Right in the centre of Madrid, Chueca lies between Gran Vía, the Paseo de Recoletos, the Barrio de Malasaña and Alonso Martínez. Between those typical Madrilian enclaves, life flourishes, this is the Gay District in Madrid. Every street you walk along, no matter what time of the day, you’ll see prospering businesses and the hustle and bustle of locals, Madrilians, and Spanish and foreign tourists, all of whom are more than welcome in the neighbourhood. The LGBT community have made their home here, and is one of the most open-minded, respectful and tolerant neighbourhoods in Madrid.
The nerve centre, and backbone if you will, of Chueca is calle Fuencarral, which runs next to the picturesque neighbourhood of Malasaña. This street, partially pedestrianised, is always teeming with activity, bubbling with businesses and often packed solid with passers-by. All sorts of traders can be found here, but mostly it’s designer clothes and world-famous brand-name footwear.
If you are looking for things to do in Chueca, we are going to give you some tips:
Madrid is famous for having a huge variety of eateries, and there’s nowhere that more encapsulates this than Chueca. Among those nations represented with restaurants are Italy, China, Japan, India, Greece, Turkey, America, Mexico, and Morocco to name just a few. Any restaurant offering something new in the market is also likely to be a hit in Chueca. As for Spanish food, the different provinces or regions are well-represented here as well – Andalusia, Extremadura, Galicia, and Asturias are some. Also you can find places to eat with a more general menu, or more high-class establishments (fusion, famous chefs, specialised diets etc.).
We mustn’t forget to mention another way of eating in Spain – picar. This is always popular, and consists of going from bar to bar eating the tapas they have on offer– you can picar all over Chueca. El Tigre, El Respiro and El Pezcador are some examples of places to go if you want to try it out.
Another thing to visit in Chueca is an old market or two – the San Antón Market or San Ildefonso Market have both been excellently restored. Here you can find all sorts of foods from every corner of the globe. Or if you’re after something quicker to eat on the go, there’s plenty of fast food restaurants – grab a pizza or stromboli para llevar (takeaway) in any of the dozens of mini-Italian joints.
Below are a few examples of some of the more interesting places for cosmopolitan eating:
- Taj Mahal: Indian food. This is among the most representative in Madrid. Pleasant atmosphere and well taken care of.
- Divina la Cocina: Chic high-class Spanish cuisine. For those with a larger budget, but prices are not excessively sky-high either. Top quality and tasteful.
Janatomo: Japanese cuisine. Considered to be the best of its kind in Madrid. There’s more to it than just sushi…
- La Cocina del Desierto: Moroccan food. The atmosphere will make you believe you’re there, but without the scorching desert heat. Maghrebi food, both original and traditional.
- La Casa dei Piazzi: Italian. Exquisite pizzas, not to be missed. Average price €20 a head
- La Tita Rivera: Spanish food/tapas. Welcoming and romantic terrace. The tostas (toasts) and tapas are typical here, but you can also order more fancy dishes if you wish to.
- Casa Sierra: Spanisn/tapas. Classic place to meet up, on Plaza de Chueca. Cañas and tapas are the most commonly ordered, but there’s a lot on the menu too.
Sometimes, all you want is a relaxing cup of coffee or tea before (or after) you take on the rest of Chueca. There’s plenty of places to do so, here are a few of our top picks.
- Mama Inés: Quiet café, nice atmosphere, rainbow flag on display and always with plenty of people.
- La Terraza de la Reina: Right in the middle of Vázquez de Mella, a café-bar in the open, a perfect place all year round, as it provides outside heaters in the winter, and powerful humidifiers in summer.
- El Figueroa: old, but renovated, cafetería.
- Café Belén: quiet café, really good atmosphere, bright lights and good vibes. Another traditional bar of Chueca.
One of the highlights in Fuencarral street was the famous Fuencarral market, a small three-floor shopping centre where all kinds of goods and clothing can be purchased. This is close now, but other businesses in the area has inherited its modern and transgressive style – from hipster to hip-hop, army chic to top-of-the-range handmade clothes.
Beyond calle Fuencarral, where the international brands have their outlets, you kind find on every corner independent shops, mostly flogging clothing and footwear, but also accessories, gifts etc. Some of the most original are:
- Isolee: The original place for alternative clothing and accessories. While browsing you can sip on a daiquiri in the bar.
- Rotunda Warning: A small specialist shop, with accessories and diverse clothing for those in the LGBT community.
- Aldaba: this large shop is always crowded, but it’s not tacky at all. Hundreds of original articles, houseware and decorations. For those with somewhat deeper pockets. I promise you won’t leave without buying something or wishing you had.
Last but by no means least, the nightlife. From Thursday night to Saturday this is the place to be, especially if you want to be at the epicentre of the gay scene in Madrid. The streets are all packed solid with gay bars, different ones for whatever may float your boat. From straight-friendly ones to bear-themed ones, and even sex clubs to satisfy your most basic of needs. If you should want to avoid such extremes however, you could start the night having a drink in a terrace, and then move on to somewhere a bit more lively.
Some of the more well-known nightspots include:
- Terraza del Oscar: An ideal place to start the night, lovely panoramic views, especially in summertime
- Terraza de la Reina: Just as good for a coffee as for the first drink of the evening.
- Long Play: disco – anyone’s welcome. After 2:00 am, it tends to be packed and with a great atmosphere. Dance music.
- Liquid: gay pub, well known and it’s always “in”.
- Estudio 54: gay pub
- D’Night: pub, anyone’s welcome. Dance music (pachanga, pop…) for all ages.
- Black & White: Classic gay pub, one of the first of its type to open up in Madrid. These days, it plays all kinds of music and for all kinds of tastes. Fun atmosphere.
- L&L: gay pub. Famed and lauded for their drag shows. It could be a fun place to spend some time on a night out.
- Ochoymedio: disco, anyone’s welcome. On the edge of Chueca, nearby Tribunal, the hot spot for local indie music. It’s fun, and the clientele tend to be thirty-somethings who like decent music.