Maria J Luque

Everyday people: Mario + Madrid

The illustration is from Maria J Luque, find her @maria.j.luque on Instagram

All photos here have been kindly given by Mario. 

Have you ever met someone who is genuinely funny, kind and so positive that seeing him/her is just a breath of fresh air and good energy? Well, Mario is this person for everyone who will bump into him during your day.

I’m glad I can count him as a friend and as one of my most beautiful encounter in London. No wonder he is from my favorite European country: Spain! Mario loves his city and will generously share his secrets with us. For me, Madrid is the best, when everyone swears by Barcelona, and I think it is mostly because of the Madrileñas! So vibrant, edgy and yet down to earth ;D TE AMO MADRID!

Let’s follow Mario’s path into his city:


madrid skyline from casa de campo

Madrid Skyline from Casa de Campo


Since when do you live in Madrid?

I was born in Madrid so it is my city! But I was raised in Mostoles, a town close to Madrid. I decided to leave my family house when I was 26. Now I am 37, so I have been living in Madrid for ten years, excluding a year and a half living in London.

What makes the city so special?

Madrid is extraordinarily open. People from every part of Spain come to work and live in Madrid, that is why this town is a natural mix of people. Since 20 years ago, this Spanish mix is getting richer with people from different parts of the world. We have an important community of immigration from South America, East Europe, China and North of Africa. Of course, this process of integration was not easy (we are still working on it) but I think it has been easier than in other capitals. Madrid is a city to live in and not judgemental, no matter where are you from, your religion or your sexuality (Madrid is proud to be gay-friendly and we enjoy one of the best ‘Prides’ of the world).

And a second thing: Madrid is a big city but as well it has some kind of small town spirit. The city keeps small restaurants and bars, tiny streets and that feeling that you can find some friend in any corner of the city center.

Pros/cons of living in this city?

Pros: it is not so expensive if you compare with other European cities. The food is amazing. People use to enjoy the city in the streets. The weather is sunny and dry. You can enjoy several cultural events, a city with History, a funny nightlife, rich gastronomy and smiley and open people.

Cons: Pollution is getting unbearable. Public transportation is not as good as other European cities, so people still use private transportation massively. Gentrification and tourism are undermining at some point the local atmosphere of the city and increasing rents. Living here is getting more expensive that it used to be. Cultural life (especially music and concerts) could be more intense, I think it is not as big as other capitals.

What is your most memorable moment as a local?

When all the city went out to the street for a demonstration against Irak War.

Your favorite restaurant/brunch/pub:

Cabreira (delicious and fresh traditional food, Malasaña)

La Taberna de Sanlúcar (tasty food from Cadiz, La Latina) 


taberna de sanlucar

La Taberna de Sanlúcar


Cazador (gay friendly pub, Malasaña

 Los Amigos (tradicional Spanish-portuguese bar, Opera)

 La Taberna Errante (delicious market food, La Latina)

 Kalúa (best ice creams in the town, Bilbao)

 Café Mür (irresistible cakes, Plaza de España)


cafe mur

Cafe Mür

 El Rincón (one of the best Spanish tortilla in Madrid, Malasaña).



Your favorite clothing/beauty shop:

I have no favorite place in this case, but I use to buy clothes in Zara or Pull and Bear.

Your favorite bookshop/museum/music venue:

Bookshops: La Buena Vida (coffee and books, Ópera)

 Tipos Infames (wines and books, Malasaña)

 Panta Rhei (design and illustration bookstore, Malasaña)

The Cómic and Co (comic books and illustration, Malasaña).

Museums: Museo Romántico (Romanticism art, Malasaña) and Museo Reina Sofía (Contemporary Art, Atocha)

Music Venue: Joy Eslava (Ópera)


tipos infames

Tipos Infames


Give us 5 hotspots right now including restaurants, shoppings, clubbing:

As a neighborhood, Lavapies is now a good hotspot with nice bars, restaurants, clubs and a great mixed atmosphere of people. Filete Ruso is a good place to find trendy people and enjoy good food (Plaza de España). I hardly recommend as well these three streets: Corredera Baja de San Pablo, Ballesta and Pez streets (in Malasaña). There are plenty of restaurants, bars, clubs and cultural events.

In your opinion how would you qualify the Madrid way of life?

Great! 7/10

What is the best with the Madrileños?

Openminded, smiling, funny, hospitable.

Give one word to describe your relationship with the city:




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