Lavapiés is Madrid’s most multicultural and alternative neighborhood. Until the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, Lavapiés was Madrid's Jewish quarter. Centuries later, the neighborhood acquired a reputation for leftist and anarchist activity. But today, things are calmer and a high percentage of the city’s immigrants and Spanish bohemians live here.
Thanks to the neighborhood’s immigrant population, Lavapiés is home to many Indian, Arab and African restaurants, and some of the most authentic international restaurants in Madrid. You’ll also find Spanish restaurants that cater to local residents with simple, hearty food and minimal décor.
You won’t find big, raging clubs or luxury bars here in this neighborhood. Lavapiés nightlife is much more intimate, laidback and economical than that. Think of small, dimly-lit cafes and bars where you can drink wine and beer, and sometimes smoke hookahs, too, and you’ll get what Lavapiés nightlife is all about.
The shopping in Lavapiés is as eclectic as its residents. With its host of import shops and independent stores, you’ll find anything from Indian bangles to Moroccan lamps to books on Spanish anarchism. You’ll have better luck shopping if you keep an open mind.