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Madrid Travel Guide

The 15 Best Tapas Restaurants in Madrid

Advance warning: you’ll want to arrive with an empty stomach at these delicious spots.

A trip to Spain and tapas might go hand-in-hand, but there’s something extra special about the small plate culture in the capital city. Home to hundreds—if not thousands—of tapas restaurants and bars, Madrid’s tapas culture is heavily influenced by its history, geography, and diverse population.

Here, you’ll find classic tapas dishes like croquettes, patatas bravas, and tortilla española next door to innovative, international-inspired picks that you’ll dream about long after you’ve waved goodbye to the city.

Madrid’s tapas culture is also influenced by the weather, which means digging into gazpacho in summer or cocido madrileño in winter. While there are tapas bars to suit all budgets, styles, and occasions, the best tapas bars in Madrid are those that serve up a culinary journey with some good company along the way.

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Bodega de la Ardosa

WHERE: Malasaña

It’s pretty much impossible to have a bad time at Bodega de la Ardosa, no matter whether you’re visiting for breakfast or late at night. This historic tapas bar dates back to 1892 and is famed for its vermouth on tap, served with a slice of orange and an olive. Come here for dinner to dig into its locally famed tortilla de patatas (potato omelet), and make sure you order the beef cheek, too. You’ll find a mix of locals and tourists here: Bodega de la Ardosa may be one of those “must-visit” spots on any Madrid hit list, but it’s good enough that you’ll make time for multiple return visits. If you’re arriving late at night, check out the secret room behind the bar, too.

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Casa Julio

WHERE: Malasaña

Craving croquettes? There’s only one place to go: Casa Julio. This small, traditional tapas restaurant was once visited by the famous Irish rock band U2 in 1987, and Casa Julio’s owner (Julio, if you hadn’t guessed) still has some of the photos up on the wall. Set in the Malasaña neighborhood, Casa Julio has specific opening hours (1:00 PM to 4:00 PM and from 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM), but you’ll want to double-check these in advance to avoid any croquette-based disappointment. Both crispy and creamy, save some space to try all seven flavors, including tuna, black pudding, spinach with gorgonzola, and ham and cheese. With its colorful tiles and vintage posters, you’ll feel like you’re eating with an old Spanish friend when dining here.

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Cervecería 100 Montaditos

WHERE: Various

You’ll find a few branches of 100 Montaditos spread throughout Madrid and wider Spain and the world, which means you’re never too far from its budget-friendly 1€ burgers and its delicious Tinto de Verano. A cheap and impressively cheerful tapas restaurant, your best bet is to visit on a Wednesday or a Sunday to make good use of its Euromanía deal, where montaditos are only one euro each. You’ll find a big range of internationally-inspired dishes as well as traditional Spanish ingredients, like jamón ibérico, tortilla de patata, and queso manchego. Got a sweet tooth? Try the montadito de chocolate, complete with Nutella and whipped cream.

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Mercado de San Miguel

WHERE: Centro

Sure, it’s not a restaurant in the traditional sense. But you wouldn’t want to visit Madrid without eating tapas at least once at Mercado de San Miguel. This fresh food market is a haven for foodies, with hundreds of different stands selling all kinds of tapas. A treasure trove of dishes, it’s the sort of place you’ll wander and eat simultaneously rather than sitting in one place for too long. Expect prices to be a little higher than your typical local tapas bar because, often, ingredients lean towards gourmet rather than budget. Bonus points for the beautiful cast-iron architecture you’ll notice while strolling and the fact that, if you’re craving a specific ingredient tried once at a random spot in Spain, you’ll likely find it here.

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Entre Santos Madrid

WHERE: Chueca

There’s a fair chance you’ll stumble upon Entre Santos Madrid by accident during your time in Chueca, one of Madrid’s liveliest neighborhoods with a great range of bars and boutiques. This cocktail bar does things a little differently when it comes to tapas dishes, opting for stylish Mediterranean tapas fused with unexpected flavors rather than the standard offerings. That means you’re more likely to eat salmon ceviche or sirloin beef rather than croquettes and patatas bravas. Often considered one of the best tapas spots in Madrid, this award-winning restaurant doesn’t take reservations, so you’ll want to arrive a little ahead of your scheduled dinner time to secure a table.

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Taberna el Sur

WHERE: Lavapiés

You’ll want to remember two things when visiting Taberna el Sur: its portions are larger than most, and it’s a top choice for paella. This traditional Spanish tavern is a popular choice for enjoying tapas, raciones, drinks, and cocktails in a lively atmosphere without a high price tag. While it’s hard to find a bad dish here, Taberna el Sur is well-loved for its ropa vieja: a traditional Cuban dish made with shredded beef and vegetables in a tomato sauce. It’s rare to find this dish in Madrid, but Taberna el Sur offers it as one of their specialties. Enjoy it with a backdrop of Spanish music and a glass or two of red wine. And don’t be put off by the queue outside: it always moves quickly.

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Taberna Más Al Sur

WHERE: Lavapiés

Not to be confused with its very similarly named neighbor, Taberna Más Al Sur is one of Madrid’s best tapas restaurants, especially when the sun is shining. Sit yourself down on its terrace with a glass of something cold and an empty stomach: the menu goes above and beyond when it comes to delicious dishes. Taberna Más Al Sur is famed for its fresh dishes and menu, which are dependent on what’s found at the markets each morning. The waiting time can be a little longer here, but when you’ve tried the risotto de boletus, you’ll realize it was well worth it. If you’re looking for vegetarian or vegan tapas in Madrid, Taberna Más Al Sur doesn’t disappoint on that front either.

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Celso y Manolo

WHERE: Chueca

While Celso y Manolo focuses on modern, innovative dishes, its history dates back to the 1950s. Named after its former owners, who were brothers and ran the place for over 50 years, Celso y Manolo has one very simple yet effective key ingredient: tomatoes. Try the signature “tomate con sabor,” made of organic tomatoes from their own garden, seasoned with salt, olive oil, and herbs, or step things up a notch with the tomato salad, complete with fruit, or the chuletón de tomate (tomato steak). This smaller-than-average spot gets busy early on, so make a reservation. And, when you’re all tomatoe’d-out, try the chocolate mousse with brandy.

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Casa Amadeo Los Caracoles

WHERE: Centro

Haven’t tried snails before? Advance warning: you’ll probably try them when you dine at Casa Amadeo Los Caracoles, mostly because owner Amadeo loves to greet every table individually and recommends them to the crowds. A place where your heart will be begging you to order more even when your stomach says no. Its tapas dishes are intensely flavorful and perfectly balanced; try the snails (as, inevitably, will be requested), and the crispy, salty pork with the crunchy bread. If you’re drinking alcohol, the sangria includes a few secret ingredients that put it a notch above the rest. You’ll probably notice some famous signatures on the walls while dining here: ask Amadeo for his stories of past guests.

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Casa Revuelta

WHERE: Centro

If you only try one thing at Casa Revuelta, make it the battered cod. This taverna, set in the city’s traditional center, has been serving its famous cod dish since 1966, and you’ll spot it multiple times while dining here. The easy location of this tapas bar, near the Plaza Mayor, one of the most emblematic squares in Madrid, means it’s easy to pop in, drop €3 on a bite of cod, and continue on for your night in the city. Alternatively, if you’re looking to stick around, come on a Wednesday or Thursday to try the restaurant’s slow-stewed tripe: a local favorite that tastes like home–if home were a cozy Spanish house, of course.

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WHERE: Quintana

Docamar is by no means off the beaten track. But once you’ve sampled its patatas bravas, you’ll understand why this tapas restaurant is so endlessly popular. Considered some of the best in Spain (and that’s saying something impressive), Docamar even sells its secret sauce for takeaway, if one portion just isn’t enough. On the weekends, you’ll find Docamar full of locals sipping a caña of beer and eating tapas in the early afternoons. A classic tapas spot, it’s filled with generous portions, a welcoming atmosphere and budget-friendly prices to match. Looking for more authentic dishes? Try the callos stew (beef tripe, chorizo, blood sausage, and chickpeas) or the oreja (pig’s ear).

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Rosi La Loca

WHERE: Centro

Maybe you’ve had your fill of traditional tapas restaurants and now you’re looking for something a little more…unusual. If that’s the case, head to Rosi La Loca. Like its name suggests, this crazy tapas bar was named after its owner, Rosi, and is filled to the brim with quirky, whimsical touches like a giant octopus, a flying bicycle, a hot air balloon, and a wall of clocks. Loosely Alice in Wonderland themed, you’ll find plenty of the usual tapas offerings with a few unexpected twists. Sip on a cocktail in a brightly colored mug served to you by a waiter in a pink tutu skirt. It’s an unforgettable spot, in more ways than one.

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El Minibar

WHERE: Austurias

Don’t be put off by its casual surroundings down in the basement: El Minibar may look unassuming from the outside but, inside, it’s a haven of incredible tapas and delicious, budget-friendly sangria. Cozy and inviting, you’ll want to try one of the bar’s cheese-based dishes (the grilled goat’s cheese with tomato jam is a popular one) or the duck confit with prune sauce if you’re feeling a little fancier. This unpretentious place is a go-to for casual lunches with friends or, if you’re dining solo, an easygoing chat with the staff. The portions are generous, the prices are great, and the little finishing touches on each plate will make even budget-conscious travelers feel extra special.

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Los Arcos de Ponzano

WHERE: Chamberí

Los Arcos de Ponzano is the sort of tapas bar where you’ll have to listen firmly to your head over your heart. A place where you’ll challenge the capacity of your stomach as you admire (and then feast upon) each dish as it makes its way over to your table, this tapas restaurant does everything well but, particularly its meat-based tapas. Serving up traditional Spanish cuisine since 1952, it does not only smaller, typical tapas dishes but also larger grills. Not sure what to order? The restaurant’s open parrilla (grill) means you can watch how they cook their famous cordero (lamb) and cochinillo (pork) in a wood-fired oven. Top tip: arrive with an empty stomach and no immediate plans afterwards.

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El Invernadero

WHERE: Chamberí

Vegetarian tapas might be a little hit or miss, but if you’re bored of missing out when eating with carnivore friends, book a table at El Invernadero to be the star of the show for once. El Invernadero means “the greenhouse” in Spanish, and this spot specializes in green haute cuisine. Chef and owner Rodrigo de la Calle, is known for his innovative and creative use of vegetables, mushrooms, and herbs and has been awarded a Michelin star in the past for his efforts. While you can’t really go wrong with any of the small plates here, try the vegetable caviar, the mushroom risotto, and the artichoke hearts with truffle to be seriously impressed.

johnmorkal8313 May 25, 2024

Very Informative Information.