Spanish tapas are snacks or small plates of food eaten usually in the evening, before dinnertime (which is served late in Spain) or before lunch during weekends at home. They are best enjoyed with a beer, wine or an aperitif. An integral part of Spanish cuisine, Madrid tapas are said to be among the very best. Here is a sampling of the most recommended tabernas or tapas bars in the city.
Jose Luis. This tapas bar in Calle Serrano has been a favorite among Madrilenos for over 50 years! The house specialty are the “pinchos” – bite-size pieces of bread with some mixture of fish, seafood, meat, cheese or vegetables placed on top and held securely with a toothpick. Jose Luis has other locations throughout Madrid, Sevilla and Barcelona.
Lateral. Good tapas, good price, good interiors – this is Lateral’s recipe for success. Sleek and modern, this tapas bar is the place where the young and the posh come to enjoy the scrumptious bites – rolls of salmon with cream cheese and caramelized apples, sirloin steak with brie or croquetas are among its offerings. If you find yourself in Calle Fuencarral don’t forget to stop here.
Mercado San Miguel. Step into a smorgasbord of tapas in this market in Plaza de Oriente. Here you can wander from stall to stall and sample different kinds of tapas amid lively conversations and laughter. Most of the food stalls are open until 2 am giving plenty of time for good food and good fun.
Casa Lucas. Located in Calle de la Cava Baja, you will instantly know that they serve good tapas because of the long lines outside. Tapas are served in larger “racion” portions but are good for sharing with a group of two or three. Try their Mancha and Madrid pinchos.
Taberna Txakoli. Always full and crowded, this tapas bar in Cava Baja serves up delicious Basque pintxos (or pinchos) paired with Txacoli, a crisp white wine which is the namesake of the bar. Ordering is not a problem as you can just point to anything inside the glass display cases and they will prepare it fresh for you.
Taberna de Antonio Sanchez. The oldest in Central Madrid, this La Latina bar was named after the original owner’s son who was killed in the ring during a bullfight. Bullfighting memorabilia adorns the interiors and conversations would still typically drift towards the sport. Try their smoked fish assortment with Valdepenas wine drawn from a barrel.
Taberna Matritum. Over 400 wines on display, savoury tapas like a gratin of scallops robed in Cava cream, an in-house sommelier and a chocolatier to boot – the taberna in Calle de la Cava Alta is just an entire culinary experience that shouldn’t be missed. Go for a sampling of their many specialties but save room for dessert.
El Almendro 13. Another popular bar amongst the locals, one can get good traditional tapas at good prices. The name of the bar is the address itself so you will not miss the place. Try the house specialty – “huevos rotos” which is fried eggs, fried potatoes and cured ham. Simple yet delicious.
La Flamenca. Experience Andalusian cuisine while listening to Andalusian music. This tapas bar in Alvarez Gato serves up samplings of seafood and great tapas like tortitas de camaron, dorada and merluza.
La Cruzada. Right in the heart of the Los Austrias district in Calle Amnestia is this tapas bar that harkens back to more refined, genteel times in Madrid. Wines are served by the glass (instead of bottles) along with traditional Spanish tapas.