Perched on a corner just around the bend from Cava Baja and just up the street from Almendro 13 sits one of the most quintessential Spanish hipster wine bars that I’ve ever seen. When I say hipster, I must make it clear that I’m not talking about Euro-hipsters – the vapid, label-wearing big sunglass bunch. By hipster, I mean that its home to young, hip, Madrileños. The group that congregates at Corazón Loco is a likable crowd. There’s your fair share of piercings and tattoos in the bunch but they’re a congenial lot overall and they won’t stare too hard at a couple gringos and their curly blonde-haired, blue-eyed daughter on a Sunday afternoon after El Rastro.
The requisite chalkboards behind the bar advertise the wines that they have on hand and, as with El Tempranillo, it’s best to go to the bar with a good idea of what you want to order and a good accent. You can’t go wrong with what they’re pouring so there’s not much to fear. But man cannot live by wine alone so Corazón Loco also has a good menu of eats on the chalkboard to the left of the bar. The “Papas Arrugadas” are one of my favorites and are perfect for splitting with some friends while relaxing on the beer keg barstools. The potatoes themselves are a Canary Islands specialty that come with a green and red sauce that has to be tried to be believed. Never has a boiled, salted little potato tasted so good. They’re served with a red “mojo” pepper sauce and a green one that, I believe, is a garlic and cilantro mix. Everyone ends up liking one over the other but both sauces are super tasty.
In the back of the establishment, there is more of a sit-down restaurant. It looks cool but I’ll admit, I’ve never been back there. The front wine bar area is where the action is and the corner location gives one a strategic view of La Latina and all of the goings on in the Costanilla San Andrés. It’s an inviting atmosphere and one that I return to every time I’m in Madrid.
This place is the real Spain as I remember it. The Spain before the EU, mass immigration and the Euro. It’s the Spain that I hope never goes away.