Madrid is a strange place anyway. I do not believe anyone likes it much when he first goes there. It has none of the look that you expect of Spain… Yet when you get to know it, it is the most Spanish of all cities, the best to live in, the finest people, and month in and month out the finest climate. While other big cities are all very representative of the province they are in, they are either Andalucian, Catalan, Basque, Aragonese, or otherwise provincial. It is in Madrid only that you get the essence… It makes you feel very badly, all question of immortality aside, to know that you will have to die and never see it again.
– Ernest Hemingway Death in the afternoon
Lately I have been thinking a lot about my 5 year relationship with Madrid. What I find at times impossible to articulate, Hemingway captures the feeling effortlessly. Madrid has truly captured my heart and it is the place for me.
La Venencia was one of Hemingway’s spots when he spent time in this city. This charming bar is like walking into a dream. It is everything you could ever hope a Spanish bar could be. Walking in on a late afternoon you are transported back in time to 1930’s Civil War Madrid. Behind the bar is a wall of dusty old sherry bottles. The space is lined with old posters from sherry festivals of the past.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to order a beer (like I did the first time here). The drink list consists of only five Spanish sherries; Manzanilla, Fino, Oloroso, Amontillado and Palo cortado. My favorite is the dark Oloroso. Your drink will be served with bright green Campo Real olives. The menu is short and posted on a faded piece of paper on the wall. You can order tapas, 1/2 raciones and full raciones depending on how hungry you are. Mojama, Hueva, Lomo, Queso, Chorizo, Salchichón, Cecina, Roquefort, and Anchoa are your options. Everything is high quality, authentic and inexpensive. When ordering the barman will keep your tab open by writing on the wooden bar with a piece of chalk.
The people you will find here vary from elderly Spanish couples and other locals to young foreigners who are so lucky to have found this gem. Look out for the little black cat sleeping on a chair or table perhaps.
The only photo you will see is this one of the outside. Photos inside are not allowed to preserve the essence of the past and the antique posters.
Calle Echagaray 7
Hours: 12:30-15:30 and 19:30- around midnight