Madrid has to be the gayest city I have personally ever visited (or lived in). The combination of live-and-let-live attitudes, forward-thinking laws and an extremely dense urban environment means that nearly everywhere you go, or look, you see a couple holding hands or a group of hot Spaniards drinking cañas. While the Chueca neighborhood is the main gay ghetto, I’d like to share what is slowly becoming another gay axis for the city: La Latina.
La Latina is Madrid’s oldest neighborhood and consists of winding streets and stunning, ancient architecture. It can really feel like you are in a village at times instead of a cosmopolitan capital of millions. Long known for its amazing tapas bars centered around Calle Cava Baja, the area around Calle Calatrava is slowly becoming what locals call “Little Chueca” or “Chuecatina.” This is by no means an exhaustive list, so please share your suggestions as well. All locales are within 5 minutes walking of each other. Metro La Latina or Puerta de Toledo (Green Line).
The Scene (be sure to check out the special Sunday section at the bottom)
La Bámbola, C/ Calatrava 6. Wed to Sun ~6pm to 2:30am, Sun 3pm
La Bámbola is a vintage-style bar with several TVs playing fun, retro music videos. We are talking Abba and all the Italian pop hits of the 70s. A mixed crowd that primarily leans gay (lesbians included in the term ‘gay’!). The music is kept low for great convo possibilities. Super for pre- or post-dinner drinks. €1 beers before 10pm. Excellent gin tonics.
La Sixta, C/ Calatrava 15. Tue to Sat 7pm-2:30am, Sun 2pm
A ‘must.’ Tacky decorations, eclectic music matched with a cross section of gay Madrid society makes for a good time any night. Affordable drinks. This bar is packed on Sundays from 5pm onwards.
La Feucha, C/ Calatrava 14, Wed to Sat 10pm-2:30am, Sun 4pm
‘Ugly Girl’ is a great bar, more mixed than not. Sundays (and some other nights) feature a DJ playing Funk, Pop, etc… Reasonably-priced drinks and the aforementioned DJ possibilities make for a good stop.
El Perla, C/ Calatrava 14, Tue to Fri 8pm-2am, Sat 3pm and Sun 1pm
A nice neighborhood bar that gets quite busy at times. The decorative them is X-ray meets shabby chic. Trust me on this. Affordable drinks and the bartenders are super friendly.
El Atríl, C/ Paloma 9, Wed-Sat 8pm-3:30, Sun 6pm-3:30
A large bar that fills up late (12:30am+) with all sorts of characters. The Atril is famous as the last stop on Sundays. Cute, friendly guys frequent this institution. Affordable drinks and all-you-can-eat sunflower seeds.
Cafe La Biblioteca, C/ Mediodia Chica 14, Mon to Thu 9am-9pm, Fri to Sun 9am-2:30am
A cute cafe that really adds to neighborhood, especially if you are looking for something while the sun is still up.
The Paw, C/ Calatrava 29, Mon to Sun Midnight to 9am
As Rhianna sang, “Chains and whips excite me…” I think you get the idea.
La Latina is packed with amazing, gay-friendly tapas bars and restaurants. Here are some especially gay suggestions.
La Parrala, C/ Humilladero 5, Tue-Sat 7pm to late, Sun 1:30pm to midnight
A nice little gay-owned and operated tapas bar. Great tostas and salads paired with reasonably priced beer and wine.
Muñiz, C/ Calatrava 3, Mon-Sun 7am-11pm
A fabulous traditional Spanish bar with an all-glass façade (rare in Spain) that allows you to people watch. Sr. Muñiz makes amazing churros in the morning right in front of you. The evening sees this place turn into a good pit-stop for beers and tapas.
Casa Gerardo, C/ Calatrava 21, Mon-Sun 12 noon to ???
An amazing 100+ year-old tapas bar that still has its huge wine casks. Locals only (really!). An extensive wine list and super tapas. Very reasonably priced.
La Bicha, C/ Arganzuela 21, Sundays only 9am to 5pm
A gay owned and operated tapas bar that is to die for. The owners are very friendly and only run the bar for fun. Funky decoration and fantastic food make this this a great post-rastro stop.
The streets radiating off of Calle Arganzuela are quickly being colonized by higher-end antique and mid-century furniture/decoration shops. While these locales are open most days of the week, Sunday is probably the best day to browse around. There are also several wine and specialty food shops in the immediate area.
Sunday is definitely “Little Chueca’s” big day. After the rastro flea market, people go to the myriad tapas bars in the area to slowly fill up (and drink up). Around 4pm is when the boys and girls plus their straight minders head over to the bars. First stops can be either the Bambola, the Parrala, El Perla or the Feucha. Around 5-5:30 is when it’s time for the Sixta. If you get there later, they might not let you in! After 7:30-8pm, it’s time to head to the Atril for some socializing. This place gets packed as well until the wee hours of the morning. Afterall, it’s just a silly job on Monday morning. A special note: If you are in Madrid around August 15, the La Paloma festival is centered in Madrid and is second only to gay pride.