A guide to outdoor dinning in Madrid centro

Madrid has always offered a seemingly endless selection of outdoor dining options. Enjoying a meal al aire libre has long been a tradition throughout Europe, and Madrid´s reliably warm and dry weather makes eating outdoors possible year round. After the pandemic hit in the Spring of 2020 and the strict confinement opened up, many wary restaurant goers opted for an outdoor setting rather than venturing inside establishments. Many restaurateurs aware of this invested in expanding and improving their outdoor setups to better attend the needs of their clientele.

While we are all doing our best to protect our health and the health of the community during this difficult time, it is still important to find a way to safely stay connected to our friends and family while enjoying a meal out and supporting our local businesses. Here are some ideas of where you can safely and comfortably have breakfast, lunch and dinner outdoors in the historic city center while we ride out what is hopefully the end of the pandemic.

If you need to start your morning out with a strong espresso then I recommend a stop at Café Federal in Plaza Conde de Barajas (Palacio). They have an expansive terraza in one of the most beautiful plazas in Madrid. You can enjoy a dark and full bodied coffee with your choice or fresh or plant based milk along with a flaky croissant, avocado toast or pastry. You could also go all in and order from their expansive brunch menu. Take in the fresh air and people watch while cozying up to gas powered heaters, making your experience comfortable even on the coldest Madrid morning.

Perhaps after a morning spent wandering through the streets of Madrid de los Austrias, visiting Plaza Oriente and the Plaza Mayor, you have worked up an appetite and are ready for lunch. On a sunny day you are guaranteed a comfortable meal seated at the outdoor terrace at Naia Bistro, located at 3 Plaza de la Paja (La Latina). The terraza is strategically positioned so that at two o’clock you can sun your face while you have an aperitivo and decide on what to order. At Naia you can order a la carte or choose from their delicious menú del día which is always varied, creative and never disappoints.

As the end of the day draws near and you are ready for some dinner you can head down to La Lonja del Mar en Plaza Oriente 6. La Lonja has a spectacular terrace with beautiful views of the Royal Palace and gardens. The terrace area is smartly set up with partitions to create an indoor feel but has open sides for ventilation and powerful gas heaters to keep it comfortable. You can choose from an outstanding menu with many delicious dishes, seafood and rice being their specialty. I can strongly recommend the cazón and arroz abanda, two of my personal favorites.

As we continue to endure what has been now more than a year of change, uncertainty and restrictions, we can be thankful that we live in a vibrant and resilient city where restauranteurs happily recreate the dining experience to attend to clients needs and to keep us safe during challenging times. Let’s take advantage of a quieter and less crowded city and return to the historic center, enjoying the architecture and sites before the tourists undoubtedly return. Let´s continue to live our madrileño lifestyle and partake in the restaurants, bars and bistros that makes our city so great.

By: Laren Eriksen

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