Tabernas o Tascas are the most common and traditional establishments to have tapas in Madrid. Tapas, the popular appetizer or snack in Spanish cuisine, can be found all over the capital, and all over the country as well. Madrid, as the capital and main city, comprises some of the oldest and most authentic restaurants and bars where you can have them.
Originally, a taberna was a type of shop or stall in Ancient Rome, meaning a single-room shop for the sale of goods and services. Nowadays, the term is used to describe small restaurants offering food (mostly tapas) and drinks.
La Dolores was our favourite taberna. They offer a great variety of tapas, all of them very tasty and fresh. Portions are generous, both in food and wine. It has a cosy and authentic atmosphere, with tables inside and outside. The bar also offers some additional seating space.
The staff are also friendly and attentive. It can get busy with both tourists and locals. The staff tries to accommodate and serve as many people as they can so it may feel like they are in a rush, but the service is admirable nonetheless.
Moreover; prices are reasonable and you get one tapa for free when you order your drink. It is a place to not miss.
Bodega de la Ardosa
Bodega de la Ardosa is one of the most popular tabernas in Madrid. Founded in 1892 and located in the trendy area of Malasaña, this taberna offers all that you would expect in terms of character and traditional Spanish tapas.
All their food is really tasty, and hard to find a weak point. However; some of their signature dishes are the salmorejo (cold tomato soup made with bread, oil, garlic and vinegar), bacalao croquetas and alcachofas a la plancha (grilled artichokes). All are to be served with ice-cold vermouth, caña (beer) or wine.
It can get super crowded, especially on weekends, so be prepared to queue outside or to be standing in a little corner while you eat.
Bodegas Ricla is another traditional taberna worth visiting. It is located closer to the city centre, in a lively area full of other options to eat and drink.
It is compact, housed in a small area with mostly standing room and a couple of tables only. It was founded in 1867 and its name is the same as the founders home town in Aragon. They offer a good variety of wine, beer, vermouth on tap, counter seats and tapas.
Compact, no-frills bar with counter seats & vermouth on tap, plus tapas, wine & beer.
Some of their typical tapas include mussels, anchovies, ham, cured meats and “callos a la madrileña” (a stewed tripe dish, cooked slowly for hours over low heat).
Casa Revuelta is 10 metres away from Bodegas Ricla. We found it by chance and we had delicious tapas and a great time. There are tables inside and outside plus counter seating.
Their most popular and acclaimed dish is bacalao rebosado (batter-dipped cod), which is not the same as croquetas de bacalao, although equally good. We also had an amazing “tosta con tomate y jamon iberico de bellota“, as you can see in the picture above.
La Taberna de Al Lado
La Taberna de Al Lado, also located in Lavapies, is one of the top-rated tabernas in Madrid. Its modest decoration, relaxing and laidback vibe and well prepared and fresh food made this a favourite for many.
Bocadillo de chorizo, empanadas Argentinas, provolone cheese, tostas and hummus are some of their best tapas. All can be ordered with wine, vermouth, cocktails or beer (Estrella Galicia!).
TLDR: delicious food, engaging and relaxed people, affordable prices.
Bar Melo’s is another popular small restaurant in Madrid. Located in the loved and hated area of Lavapies, this local shop offers three signature dishes you should try: croquetas, zapatillas and pimientos de padron.
Zapatilla is their most acclaimed dish and consists of big slices of toasted bread with melted cheese (tetilla) and lacon (bacon). Moreover; portions are generous and prices are low.
This is definitely one of those small hidden gems that everybody would like to try.
Casa Alberto is another small and authentic taberna. It is well located, close to the centre, and can get very crowded as well. It is also very close to La Dolores so very handy to visit both together.
The atmosphere is similar to other traditional tabernas, with counter seats but not many tables. However; there is a seating area at the back, although with a different menu. Prices seem to be slightly higher than others, so watch out for this.
Bocadillos de calamares (calamari sandwich), gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp) and rabo estofado (bull’s tail stew) are some of their most popular dishes.
Casa Camacho is also located in the trendy area of Malasaña. It was founded in 1920 and has been open ever since, keeping its original decoration, including the original draught taps.
They serve tapas, vermouth on tap, draught beer and wine for affordable prices. Their speciality is “yayos”, s sort of cocktail that mixes sparkling water, vermouth and gin. It is recommended to be served with tapas. Some of them include fresh and cured anchovies, almagro aubergines, marinated tuna and ham sandwiches.
Casa Labra is another centenary taberna that has been serving traditional Spanish found since the 1800s. It is located next to Sol metro station so also very handy to visit together with other places in the area.
Cod (bacalao) and cod croquettes are their specialities, which are served both as tapas in the counter area and as main dishes in the restaurant. Their “Banderilla de atún en escabeche” is another popular tapa.
La Venencia is one of the most popular places to try sherry wine in Madrid. It is one of those places that seem frozen in time.
Humid a dark inside, you will see their wood casks and dusty bottles where they store the wine. They serve 5 types of sherry with rustic and modest tapas. So don’t expect a variety of food or drinks here, it is a place for sherry wine.