With mirrors and high ceilings upstairs and a cozy alcove downstairs, Chocolateria San Gines is Madrid's iconic place to feast on fried pastries dipped in thick, Spanish style hot chocolate. (The thin ones are called "churros" while the thick ones are called "porras".) The high calorie treats are eaten as a traditional Spanish breakfast or a late night indulgence after hitting the clubs, which is possible with Chocolateria San Gines' 7:00 am closing time. Though located close enough to the Puerta del Sol, you will actually find Chocolateria San Gines hidden in the small passage behind the nightclub Joy Eslava.
Local Expert tip: Sit downstairs if there is room.
Sala Arena (also formerly known as Sala Heineken and relatively recently as Sala Marco Aldany) is a concert hall, bar and nightclub beside Plaza de Espana. The regularly scheduled concerts - actually sometimes there is a concert every night - represent different musical styles from Spain and abroad, but the hall's bread and butter are definitely the metal music groups. You can buy most concert tickets for Sala Arena from Ticketmaster, FNAC, Carrefour and over the phone with the venue. With its smooth lines and metal surfaces, the interior decor is both cool and industrial looking. The queues for the dance sessions can be long.
Local Expert tip: Get tickets in advance.
A flamenco theater and restaurant, Casa Patas is the best place to see flamenco dance and music performances in Madrid. The well known flamenco theater books dancers and musicians from Madrid as well as southern Spain (considered the home of flamenco) and beyond. The walls are covered with photos of past artists. You can go to Casa Patas for lunch or dinner and a show or just drinks and a show. If you can, try to book in advance online or by phone. The restaurant is decorated like a traditional Andalusian restaurant and tavern and the food served is pure Spanish.
Local Expert tip: Order a pitcher of sangria. It gets hot during a show.
A live jazz music club and bar in the Huertas neighborhood, Café Central is well known both inside and outside the Spanish capital for the high quality of its performers and sessions. Besides jazz groups, local favorites such as Javier Krahe typically play to a packed house, yet when used as a venue, the atmosphere is intimate and fun. Get there early or you may not be able to get in. Then when there are no performances scheduled during the day and afternoon, Café Central is calmer and doubles as a restaurant. They serve reasonably priced full meals and café drinks to the sounds of jazz music on the stereo.
Local Expert tip: Arrive early when there's a concert.
A stone's throw away from the Puerta del Sol and open every night of the year, the Joy Eslava theater is part nightclub and part venue with regular dance sessions as well as occasional live shows and concerts of varying musical styles. The place has several bars distributed over three floors, which wrap around the main floor area - a design no doubt due to the building's origin as a 19th century theater. But now a giant disco ball hangs from the ceiling. During the regular dance sessions, pop is the most prevalent thing you'll hear.
Local Expert tip: Dress smart if you want to fit in.
Kapital is Madrid's mega nightclub with seven floors of bars, dance floors and recreational space. They regularly have different theme nights and sessions, including an early evening session for teenagers. The first floor is Kapital's largest dance space, which plays house music and regularly features go-go dancers. The second floor is where the karaoke happens and the third floor has the hip-hop dance space. The fourth floor has a bar area and fifth floor the pop music dance floor. The sixth floor is dedicated to chill out with chairs and films playing while the last floor is in the open air and has billiards.
Local Expert tip: Be sure to dress nicely.
Located in the Malasana neighborhood, Tupperware is a pop culture themed alternative rock bar that is popular among Madrid's twentysomething crowd. Tupperware's resident and guest DJs spin mostly rock and pop music that run the gamut from yesterday's mainstream to today's indie. You will know you are in the right place when you reach Tupperware's colorful facade and then step inside for the bright decorations featuring lots of pink colored accents, including the old hollowed out televisions that serve as the base for dioramas with different plastic figures. Do check out the interesting mural on the lower floor's back wall.
Local Expert tip: Come for the guest DJs.
The Roof is a cool, upscale rooftop bar with the best views in the city and is perfect for enjoying a cocktail or two in a chill out atmosphere. International DJs are also occasionally featured at The Roof. If you want the best seat in the house, splash out and rent one of the cabanas or lounge areas. To get to The Roof, you have to enter the street level entrance and take the elevator straight to the top. The price of admission is one drink. The Roof sits atop an historic hotel (now the ME by Melia) presiding over Santa Ana square.
Local Expert tip: It used to be called The Penthouse.
If you fancy a good cocktail, then Guau is your destination. With a New York Art Deco style setting and jazz music in the background, this classic cocktail bar offers up all the cocktails and mixed drinks you know and love like the gin and tonic, gimlet, mojito and Cosmopolitan. As the music is played at a low volume and the lighting is only slightly dim, Guau makes a pleasant location for an intimate evening of conversation. A stone's throw from the popular Santa Ana square, Guau (meaning "Woof" in Spanish), it's also curious to note, sits around the corner from Miau ("Meow").
Local Expert tip: Try a Hendrick's with cucumber.
A legend born of Madrid's cultural revolution from the 1970s and 1980s, La Vía Láctea has been playing rock and roll and punk ever since and still serves up a hip nightlife scene for the local twentysomethings. With the DJ on the ground floor, the place is spread over two floors with and the bar's walls are covered with funky and colorful rock posters from over the years. Come to dance or else to chat with friends over a bottle or two of beer. Note that La Vía Láctea does beer and mixed drinks, but not cocktails. Regardless, La Vía Láctea is a must in the Malasaña neighborhood.
Local Expert tip: Head upstairs.