The food scene in Madrid is truly on the rise. With a recent jump in international offerings, food market openings and a growing focus on farm-to-table produce and fresh seafood, it’s unusual to have a bad meal in Spain’s capital city. A tried and true way to enjoy Spanish cuisine, though, goes back to basics: the tapa. Sometimes offered for free when you order a drink, a tapa is a small dish paired with beer or wine which can come in a variety of different ways: on stick (pincho), on a small slice of baguette (tosta) or stand alone.

Here are the best places to enjoy tapas in Madrid. ¡Buen provecho!

Best Tapas in Madrid Spain | Madrid Tapas y Vinos | Winetraveler.com
Photo credit: Lori Zaino, Jurucha.

The Best Tapas in Madrid

Jurucha

A staple in the Madrid tapa scene, this historical bar is a far cry from the typical tourist scene. Jurucha is filled with locals standing by the bar, shouting their orders at elderly, distinguished waiters and waiting for their glasses to be filled high with Rioja and Ribera varieties as they select their tapas from glass cases on the bar counter. Try the spinach and quail egg tosta, or you can’t go wrong with fresh salmon on baguette.

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Mercado de la Cebada

The Cebada Market is a no-frills, no-fuss spot in the La Latina neighborhood where you’ll find delicious, home-cooked Spanish tapas at a solid price. One of the more local food markets in town, you’ll spot grandmas buying fresh produce and today’s catch as you chow down on tender octopus and Spanish omelette, all while throwing back beers in small glasses — cañas, at a fish market counter top. Don’t forget to admire the street art scattered around and outside the market.

Platea Market - Best Tapas Bars in Madrid Spain | Winetraveler.com
Photo credit: Platea Market.

Platea

Once of Madrid’s newer market additions, this highbrow, four-floor foodie paradise puts the glitz and glamour into tapas. With international snacks of all kinds, cheese and meat counters as well endless options for tostas, plan to sample a little bit of everything at Platea. Grab your selections, order a vermouth on tap and kick back in a plush, velvet chair to enjoy live entertainment at this theater-turned-market in a plus, velvety chair.


Entre Cáceres y Badajoz

One of the few spots that still gives a free tapa when you order a drink, Entre Cáceres y Badajoz has slowly worked its way up as being one of Madrid’s most famous tapas spots for both locals and tourists alike. Get there early, though, to snag a spot at a barrel by the window, so you can watch the world go by as you down small plates of paella and fried fish.

Best Tapas Bars in Madrid Spain | Winetraveler.com
Photo credit: Jose Barea, Madrid Destino Cultura Turismo Negocio.

Lateral

With a few different locations around Madrid, you can’t go wrong with the tapas platter at Lateral, which features tostas like salmon with brie and tender grilled beef topped with caramelized onions. Sitting outside is even better, so you can enjoy your tapas and wine al fresco. Speaking of wine, ordering the house red, LAN Rioja, is a solid choice.

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Vi Cool

The more affordable addition to chef Sergi Arola’s collection of highbrow restaurants, Vi Cool is all about gourmet twists on classical tapas. Spanish cuisine with a Catalan touch, make sure to sample the Coca Pizza, which is sundried tomatoe smothered in burrata cheese topped with basil and orange. Why not take your tapas to the next level?

Best Places To Eat in Madrid | Winetraveler.com
Photo credit: Escarabajo Amarillo, Madrid Destino Cultura Turismo Negocio.

El Tigre

A well-known hub in the Madrid tapas scene, hungry students love a trip to El Tigre. Order sidra (Spanish apple cider) or a beer and receive an entire platter of free tapas — think crispy croquets and chorizo and ham sitting upon sliced baguette. The scene is lively, as many know this spot is the ideal place to start your evening out on the town.


La Musa de Espronceada

Say La Musa de Espronceada five times fast after you’ve indulged in a few glasses of strong Rioja wine and some delicious tapas. Although the food doesn’t come free with a drink here, the creative tapas, which are piled high with delights such as veggies, beef, caramelized onions, stewed oxtail, seafood, cheeses, pork belly and more, are so large that just one or two might fill you up. This should be the first stop of many on a tapas bar crawl in Spain’s up and coming Lavapiés neighborhood.

Mercado de San Miguel Tapa Madrid | Winetraveler.com
Photo credit: Lori Zaino.

Mercado de San Miguel

The only market in Madrid with its original steel structure intact, this spot, though touristy, is a sight to see. Admire the massive legs of cured Iberian hams that dangle from the walls as you inhale the scents of freshly cooked croquets, marinating olives and Manchego cheese. Although the tapas are a little pricier at the San Miguel Market, this spot is worth a walk through and a quick bite to eat. No wonder than have 60,000 visitors weekly!


Ardosa

One of the oldest establishments on this list, Bodega Ardosa dates back to 1892, a tavern and tapas bar full of unique Spanish history. One of the first bars in Madrid to actually serve beer (once upon a time, bars only served vermouth and wine), it’s the perfect place to sample Madrid’s tortilla española dish, a classic Spanish omelette. You don’t have to be polite here, though, just squeeze your way through the crowds and shout your order at the bartender — the Spanish way.


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Lori Zaino
Senior European Correspondent at Winetraveler
Lori Zaino is a freelance travel, food, fashion and wine writer based in Madrid. You can likely find her on a plane jetting off to an exotic destination, eating tapas or sipping a glass of Rioja wine.
Lori Zaino on Instagram

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