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Part 1: The Best Wine and Tapas Bars in Madrid

tapas1Editor’s Note: As many of you know, through Valentine’s Day, we are hosting a contest for a free print of the Douro by submitting a question into our new Q&A section on Catavino. If the question can be answered, we’ll do our level-headed best to find it. For more information, check out this post.

Here is one recent question proposed to Catavino: “what are the ‘must-visit’ tapas bars in Madrid? I’m planning a weekend jaunt and want to visit places I missed last time. And what about decent wine bars (and I’m not talking sherry here guys)?”

And although we’re passionate foodies, and have lived in Madrid in our recent past, we felt it would be more appropriate to ask two tapas experts, currently based in Madrid, to give us their tried and true suggestions.

Janelle Norman, author of Tapas Talk, has provided us with several articles on funky and delicious tapas bars in Madrid. Today, she brings us her suggestions on where you should go when visiting Madrid.

Actually, this question is really two questions: tapas bars, and more specifically, wine bars. Some “must visit” tapas bars don’t offer any wines to write home about, but they have great tapas. Also, it is hard just to name a few tapas bars, when there are hundreds of great tapas bars in Madrid. Simply put, it’s a part of the culture.

The “tapeo” or the eating of tapas, takes place not in one location, but several. We pick an area, and then hit our favorites in that neighborhood. Some of the best areas include the streets between Puerta del Sol and Plaza Santa Ana. Also Plaza Santa Ana itself, as well as around the street of Huertas, are great nighttime spots.

For the best wine bars, and fun tapas places, head to the neighborhood of La Latina, especially the street of Cava Baja, which is lined from one end to the other with tapas bars and restaurants.

For the most typical, truly “Madrileño” tapas bars, head to the area between Sol and Pl. Santa Ana. Plaza Mayor is touristy so the prices might be a bit higher, but I have included one interesting place on the list. (all locations are listed on the Catavino Map of Spain)

Near Puerta del Sol

Casa Labra – C/ Tetuan, 12  – Try the fried cod and cod croquettes. Cheap!

El Abuelo – C/ Victoria, 12 – Enjoy the shrimp and prawns. On the same street, check out the Museo de Jamon. You can’t miss the hundreds of ham legs hanging in the window.

El Torre del Oro – In the Plaza Mayor  – Go for the bullfighting atmosphere. Enjoy a vermouth or traditional tapas,Catavino › Add New Post — WordPress while you are watched by bulls heads on the walls.

Taberna de Antonio Sánchez – C/ Meson de Paredes, 13 – near Tirso de Molina, its one of the Madrid standards, famous stopping place for bullfighters and flamenco artists.

Cerveceria Santa Barbara – Plaza Santa Ana – lots of traditional options, such as the “boquerones en vinagre” (white anchovies)  – Nice outdoor terrace Spring to Autumn on the Plaza.

Vinoteca Barbechera – Plaza Santa Ana – for a nice selection of Spanish wines.

Down near the Prado and Westin Palace Hotel:

La Dolores – Plaza de Jesus, 4 –  Opened since 1908, good canapes and traditional tapas.

Estado Puro – Plaza Cánovas del Castillo 4 – Just opened in 2007, this modern bar boasts a designer interior and is lead by chef Paco Roncero of the Terraza del Casino, the Michelin star restaurant just a few blocks away. Traditional tapas and flavors served in new and interesting ways. There is a nice outdoor terrace in the summer. Website

In La Latina: This area has the best wine bars and more inventive Tapas.

Wine bars:

Taberna Tempranillo – Cava Baja 38 – Wine bar  -a great selection of wines from all over Spain, and ONLY Spain. Also great quality of wines by the glass. I have made some interesting discoveries here. Good tapas as well. It’s always full and the tables are only for those having a dinner of several tapas or Raciones.

Casa Lucas – Cava Baja 30 – Wine bar – Nice wines by the glass and good tapas. For 5 euros, try their “Madrid” tapa. It’s a canape spread with tomato confit topped with a mixture of scrambled egg, blood sausage, raisins and pine nuts, and decorated with fried potato sticks. Delicious.  Last year rated one of the top 50 bars in Spain by the Spanish magazine “Metropoli”. Website

Tapas Bars:

Almendro 13 – C/Almendro, 13 (In La Latina) – Inexpensive and popular, try the “huevos rotos,” a local specialty which is fried potatoes topped with a fried egg and chunks of cured ham. True Madrid comfort food. You will be served Campo Real olives along with your white drink – beer, white wine or manzanilla sherry.

Juana La Loca – Plaza Puerta de Moros 4 – Trendy basque style pintxos and good wine too. There are tables for dinner at the back. Try their version of the Spanish omelet with caramelized onions.

Toma Jamon – Calle Almendro 21 – For 14 Euros, you get a plate of delicious “jamon iberico” from Salamanca accompanied by toast with a tomato spread.

El Zapatero – Calle Almendro – Shoemakers motif – small tables fill up with groups of friends to enjoy a wide selection of tapas.

Taberna Txakoli – Cava Baja, 26 – Pintxos typical of the Basque country, with standing room only. Average quality red wines so go for the bar’s namesake white, Txakoli!

Near Opera:

La Cruzada – Calle Amnestía 8 – Wine bar with great wines by the glass and high quality, inventive tapas. It also has a dining room in the back for dinner. This bar claims to be the oldest in Madrid, and has been remodeled but has a beautiful antique wooden bar.

And when you’re done eating and drinking your fill in the city, keep an eye out for wine excursions from Madrid to the likes of La Mancha, Aranjuez or La Ribera del Duero, where you can pursue Dionysian delights in a more pastoral environment.

Que aproveche!

Janelle Norman

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