The most famous tapas street in Madrid is Calle Cava Baja. Located in the La Latina neighborhood, this is the best area for tapas in Madrid, and is best experienced through an indulgent La Latina Tapas Crawl.
As a huge Spanish foodie, I knew I had to see for myself whether or not the area’s legendary tapas live up to the hype.
The best tapas in Madrid are said to be served at the 50+ bars along this narrow, colorful street. But what’s crazy is that they’re all housed within a compact section just 300 meters long!
So many tapas within such a small space. As you can imagine, the smell… was divine!
Even better, were the tapas themselves. I dug into some of the best Cava Baja tapas and tostas from famous spots like Casa Lucas and El Tempranillo, and am happy to confirm that this spot is the real deal.
But let’s admit it, having so many incredible options can be a little overwhelming, right? That’s why I’m here to be your official tapas food guide.
Let’s check out where to get the best tapas on Calle Cava Baja, Madrid’s famous tapas street!
BEST MADRID TAPAS TOUR
One of the best things to do in Madrid is to book a tapas tour! Not only do you get to taste the best products curated by locals experts, it’s also a fun way to learn Madrid’s history and meet fellow travelers.
This is my favorite food tour, because you visit family-run tapas bars and try everything from jamon and manchego to patatas bravas and sizzling garlic shrimp!
While it can be more expensive than visiting tapas bars on your own, this tour gives you the full Spanish foodie experience and is perfect for anyone wanting to make the most of a short trip or someone traveling alone.
What are Spanish Tapas?
First, let’s cover the basics: do you know what Spanish tapas are? It’s a seemingly simple question with a somewhat complicated answer.
Ask anyone in Spain to define what tapas are and you’ll get a vast array of different answers. To make it even more complicated, tapas and their traditions tend to vary from region to region.
Through my foodie adventures in Madrid, I came to learn that, like many other Spanish culinary practices, tapas are more of an act rather than a specification of dish. Tapas are a social experience that you share. That’s why a La Latina tapas crawl is the best way to experience Madrid’s food scene!
Best summed up as shareable small plates of food typically enjoyed with a drink, tapas are kind of like appetizers.
Here are some of the best tapas to try when you’re in Madrid:
- Patatas Bravas: This popular tapas dish consists of cubed white potatoes smothered in a delicious, spicy tomato sauce.
- Gambas al Ajillo: Sure, you’ve had garlic shrimp before, but have you ever had it made from plump Spanish coastal shrimp that’s brought to you, still sizzling, in a cast iron dish, carried by a hunky waiter with a hot accent? Didn’t think so.
- Jamón Ibérico: A coveted Spanish treat, jamón ibérico comes from acorn-fed black pigs and practically melts in your mouth.
PS: If you’re traveling solo in Madrid, I highly recommend joining a food tour. You’re guaranteed to make instant friends. Check out this guide to tapas tours in Madrid to make sure you choose the one that’s right for you!
10 Best Bars on Madrid’s Tapas Street: Cava Baja
La Latina is the perfect spot in the heart of Madrid to experience the ultimate Spanish tapas crawl! Let’s take a look at the most mouthwatering tapas bars on Madrid’s tapas street, and find out exactly what to order.
1. Casa Lucas
Casa Lucas may just be the most famous tapas bar on the best tapas street in Madrid. That means a stop here is a must! This tiny spot is known for their killer wine list featuring lesser-known producers. If you planned on doing a full meal here, this would be a great spot if you can get in.
2. La Posada de la Villa
Originally a 17th-century inn, Posado de la Villa is another good spot if you’d like a full meal. Included in a number of Michelin guides, this spot serves up quality meat and seafood and Spanish classics like cocido madrileno (Madrid stew).
Txakolina is one of the best tapas bars on Calle Cava Baja. Here, you can try Basque Country pintxos which are renowned for their gourmet quality. Your mouth will forever water over the memory of these yummy tapas. The salt-baked cod tapas have been raved over again and again!
What are pinxtos? Pintxos are a popular type of tapas in northern Spain, consisting of small bites of food typically served on a skewer or toothpick. Think miniature tapas!
Movida Tapas and Torreznos was the first stop on my self-guided tapas crawl. Doing as the locals do, I ordered a vermouth and tonic and also received a plate of small skewered tapas- for free! This bar has a really cute, rustic feel and offered all different kinds of vermouth.
Known for their torreznos, a fried bacon snack, I think it’s pretty obvious what you should try here. All of the fried pork belly I had in Spain was truly unforgettable!
5. Taberna La Concha
The best 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.
6. La Perejila
La Perileja is a Calle Cava Baja tapas bar with serious character. This colorful space hovers on the edge of vintage with old Spanish music in the background, and plenty of candles and mirrors filling the walls. You can order all kinds of tapas and tostas here. I personally recommend the chorizo con vino blanco with a glass of vermouth. The pairing of the sweet botanicals and smoky meat is oh so delicious.
7. Pez Tortilla
If there’s one thing the Spanish love, its tortilla. But not the kind you’re thinking of! In Spain, tortilla is the name of their famed traditional dish, the Spanish omelet. I don’t know how to explain it, but Spanish omelets are truly nothing the rest of the world’s- they’re way better.
It’s only fitting that Madrid’s best tapas street would have a cantina devoted entirely to this classic! Pez Tortilla draws inspiration from cherished family recipes serving a delicious assortment of homemade tortillas accompanied by a crusty slice of bread.
You can opt for the classic mixture of egg, potato, and onion or mix it up with red pepper and morcilla or spicy jalapeño.
8. Taberna Tempranillo
Taberna Tempranillo is the place to go if you’re a lover of all things wine. Just hold on to your jaw because you’re about to be astounded by the floor-to-ceiling wine rack that lines the wall behind the bar. While this spot is a bit pricier and more upscale than other tapas bars, it’s totally worth it for the killer wine selection and high quality eats.
9. Díaz y Larrouy
A beloved fixture of Madrid’s La Latina neighborhood since 1992, Diaz y Larrouy is another charming wine bar with an excellent wine list featuring an extensive Spanish selection available by the glass.
No trip to Diaz y Larrouy is complete without sampling their specialty, the Canarian cheese tosta 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.
10. Taberna Los Huevos de Lucio
Taberna Los Heuvos de Lucio is a relaxed taverna specializing in huevos rotos or broken eggs. The sister restaurant of upscale Casa Lucio, the chef, Lucio Blázquez, is famous for perfecting this dish of finely chopped fried eggs, serrano ham and golden-brown french fries. What did I tell you? The Spanish really do love their eggs!
The Perfect La Latina Tapas Crawl
A tapas crawl is a culinary tradition in Spain where you hop from one tapas bar to the next, sampling a variety of small dishes and drinks along the way.
Calle de la Cava Baja and the many tapas bars lining the narrow streets of La Latina are some of the best places for a tapas bar crawl. Experience the highlights of Madrid’s food scene with incredibly good food made from high-quality fresh produce alongside excellent wines, Cava and vermouth.
Pair your Cava Baja tapas experience with a visit to La Latina’s famous El Rastro flea market. This bustling open-air market in Madrid goes until 4 each Sunday, when you can hunt for treasures from antiques to vinyls to vintage clothing.
Best Areas for Tapas in Madrid
Are there other areas for tapas in Madrid? Great question! My favorite thing about the Spanish capital of Madrid is the easy access to culinary delights from each of the different Spanish regions. Thanks to this, there are tons of amazing places to try the best tapas in Madrid:
- Calle Ponzano: Ponzano is where the locals go. This trendy Madrid tapas street in Chamberi is filled with innovative spots like Sala De Despiece.
- Mercado San Miguel: This famous market near Plaza Mayor is an excellent place to sample a wide variety of Spanish dishes. But beware! With so many delicious options, it’s hard to choose what to eat at Mercado San Miguel.
- Mercado de la Cebada: At the end of Cava Baja, you’ll find La Latina’s local market where you can pick up meats, cheeses, baked goods, and more.
- Cava Alta: Cava Alta is a quiet, more refined version of Madrid’s tapa street, running parallel, and featuring art galleries and sit down restaurants.
- Calle de las Huertas: Less of a tapas street, Calle Huertas is known for being the main street of bars in Madrid. Head to this lively street near Puerta del Sol to experience some of the city’s best nightlife.
Madrid Tapas FAQs
What time to do people eat tapas in Madrid?
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. While some people treat tapas as an appetizer to go with a drink, you could also make tapas your full meal!
What’s the best way to experience a Madrid tapas crawl?
If you’re traveling solo, I highly recommend you find a tour to join. I can personally attest to the fact that these tours are a true bonding experience. While I have made plenty of friends on food tours in other countries, there really was something special about the experience in Spain.
What sorts of tapas are there?
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.
How do you know if something is 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.
Are tapas free in Madrid?
Free tapas are a thing of the past. Most tapas bars in Madrid will give you a small snack or pinxto when you order a drink, but otherwise, tapas typically cost between $2 and $10.
Where to Stay Near Calle Cava Baja
Staying in La Latina is a good idea when you’re visiting Madrid. This neighborhood is said to be the most authentic, filled with lively spots, unique events, and easy access to all the city’s main attractions.
Posada del León de Oro
Average Price: $$
Stay directly on Calle Cava Baja at Posada del León de Oro! This iconic 19th-century building has comfortable, affordable rooms with heated floors and soundproof rooms. Head downstairs to dine at their chic restaurant that was once home to the property’s wine cellar. Check availability now!
The Hat Madrid
Average Price: $-$$
I stayed in one of The Hat Hostel Madrid‘s private rooms and had a great experience. The hostel is in a perfect location where you can easily walk to Calle Cava Baja, Mercado San Miguel, Plaza Mayor and more. All the major attractions are only about a 10-minute walk from the hostel. I enjoyed the industrial chic vibe and incredible rooftop. Check availability now!
2060 The Newton
Average Price: $
2060 The Newton Hostel Madrid is a concept hostel and one of the most interesting I’ve come across. Inspired by Newton’s prediction that the world will end in 2060, they want guests to live every day like it’s their last. I only spent one night here in a dorm, but I would certainly return. The beds were spacious and comfortable, hot tubs on the rooftop and free churros in the morning. This is a great place for solo travelers to stay since there are plenty of organized activities. Check availability now!
The Central House Lavapies
Average Price: $-$$
The Central House Lavapies is a brand new hostel located between the central Madrid neighborhoods of Lavapies and La Latina, a few steps away from El Rastro, Madrid’s famous flea market which takes place every Sunday. Surrounded by bright street art, hip cafes, and cool bars, it feels like a luxury hostel with a lot of cool amenities like a game playroom, rooftop terrace with plunge pool, and outdoor patio. There’s also a bar and restaurant on-site. Check availability now!
Pestana Plaza Mayor
Average Price: $$
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