Here’s a guide of Madrid, the city of the bear and the strawberry tree,
and one of the most welcoming places for the LGBTQ community in the world.
The iconic bear is not only the heraldic symbol of the city but that of the ever-growing gay bear community.
Not coincidentally, many locals take this monument to pride themselves in calling this city as “the bear capital of the world.”
People from all over the world come to Madrid to enjoy one of the biggest, if not the biggest, pride celebrations in Europe, and despite the fact that Madrid caters for all physical tastes, it is the attractiveness of the big, burly, bearded men that catches everyone’s attention:
“¡Es que los osos de Madrid son los más guapos!” (Madrid’s bears are the most handsome), says a friend of mine every time he comes to visit. And it’s probably that Mediterranean heritage, the Moorish blood, or the olive complexion that make gay bears so attractive.
Along the years, the city has fully embraced its bear culture. It is now quite easy to find bars, pubs and discos for bears if you ask a gay local.
However, getting a comprehensive list of trustworthy places isn’t that easy, unless you can speak Spanish and know the ins and outs of the web to find information.
Let’s start at 9:00 pm, which is dinner time for Spaniards. You need to find a place to eat and charge your batteries for the night ahead.
is one of the most popular places for gays to have lunch or dinner. The restaurant offers an inexpensive all-day menu with home-cooked Spanish food, so if you’re more gourmet inclined, this may not be the place for you.
This place is a classic from Chueca, which is probably why it’s usually packed with people. Waiting times can exceed the 90-minute mark during high seasons (pride week, MadBear in December).
You can’t book tables by phone so it’s mandatory to be there and wait, but at least they have a bar where you can enjoy your favorite drinks while you wait.
Vivares is the place for those who want big portions at a very good price.
is located at the very heart of Chueca. Pelayo street is a must for gay bears as many bars and pubs line up along the street.
With a renovated place and menu, this restaurant has an incredible fusion of Spanish, Mediterranean cuisine with more international flavors and vegetarian options.
The menu can be seen on their website and reservations must be made by phone or directly through their website as it always gets crowded.
It’s a small and cozy place with an incredibly friendly staff that will make you want to come back. Although not a cheap option, the food is reasonably priced.
What now? Once your stomach’s full, let’s take a stroll through the best bars, pubs, and clubs for bears.
(Calle Infantas, 8) As its namesake, this pub is hot, hairy, the gay bear haven. It is a fun bear’s den for those who are already in their late thirties and forties.
Things get even hotter on the ground floor: the dark room. You usually have drinks on offer at the bar, they usually have a buy 1 get 2 drinks discount until midnight.
You can have a relaxing drink on the first floor if you want a quiet night’s talk, but if you want more action, go down to the basement, where the movies are more suggestive and the lights go out.
It is also the bears’ bar par excellence. Sometimes they have fun parties for leather addicts to get their best clothes out of the closet.
This bar might well be considered the Spanish “Cheers”, where “everybody knows your name.”
is right “in front of” (as its name says in Spanish) the Hot. It is the most modern bear bar which aims to renew the gay scene with different ideas and new airs, from corporate image, merchandising and flyers to music and decoration. Much more avant-garde in the style of the gay bars of Lavapiés.
The most alternative DJ’s play all kinds of styles: pop, rock, indie, brit pop, soul, Spanish electro, international electropop, funky and house of last generation.
They also organize art exhibits and even publish a calendar every year. The most alternative bears tend to go there and the average age (around 35 years old) is somewhat younger than that of the Hot. Within the ‘bear’ circuit, it is the most modern bar.
is located right past Pedro Zerolo square, across from the Oscar hotel. It is one of the last bars to join the bear world, and one of the most popular. Decorated in the purest style of bear bars in Los Angeles or San Francisco, it is frequented by people with a desire for fun and flirting.
They continue with the formula of playing music videos of gay icons, including the queens of Rupaul Drag Race, Britney, Madonna, Lady Gaga, but dare to play music by queer rappers as Cazwell or Big Deeper. They also publish a calendar of solidarity with the photos of the players of the gay rugby team, the Titans, who are regular customers of the bar.
If you think you read the name well and said “Bananarama”, read again. It’s an intended pun in which the owners cleverly mixed the words barba (beard) and the name of the British female vocal group.
In Barbanarama bears are welcome, but also girls, trans, drag queens, and twinks without caring about the fake masculinity trend that has been installed in Chueca, and especially in the bear community.
It’s a fun place, with pop and queer inclination. They broadcast RuPaul’s Drag Race every Saturday at 10 pm, a true celebration of “fag culture.”
The look of the place is reminiscent of Miami Beach, with its palm trees and mojitos. Without a doubt, one of the best options offered by gay bear night.
has been part of the bear circuit since 2015, with all the typical party fun that seems to work out in all pubs in Chueca. Music by Gay divas (hits from the ’70s, 80’s and 90’s, from Italian diva Raffaella Carrá to Spanish singer Miguel Bosé).
Queer themed parties for those who seek the same fun that straights get in straight bars.
The decoration is very much like that of the Hot, Zarpa or The Paso.
Which means that they don’t break their heads and use the typical teddy bears and bear flags, but decided to choose the favorite pet in the bear community: a French bulldog. A lot of chasers and bear admirers crowd it every weekend.
is right in front of Pablo Zerolo Square. This small bar is another one that is usually packed every day of the week and is one of those chosen by bears to have their drinks.
Flirting, music videos, booze, and a very varied gay audience, with a predominance of tourists and Latinos.
It could arguably be described as the Latin gay bar in Chueca, because both the music and style would be very similar to those of a gay bar in Miami or the Jumbo shopping center in Playa del Inglés (Canary Islands).
As there are always people, it is usually the recurring site for bears, if they have not been able to find a trick before.
is located right before Gastromaquia if you’re coming from Barbanarama. It is one of the most obvious bars for the bear community: the name, logo and their regulars are 100% bear, with the flag and a bear with strawberry tree included.
Normally the most faithful patrons are over 200 lbs. (90 kg), who shamelessly boast their huge love handles, their careless beards, and dress in checkered shirts and jeans bought at Primark.
It is the most radical haven in the bear world and its thick walls are covered with bear art (e.g. horoscope symbols represented by fat, furry people, or Japanese bear manga such as Tagame’s Massive).
Even so, they differ from the rest of the bars for their geeky parties like Bear Rock, where they go dressed as rockers and play Metal music, or the afternoon sessions of 80’s music by DJ Oscar.
It’s ideal for feeling thin, especially if you feel ashamed of your “dad bod”.
The funny thing is that if you’re not too big and overweight, they don’t look at you or talk to you, but mobile apps like Growlr or Bearwww burn from the number of messages received. They organize Mad Bear week in December and have even brewed their own beer.
is one of the essential bars in the bear world. Fraggel Pop has merged with the emblematic Bar “Buho Real” (Eagle Owl) in a renewed project that includes music, live performances, literature, theater.
It continues with the legacy of Buho Real offering concerts every day and permanent events such as the ‘open mic’ on Wednesdays, comedy nights in English offered once a month by ‘Stand up Yours’, the monthly literary event by ‘Poetry without gags’, book presentations, or the Sunday micro-theatre with the revolutionary ‘Fraggel Off’.
Added to all this are the good vibes and “chupitismo” (i.e. Bourbon shots of cinnamon or “fireballs”) and the nightly sessions of retro music by its resident ‘VJs’ Ismael, David, Miguel, and Toñín. The most delightfully geeky bears crowd it every weekend.
And to finish the night of ‘bar hopping’:
is another clever pun (Bear + Barbie), hence its logo with a bearded Barbie. It is Chueca’s most popular bear nightclub and is attracting more and more gay stereotypes. Located where the legendary 70 Long Play boite was, every weekend from 3 am (when the bars close) is filled with a varied atmosphere.
It has two floors of differentiated styles: above more pop and party music, bear queens (bearded drag queens) with DJ’s as Las Juannetes, Vurdalak, La Petit, etc. Below, something more techno and trance music in an attempt to make the club the favorite of bears who take off their t-shirts. It’s practically the only gay disco in Chueca and it’s a safe bet to have a good time with the most party and beefy bears.
And then when Bearbie closes, which is around 6 am. You’re ready to go where your desires take you, whether it is to hit the sack and recharge for the next day. Or keep on partying until you drop, as Madrid still has more surprises for you.