Summer in Madrid

The Royal Palace’s Sabatini Gardens.
A strawberry margarita at Válgame Dios.
Concept store, Pez.

Iberian Interlude

Alfresco cocktails, outdoor movies, and concerts in the park.


By Paola Singer 
Photography by Alvaro Leiva

In warm weather, when Madrid’s bars, cafés, and restaurants open their terrazas, Madrileños indulge a favorite pastime: sharing banter and tapas alfresco. Summertime also ushers in a busy cultural calendar, with music in Retiro Park and concerts, film screenings, and more at the Royal Palace’s Sabatini Gardens. For edgier options, head to Matadero, a former slaughterhouse turned arts center.

Traditional cuisine and contemporary design converge at Mercado de San Antón (24 Augusto de Figueroa; 34-91/330-0730), on the site of a nineteenth-century market filled with staples such as croquetas and Iberian ham. At the chic restaurant on the third floor, order à la carte or bring your own meat, seafood, and produce from the downstairs kiosks and ask the chefs to whip up something. Club Allard (Calle de Ferraz 2; 34-91/559-0939) has become one of Europe’s most coveted restaurants, thanks to two-Michelin-star chef Diego Guerrero. His tasting menus might feature a dessert served in a fishbowl, with red “coral” made from chocolate. Hobnob with Pedro Almodóvar or Paco de Lucía at Válgame Dios (43 Augusto de Figueroa; 34-91/701-0341), a casual spot opened by socialite Beatriz Álvarez.

Madrid’s version of the craft cocktail trend centers—curiously—on the classic gin and tonic. Le Cabrera (2 Bárbara de Braganza; 34-91/319-9457), an upscale lounge in fashionable Recoletos, makes this simple cocktail into an art, employing rare gins and artisanal tonic waters. Snatching one of the outdoor tables at Lamucca de Pez (4 Plaza Carlos Cambronero; 34-91/521-0000) isn’t easy, thanks to its fantastic cocktail list and charming location on a tucked-away plaza in the Malasaña neighborhood.

Housed in a converted military pharmacy from the early 1900s, Pez (15 Regueros; 34-91/310-6677) is a concept store where couture meets street style. Its collection of Italian, French, and Japanese clothing and accessories hangs alongside homegrown labels such as Masscob. Spanish jeweler Joaquín Berao (44 Lagasca; 34-91/577-2828), known for his inventive yet timeless, nature-inspired bijous, has inaugurated a glittering boutique on the site of his first atelier.

Originally appeared in Virtuoso Life magazine, July 2013.

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Provisions in abundance at Mercado de San Antón.