11 Best Bars in Barrio de las Letras, Madrid

Café Central

Fodor's choice

Madrid's best-known jazz venue is swanky, and the musicians are often internationally known. Performances are usually 9–11 nightly, and tickets can be bought at the door or online.

Cardamomo Tablao Flamenco

Fodor's choice

Ask a local flamenco aficionado where to catch a rollicking, foot-stomping show and they're likely to recommend this brick-walled tablao, which is intimate enough that everybody feels like they're in the front row. A handful of Spanish dishes are available, but suffice to say, flamenco is Cardamomo's forte.

Teatro Kapital

Fodor's choice

Madrid's most famous nightclub, Kapital has seven floors—each of which plays a different type of music (spun by top local and international DJs, of course)—and room for 2,000 partiers, plus a small movie theater and rooftop terrace. Dress to impress: no sneakers, shorts, or tanks allowed. VIP tables overlooking the dance floor (approximately €200 for four people) are a worthwhile splurge if you can swing it. 

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Viva Madrid

Fodor's choice

The Argentine celebrity mixologist behind Salmon Guru has converted one of Madrid's oldest tabernas, built in 1856, into a see-and-be-seen cocktail hot spot. The building's architectural bones remain, from the carved-wood bar to the arched doorways to the tiled walls, but the rest, particularly the flamboyantly garnished drinks and well-dressed crowd, feels distinctly current.


Blink and you could miss this tiny, dimly lit wine bar presided over by a trained sommelier with a predilection for oddball bottles. Go on a weeknight, when you're more likely to snag a stool, and don't miss the modern tapas, which punch above their weight.

Calle del León 5, Spain
Nightlife Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. and Tues.

Casa Alberto

This 194-year-old bar will transport you to a typical Spanish tavern of yore. The banged-up tin washbasin, the baroque cash register, the wooden bar shelves and low tables with wooden stools—these details haven't changed in over a century. The house vermouth is the tipple to try; elbow your way to the onyx-topped bar and sip it with a handful of olives or cheese (skip the underwhelming food).

Calle de las Huertas 18, 28012, Spain
Nightlife Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon.

Discoteca Azúcar

Salsa dancing is a fixture of Madrid nightlife. Even if you don't have the guts to twirl and shake with the pros on the dance floor, you'll be almost as entertained sipping a mojito on the sidelines. Entry with two cocktail vouchers costs €12.

Independance Club

Your favorite underground European artist has likely played at this perennially packed venue with a large subterranean dance floor and good sound and lights. 

La Venencia

This dusty sherry-only bar hasn’t changed a lick since the Spanish Civil War, from its no-tipping policy to its salty waiters to its chalked bar tabs. The establishment is named for the tool used to extract sherry through the bunghole of a barrel.


This sceney bar in the ME Madrid Reina Victoria is split between a bottom-floor lounge and a more exclusive rooftop terrace with 360-degree views—a boon to chic summer revelers both local and international. The doorman planted outside means you shouldn't dress too casual.

Salmon Guru

Regularly featured on best-of lists, Salmon Guru is Madrid's—and perhaps Spain's—most innovative coctelería. Come here to impress and geek out over eye-popping concoctions like the Chipotle Chillón, made with mezcal, absinthe, and chipotle syrup. The nueva cocina tapas are almost as impressive as the drinks.