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The Best Chocolatería in Spain


Marma is a former professor and currently working in the legal field. She has a love of writing, culture and travel.

Cafes in Spain

As an avid traveler and coffee drinker, I can't think of anything better than drinking fine coffee during my travels! Fortunately, Spain is a perfect place to do this. Spain, like many countries in Europe and the Middle East, is home to many sidewalk cafes where people sip their favorite drinks and lounge for hours, enjoying the sites as they do. This type of scene is perhaps a little less fast-paced than the grab-and-go dynamic we see at places like Starbucks in the United States. This is why visiting some of the best cafes (when you have the chance) is a must when abroad.

Front entrance of Madrid's Café San Gines.

Front entrance of Madrid's Café San Gines.

A Uniquely Styled Cafe in Spain

As a former Spanish teacher visiting Spain, El Café San Gines quickly drew my interest as one of the first cafes I wanted to try out in Spain's bustling capital of Madrid. This cafe is referred to as a chocolatería, or a shop that serves coffee and chocolates. There are many chocolaterías in Spain. What makes El Café San Gines unique is that it is open 24 hours (like an American 7-11) and serves authentic and delicious Spanish treats. This is why so many people in Spain and around the world, are drawn to this place!

El Cafe San Gines has historic origins as it officially became a coffee shop in 1894, though the building was first erected as an inn in 1890 before being converted to a cafe. The cafe is best known for its authentic churros and rich dipping chocolate. Many in the U.S. are familiar with churros as they are a popular Taco Bell item. Even I remember ordering the small, very crispy churros covered in cinnamon from Taco Bell, as they were very popular amongst my classmates.

However, churros are originally from Spain. They are a dessert consisting of long pieces of twisted, fried dough sprinkled with a little powdered sugar on top. Churros or churros con chocolate (coffee with chocolate) are a popular item at El Café San Gines though additional pastry and coffee and tea items are also served for those with more varied tastes.

A sample of churros and chocolate in El Café San Gines.

A sample of churros and chocolate in El Café San Gines.

Ordering in a Spanish Cafe

If you ever get a chance to visit Madrid and one of its chocolaterías like San Gines, it will help to know a few useful phrases to help you order some items. Look at some of the sentences below:

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  • Quiero unos churros, por favor. = I want some churros, please.
  • Quiero una taza de chocolate, por favor. = I want a cup of chocolate, please.
  • Quiero una taza de café con leche, por favor. = I want a cup of coffee with milk, please.
  • Quiero una taza de té. = I want a cup of tea.
  • Me gustaría un café y unos churros. = I would like a coffee and some churros.

Of course, it helps to study the menu (el menú) if you decide to order additional items. But "quiero" (I want) is a useful verb to use to place your order. You can also use "me gustaría" (I would like) though both verbs get the same point across.

Inside view of El Café San Gines as a server, or un mesero, delivers a plate of churros con chocolate.

Inside view of El Café San Gines as a server, or un mesero, delivers a plate of churros con chocolate.

Rich Chocolate

Please keep in mind that the chocolate served in San Gines is much richer and thicker than a typical hot chocolate beverage in the United States. The Spanish chocolate is mainly used for dipping the churros. And while not the healthiest item, churros are a popular and tasty dish often eaten at breakfast or sometimes early in the morning! Spaniards are known for keeping very late hours, often eating dinner at 8 or 9pm and sometimes partying into the early morning hours. This is often when they will stop by a cafe and have a snack. Fortunately, El Café San Gines is open 24 hours!

© 2019 Marma

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