OCCUPATION: Co-founder of La Belle Carte stationary
MY STYLE: Eclectic and artistic. I love design, and always hang onto my grandma’s vintage and family antiques. I prefer original pieces, regardless of where they come from and how much they cost, brand or no brand.
I LOVE MADRID BECAUSE: It’s almost always sunny (though it can get pretty cold in winter!) and the sun goes down late, so you can pack in a lot of outdoor activities.
The very atmosphere of the lofty, ivory-colored store—further accented with hanging lamps and rustic wooden columns—is reason enough to visit Do Design. As is immediately evident, owner Lucía Ruiz-Rivas has a background in fine arts and knows how to select and display design objects with care. Thankfully, almost every piece of décor is available for purchase, though you might have a hard time deciding between upholstered antique chairs, original art, and gifty trinkets!
This workshop space is as cozy and comfortable as the home you return to at the end of the day. Indeed Grey Elephant prides itself on being much like a house, with several rooms for art making, lounging, eating, learning, and interacting. This summer, several English workshops (bilingualism is a focus at Grey Elephant) will be offered, as well as “Dance with Me” workshop and “Chiquitectos,” a virtual adventure class. Despite the casual vibe of the place, reservations for most classes and events are required far in advance.
Olivia Te Cuida
Consider yourself warned: This healthy hotspot is only open on weekdays (and select weekends) for lunchtime. Sara Vergara recommends the combination plate with lentils, pumpkin, and couscous, but diners can reate their own platters from the menu’s four categories—vegetables, salads, grains, and starters. We say there should be a fifth category, too, for Olivia Te Cuida’s delicious homemade james!
A dream-come-true for partygoers, 24Fab rents out and sells all the elements you’ll need for your next event—designer dresses, shoes, accessories, and headpieces.
La Musa Latina
Tucked away in the historic Plaza de la Paja—the city’s commercial hub during the 13th and 14th centuries—this innovative restaurant entices with hearty tapas, croquettes, and of course, wine. The modern décor and funky lighting is a nice change of pace for those exploring the nearby medieval sites.
Still in its first decade of operation, Inés López-Quesada’s gallery, Travesía Cuatro, has already made a name for itself as a leading showroom for emergent and mid-career artists. López-Quesada and her business partner make a point of showing local work, but the gallery is ultimately international in scope.
La Belle Carte
This online stationary shop—the brainchild of Sara Vergara and her sister, Bettina Vergara—merges cutting-edge technology with old-fashioned beauty. The site, labellecarte.com, enables you to “send updates to guests, track RSVP’s, and even include gift of charity registries for your event,” notes Sara Vergara.
With years of food-making expertise dating back to 1931, Pastelería Mallorca will satisfy a hankering for just about anything. Whether it’s a piece of cake or a jamón sandwich, this high-end deli serves the freshest foods and is centrally located by Retiro Park. When the weather is nice, don’t miss out on the outdoor seating. “It overlooks a beautiful garden,” says Kavita Parmar.
All the bread at this café-bakery is made from organic flour, resulting in a deliciously spongy texture. Pair any loaf (olive bread and five-grain are the favorites) with house coffee, and you’ll see why Harina has so many regulars. The shop also offers desserts, custom salads, and sandwiches—perfect for a picnic at the nearby Retiro Park.
Today this gourmet deli showcases a fine array of sausages, cured meats, hors d’oeuvres, caviars, oils, vinegar, and other fine imported goods, but Embassy began in the early 1930s as a teahouse and gathering spot for gregarious Madrid intellectuals. The store was founded by an Irish chef who wanted to draw more attention to the Paseo de la Castellana, which they viewed as the “Champs-Élysées of Madrid.”
Red walls and vintage bullfighting posters add a touch of drama to this otherwise classic restaurant. Most come for the steak entrees, but vegetarians will also leave happy thanks to stuffed artichokes, filling pasta dishes, and traditional Spanish desserts. As for what to order, Sara Vergara advises: “Start with the best croquetas in town. For the main course, the steak tartare and/or hamburger is a must, and don’t miss piononos for dessert!”