Neighbourhood guides: Live like a local in Chueca, Madrid
21 Jun 2022
Madrid, Spain’s capital, has a bold energy that is hard to describe in words, and its Chueca barrio – neighbourhood – perfectly encapsulates this. It is now home to the latest in fashion and design, as well as some of the most energetic parties and sophisticated restaurants in the city. Not to mention, its vibrant queer community — this ‘hood accepts everyone, no matter the race, religion, or sexual orientation and is home to one of Europe’s largest pride parades.
Over the past decade, the barrio has seen a gradual transformation from a shabby and rundown area of the city into one of the most stylish and exciting districts in Madrid. Especially evident in the modernisation of its buildings and facilities, as well as the new wave of boutiques, bars and restaurants.
Here are our favourite spots.
Berkana is a bookstore specialising in LGBTQIA+ literature that opened back in 1993. As the first queer bookstore in Spain or Latin America, it is considered the Hispanic equivalent of the mythical Oscar Wilde Bookshop in New York City.
When you get a carb-craving, grab a waffle from La Pollería. If you happen to go in the evening, you’ll notice the line around the block, waiting to get their hands on these delectable, penis-shaped waffles.
This small, specialist shop, honours its motto: Rotunda Warning truly sells “objects of desire”, created for and by the LGBTQIA+ community. Expect to discover lifestyle products and a diverse range of clothing, in all the virban colours of the rainbow.
One of the city's finest cocktail bars, Chicote sports a 40s and 50s Spanish decor, and attracts amazing DJs spinning anything and everything, from electro-soul to funk and hip hop. You'll find a mixed crowd of locals and visitors, drawn here for the yummy cocktails, unbeatable vibe, and its glamorous past – it was the preferred hangout of 1950s movie stars like Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, Bette Davis and Frank Sinatra, didn’t you know?
Les Mauvais Garçons - Los Chicos Malos
For a laid-back yet elevated dining experience, head to French-Spanish fusion spot, Les Mauvais Garçons - Los Chicos Malos. The owner and waiters will take turns sitting down with you and walking you through the menu, making sure to offer you personalised recommendations – we highly recommend the Iberian sirloin tataki and the tartar duck.
LL Show Bar
The LL Show Bar is where to go when you want to see great drag. It’s home to some of the most talented drag queens in Madrid, drawing in crowds to their midnight shows like none other. We should warn you, however, audience participation is a key theme here.
El Moderno Concept Store
Design enthusiasts should make sure to check out El Moderno Concept Store. As its name suggests, it focuses on modernist, as well as eclectic international design as well as Spanish-made products, naturally. Here you’ll find aesthetic decorations, candles, succulent terrariums and even furniture.
This spectacular space revolves around a colonial-Cuban inspired courtyard. Expect Cuban staples like ropa vieja and croquettes and seafood, served amid the swanky Old Havana decor – warm lighting and vegetation create an Insta-worthy tropical environment.
Magpie Vintage Clothes
Magpie Vintage Clothes is everyone’s favourite vintage store in Madrid. You can always find interestingly dressed people here, and that’s because there’s a whole universe of carefully selected items to lose yourself in. Be prepared to spend some cash at this spot – you won’t be able to help it.