Hipsters have officially taken over the modern world.
What I previously thought was a purely American phenomenon turned out to be much more international than I thought as I walked through the streets of uptown Madrid and saw plenty of flannel, beards, ray-bans, tattoos and cafés with fixed-gear bicycles on the walls over contemporary street art. For a second I could’ve swore I was back in San Francisco. Referred to as “modernos” in Spanish, it turns out hipsters in Spain enjoy drinking espresso and IPA in yuppie establishments, just as much as American ones do.
Malasaña, located west of Chueca and north of Gran Vía, is known for its young, countercultural vibes as well as for its many hip bars and cafés. Just walk down the streets of Calle de Barco and Calle Valverde and you’ll see lots of charming, cozy places where you can study, drink, hang out and eat. You know a place is hipster when you ask someone where the district is and they don’t know what you’re talking about; which actually happened to my friend when she asked multiple pedestrians for directions to Malasaña and they had no idea where it was. Here are a few fun locations to check out the next time you’re feeling like being a bit more cool and obscure in Madrid. And the best part is they serve alcohol in all of them.
1. La Bicicleta Plaza San Ildefonso, 9
Plaza San Ildefonso, 9, 28004 Madrid, Spain
Inside La Bicicleta, there are bicycles hanging all up in this place with cozy armchairs, couches and plenty of tables to read. The espresso drinks are top quality, arguably the best I’ve tasted in the city thus far, not to mention the beautiful, edgy lady baristas are really nice. They also serve deliciously fresh sandwiches and salads and there’s a great selection of cocktails and imported liquor, if you’re into that. On Sundays this place is teeming with hipsters having copas and international students getting their study on. Definitely my go-to spot for whenever I need to immerse myself in work and good vibes.
2. Gorila Calle Corredera Baja de San Pablo, 47
C/ Corredera Baja de San Pablo, 47, 28004 Madrid, Spain
Gorila is also a great spot that is a chill café by day which turns into a hip, bumpin’ bar at night—I watched this transition once while studying on a Sunday night, until really loud bluegrass started playing and hipsters with gin and tonics in hand got rowdy. But the feel of this place is warm and inviting and there’s a really cute tattooed, beardy guy with glasses and a septum piercing that works here. There’s not as much food served, just snacks, but there’s a good selection of beer– don’t forget about happy hour!
3. Fábrica Maravillas Calle Valverde, 29
Calle Valverde, 29, 28004 Madrid, Spain
Just as I was dramatically lamenting how much I miss dark beer and IPA I found this amazing craft brewery which is my saving grace whenever I’m tired of drinking Mahou. Fábrica Maravillas brews all of its beer on location and it offers different styles such as pale ale, Russian imperial stout and Scotch ale. The two pale ales named after its local origins, the Malasaña Ale and Saison Valverde, are delicious and the bright white interior is nice to hang out in as well.
4. Tupperware Calle Corredera Alta de San Pablo, 26
Calle Corredera Alta de San Pablo, 26, 28004 Madrid, Spain
Tupperware is so totally retro with artifacts from the 70s lining the bar and murals with colors that pop all along the walls and the storefront. It’s a cool place to grab a beer although it’s often crowded with hipsters at night Thursday through Sunday.
5. Café de la Luz Calle Puebla, 8
Calle Puebla, 8, 28004 Madrid, Spain
This café is one of the coziest and sweetest places to spend time in with lots of natural light, cushions along the windowsills and books everywhere. It’s perfect for curling up with a book or having an intimate gathering with friends. They also serve yummy food such as soups, sandwiches and tostas.
6. Space Monkey Calle Campoamor 3
C/ Campoamor, 3 Madrid, Spain
Space Monkey is an indie-punk rock club that’s open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It’s a favorite for those who like partying to alternative and punk rock music, which is a nice break from the top 40s and electronic mixes at most other clubs. The cheap drinks are a huge plus as well with offers of 2 cocktails for 10 euros and 2 euro shots, which definitely messed me up the last time I was there as it was the night I discovered my inherent liking for Absinthe. Like most clubs in Madrid the party doesn’t get cracking until 2 or 3 AM and the vibe is energetic, and of course, pretty hip.