Last September I moved to Malasaña, an area of Madrid I rarely explored the first year I was here. Huge mistake! This area is filled with numerous bars, restaurants and cafés waiting to be discovered. I particularly love cafés because they are a great place to catch up with friends, get some work done, or just get out of the apartment without having to spend much money. Over the past 7 months I’ve been to quite a few cafés, but find myself returning to the following three repeatedly.
All of the following cafés provide free WiFi, ideal for Madrid residents looking to get a bit of work done or travellers temporarily in the city.
Lolina Vintage Café
A very popular café in the area, Lolina Vintage fits right into the vibe of Malasaña. The decor looks like it was pulled out of a mid-20th century interior design magazine with tables and chairs that could have been purchased at your grandparents’ garage sale. It might sound ugly, but the kitsch works, making the café stand out against the normal hipster decor prevalent in this neighbourhood.
Almost every time I’ve been to Lolina, there is a good crowd of people, especially after Spanish lunch time (3PM/15h). This makes it a great place to meet up with friends, but I find it difficult to get real work done here because of the chatter.
Lolina serves a wide variety of food and drinks. Food choices range from salads, to slices of cake to Frankfurts. The drinks menu include juices, smoothies and cocktails, on top of coffee and teas. Prices are reasonable, especially on their breakfast menus.
Despite only living about 5 minutes away from this quaint café, I never heard of it before seeing a recommendation on the auxiliar Facebook group. This place is quite popular with expats. When I went there for the first time, I overheard conversations in American English, Australian English, French and German.
It’s on a less popular street in Malasaña, which means that it isn’t very busy, making it a perfect place to work or read. Unlike other cafés there isn’t a constant stream of chatter in the background, and the music is played at the perfect level. The atmosphere is very laid back with a wall of windows letting in a lot of natural light.
The only problem I have with this place is that there are only two “tables” (they’re more like ledges) high enough to place a laptop and work comfortably. The other tables are a bit too low for typing comfortably. If I can get a spot at a table, I can sit here for hours working away.
They have a variety of drinks, but I always order the iced caramel grande. It’s perfect for the the hot days here in Madrid; refreshing, without being sickeningly sweet. They also have baked goods, which I haven’t tried yet but look delicious.
This café is situated on Calle Corredera Baja de San Pablo, a street lined with adorable Pinterst worthy bars and restaurants. I found this café through my book club, as we meet here every few weeks. This place is a bit more artistic with their decor than the other two cafés on the list. One wall is covered with a large display of a gorilla’s face, facing a wall with what appears to be a painting of Billy Murray holding a bicycle.
Another way this café is different is that dogs are welcome. There have been countless times I’ve come here and seen other patrons bring their dogs into the café. The staff even provides water for the dogs to keep them hydrated.
Personally, I find this café the best one to get some work done. Even when the medium sized establishment is full, the noise level isn’t deafeningly loud. There are numerous tables for laptops and a few electrical outlets along some walls.
They also have good selection of food ranging from normal café fare such as croissants and cookies, to heartier selections such as tostadas and salads. If you want my suggestion, try the carrot cake, it’s delicious! Their drinks menu includes coffee, tea, cocktails and beers.
Do you have a favourite café in Madrid? What qualities do you look for in a good café?