Casa Camacho is one of Madrid’s best authentic bars, and one of Malasaña’s old watering holes par excellence. Popular with the kind of cool kids who would rather die than get a trendy haircut, Camacho is THE place for cheap beers and good tapas – in reality you need little more than a fiver for a good evening of nibbles, beers and the best thing about cheap Spanish bars – the swathe of new friends you will have picked up by the end of the night.
Slap bang in the middle of Madrid’s arty Malasaña neighbourhood, Casa Camacho has stayed more or less unchanged since opening in the 1920s. Local legend (aka our old neighbour Juan, who knows everything there is to know about Malasaña’s pre-hipster history) tells of how the bar was run by a republican militiaman when the Civil War ended, although it is now run by three long-faced, kind-hearted brothers who keep their mixed clientele happy with tapas and bawdy jokes that result in the crowd spilling out onto the street on most days.
The decor is exactly what you would expect: centennial dust in the overlooked corners of the bar and huge barrels of vermouth del grifo (Camacho dishes out up to 400 litres of the stuff every week according to this article). And before you ask where the bathroom is, duck under the bar and head to the back.
Malasaña owes its name to Manuela Malasaña, a young woman who headed up the rebellion against the French in the War of Independence, and was traditionally known as the Barrio de Maravillas (Neighbourhood of Wonders). This area was also at the heart of the 1980s’ ‘Movida madrileña‘ – a cultural renaissance following the demise of General Franco’s dictatorship that saw a period of almost unsurpassed creativity in Spanish art, music and literature.
These guys really know how to serve a proper vermouth, their specialty, and are usually generous with the tapas. One of our favourites is homemade ghetto cocktail yayos, a mix of casera, vermouth and gin for somewhere around the €2 mark. To eat, try the patatas bravas, bonito en escabeche, pepinillo con anchoa, berenjena de Almagro or anchoa en salazón.
Not so sure
Casa Camacho is always packed – if you go at the weekend, get ready to fight your way to the bar.
Calle de San Andrés, 4
Tel: +34 915 313 598
Open: Every day 11am to 3am
Written by Iñigo Antolín