Thursday, October 6, 2011

Madrid Nightlife | Plaza Santa Ana

After a long day of sightseeing in Madrid, a couple hours rest back at the hotel did wonders. With a brief respite from the city, we felt refreshed and eager to take on the nightlife just outside our doorstep! The happening scene around Plaza Santa Ana was just begging to be discovered. There is plenty to appreciate about the lively square and surrounding barrio (neighborhood) before the sun goes down, so a dance infused disco-bar crawl was often prefaced by a free outdoor concert or play at Teatro Español as well as hearty dose of tapas and sangria. Teatro Español is the oldest theatre in Madrid built in 1745. They put on classical Spanish Productions which attract quite a crowd. We began one evening at La Tosta, where the initial plate of tapas were free, because that's how they do it in Spain. And the third glass of sangria was free, because I'm pretty sure the bartender liked us. We also feasted on patatas bravas and a huge plate of jamon y queso croquettes. Yum! Oh and check out the pitchers of sangria lining the bar - no wonder the buy-two-get-one special was in effect. Not all bartenders we encountered were as friendly as the gentleman at La Tosta, as evidenced by another evening that commenced at La Venencia, where the barkeep shot daggers through my heart when I asked her if she spoke English (I asked in Spanish, just trying to break the ice, as in, her ice cold glare.) She then looked at me cross eyed when I proceeded to order a glass of sherry. This atmospheric old world bar is dedicated to the art of serving Spain's finest sherry - in fact, besides a few choice tapas, that's all they serve! Behind the bar rows of old sherry bottles collect dust. On the walls tobacco smoke stained posters advertising old sherry festivals hang. A sour expression accompanied our garlicky marinated olives, followed by a rude explanation in Spanish, that photos are not allowed. We paid our tab written in chalk on the bar and I left feeling literally as big as one of the olives I just ate. You will most likely stumble upon mentions and write ups singing the praises of this place if you are researching Madrid. Skip it. I have a feeling they only welcome locals anyway. The various disco-bars we would end up at, were fun! I classify them as "disco-bars" because they didn't feel like a full fledged discoteque or club. They were smaller in size, with a dance floor, sometimes a DJ, and the appropriate pulsating lights atmosphere. Bar Bia embraced foreigners. The national flags were a nice touch, and my free drink + shot didn't hurt!Scouts or representatives from various bars would approach us on the streets, enticing a visit to their bar by handing out free drink or shot cards. This took me completely by surprise at first, but it didn't take long to embrace this aspect of their nightlife culture.
We loved the Moijtos and the DJ at iReal on Calle de Echegaray. 
Sol & Camera also had a great DJ, dance floor, and awesome bathrooms!
No matter where we've traveled in Europe, we somehow always manage to find ourselves in an Irish Pub! I'm pretty sure it was called The Dublin? There was also an O'Connors right next to it. Pretty sure we went to both.
A little comfort thrown in for good measure never hurt,

neither did an American football game on TV.
Often times, our nights ended up being a jumbled mix of all the local spots - cervecerías, a tapas bar here, a disco-bar there, a pub somewhere in between....Although Madrid has a number of popular neighborhoods in terms of nightlife, the entertaining, high energy hot spots in Plaza Santa Ana have a lot to offer. They're an absolute blast! Sometimes, we made friends. And sometimes, we took photos (and shots) with said friends.
Honestly, who are these people? Probably our best friends for about an hour.
And how awesome is this guy?
Otros Mahou, por favor!
Amicable bartenders, strong drinks, no covers, high energy, good vibes and lots of dancing to American and Spanish top 40 hits -
we clearly developed an affection for the streets in our neighborhood that came alive at night.


  1. You guys look so relaxed! I'm so jealous of everything you ate and drank... and love that you made friends everywhere you went... not that I would expect anything less!

  2. Love it! The photos with your Spanish friends are priceless. The tapas photos are continuing to have me salivate on a daily basis!

  3. Hahahaha, I love these photos! P.S. Those croquettes look AMAZING!

  4. Awesome pictures and awesome post. You guys know how to have a good time. I'm starving looking at all that awesome food!

  5. Such great photos! You are so right about the Irish pub thing - we went to a few in Greece!

  6. I loved hitting the town at night in Italy and meeting new people - this looks like a blast!

  7. a free drink would entice me into any bar :) i cant believe how rude that bartender was to you. Get off your high horse lady, geez.

  8. Buy two get one free sangria pitchers sound dangerous. And fun!

  9. Please pass the sangria & fresh sardines! Espana disco looks like fun!

  10. cute white top! I love how you made friends everywhere lol

  11. it looks like you are having a blast! aside from the snooty brandy bar, wish i was there tossin back adult beverages with you!