In search of the best Madrid tapas bars? Here they are!
Spanish tapas are one of my favorite subjects! So simple, yet so incredibly delicious, I can never get enough spicy patatas bravas, jamon croquettes or salmorejo! Plus, the culture surrounding Madrid’s food scene is such an interesting topic to explore.
If you’ve chosen to embark on a tapas crawl in the Spanish capital, you’ve made a great choice. Madrid is a city where you’ll be able to try cuisine from each different part of the country. From Basque-style pintxos to Andalusian favorites, areas like Centro, Malasana, and La Latina have all the options you need.
While these spots are great for first-time visitors, locals or anyone returning should check out the Literary Quarter and Calle Ponzano in Chamberi. No matter where you go, you’re guaranteed to find authentic tapas with incredible flavor!
Alright, are you ready? It’s time to dig in to the best tapas bars in Madrid and find out exactly what to eat!
MOST RECOMMENDED TAPAS TOUR
Best Tapas Bars in Madrid
While Madrid is full of delicious spots to eat, there are a few locations that stand out above the rest. Take a look at what each neighborhood has to offer before we dig into the best tapas bars in each area of Madrid.
Best Areas for Tapas in Madrid
The best tapas areas in Madrid consist of La Latina’s Cava Baja as well as Calle Ponzano, the Literary Quarter, Centro, and the Malasana neighborhood.
- La Latina: Vibrant and historic neighborhood with bustling tapas bars that attract a mix of locals and tourists. Known for the famous Cava Baja and its slightly more refined sister street, Cava Alta.
- Huertas (Barrio de las Letras): Also known as the Literary Quarter, this area has a number of streets and plazas perfect for tapas and wine connoisseurs.
- Centro: The heart of Madrid is filled with historic tavernas, the city’s busiest plazas, and the hip gastro market, Mercado San Miguel.
- Malasaña: Trendy Malasaña offers modern, innovative tapas and eclectic bars in the chicest of settings.
- Ponzano: Calle Ponzano is a local favorite, known for its high-quality tapas and mix of innovative restaurants alongside time-tested neighborhood classics.
Centro is the historic heart of Madrid. You’ll find a diverse selection of tapas here with everything from traditional Spanish taverns to gastronomic food halls and Michelin-starred eateries. For the best tapas in Centro, stick to the classics we all know and love.
1. La Campana
The best place to go for Madrid’s best street food dish: bocadillo de calamares, a sandwich loaded with impeccably fried calamari.
The secret to this classic Spanish delicacy lies in the harmonious combo of succulent calamari and artisanal bread.
Enjoy this traditional street food while basking in the open air of Plaza Mayor, a prime spot for people-watching.
2. Mesón del Champiñon
Also in Plaza Mayor, Mesón del Champiñon is a family-owned tapas bar that’s been charming Madrilenos since 1960.
This establishment earned a reputation for their unique mushroom tapas that they stuff with garlic, parsley, and chorizo.
Want to eat it like the locals? Try using just two toothpicks to serve yourself. But fair warning, it’s harder than it looks.
3. Mercado San Miguel
During my first visit to Madrid, I made a beeline for San Miguel Market pretty much as soon as I landed.
One of the oldest covered markets in the world, this spot has over 20 stalls selling tapas and regional specialties from all across the country. They’ve got everything from Galicia octopus to jamon iberico, and so much more.
Mercado de San Miguel has undergone a pretty intensive restoration in the last decade or so and has since attracted Michelin-starred chefs from around the country, breathing new life into this traditional market-turned-gourmet food hall.
Definitely a fun visit, but be prepared for plenty of tourists, plus a large selection of global fare ranging from pizza to bao buns.
4. La Tasquita de Enfrente
I can’t talk about Spanish cuisine and not mention at least one Michelin-starred restaurant! La Tasquita de Enfrente is a family-owned eatery with a history that spans five decades.
Known for fusing traditional and contemporary Spanish cuisine, alongside a bit of French gastronomy, you can’t go wrong with the jamón croquettes and pork ear terrine.
Choose between an à la carte menu or opt for a full 13-course tasting menu. Go on and splurge if you want to! This one’s worth it.
5. Casa Labra
A historic establishment that opened in 1860, Casa Labra is known for its traditional salt cod dishes and cod croquettes. (Anyone familiar with Portuguese cuisine knows exactly what we’re talking about here!)
Located on Calle Tetuán, just next to Puerta del Sol, Casa Labra is famous for being the site where the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party was founded. This is the oldest party currently active in Spain.
Barrio de Las Lettras (Huertas)
Madrid’s Latin Quarter belongs at the top of the list for all my wine lovers ou there. Party-goers will also favor this location, with lively late-night venues lining Huertas Street.
Along with its charming bars and restaurants, this neighborhood is a lovely place to explore. Be on the lookout for quotes from great Spanish writers that’ve been etched into the cobblestone streets.
6. Casa Toni
A true gem in the Puerta del Sol area, Casa Toni is one of the most popular tapas bars in Madrid thanks to their authenticity and long-standing history.
Initially known simply as Toni, this restaurant was taken over by a group of local food enthusiasts in the 1970s and has been flourishing ever since.
The highlight here is the offal dishes. If you don’t know what offal means, we’re talking intestines, sweetbreads, ears… you get the idea.
While this is the perfect tapas spot for adventurous eaters, there are also plenty of high-quality, tourist-friendly tapas, from perfectly grilled meats to salted pimientos de padron, and crispy patatas bravas.
7. La Casa del Abuelo
Another historic, family-run tapas bar, La Casa del Abuelo is very well known in Madrid, with a history dating back to 1906.
When visiting, trying the gambas al ajillo, or garlic shrimp, is mandatory. This is the very spot where the dish was invented so you know they do it better than anywhere else.
Their secret? It’s all about the freshness of the shrimp and their homemade olive oil and house wine.
PS: Want to learn interesting facts like how post-Spanish Civil War bread scarcity led to the creation of this iconic tapas dish? You’ll get all that and more on this exciting Literary Quarter Tapas & Wine Tour!
8. Casa González
Part gourmet shop, part tapas bar, Casa González is popular for a reason, and their carefully curated charcuterie and conservas are only one among many!
Established in 1931, this restaurant is also a historic hotspot that once served as a secret meeting spot for anti-fascist rebels in the 1940s.
Today, you can enjoy the bar’s warm, earthy atmosphere as you enjoy fresh fish, fine meats, and melt-in-your-mouth cheese.
9. Casa Alberto
Casa Alberto is an iconic tavern that dates all the way back to 1827. This spot is exactly what I think of when I picture a Spanish tapas bar. (Which is why I obviously had to add it to my list of most Instagrammable spots in Madrid!)
With vintage charm cemented by its rustic red facade, its original zinc bar is also fully intact, complete with water trough for cooling wine and a five-fountain draught beer head.
And the food? Don’t get me started. As a huge fan of interesting concoctions and unique flavors, Casa Alberto is always the place I’m most excited to visit when on a Madrid tapas crawl.
I highly recommend the squid ink stuffed peppers and beef tenderloin with apple ali-oli!
10. Los Gatos
Los Gatos is a must-visit tapas bar in Huertas. Often catering to the after-work crowd, their selection of vermút, olives, and tostas is top-notch.
And while the food is phenomenal so is the aesthetic. The walls here are decked out in eclectic memorabilia ranging from football jerseys and celebrity cycling gear to bullfighting artifacts.
This spot is super unique and earns plenty of buzz, but from talking with others, I’ve realized that people tend to either love it or hate it. Guess you’ll have to decide for yourself!
FUN FACT: Did you know this bar derives its name from a famous Madrileño nickname? No one is exactly sure why Madrid locals are called gatos, or cats, but there are plenty of funny theories. My favorite is one that suggests people avoided paying taxes by climbing the city walls, like, you know, cats.
Malsana is a trendy Madrid neighborhood with plenty to see and do. It’s one of those spots where a day of shopping and sightseeing can easily evolve into an evening bar crawl.
Below, are some of the most iconic Malasana tapas bars, but if you still can’t decide where to go, head to Calle de Colón. With tons of great bars and restaurants lining this street, your nose will lead you right to your next dinner spot!
11. Bodega de la Ardosa
A stop at Bodega La Ardosa is like stepping back in time. With antique decor and cobweb-covered liquor bottles, this tapas bar’s charm lies in the intricate details, from engraved beer taps and iron columns to wine barrels repurposed as tables.
A tried and true Madrid favorite, Bodega de la Ardosa serves a menu of traditional tapas, including olive oil-confited artichokes, ortiguillas, sherry-braised beef cheeks, and award-winning tortilla española.
12. Bar La Gloria
Bar La Gloria is a warm, cozy bar serving generous portions at reasonable prices.
However, the real star of the show is the authentic Valencian paella! Come here to get your fix and then stick around for a drink or two.
13. Casa Macareno
Casa Macareno, a century-old establishment in Malasaña, is one of Madrid’s best tapas bars thanks to its quality food and an interior design that reflects the joyful Spanish spirit.
The restaurant’s talented chefs blend tradition with innovation, levelling up classic dishes like jamón Ibérico croquettes and patatas bravas by using secret ingredients like truffles.
14. Pez Tortilla
Pez Tortilla has established itself as one of Madrid’s top tapas spots thanks to the inventive take on the quintessential Spanish dish tortilla espanola.
With seven different types of tortilla de patatas, including unique renditions such as caramelized onion and leek, and truffled brie and ham that you can pair with wine, vermouth, or craft beer.
15. Bar Antonio
Malasaña’s Bar Antonio is the embodiment of authentic Spanish tradition with its distinctive, retro interiors that exude a fun, nostalgic aura.
Known for its simplicity and dedication to home-cooked specialties, this bar de toda la vida, or ‘bar that’s been around forever,’ stands out thanks to its commitment to tradition, flavor and quality.
16. Casa Julio
Casa Julio, with its bright red interior, has earned their fame by putting a totally new spin on the iconic Spanish croquettes.
Since 1921, this Madrid staple has been enchanting patrons with an impressive selection of seven unique flavors of croquettes, ranging from the classic jamón to creative combinations like leek and mushroom or raisins and gorgonzola.
Near the city center, La Latina is the spot for the quintessential Madrid tapas crawl.
Pair your visit to La Latina’s famous Calle Cava Baja with the well-known El Rastro flea market where you can hunt for treasures from antiques to vinyls to vintage clothing. The open-air market goes until 4 PM each Sunday.
17. Taberna La Concha
The favorite thing about Taberna La Concha is hands down the ‘press for Cava button’ that sits on their bar. One tap of this bad boy and you’ll have a crisp, cold glass of bubbly Spanish wine in your hand before you can say por favor.
Along with your sparkling wine, order some tostas like the tosta de jamón de pato con naranja. This tasty Spanish treat comes on crispy toasted bread and combines savory duck with a refreshing orange tang.
This bar is also known for its vermút, a type of aged white wine spiced to perfection and served over ice. If you haven’t tasted it yet, Taberna La Concha is the place to try it!
18. Diaz y Larrouy
A neighborhood fixture since 1992, Diaz y Larrouy is a charming bar with an excellent wine list. But the best part? Their extensive selection of Spanish varietals are nearly all available by the glass.
No trip to Diaz y Larrouy is complete without sampling their specialty, the Canarian cheese tostas with honey, a truly special indulgence of sweet, creamy flavors. Pair with a glass of Spanish Rioja to let notes of plum and herb cut through the sugary honey.
READ NEXT: The Best Tapas in La Latina, Madrid
The beloved local hotspot, Calle Ponzano, is located about 20 minutes from Madrid Centro. In the Chamberi neighborhood, it’s a bit off the beaten path for tourists, but with some of the highest quality tapas in the city, plus an eclectic mix of traditional and inventive, new establishments, a Ponzano tapas crawl is an absolute must.
19. Sala de Despiece
Experimental and buzzy, Sala de Despiece is one of the most popular and most epically cool spots on Ponzano. A tiny spot with bar-only seating, they serve fresh, creative dishes with ingredients from all across the world.
Pay attention to the decor: this spot recreates an old-fashioned slaughterhouse with all kinds of neat details. For an out-of-this-world experience, try the Chuletón Cenital, the Rolex, Basque Truffle, the Galician Octopus… actually, just try out it all! This is the kind of place where you’ll have way more regrets about what you didn’t order rather than how much you spent!
20. El Invernadero – Vegetarian Tapas
El Invernadero, an acclaimed restaurant at Number 85, is led by the renowned chef Rodrigo de la Calle and is highly praised for its innovative approach to cooking. It boasts a Michelin star, awarded in 2019, solidifying its status in the world of haute cuisine.
The restaurant offers three distinctive menus: “Vegetalia,” “Green” for vegetarians and vegans, and “Red” featuring meat dishes. Chef Rodrigo firmly believes that even those who are not fond of vegetables will find themselves captivated by his creations. Care to give it a go?
21. Arima Basque Gastronomy
While the tapas bars of Ponzano are a mix of old and new, Arima came onto the scene in 2016. Here, you can try Basque pintxos from San Sebastian as well as over 30 brands of vermouth!
Pintxos are a type of snack typically served in the Basque Country, similar to tapas but unique for their smaller size and typically pierced with a skewer or toothpick or served on a piece of bread. San Sebastian, in particular, is renowned as a culinary hotspot due to its high concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants so it’s no surprise that this spot has become so popular.
According to the young owner, Arima Irazuegi, its roots lie in the salt from the Cantabrian Sea.
Oldest Tapas Bar in Madrid: Sobrino de Botín
Sobrino de Botín has been serving Madrid since 1725 and holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest operating restaurant globally! I got to dine here when I visited Madrid in fall and loved warming up with the delicious comfort food as the evening turned chilly.
Famous for its culinary masterpieces cooked in a traditional wood-fired oven, locals rave about the roast suckling pig and roast lamb. For a unique experience, dine in the restaurant’s historic vaulted cellar.
This iconic establishment has found its way into internationally acclaimed novels, including Ernest Hemingway’s ‘The Sun Also Rises’ and Frederick Forsyth’s ‘Icon’ and ‘The Cobra.’
The Best Tapas in Madrid
In case you need help deciding what to order, here’s a list of the most popular tapas in Madrid. And if the options make it hard to choose? Then, don’t! The best part about a tapas-filled evening is that they’re affordable enough- and let’s be honest, delicious enough- to try a variety.
- Patatas Bravas: One of the most popular Spanish tapas, patatas bravas is a dish of spicy fried potatoes, served with a fiery tomato sauce.
- Huevos Rotos: Literally translating to “broken eggs,” huevos rotos, fried eggs over fries, is the ultimate comfort food.
- Bocadillo de Calamares (Calamari Sandwich): A Madrid specialty featuring crispy fried calamari rings sandwiched between a baguette.
- Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp): Shrimp sautéed in sizzling garlic and olive oil, served with bread ready to soak up all the irresistible flavor.
- Manchego Cheese: This nutty, earthy sheep’s milk cheese is probably the best-known Spanish cheese, and for good reason.
- Jamón Ibérico: A true delicacy of Madrid, Jamón Ibérico is a type of cured ham that represents the city’s centuries-old tradition of charcuterie.
- Serrano Ham: Another kind of cured ham, Serrano, is a slightly less luxurious but equally important component of Madrid’s gastronomic heritage.
- Gazpacho: Served cold, gazpacho is a zesty and refreshing soup made from blended veggies. Perfect for summertime.
- Salmorejo: Gazpacho’s thicker, creamier cousin, salmorejo is another cold soup that instantly became one of my favorite Spanish tapas.
- Padron pepper: Small green peppers, usually fried and salted, are like a fun game of spicy roulette. You never know which ones are full of those heat-inducing seeds!
- Chorizo in Cider: With a hint of smoke and zest, the combination of spicy chorizo sausage and sweet, tangy cider is unexpected yet undeniable.
- Churros: You may have tried churros before, but I guarantee you’ve never tasted any like the churros in Madrid. It’s all in the dough, fried to a perfect golden crisp and served with melted chocolate for dipping.
- Migas: Originally considered a dish for peasants, migas is a hearty appetizer of bread crumbs fried with garlic and an assortment of meat.
- Espinacas con Garbanzos: This dish, translating to spinach with chickpeas, is a nutrient-dense and flavor-packed snack similar to Indian saag.
- Croquette: Fried, bite-sized balls filled with goodies like ham, cheese, and creamy bechamel.
- Pan con tomate: A simple yet delicious combination of bread topped with ripe tomatoes, olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt. Make sure to get some garlic alioli to go pair with it!
- Boquerones en vinagre: These vinegar-cured anchovies reflect Madrid’s coastal influences and love for tangy, seafood tapas.
- Patatas a lo Pobre (Poor man’s potatoes): This humble, rustic dish of potatoes, onions, and peppers fried in olive oil does what all great Spanish cuisine does: it transforms simple ingredients into hearty, delicious dishes.
Vegetarian tapas options in Madrid are plentiful and diverse, reflecting the city’s move towards more plant-based culinary offerings.
You can find a variety of dishes such as Pimientos de Padrón (fried green peppers), patatas bravas (fried potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce), and espárragos trigueros (grilled asparagus).
Calle Ponzano’s El Invernadero is an excellent spot for vegetarian tapas with an innovative tapas menu catering towards both vegan and vegetarians. The chef swears even the most steadfast of carnivores will love these dishes!
Here are 3 great Madrid tapas bars for vegetarians:
- B13: Totally vegetarian bar serving tapas like croquettes & calamari minus the meat.
- El Perro Gamberro: Tradition tapas, turned vegan!
- El Invernadero: Innovative tapas menu catering to both vegans and vegetarians.
Pintxos could be classified as mini tapas. They’re typically served in the Basque Country and come pierced with a skewer or toothpick, or served on bread.
While Madrid is not quite in this region, you can still find some excellent basque-style tapas bars!
Here are the 3 best spots for basque pintxos:
- Sagaretxe: Snag long-standing favorite pintxos from this Ponzano restaurant and cider bar.
- Txakolina: This Cava Baja spot won’t do you wrong!
- Arima: High-end basque gastronomy on Calle Ponzano.
On a budget? You’re in luck! Tapas are already one of the most affordable dishes in… well, in all of Europe, really! If you’re looking to live it up for less, here’s the best of the best.
Budget-friendly diners should head to these spots:
- Casa Labra: The cod here is affordable, but the lines can get quite long.
- El Tigre: Free tapas and extra large drinks? This sounds like the spot for budget diners!
- Museo del Jamón: The most affordable charcuterie in town.
PRO TIP: If you’re on a budget, steer clear of fish and seafood tapas as these typically cost more.
Madrid Tapas Bars Map
Ready for the perfect night out in Madrid? Save this map to help you find your way around!
Madrid Tapas Tours
Guided tours are an epic introduction to Spanish food culture, one of my favorite topics! As the capital of Spain, Madrid is the best place for food tours because you can sample food from every region, all in one spot!
But be careful. It would be an incredible disappointment to book a lackluster tour that wastes your money and leaves you dissatisfied.
After visiting Madrid a few times now, I’ve taken a record number of tapas tours so I decided to break down the best ones as well as red flags to look out for!
I’ve included my top picks below, but if you want options that combine food with things like wine, flamenco, or cooking, check out my guide to Madrid Tapas Tours.
Perfect for first-time visitors, this popular tapas tour starts with a 45-minute history walk before stops at highly-regarded (but never crowded) tapas bars. Plus, it runs four times a day, ensuring an easy fit into your itinerary.
Dinner, drinks, a walking tour and history tour all in one, this tour more than pays for itself!
However, if you’re not a first-time visitor or you’d rather do more eating than walking, the Ponzano tour may be a better fit.
This tour will take you to four family-owned establishments where you’ll try perfectly charred chorizo, crispy, fried pork belly bites, a vermouth cocktail, sangria, tortilla espanola and so much more!
Maybe you love wine or you just prefer to stick to a neighborhood close to central Madrid? If so, this tour will take you on a La Latina Tapas Crawl to some of the best bars on Madrid’s Cava Baja. This street is famous for having some of the best food spots in town.
This unique tour not only introduces you to hidden gastronomic gems but also pairs your tastings with exquisite Spanish wines. These aren’t just any wines, each one is highly rated between 95 and 100 points, adding a touch of luxury to your culinary adventure. Savor the fusion of culture, history, and high-quality gastronomy on this La Latina Tapas Tour.
Planning a Madrid Tapas Crawl
Have a few questions? Here’s everything you need to know about how to plan the perfect tapas crawl!
Tapas Culture: Spain is renowned for its tapas culture, and at the root of it all, it’s about coming together with friends and family!
Origins: Tapas, meaning ‘to cover’ in Spanish, originated from the practice of placing a piece of bread or cured meat on top of a drink to prevent insects from getting inside. Over time, this evolved into serving small dishes along with drinks, creating the tradition of tapas.
Types: There are hot tapas (think garlic shrimp or pork skewers), cold tapas (like gazpacho), tostas which are basically small open-faced sandwiches, tablas, a small charcuterie board of meat and cheese, and conservas which are canned, marinaded meats.
When to Eat: The best time to eat tapas in Madrid is from 1:30-3:30 or 8:30-10:30. That’s when they’re served fresh.
How to Order: How do you tell whether you’re ordering a tapa or a full meal? Well, you’ll find out when your dish is served… Just kidding! (Sort of.) Typically, the price point is the best indicator. Some places will list three serving sizes on their menu: A tapa will be small portion for one, a media ración is good for 2-3 people, and a ración for even more.
Price: Sadly, free tapas are now a rarity. But luckily, most tapas are affordable, ranging from €2-10. Seafood tapas cost more!
Want to know more? Check out the Ultimate Guide to Spanish Cuisine!
Which of Madrid’s tapas is most famous?
The most famous of all Madrid’s tapas is the bocadillo de calamar, otherwise known as a fried calamari sandwich. La Campana is the top spot to try this crispy, breaded squid and soft baguette combo!
What do you drink with tapas in Madrid?
The most traditional Spanish drink to pair with tapas vermouth or tinto de verano, a simplified version of sangria. These days, beer and cocktails are also increasing in popularity.
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