tapas will amaze you with unexpected taste combinations (salmon with honey, slices of rump roast in a fig sauce, hazelnut bisque).
El Rincon de Pelayo (Pelayo 19) is not a tapas bar but an excellent restaurant with a small terrace out front. The menu del dia is a great way to have a three course meal with wine or coffee for around 10 euros.
Mama Inez (Hortaleza 22) is busy all day with locals and tourists. They serve beers and snacks as well as teas and coffees. Salads have huge portions of veggies and start at six euros. This is more of a coffeeshop with food available.
El Estragón (Plaza de la Paja 10) is a vegetarian restaurant that aims to impress even non-vegetarians. Believe us…even the meat lovers amongst us were suprised.
Tapas has existed as a pleasant and healthy custom in Spain since the 13th century, when the Castillian King Alphonse X (“the Wise”) forced bartenders to serve something to eat when customers ordered wine in order to prevent the harmful effects of alcohol on an empty stomach. His intention was to protect the people who could not afford to order food when they had wine in a bar.
Any area in Madrid has these bars offering tapas, but there are some neighborhoods whose bars and taverns are known for their tapas with a Madrid flavor.
Tourists and Madrileños usually choose the Cava Baja and Latina as their favourite destinations to eat tapas. Besides tapas, specialties of each bar and larger side-dishes to share may be ordered.
Around the Santa Ana Square, the Paseo del Prado, Fuencarral Street, the multicultural neighborhood of Lavapiés, or the elegant neighborhood of Salamanca, you can find many people in the bars at around 11 a.m. (“la hora del aperitivo” or “the snack hour”).
Our editors have spent the past year researching the very places to eat! Here are there recommendations.