As the final two weeks wind down, I make my return to my favorite businesses around Madrid to spend my last euros.
- Café de la Luz – After wandering around the city, I usually take every visiting friend to this little café hidden in the Malasaña neighborhood to recharge and sip a café con leche. Filled with cozy couches, quirky tables, strange artwork, and quiet music, its great for catching up on work or taking a break from zigzagging through crowds. I’ve heard almost every European language in this café and only recently found out that there is an incense-filled basement floor with dim lighting and beanbags. Café de la Luz is the kind of place Zooey Deschanel would own.
- Irish Rover – At least once a week, I meet up with a friend or two here to watch a football match. Always full of Spaniards and foreigners, this restaurant and pub hosts language cafes, business groups, and passionate fans, especially since Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu stadium is around the corner. Although we previously went to the outdoor café to watch the games, the Irish Rover and its rustic, woodland décor and warm nachos prove best in the cold weather. Leaving this restaurant is like leaving a game as the masses cloaked in team scarfs and beanies descend from the stadium.
- Mercado de San Miguel – A friend and I started chatting with a couple Finnish tourists on the metro the other day, and they asked about a good place to get Tapas. They told us they had already tried, but ended up not getting what they wanted. So I suggested Mercado San Miguel, an old and bustling indoor market with little beautiful little booths selling all types of tapas, mostly for one euro. They also sell paella, pizza, churros, Turkish delights, gelato, and a whole lot more. It's the quintessential place to see and try everything. The almonds covered in wasabi are my favorite to snack on and trick people into eating.
- Tiger – This shop is fundamentally random and originally Danish. I first went here with my hostmom’s daughter and granddaughter and was perplexed by the selection of art supplies, spices, notebooks, candles, toys, office products, light fixtures, party supplies, and much more, all for ridiculously low prices. I always walk out with a couple things and a very confused facial expression.
- Círculo de Bellas Artes (rooftop) – There are panoramic views of the most iconic parts of Madrid, including the Plaza de Cíbeles and the Edificio Metrópolis, as well as the faraway Sierra de Guadarram peaks and the entire city skyline. In the late summer, the bar/restaurant/café is the best place to relax on the lounge chairs or fake grass and sip a latté or mojito.