Maus Hábitos

Maus Hábitos: ‘a space of cultural intervention’ very much lives up to its name. It’s a cosy cultural hub that seamlessly transforms from workspace to gallery and from gallery to cocktail bar and nightclub. Who says you can’t have it all?

It’s the type of place that, unless you do your research, you would have to stumble upon completely by chance. Through an unassuming entrance on Rua de Passos Manuel, you take a lift up four floors, passing a large car park on your way, and there you’ll find yourself at the top of one of Porto’s most impressive Art Deco buildings. Its long windows let in the red neon lights from the Coliseu, (the theatre and music venue on the other side of the road), throwing Maus Hábitos’ sleek, main space into another era.

Usually open from noon until 2am (and later on the weekend), Maus Hábitos puts on all kinds of exhibitions, hosts talks and screens films all the while serving fresh and wholesome food and drinks at very reasonable prices. All this can be enjoyed in the simply but stylishly designed main room with parquet flooring and a choice of deep sofas, long benches or monochrome 50s style chairs to perch on. Or, if you prefer, you can go outside into the courtyard to soak up some rays in the bright Moroccan Riad-style garden with its electric blue walls and dreamily hanging plants.

Once the sun sets, the music gets turned up a notch and Maus Hábitos becomes the perfect spot for a casual after work drink. And then, a little while later, tables are rearranged and space is made for whichever band or DJ is on that night. Suddenly, what was once the dining area is now the dance floor. Past the garden, through a glass walled corridor lined with cushioned benches, another room opens making for a spacious and varied venue. Whether you’re looking for a light lunch in a beautiful spot, a little culture, or a big night out, Maus Hábitos is sure to deliver.

R. de Passos Manuel 178, 4º Piso
4000-382 Porto

Photos by Daniel Pires

Coco’s Bar & Tapas

I first stumbled across CoCo’s bar when I was looking for a venue to host my weekly intercambio language exchange evening. It was in the perfect central location in the vibrant Realejo neighbourhood of the city, and even from the outside, it appeared to have something really special about it, that differed from the array of typical tourist traps in the city.

It’s a cosy, intimate tapas bar, like all the best hidden gems are! It may be small in size, but it’s huge in allure and personality, with unmissable live music performances throughout the week! Proving to be the perfect acoustic setting for latin, flamenco or even some sultry bluesy-jazz. The decor is chic and modern, yet still has that authentic tavern feel, with oversized lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling and a really charming ambience, which is a total reflection of the clientele you will find here. An eclectic mix of locals and expats alike, each person with their own fascinating story to tell.

The tapas here are delicious mouthfuls of pincho-style snacks, with a piece of bread topped with traditional Spanish tortilla, or even a burger patty with caramelised onions. The homemade sangría has won rave reviews from the customers, and if you fancy something even more extraordinary, then Coco’s array of fabulous cocktails is an absolute triumph!

What sets CoCo’s aside from the rest, is the exquisite attention to detail. Eduardo, the owner, and his lovely wife, offer an incredibly warm welcome, going above and beyond to ensure you enjoy your evening at CoCo’s. The service is both outstanding and exemplary – It’s an absolute 10/10 from me!

Calle San Matías, 4, 18009 Granada, Spain

+34 622 23 45 52

Photos by Corinne Rossiter

Pago Pago

During my time living in Padova, this quaint pizzeria was without a doubt one of my favourite go-to spots. Swarming with locals on any given day, this gem of a restaurant serves up some of the best pizza known to man. Pago Pago impresses with its elaborate Mediterranean garnishes and attractive, low prices for both food and drink. It is the perfect place for an evening on a budget. If you’re in the mood for some wine or Prosecco, then I’d suggest purchasing a carafe  –  a comfortable two glasses of wine for just €3!

The signature pizza at Pago Pago and of Padova is the Napoletana. Using only the freshest Italian ingredients and made by the masterful hand of the chefs, this is the one to go for if you are looking for a typical taste of Padova. The saltiness of the anchovies contrasts sublimely with the sweetness of the tomato and the creaminess of the cheese. What’s more, due to the restaurants’ spacious interior, you can enjoy this special dish in the company of many good friends – just remember to book in advance as this popular haunt fills up quickly.

If you’re not quite in the mood for pizza or are only in the restaurant as the result of a very eager friend, then do not fret, there is also something for you. I have been told their homemade gnocchi is to die for, so that’s definitely worth a try.

Just to warn you, they don’t take cards. So remember to take some cash and enjoy a lovely evening!

Via Galileo Galilei, 59
35121 Padova
+39 049 665558 

El Conde

If you are lucky enough to grab one of the few tables outside on the terrace, you will be able to relish in the bustling ambience of the other surrounding terraces. However, do not fret if you are unable to find a free table outside, because the real beauty of this bar lies within.

There is a hipster-vibe oozing throughout the bar, in the decor, furnishing and clientele. Whether it’s Friday night drinks with friends, or a romantic date with a loved one, you’ll be able to relax in this quirky, yet sophisticated setting. Not forgetting the staff who are incredibly friendly, they cater to your every need, and even speak English!

Whether it’s a delicious Ribera or a sweet bubbly Yllera, El Conde has a great range of wines to tipple your fancy. The prices are not the cheapest you will find in Granada, although they are also in no way steep, with a large glass of Ribera setting you back around €3.50. What sets El Conde aside from the plethora of other bars in this neighbourhood, is it’s exquisite attention to detail.

The tapas range from simple yet deliciously effective, succulent breaded chicken, to a homemade mini burger with caramelised onions and fried quails egg on top. This comes complete with a cute shot glass of crisps to nibble on as you enjoy your drink.

My personal favourite tapas here is a modern twist on the classic dish, jamón serrano (Cured ham from the mountains). I’m pretty sure Spaniards are fed jamón serrano from birth, as it forms a pivotal staple part of their diets. In fact, if you ever find yourself stuck for conversation with a Spaniard, rest assured you can always talk about their sacred jamón serrano ’til your hearts content! What I loved most about El Conde’s twist on this classic dish, is their successful audacity to modernise the dish, by topping it with brie cheese and a drizzle of sugar-cane honey and sweet chilli sauce. Successfully managing to merge the sweet and savoury boundaries to perfection!

El Conde
Calle del Rosario 12,
Spain 18009
+34 958 05 06 28

Le Baron Rouge

This little bar near Ledru-Rollin couldn’t be more typically ‘French’. Walking in past rustic barrels of wine towards an assortment of tables and chairs at the back, Le Baron Rouge invites you to warm your fingers and toes on its bright red bar and cosy atmosphere.

The simple wooden furniture and little blobs of coloured light hanging from the ceiling provide the backdrop to what also serves as an art gallery; every month or so they update their walls with new contemporary paintings and photographs, all of which can be bought. The barman’s brusque warmth makes you immediately feel like a regular.

There’s no messing about here; you buy your drinks at the bar and practically seconds after you’ve uttered your order, a straightforward-looking plate layered with meaty or cheesy things is plonked onto your table.

With a collection of incredibly tasty wines starting from only €1.50 a glass, and delicious accompanying aperitifs from around €10 to share between four, this place definitely ranks as one of the cheapest wine bars in town. This is quite astonishing when you consider the quality of their offerings and the fun to be had using the outdoor Turkish toilet round the back (ladies be warned).

Even better, you can buy and take away their wine for only €4 a bottle, with a €1 charge for the bottle itself, which you can return and have refilled. Wine bars don’t come much eco-friendlier than that! Warm, welcoming and reasonably-priced, Le Baron Rouge is perfect for a catch-up with friends over some wine and gourmet nibbles.

1 Rue Théophile Roussel
75012 Paris
+33 1 43 43 14 32

Café am Neuen See

Relaxed restaurant and beer garden hidden within the grounds of Berlin’s Tiergarten.

Hidden amongst the trees within Berlin Tiergarten, fairy lights hang across an opening in the woods, whilst colourful boats are paddled across the small lake that centers the area. In good weather the rows of benches and tables are lined with people sipping on beer, pulled from the beer house that sits back from the water.

Made up of a restaurant on one side and a Café/ Biergarten on the other, you can pick your place, food and environment depending on mood or budget. When there’s an important match playing, they are played on the cafés large outdoor projector. Thanks to the size of Café am Neuen See you can easily tune in or tune out to the commentary depending on where you choose to sit.

Having visited with a group of young, student friends, our budget only stretched to the drinks menu. Half of us went for the pints of the draft beer (still reasonably cheap despite location) and the rest of us shared a 1L bottle of wine, setting us back about 16 euros… not too shabby when split between a small group.

Food is a little expensive here; expect to pay around 9 Euro for a large Margharita and 2 euro for a scoop of ice cream. Considering the enchanting setting, it could be far worse. Personally I’d recommend more for drinks with friends or a meal out with family.

If you want an idyllic setting, in a relaxed environment and don’t mind paying slightly over the usual, Café am Neuen See is definitely worth a visit.

2 Lichtensteinallee


Le Voltigeur

On a corner in one of the most popular areas of Paris, this place doesn’t really need any more marketing or praising publicity, yet a few words of advice and a couple of complimentary remarks won’t go a miss.

What this place is good for: undeniable atmosphere, its tasty quiches and its perfect outdoor seating for those sunny days or those moments when you could happily sit back and watch the world go by.

Located in the 4th arrondissement just up from the beautiful, grassy Place des Vosges, this corner spot is lucky enough to attract those famished wanderers as they walk through the pedestrianised roads on Sundays. Within listening distance of the striving street acts, merry brass band players and the city’s compelling art scene, Le Voltgieur has positioned itself in the heart of stereotypical Parisian culture.

A few tips: the food is more the ‘light bites’ variety and I would advise coming here before you get to the stage of hunger, because the service isn’t the quickest in the book. However, the waiters and waitresses will run around as quick as they can so you can have that TO DIE FOR hot chocolate (melted chocolate with hot cream and milk, all delivered separately) as soon as possible.

On Saturday and Sunday mornings before 11/ 11.30am you should find a table without a problem, any later, you may be up against the rest of the review-reading world. An early evening drink, or even a post-dinner tipple, Le Voltgieur is not a fine dining restaurant or a classic bistro, yet a perfect stopping spot for any moment in your day. When you need to relax, chat, eat or drink at an average price in an impressionable environment, this is your establishment.

45 Rue des Francs Bourgeois, 75004 Paris

Brasserie Barbès

If you happen to get off at Barbès-Rochechouart metro station, you will inevitably find yourself opposite the new Brasserie Barbès, at the busy ‘carrefour’ where boulevards de la Chapelle, Barbès, Rochechouart and Magenta meet. It seems to be the new place for the hip young Parisians in the area, strategically located at the spot where the increasingly popular 9th, 10th and 18th arrondissements coincide.

I myself was lucky enough to go with a proud resident of the 18th arrondissement, Fabienne, who was keen to show me the best of the neighbourhood, the new restaurant bobo. It was a Monday evening, 9:30pm and the place was rammed, so don’t go at the weekend unless you’ve made a reservation!

Brasserie Barbès does, however, cover everything from morning coffee to late night dancing, making it attractive for all kinds of people. The building has 3 floors, at the bottom is the restaurant, with a few chairs outside if you want to pop by for a coffee in the daytime, but on the first floor is an even better covered terrace area for drinks, described as ‘restaurant patio’. Climb up to the top via a narrow staircase and you’ll find a smaller room with a bar, louder music and a few people sipping cocktails by a large glass window overlooking the busy street.

We squeezed into the only available seats in the restaurant patio and each ordered a Kir, apparently a very Parisian drink consisting of white wine and crème de cassis. Through the window we could occasionally see the line 2 metro passing through the buildings, adding a nice touch to the scenery. The menu isn’t particularly expensive for Paris, it’s got a ‘laid-back but classy’ feel about it, offering updated French brasserie classics. Overall a good place for a fun evening with friends.

2, Boulevard Barbès
75018 Paris
+33 1 42 64 52 23