Tapas in Madrid

Many foreigners have heard of "tapas" but aren't quite sure what this means. "Tapa" simply refers to a small plate of food. Its larger version, "ración," is much better for sharing with a large group and actually more pervasive than the tapa these days. You will never get a free ración, but the tradition of receiving a free tapa with a drink still exists at some establishments.

The most traditional tapas are manchego cheese, cured ham, peppers, sausage, potatoes, fried calamari, croquettes and brochettes of chicken or meat.

There's a fine line between a tapas bar and a proper restaurant: many places give you the option of eating at the bar or sitting down with table service. "Ir de tapas" is a dynamic activity which consists of hopping from bar to bar sampling a little of everything. Don't expect to sit down eating if you're with madrileños!

Below is just a sampling of the great tapas restaurants in Madrid where you can try the most typical foods of the region. Refer to Food in Madrid if you're unsure of the English translations of each restaurant's specialities.

Classic Madrid Restaurants Casa Lucio

Casa Lucio
c/ Cava Baja 35
Metro La Latina (line 5)
Neighborhood: Plaza Mayor
Tel +34 91 365 82 17
Price range per person: 50€ and up
Specialty: huevos estrellados, cocido madrileño & callos a la madrileña
Of note: Casa Lucío is a favorite of the King of Spain, foreign diplomats and celebrities. If you can't get a reservation try its sibling across the street, "Taberna los huevos de Lucio."

El Sobrino de Botín
c/ Cuchilleros 17
Metro Sol (lines 1, 2, 3)
Neighborhood: Plaza Mayor
Tel +34 91 366 42 17/ 91 366 30 26
Price range per person: 35€-50€
Specialty: cochinillo & cordero asado
Of note: El Botín holds the title of world's oldest restaurant (1725) and was an historic favorite of Hemmingway and Dos Passos.

Llardy Botin restaurant
Carrera de San Jerónimo 8
Metro Sol (lines 1, 2, 3)
Neighborhood: Puerta del Sol
Tel +34 91 522 22 07
Price range per person: 50€ and up
Speciality: cocido madrileño
Of note: Frenchman Emile Lhardy, a friend of "Carmen" author Prosper Mérimée, founded this restaurant in 1839.

Las Bravas
Pasaje Matheu 5 (off c/ Victoria)
Metro Sol (lines 1, 2, 3)
Neighborhood: Puerta del Sol
Tel +34 91 521 51 41
Price range per person: under 10€
Speciality: patatas bravas
Of note: Las Bravas claims to have invented this delicious spicy potato dish.

Popular Tapas Restaurants in Madrid

El Almendro 13
c/ Alemendro 13
Metro La Latina (line 5)
Neighborhood: Plaza Mayor
Tel +34 91 365 42 52
Price range per person: under 10€-20€
Speciality: pisto manchego & huevos rotos

Casa AntonioAlmendro 13
c/ Latoneros 10
Metro La Latina (line 5)
Neighborhood: Plaza Mayor
Tel +34 91 366 63 36
Price range per person: under 10-15€
Speciality: callos a la madrileña, croquetas & pisto manchego

Tasca la Farmacia
c/ Diego de León 9
Metro Velázquez
Neighborhood: Salamanca
Tel +34 91 564 86 52
Price range per person: 15€-20€
Specialty: Basque food & bacalao

Albur
c/ Manuela Malasaña 15
Metro Bilbao
Neighborhood: Malasaña
Tel +34 91 594 27 33
Price range per person: 15€-20€
Specialty: morcilla & Spanish wines

La Botillería de Maxi
c/ Cava Alta 4
Metro La Latina (line 5)
Neighborhood: Plaza Mayor
Tel +34 91 365 12 49
Price range per person: 15€-25€
Speciality: callos a la madrileña & rabo de toro