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.
Rustic yet refined, Matritum is set back from the busy bustle of Cava Baja. Enter into the cozy dining room and watch the dim lighting reflect off of the over 400 wines on display, which the in house sommelier will be more than happy to go guide you through. Treat yourself to one of Matritum’s specialties: pan seared foie with a confit of oven roasted apples and onions or a gratin of scallops in a luscious Cava cream. Better yet, brings friends and join in on a family style serving of patatas bravas with five cheeses.
Cava Alta 17
Tel +34 913 658 237
Long lines speak for the popularity of this Cava Baja mainstay. So be sure to arrive early and put down your name for one of the coveted tables. This will give you enough time to browse the chalkboard’s daily specials and skim the crowds for a friendly face. Dim lighting and laughter make it easy to find a conversation and enjoy the homey atmosphere over a glass of dry white Peñedes and their classic tapa of pork loin on a confit of onions.
Calle Cava Baja 30
Tel +34 913 650 804
The tiny entrance to La Perejila is easy to miss despite its green color, but sneak a peak inside and the soft breeze of Andalusia will beckon you in. Flamenco memorabilia covers the walls and lends a distinct touch to the colorful nightspot frequented by the La Latina’s bohemians. Saddle up to the bar and toast to the vibrant atmosphere with a glass of Cava. Be sure to try the salmorejo, a deliciously refreshing soup similar to gazpacho, and if you are feeling like something heartier the toast of sobrasada and warm goat cheese with a drizzle of caramel will leave you craving for more and happy you haven’t missed this jewel of a bar.
Calle Cava Baja 25
Tel +34 913 642 855
A total contrast to the sleek dining room, the bar area of la Camarilla with its bistro tables and worn terra cotta tiled floor, is the perfect pit stop on a tour through La Latina. After a morning of scouring antiques at the Rastro market around the corner, enjoy a typical Madrid breakfast of café cortado and toast with tomato and olive oil. Come back at night to pick and choose from the tapas on display, from salmon rolls filled with a scallop béchamel to sautéed mushrooms topped with green pardon peppers. While the night is still young, browse the long list of wines representing every corner of Spain and enjoy a glass while the music continues to play until the early morning.
Calle Cava Baja 21
+34 913 540 207
Come on a weekend and hear a medley of languages bounce off of the beautifully restored marketplace. Crowds of Madrileños and world citizens pulse through the wrought iron stands whittling away the hours with laughter and conversation. Home to small upscale shops by day, the market turns into one big tapas bar at night offering a wide range of delicacies from cured ham, to artisan cheese, olives, almonds, and melt in your mouth seafood tapas. Try the traditional sardine tapa with an unconventional curry sauce, a surprisingly divine combination. The Pinkelton & Wine bar has an excellent red, 2007 CLIO, the perfect way to sip the night away watching as the world passes by the glow of the Mercado.
Plaza de Oriente 3
Tel +34 915 415 104
Bar Miguel Angel
Hidden within the entrance to an apartment building, is a white door that takes you down into a cellar filled with small wooden tables. This is Bar Miguel Angel, the secret tip of everyone in the barrio: breakfast joint in the morning, white table dining at lunch, after work hangout for young professionals on weekends. But those who really know stop in between 7pm and 9pm, when the mood is mellow and the tables in the alcove are still free. Following tradition every glass comes with a heaping plate of tapas to choose from. Cured ham on pisto with melted goat cheese, or the ubiquitous tortilla Espanola, the options change everyday but the flavor is consistent.
Calle de Miguel Ángel 6
An institution for over 50 years, Jose Luis has locations throughout Madrid, as well as in Sevilla and Barcelona. But the original is in the prestigious Calle Serrano in Madrid. A fashionable establishment of the 60’s, artists, writers, and professionals were drawn by the ambient and the large variety of tapas. Today’s crowd is a mix of decades of regulars, enjoying drinks at the bar or the daily menu. Try to get a seat at one of the two tables in the bar area to enjoy a casual meal among friends with all the pomp that Jose Luis has retained over the years. The counter offers a broad range of traditional tapas to choose from, be sure to savor a variety to see what makes the Madrileños come back day after day, year for year.
Calle de Serrano 89
Tel +34 915 616 413
The answer to many Madrileños search for modern, sleek, tapas at a good price, Lateral has several strategic locations throughout Madrid. Take a break from shopping your way down Calle Fuencarral with a medley of tapas at Lateral. But make sure to plan in some waiting time as the young and the fashionable flock here in droves for light dishes with a blast of flavor. Try the rolls of salmon filled with cream cheese and caramelized apples, a warm salad of grilled eggplant, caramelized onions, and goat cheese, or roasted pimientos de pardon with olive oil and sea salt-an emblematic tapa throughout Spain.
C/ Fuencarral, 43
Tel +34 91 531 68 77
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.