Sometimes it’s just a neighbourhood’s time: New eateries seem to sprout up overnight, previously unassuming streets become cool and eventually property prices edge higher in tandem – not for any specific reason but more of a domino effect, as the place becomes, simply, cool. Chamberí is Madrid’s such wild card. The difference being that this isn’t a “neighbourhood” (barrio in Spanish) but rather a zone that comprises six little districts (Gaztambide, Arapiles, Trafalgar, Almagro, Ríos Rosas and Vallehermoso) into one conglomerate: Chamberí . The area has now become the focus of Madrileñans’ attention and is enjoying an era of renaissance to which few, and only the most savvy, tourists are currently privy. Full of small boutiques, upmarket tapas restaurants alive with locals, the area, just 1km north of the centre, is perfect if you want to experience a sliver of authentic Madrid life.
Chamberí’s six sections are diverse, and taken together are immense. The expanse happily borders civilised Salamanca to the right and lively Malasaña to the south. Here we present you with the perfect day in the area.
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Start with brunch at the impeccably designed Perrachica (Calle Eloy Gonzalo, 10) in the Trafalgar neighbourhood proper. Choose from the likes of Perrachica Eggs Benedict (brioche, poached eggs, spinach, hollandaise sauce and salmon), Latin Eggs Benedict (corn tortilla, poached eggs, avocado, Iberian ham and, yes more, hollandaise sauce - 10.90 euros) as well as Crèpes stuffed with York ham, gruyère cheese and Mornay sauce - 7.50 euros. www.perrachica.com
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A Design Feast: Galería Machado-Muñoz
Next, check out a singular entity in Madrid; the contemporary design and furniture gallery, inaugurated in 2015 by Gonzalo Machado y Mafalda Muñoz, Galería Machado-Muñoz. There are rolling exhibitions from local and international designers alike, displaying modern chairs, tables and lamps, often worked in splendid metals. If you’re all Goya-ed out from the Prado and the Reina Sofía gallery, this is your best modern design antidote. It borders the neighbourhood of Trafalgar and, pretty much, that of Almagro too (Calle José Marañón, 4). Open Tuesday - Friday (12midday - 7pm) and the first Saturday of every month (11.30am - 2.30pm). Closed on Mondays. www.machadomunoz.com
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A Film: Cine Verdi
Straddling the Trafalgar and Arapiles neighbourhoods you can find Verdi cinema which has been in situ since 1958 with its five screens (although it was named Cartago cinema in a former life). Here you can see films in their original version with the mere addition of subtitles (a bit of a treasure considering the majority of foreign films in Spanish cinemas are dubbed). The cinema (at Calle Bravo Murillo, 28) is surrounded by so many little spots to grab a pre-film drink you’ll feel spoilt for choice - and run the risk of missing the trailers. www.cines-verdi.com
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Dinner: La Máquina de Chamberí - Ríos Rosas
La Máquina de Chamberí
Venture, finally, into the northerly neighbourhood of Ríos Rosa for dinner at the buzzing La Máquina. It is one of 13 Madrid-based venues in its umbrella group, but this makes it no less worth the visit. Settle yourself on one of the high tables in the large bar at the entrance and take your time in choosing among the extensive range of tapas and canapés marked on the blackboards.
The décor is vintage, the kitchen fully exposed and the staff do an excellent, cheery job in a supremely crowded, popular joint. In summer, you might opt to eat in the interior courtyard. You can expect nationwide dishes to grace your palate, such as Bilbao-style salted sea bass, monkfish, red tuna tartar, grilled turbot, suckling lamb ribs, anchovies, baby squid, red mullet, whitebait, battered prawns, fresh crayfish tails, steamed mussels from Rias Baixas and trammel-net-caught octopus. Whittling your order down may, indeed, prove the biggest challenge to your day. www.grupolamaquina.es