Clara Villalón shares her favorite restaurants, shops and corners of Madrid

Living Madrid is living life, movement, lights, music, food, bars, culture, diversity and non-stop possibilities and stimuli everywhere.

Clara Villalón shares her favorite restaurants, shops and corners of Madrid

Living Madrid is living life, movement, lights, music, food, bars, culture, diversity and non-stop possibilities and stimuli everywhere. I was born in Madrid and I recognize that I have the map in my DNA, I like to get lost in the alleys knowing where I am going to end up. And the possibility of being among the most central streets and minutes later having a green area or park in which to let the hours pass as if you were not in the middle of the hustle and bustle.

I could not choose a single neighborhood, because there is always something of each one that I stay with, it depends a lot on the plan and the moment. I am fascinated by walking through Lavapiés and seeing the authentic Rastro shops, the streets of Chamberí with its bars just like those of the Retiro area, making an excursion to Usera to meet the entire Chinese nucleus and going with my dogs to walk through El Pardo, on the banks of the river or among its hills.

We always try to do some cultural plan on weekends, be it the theater, an exhibition or even guided tours of Madrid to get to know it better. There are many and very curious! Another of the things that I love are the escape rooms and here many possibilities, from small and more austere to true monsters set to lose you and, in those minutes in which you are locked up, not think about anything other than what you are there going.

I also love breakfast on the weekends, looking for different specialty coffees with part of the workshop to enjoy homemade pastries or own preparations. For example, I recently went to Pum Pum Bakery and Clima Cafecito and I thought they were great places. Mission Café is also always a good resource. A good breakfast, going horseback riding to Villafranca del Castillo and taking a walk through the surrounding countryside and going back to Madrid to eat can be a great Saturday.

Although if we talk about eating, what a wonderful gastronomic offer our city has! Without a doubt, it would be one of the things that I would miss the most if I didn't live in Madrid. From small extremely humble places that offer unique dishes to restaurants with a great atmosphere that I admit call me much less attention. And the markets? I love living the life of markets like Maravillas or La Paz, and take the opportunity to have a drink right there if necessary. Even so, my favorite appetizer will always be the tuna omelette served at La Maruca or the Santerra ham croquettes, two totally confessable downfalls.

If I had to make my gourmet shopping basket to receive friends at home, I couldn't stop going to Formaje to buy some cheese and accompany it with Panem bread, I would also stop by Joselito's Velázquez to have some ham and of coppa, I would take some gildas and some cans of mussels from Doña Tomasa, a little micuit from Cristina Oria (and I would surely take something else because her store is wonderful, full of precious kitchenware) and I would finish off the sweet part with some chocolates 24 oz. But if I had to choose a place to go for a snack with my friends, it would be Hermanos Vinagre or, in a version with more cuisine, La Catapa.

Of restaurants, how difficult to choose leaving out so many! But I love Noi as an Italian, how well they do it in Arima, escaping to be at home and eating delicious with well-chosen and well-treated products in Toque (Majadahonda) and, from time to time, a hamburger in La Bistroteca. I can't help but think about how well they cook at Desencaja, the Japanese cravings I enjoy at Torikey and at Sacha's fabulous terrace, which is always a place for recreation. Well, and Recreo is also another of those recommendable ones to return to, of course.

As I spend it all on restaurants, food and travel and culture, I have little left for shopping, I'm not a spender, but there are shops in Madrid that fascinate me. What Javier Medina does is a work of art; in Boxcalf I would always buy a million things; La Oficial, González y González and Ofelia Home Decor are some of my most dazzling temptations and, as I love flowers, I have a weakness for Loreto Aycuens. Now, when it comes to accessories, I really like what they do at Mint.

We haven't talked about how wonderful Madrid is to give yourself a treat and take care of yourself, I also practice that: I train at Fit


Clara P. Villalón began her path in gastronomy thanks to the MasterChef program. She later studied, opened her own confectionery company, Mama Naranja, and currently works as a consultant and gastronomic auditor. She was a judge on the show 'Celebrity Bake Off'.

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