What are Tapas? Where is the best place for Tapas in Madrid?

Bars and Cafes, How To's / Where To's, Travel tips

by Marina Diez

Tapas in Madrid

A tapa is a little bit of food to have with your drink. There are several stories about the origin of tapas, but in my opinion, the main objective was clearly to avoid people getting too drunk while drinking wine or beer. This little bit of food can be anything from a small, hot plate of garlic mushrooms or mussels, to a couple of slices of cheese or ham with bread, or some olives.

Where is the best place to eat Tapas in Madrid?

Right, there are two types of bars: the ones that serve a free tapa each time you order a drink, like El Tigre, and the ones that don’t.

So, lets say it’s the first time that my friends and I drop by a certain bar. We’ll only order drinks first, and wait to see if a free tapa comes along. If it doesn’t, then we’ll order one or two tapas from the menu, or a couple of raciones (a larger plateful of the same food), to share between all of us. Then, when we have all finished our food and drinks, we’ll make a move on to the next bar and repeat the operation all over again.

This process usually goes on until we are all full up of good food and delicious wine. This idea of tapas-hunting from bar to bar is what is known in Spanish as Ir de Tapas. A great area for this is La Latina, with La Taberna del Almendro, Toma Jamón, and one of our favourites, La Taberna Miranda, being great places to start. But of course you can ir de tapas in other areas of Madrid, like around Plaza de Santa Ana, Chueca, or even in your local neighbourhood.

For more on the origin of tapas and a trip to a couple of great tapas bars in Madrid, check out this Cuisine from Spain tapas podcast, and the Notes from Spain Tapas of the Week.


Comment from gary
Date: November 14, 2007, 3:54 pm

Now you have whet our appetites I would love more… suggestions for idas de tapas (?) in different areas of madrid – Pl Santa Ana is easy but it would be great if you name some names of bars in Chueca and other areas.

La Latina is a great place for tapas – is Taberna del Almendro the same as Taberna Almendro 13 where they serve the great roscas?

Comment from ValenciaSon
Date: November 14, 2007, 4:43 pm

Those tapas look great. Have you tried cochinillo? I spoke to my father regarding Venencia and he doesn’t think that is the place he went to in Madrid where just about all they serve is bacalao and vino. Perhaps I should know better Ben then to expect you to show up at a place that only serves bacalao but I thought I’d take a shot anyway. I think my father said it was near Plaza del Sol.

Comment from marina
Date: November 14, 2007, 7:11 pm

@Gary: Don’t worry we will keep on adding other places on to the Tapas Bars section, and we will try to cover different areas of Madrid.

@Valencia Son: Of course we’ve tried Cochinillo!!! I’m not a big meat fan, but I’ll go out of my way to eat a nice cochinillo.

I’ve never heard of this bar where they only serve Bacalo, but near Sol there used to be a few streets where each bar offered a different tapas speciality: Prawns in one or mushrooms in the other. Maybe it was in the same area. We will have to investigate if they are all still there at some point!!!

Comment from Julie E.
Date: November 15, 2007, 11:25 pm

So, today I noticed a place I’ve passed before called “La Casa del Bacalao”. It’s on C/ Tortosa, 1 right by the Atocha train station. I can’t say I’ve tried it, but they seem to proudly tout the focus on bacalao in their choice of name.

Comment from marina
Date: November 16, 2007, 2:51 pm

Actually I also know a place famous for its Bacalo, however even if that is the speciality of the bar they do serve other things. It is called Casa Revuelta and it is in c/Latoneras, 3 – Right next to the Plaza Mayor.

Comment from PattyN
Date: November 30, 2007, 2:17 am

I’ve had great tapas at a place in Chueca called Bocaito, on C/ Libertad, 4. All the seafood I’ve tried there is good, although I haven’t had any bacalo

Pingback from A Semestre in Spain – An American Student’s Dream – Notes from Spain: Travel, Living in Spain, Podcasts, Forum and Photos
Date: December 11, 2007, 3:31 pm

[...] Find good places to get good tapas. Once you understand the methodology in which tapas work they are a great way to socialize and enjoy Spanish cuisine. [...]

Pingback from Escape the Sol: explore bars and nightlife on its side streets – Notes from Madrid
Date: December 17, 2007, 3:49 pm

[...] For one, there are dozens of tapas bars. I recommend gambas at La Casa del Abuelo (C/ Goya, 57; C/ Núñez de Arce, 5) , patatas bravas at Las Bravas (C/ Álvarez Gato, 3; Pasaje Matheu, 5; C/ de la Cruz, 14 ; C/ Espoz y Mina, 13), and tostas at La Malaspina (C/ Cádiz, 9) , but those are just starting points. Good bars are littered on and around the streets Calle de Espoz y Mina and Calle de la Cruz. Explore and experiment! [...]

Comment from cile
Date: July 6, 2008, 9:36 pm

Great post, thank you! Among the many choices, try out Baco y Beto, in C/ Pelayo 24 in Chueca…the most amazing tapas, and the wine-cart is always excellent! Great service, warm atmosphere…one of my favorite places in Madrid…

Comment from Marina
Date: July 8, 2008, 1:41 pm

Thanks for the feedback!!!

I think I might have been to Baco y Beto for a wine but didn’t try the food so definitely have to go back!!!