Ready to dig in to the best tapas bars on Calle Ponzano, Madrid?
It’s no secret that Spanish cuisine and Madrid’s food scene are some of my favorite topics. The incredible flavors, the underlying simplicity and the traditions that fuel social connections… it’s what I’m all about.
A hit with locals, this street in the Chamberi neighborhood is full of incredible food and cocktail spots. It’s the perfect place to go when you’re ready to venture beyond central Madrid and plan a tapas crawl where the Madrilenos go!
Without further ado, let’s discover the best that Madrid’s Calle Ponzano has to offer!
Calle Ponzano: Madrid’s Trendy Tapas Street
Calle Ponzano, Madrid has emerged as a trendy haven for food lovers, marked by a unique fusion of long-standing tapas bars with traditional old-school roots and modern gastronomic concepts with high-quality contemporary fare. I was lucky enough to discover this street on a Madrid tapas tour I took as while solo traveling in Madrid. Best decision ever!
This street is so popular with locals, it’s even sparked a social media trend, with frequent visitors coining the term #ponzaning.
Calle Ponzano sits comfortably amidst cultural hotspots like the modern theatre complex, Teatros del Canal, the enchanting Sorolla Museum, and the iconic Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. It’s easy to combine the boisterous bars, romantic restaurants, and world-class cuisine with a day or night out at some of Madrid’s best attractions.
It’s risen in popularity over the past couple of years, even being featured on Netflix’s Somebody Feed Phil.
What to Know Before Visiting Ponzano:
- Most menus will be in Spanish
- Prices will be slightly higher (because you’re getting higher quality food!)
- It’s about 20 minutes from central Madrid by metro
- Alonso Cano or Rios Rosas metro stops will take you right in the heart of Ponzano – not even a minute’s walk!
My favorite way to experience Ponzano’s best tapas bars is through an evening tapas tour! Not only do you get to taste the best products curated by locals experts, it’s also a fun way to learn about the city and meet fellow travelers.
This is my favorite Ponzano tour, because you visit a mix of new and established tapas bars and try everything from tortilla espanola and vermouth to patatas bravas and Sangria!
Ponzano Tapas Bars
While Ponzano is a bit off the beaten path for tourists, with some of the highest quality tapas in the city, plus an eclectic mix of traditional and inventive, new establishments, a Ponano tapas crawl is an absolute must.
Vegetarians and vegans, I’ve got you covered too! Rest assured, there are plenty of veg-friendly tapas options in this part of Madrid.
Los Arcos de Ponzano
The chic Los Arcos, a neighborhood staple since 1952, was the first stop on my Ponzano food tour, and ultimately, my favorite stop!
If you go here, you absolutely must try the chorizo and fried pork belly. I think I’ll be dreaming about those perfectly charred chorizo links for the rest of my life. And don’t even get me started on the pork belly. Nice and crispy on the outside, warm and chewy on the inside. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
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!
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 vegetable dishes will find themselves captivated by his creations. Care to give it a go?
Fide is a must-visit cevicheria and beer house located at Number 8, perfect for those seeking an authentic Spanish dining experience. This traditional seafood spot is well-known for its fresh seafood, Iberian cold meats, and conserves, with dishes that use few ingredients but offer intense flavor.
I highly recommend the the pulpo a la gallega, a smoked paprika and salt-seasoned octopus dish that delivers a smoky and tender taste sensation.
For something truly unique, try zamburiñas, a type of lightly grilled scallop served with olive oil, lemon juice, and its own juices. Delicious, tender, salty, juicy… the scallop juice is so good you can drink it right out of the shell!
My second stop on the Ponzano taps tour was at the famous and aptly named Ponzano where we were served a delicious Rioja, and some of the best olive oil I’ve ever had. European olive oil just hits different, I swear.
Next, we tried warm, creamy jamon croquetas with a bechamel sauce and more jamon tapas. This is a classic Ponzano tapas bar and one of the longest-standing restaurants on the street. Come here for no-frills, high-quality food in the most traditional of Spanish styles.
La Malcriada, a modern bar at #38 Calle Ponzano, offers a unique blend of traditional Spanish cuisine and contemporary ambiance, courtesy of the renowned Lalala Group.
This trendy location delivers a dual experience: a laid-back vibe on weekdays for casual drinks and tapas with friends, and an energetic weekend atmosphere with bargoers spilling out onto the streets.
The decor combines industrial design with Spanish roots, featuring wooden floors, exposed brick, and Iberian-inspired tiles.
A highlight of the menu is the ensaladilla rusa, a Russian potato salad, sometimes served with fresh shrimp and crunchy little breadsticks called picos.
Teje y Maneje
Located at Number 14, Teje y Maneje is the joint venture of reputed groups Lalala and Larrumba. With an ambiance that boasts an artistic blend of art déco and brasserie, the establishment is a favorite hub for patrons from Thursday through Sunday.
The exceptional wine collection at Teje and the diverse menu at Maneje, featuring delectable offerings such as Mexican-style chicken strips, salmon tataki, and tangy anchovies in vinegar, make it a culinary hotspot.
READ NEXT: The Best Tapas Street in Madrid
Cervecería El Doble
A beloved gem on Calle Ponzano, El Doble has seen a celebrity face or two pass squeeze through its small interior.
Known for exceptional beer and seafood by weight, this spot makes a great first or last stop as its situated just across from the Alfonso Caron metro stop.
El Doble specializes in double beers, properly poured, and served with indulgent tapas such as English-style chips, cooked prawns, and cold meats.
Arima Basque Gastronomy
This was not a stop on our tour, but somewhere I’d definitely like to check out next time.
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.
This super cool space on Ponzano is a small-batch craft distillery focused on quality and originality. No concentrate, coloring or sweeteners are used in their distilled alcohols.
I stopped in with my new foodie friends after our tour guide pointed it out and we tried custom gin and tonics that were light, bubbly, and refreshing.
The building is very Instagram-worthy with a unique mix of Caribbean motifs and copper accents. A great spot to grab some unique local craft cocktails!
La Máquina de Chamberí
La Máquina Chamberí is a well-known tapas bar situated at 41 Ponzano and is owned by one of Spain’s most well-respected restaurant groups.
This culinary haven is celebrated for its seafood offerings, most notably, their exquisite red shrimp and oysters. Their tapas selection is far from ordinary with distinctive plates including petite veal burgers and a distinctive tripe stew hailing from Oviedo.
La Máquina Chamberí maintains a reputation for superior quality, a testament to its status as one of the most praised restaurant groups in Spain.
Le Qualité Tasca
Situated at 48 Ponzano, come to Le Qualité Tasca for a unique dining experience at a restaurant committed to using the finest ingredients.
In an effort to bring the freshest dishes to your plate, the restaurant regularly updates its menu, incorporating the best of organic, seasonal produce. The croquettes and steak dishes come highly recommended.
DeAtún is a standout Spanish restaurant where it’s all about the tuna. (Which won’t come as a surprise if you speak Spanish.)
Their prominent ingredient, red tuna, is sourced using the traditional almadraba fishing technique indigenous to southern Spain. Most of this catch is typically exported to Japan, making this restaurant a rare gem for local delicacy enthusiasts.
Get lost in the unique Andalusian environment complete with rhythmic lamenco music while you savor tapas such as wasabi mayo toast with black truffle and tuna tartare or tataki. Pair it with a glass of Sangre de Atún, a local house wine from Cádiz.
Taberna Averías distinguishes itself as a unique wine-focused establishment, eschewing the typical draught beer offerings in favor of an impressive array of over 400 different wines, all served by the glass.
This establishment is steeped in a deep reverence for wine, with knowledgeable staff on hand to guideyou through the extensive selection.
The brainchild of the chef behind La Tasquita de Enfrente, Taberna Averías complements its wine list with a curated menu of cured meats, artisanal cheeses, and mouth-watering smoked salmon.
Picsa offers a gourmet Argentinian pizza experience, providing a unique deviation from typical Italian-style pies.
Their pizzas are characterized by thick, spongy crusts, innovative toppings, and generous lashings of cheese, all baked in a traditional wood-fired oven.
The restaurant’s warm, rustic ambiance completes the dining experience, making Picsa a must-visit spot for pizza enthusiasts seeking an international flavor journey.
Use this map to help you navigate your perfect Chamberi tapas crawl on Calle Ponzano, Madrid!
Best Ponzano Madrid Tapas
Wondering what to order on your Ponzano tapas crawl? Don’t. Just order one of everything! Kidding, kidding, if only. Here are a few ideas to get you started, but don’t forget to ask the restaurant staff their favorite pick. You never know what specials might be available.
- Torreznos: Deep-fried pork belly. Need I say more?
- Chuletón Cenital: Aged raw beef seasoned with salt, pepper, truffles, tomato purée, and basil. Only at Sala de Despiece.
- 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!
- Croquette: Fried, bite-sized balls filled with goodies like ham, cheese, and creamy bechamel.
- Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp): Shrimp sautéed in sizzling garlic and olive oil, served with bread ready to soak up all the irresistible flavor.
- Patatas Bravas: One of the most popular Spanish tapas, patatas bravas is a dish of spicy fried potatoes, served with a fiery tomato sauce.
- 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.
Prefer to do more eating than decision-making? Or maybe you just want to meet other travelers for an epic night out on Calle Ponzano? Either way, I highly recommend a tapas tour, especially for first-time visitors and solo travelers!
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!
This experience was the highlight of one of my stays in Madrid. The expert guide made it super social, had great suggestions, and at the end of the tour I even went out for more drinks with people I met.
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!
Where Else to Eat in Spain
When in Spain, eating is always at the top of my list! One of the best things to do in Madrid in fall– or any time, really!- is to visit the city’s hottest gastromarket. Check out my guide to what to eat at Mercado San Miguel to see more!
No matter where you go next, your next meal is sure to be as delicious as the first! Bon voyage.
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