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Madrid City in English
Wednesday 23rd of January 2019
12th of July 2010 by admin 19th of July 2011
The €10 nightlife challenge

Enjoying a good evening out in Madrid definitely isn’t as cheap as it used to be. But there are still bargains to be had. Peter Dye heads out on the town to see if you can have a wild night for under a tenner

With summer here, many of us have more time to relax and enjoy Madrid’s sights, sounds and tastes. But while the heart is willing, many of our wallets are empty after too many nights out and trips to the cash machine. Far too many times we’ve woken up on a Monday morning with not only a hangover, but empty pockets as well. But there is hope. For those of us who can’t afford a €15 mojito in a crowded disco but still get thirsty on the weekends, there remain plenty of options. I set out to prove that with just a €10 budget for the night I could easily experience Madrid’s nightlife and go home drunk, fed and not left wondering how all the money in my bank account disappeared.

10.30pm—Museo del Jamon: 1 caña for €1
So after polishing off the last few beers in the fridge with some friends, I set off with €10 in one hand and my treasure map of cheap drinking spots in the other. Our Saturday night journey began at the Museo del Jamón on Calle Mayor (No. 7), a chain of bars that everyone in Madrid is undoubtedly familiar with because there are branches everywhere. From Puerta del Sol you can walk in almost any direction and find a Museo del Jamón within a few blocks. It’s a great place to get a cheap drink or a quick bite to eat off its €1 menu. A caña, a glass of wine or a bocadillo de jamón are all €1 each. 

11.15pm—Cervecería 100 Montaditos: 1 caña for €1
After finishing our drinks, we strolled up Calle de la Montera towards Gran Vía in order to make our next stop at Cervecería 100 Montaditos (C/Montera, 34). Again, it’s easy to find a branch of this chain in just about every major barrio in Madrid. Not only do you have 100 sandwiches to choose from, but you can also get a caña for €1 and a jarra for €2. When we visited, however, there was a promotion offering a jarra and a montadito for €2. I will probably be living at 100 Montaditos this summer.

12.15pm—Calle del Pez: 1 caña and a tapa for €1.20, 1 free street beer
Walking up Fuencarral towards Malasaña, we made a detour to Calle del Pez to grab a cheap caña at Palentino (No. 8). This popular bar has €1 cañas and generally provides you with some kind of tapa as well. Unfortunately, it is not a well-kept secret. When we arrived a little after midnight, the bar was absolutely packed. There was even a bouncer at the door refusing to admit anyone else. As I contemplated jumping under his legs or through the window for the sake of this article, I realised my friends had already disappeared into the bar next door. Café Bar ADC was slightly less crowded and offered cañas for €1.20, plus various copas for around €4. It’s a decent alternative to pushing your way into Palentino. After a quick caña, I went outside where a friend tossed me a can of beer he had just purchased from a street vendor. Everyone was sitting around drinking on Calle del Pez, so we joined them. And thanks to my generous friend, I got a free street beer.

2am—El Respiro: 1 caña for €1.30
After meeting up with some more friends and finishing our street beverages, we headed to El Respiro (C/Infantas, 34) in Chueca. Like El Tigre just up the road, this is a popular spot for many to have a cheap beer and get a mountain of food. On a typical evening at El Respiro, you buy a beer and you get between one and three plates of food—maybe patatas bravas or paella—depending on how friendly the bartender is. But if you want to eat well, you have to arrive a little earlier—before 2am at least. Unfortunately for my stomach, we arrived too late for tapas and had to settle for just a beer. Madrid is still very much alive at this time in the morning, but you either have to take to drinking on the streets or hit a club. We decided to do both.

3am—Calle de Fuencarral: 2 street beers for a handful of change (about €1.50, I think)
I bought a few street beers for under €2 as we stumbled towards our next stop. In Madrid it is almost too easy to buy beers on the street and the price is negotiable. Generally sellers charge €1, but if you present any handful of change you can usually get one. So I bargained for two, and then turned around to find my friend with beers hanging from his arm; he had just bargained for six. We continued to drink as we walked.

4.15am—Café Oliver/Velvet Room: free entry
A friend took us to Café Oliver (C/Almirante, 12) in Chueca. We finished our beers and made our way in the door, past the bouncer. At first, it looked like a typical café. But when I walked downstairs to find the bathroom, I discovered the Velvet Room with what appeared to be hundreds of people dancing their hearts out. Maybe I was just drunk, but it was a huge surprise to turn a corner expecting a bathroom but instead finding an underground rave. 

5.20am—Kebab time! €4.50
At this point in the night, thanks to cheap bars, free clubs and street beers around every corner I was quite drunk and yet still found I had €4 and some change in my pocket. The next step was obvious: find a kebab. There are numerous places throughout Madrid with cheap food that are open late. At Gran Vía, 22 there is a great little spot called Papizza, which is open all night and sells slices for around €2. If you are near Malasaña before 3am, there’s another pizza place called Pizza y Pita (Calle de Fuencarral, 93) that sells good pizza for around €2 a slice. I hate to admit it, but I was drunk with a few euros left and I blew them on a kebab breakfast at an all-night place in San Bernardo, as that was where we happened to be.

6am—The first metro home
One important factor to consider on a cheap night out in Madrid is your transport home. Instead of paying €10 for a cab, try to walk or take one of the night buses. The buses don’t arrive every five minutes, but they will come eventually. Another popular alternative is to simply wait until 6am when the metro reopens. So after wiping bits of kebab off my face, I hopped on Line 1 back to home sweet home, with a few coins still jangling in my pocket. All in all, it was a fun night and when I woke up the next day I didn’t have to worry about what surprises would be waiting for me on the ATM receipts. If you’re mindful, it’s quite easy to go out in Madrid and not worry about bleeding cash. Nearly everyone I asked had a favourite bar or restaurant with cheap drinks, free food, or free entries. You just have to look for them and be willing to give up the fancy umbrella in your beverage.

A few other bargain bars to try…
Restaurante Los Jimenez C/Barbieri, 14 (Metro: Chueca). €1 cañas.
El Veintidos de San Marcos C/San Marcos, 22 (Metro: Chueca). €1 cañas.
Outlet Bar C/Libertad, 17 (Metro: Chueca). €0.50 cañas (closed for renovation at time of going to press but expected to reopen very soon).
Rul’s Bar C/Esperanza, 8 (Metro: Lavapiés). €0.80 cañas.
Oro y Plata Plaza de Bilbao (Metro: Bilbao). €1 cañas.
El Boñar de León C/Cruz Verde, 16 (Metro: Noviciado). Big plates of free food with your caña.

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