If you’re a grazer, you’ll love Madrid’s tapas dining style. This is where friends and family, high society, and blue-collar workers come together to drink and dine over tried-and-true favorites like salt cod fritters and distinctive local specialties – fried pork ear, anyone? No need to pick just one tapas bar. Sip and snack at as many as possible, even late into the night. Here are the tapas bars in Madrid that we have our eye on.
For an authentic Madrid tapas experience, head to Casa Toni in the Puerta del Sol area. Its unpretentious, old-school style makes it a local favorite – and when the locals love it, you can be reasonably sure you will, too! The faint of heart might veer toward the standards on the menu, including chorizo, sauteed mushrooms, patatas bravas, and more. Don’t miss the offal – a concoction of intestines, ears, sweetbreads, loads of garlic, and parsley. You won’t regret it.
La Casa del Abuelo
When La Casa del Abuelo refers to itself as family-run, they’re not kidding around. The tapas bar has been family-owned and operated since 1906. And it’s the birthplace of the gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp tapa).
There’s a story to this tapa’s rise to popularity. After the Spanish Civil War, Madrid faced a bread shortage. At that time, La Casa was a sandwich bar without bread; you get the picture. The owner found that shrimp was plentiful at the market, and gambas al ajillo was born out of necessity.
Everything is done in-house here, including shelling the shrimp and making their olive oil and wine. And, today, there’s more than enough bread to go around, so be sure to order some to soak up the extra garlic sauce on your plate.
Just around the corner from the Royal Palace, Taberna Real is a lovely spot for an aperitif, local Campo Real olives, and empanada. The palace servants used to live here, later transforming it into a bar. In keeping with the palatial theme, the bar boasts a glittery chandelier replica of the one found in the neighboring palace.
Like Casa Toni, La Campan provides an authentic Madrid experience. This is the place to try the typical bocadillo de calamares (fried calamari sandwich) for which the city is known. Homemade bread envelopes perfectly fried crispy calamari, cementing the fact that simplicity is best when it comes to tapas. Make like a true Spaniard and take it to go.
Bodega de la Ardosa
Another oldie, but goodie, Bodega de la Ardosa, is somewhere around its 130-year-old birthday. Every inch of the place exudes character, from the antiques lining the shelves and the engraved beer taps. The artichokes are a seasonal hit, sizzled and grilled in Spanish olive oil until you can almost spread the tasty goodness on bread. The fresh sea anemones (ortiguillas), sherry-braised beef cheeks, and tortillaespañola are, quite literally, award-winning.
Impress your travel companions by suggesting this delightful bar, two minutes from the Plaza Mayor. Order a glass of vermú or a half-pint to wash down the battered bacalao (salt cod) fritters, one of the many must-try delicacies, before leaving Madrid. Revuelta is also known for its slow-stewed tripe, available only on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Hungry? We don’t blame you. Let’s chat about your trip to Spain and which Madrid tapas bars you should have in your sights.