Lucas Arraut may have grown up in Barcelona, but if you talk to the editor-in-chief of ICON El País and ICON Design, you will learn very quickly that his heart is very much in his adopted home of Madrid. The Catalonian creative has called the Spanish capital home for years, living with his boyfriend in the peaceful but central Barrio de las Cortes.
From his place in the heart of Madrid’s hectic center, Arraut’s eye for incredible food, innovative art, and little moments of respite easily allows him to hone in on the best the city has to offer. Here, the editor shares his tips for all things Madrid, including where to find the best tortilla de patata, seek out independent cinema among locals, and escape to a romantic park of black swans, zero tourists, and the Madrileño sunshine he loves.
Lucas Arraut’s Perfect Day in Madrid
10 a.m. — For breakfast, try…
Huevos rotos, which literally translates to “broken eggs:” fresh-fried potatoes topped with over-easy eggs. Sounds simple enough, but no one makes them like Casa Lucio in La Latina district.
12 p.m. — Museums, museums, and more museums
Besides the three big museums, the Museo Nacional del Prado, Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza, I highly recommend Matadero Madrid and La Juan Gallery. Matadero is a huge arts center that hosts several institutions and projects: temporary interventions, an international living arts center, contemporary art exhibitions, design-focused shows, and an independent cinema specializing in non-fiction movies. And even if none of the previous fits into your schedule, it is always a good spot if you want to have a drink at the South Bank of Manzanares River (yes, there is “a river” in Madrid).
La Juan Gallery, Madrid’s first private gallery dedicated to performance art, is located in the heart of the old city, next to El Rastro flea market and far from the conventional Art Walk. It hosts a multidisciplinary program of experimental happenings and works as a meeting point for underground artists and emerging creators.
3 p.m. — A Sunday lunch to fill you up
Perfect for a winter Sunday lunch, try cocido madrileño, a pork stew with chickpeas, potatoes, and vegetables at Taberna La Bola. At El Brillante, order bocadillo de calamares, a fried squid sandwich. There are sophisticated versions, but the best is still the most traditional. Add a lot of mayonnaise. And of course, you must try tortilla de patata—a Spanish omelet which is basically egg, potatoes, onion, oil, and a bit of garlic. Where? Everywhere! But my fave is at Pulpería de Mila. Finish up with churros with chocolate at San Ginés.
5 p.m. — Go here on a “whim”
Spend a late afternoon relaxing at the Parque del Capricho, which translates to “park of the whim.” Thanks to its location slightly out of the city center, it’s perfect for avoiding tourists and yoga classes. There are Grecian columns, a lake with black swans, a rose garden, and a labyrinth made from bushes—all corny stuff that I, of course, love.
7:30 p.m. — An early dinner (by Madrileño standards)
Sala de Despiece. Javier Bonet is probably the most interesting chef in Madrid. Literally translating to “cutting room,” Sala de Despiece has a handwritten, ever-changing menu that is simply mouthwatering. They serve tapas-sized dishes, from the house classic ‘Rolex’ (bacon-wrapped foie gras and rich yolk that looks like a watch) to the chops (tomato and truffle paste spread with a sprinkle salt over a thinly sliced piece of beef) to brie custard for dessert. Playful and innovative at a very reasonable price, the preparations are meticulous and the ingredients carefully chosen. This restaurant alone has created a hype around Ponzano Street, which is now a gourmet destination full of interesting restaurants. My tip: Go around 7:30 p.m. if you don’t want to wait for seats (there are no tables, just a few long counters); Madrileños usually eat much later. No reservations.
10 p.m. and later — The Spanish DJ duo not to miss
Drinks at Cazador (hip gay crowd, zero muscle queens) and dancing at wherever my favorite DJ in town, El Cuerpo del Disco, happens to be playing, which is usually at parties around town; try Café Berlín or San Junipero. And if you are a night owl and have the right connections, my favorite secret after-hours spot is Jazz Club (which is not entirely impossible to find).
Where to stay:
Urso, a 5-star boutique hotel situated between the residential neighborhood of Chamberí and the ever-bustling streets of the Chueca neighborhood. It’s a good mix of both worlds.
Where to shop:
Madrid’s secret national treasure:
It’s a local cliché, but it’s true: You must try cañas, small beers served with little, interesting snacks, after work. They are the real religion of the city.