One of the favorite sports in Spain is to go out for tapas in group, and in Madrid we have numerous areas to go out and practice this ‘tapeo’: Sol, Huertas, Calle Pez, Calle Ponzano (where the verb ‘ponzaning’ came from) the surroundings of the Plaza Mayor, La Latina, and many others. More and more restaurants with international food open in the city, but the traditional places for tapas are those that win the hearts (and the stomachs) of Madrilenians and visitors.
1. THE BEST CALAMARI SANDWICH FROM MADRID
The most famous fast food in the city, our fried calamari sandwich. Squid inside a loaf? Yup, and people line up to buy one. Don’t worry though, it goes very fast. We are talking about the establishments around Plaza Mayor. So you can eat your sandwich sitting in the square. It’s just something you cannot miss.
It is a pretty caloric snack, like almost all the tapas that we are going to recommend in this article. But you know, you NEED strength for all the tourist stuff and with this sandwich, you will surely get it! Go to La Campana (calle de Botoneras, 6). You will not regret!!
2. WHERE TO EAT THE BEST “CHITTERLINGS” IN MADRID
It is one of the most traditional dishes, its consumption is almost exclusive to Madrid. The gallinejas are guts of suckling lamb. The entresijo is the mesentery of the lamb and, therefore, a part of the gallineja. Probably all this does not sound very appetizing but be open to try it. It is served all well fried and accompanied by French fries. It was always a popular dish in the humblest neighborhoods, since this was considered “leftovers”, and it was cheap food. But nowadays is eaten for pleasure!
The most famous place to eat them is in the Freiduría Gallineja (calle de Embajadores, 84). Very close to the old Slaughterhouse, which, by the way, is now a cultural center. This food is typical of the popular street parties, so if you are in Madrid during the May festivities, you will find it in street stalls sold in a paper cone.
3. THE BEST GRILLED EAR IN MADRID
In the Spanish gastronomy, all the parts of the pig take advantage, and the ears are one of the typical plates of Madrid. One of the most recognized bars to try this particular tapa is La Oreja de Jaime (calle de la Cruz, 15) In Spanish, Jaime’s ear, so you’re already guessing which is their star dish, right?
The ear is served well fried, chopped into small cubes and accompanied by a spicy sauce. If it’s packed, try Casa Toni, just next door. As you can see, it is not difficult to find this tapa in the center of Madrid. We hope you eat it with a very cool beer!
4. POTATO TORTILLA
Who doesn’t know the Spanish omelet? It is a very easy dish to make and to eat! A dish generates group discussions “With onion or without onion?”. Different strokes for different folks, but if you want to eat an omelet really “done to perfection”, go and taste a juicy tortilla from La Ardosa (calle de Colón, 13). It has not been open since 1892 for anything! You can accompany it with their tap vermouth, another specialty of the house. But if you are a beer lover you will find yourself in what it was one of the first breweries in Madrid offering imported beers.
5. WHERE TO EAT “TORREZNOS”
These fried pork rinds are finger-licking good, no matter how unattractive the name sounds. Some people say they’re going to “try one” and then leave the plate empty. In some places, they put the torreznos as an appetizer (especially in those noisy pubs where napkins are thrown to the ground) but a good place to ask for a ration is in Los Torreznos Bar (calle Goya, 88). Sometimes you have to go to those good old restaurants even if they are not right in the city center!
6. GARLIC SOUP
Or Castilian soup, as more refined people will say. It is a simple and tasty dish that historically has fed rich and poor since it only takes basic and affordable ingredients. But the trick for its success is in its preparation.
A place where they prepare it very well is Casa Paco (Plaza de Puerta Cerrada, 11) a tavern from 1933. Do not forget to ask for bread so you can wet the bread many times in the broth. It will look like it just came out of the dishwasher… It is said that this soup feels great for the hangover. So you know what to have for lunch after a great Madrilenian party!
7. COD CROQUETTES
As good croquette lovers, we want to eat them of all the flavors and sizes, but there is one in particular that has become a classic of Madrid: the cod croquette of Casa Labra (calle Tetuán, 12) It is a centenary tavern with vintage decoration, full of history and… full of people. But the service is super quick, don’t worry! You don’t even need a table, people eat them standing inside or outside. Croquetas are ordered by units and they have of a good size (but surely you ask for more than one…) Of course, do not make the beginner’s mistake of burning your palate! Don’t be anxious and enjoy every bite!
8. SNAILS FROM MADRID
Spain, together with France and Italy, is one of the main consumers of snails. What’s special about Madrilenian snails? Well, they are cooked with various spices and chorizo! The best-known place in the city to eat them is Los Caracoles (calle de Toledo, 106). People usually eat them standing at the bar and drinking a beer. They are very good, and you can’t miss them! They are typically served in a clay pot, although if you go as a group or go alone but you REALLY love snails, we dare you to ask for their “marmite”.
9. GARLIC SHRIMP
Fancy eating tender shrimps bubbling in olive oil with tons of garlic??? Yeees you do. And the best place to do it according to thousands of Google reviews is La Casa del Abuelo (calle de la Victoria, 12). There are other branches, but this is the original tasca of 1906. There is a lot of tapas, but we recommend you go for garlic shrimps and accompany them with their sweet wine. Its most popular garlic flavors are Pil pil, scallions, and saffron. (Our mouth is watering already, and yours?) But they make quite a statement in their façade: the specialty of the house is grilled shrimp. Your choice! Bear in mind, it might not be the cheapest backpackers’ starter, but the taste is delicious. It is an extremely popular bar, some may say it is too touristy in terms of crowds and prices, but you will have to value it yourself!
10. SPICY POTATOES
Finding out what is the best tapa of patatas bravas of Madrid is a difficult task, as well as finding the best potato omelet, there are too many types and places that serve them! One would think that spicy means really strong flavor in your mouth, but it really depends on your tolerance to spicy (and in many countries is much stronger than in Spain).
We love the secret sauce of Docamar (calle Alcalá, 337) and the singular but not so spicy sauce of Las Bravas (calle Álvarez Gato, 3). Anyway, in several of the restaurants mentioned above, you can also ask for patatas bravas, sooo, you’re not leaving Madrid without eating a good portion!
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