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GoMadrid's Recommendations

  • Flamenco: The Corral de la Moreria Restaurant offers Madrid's best flamenco show together with some excellent Spanish food.
  • Traditional: Botin Restaurant is a classic, registered in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest restaurant in the world. Worth visiting just to say you've been there! Las Cuevas de Luis Candelas offers succulent roast pig and lamb, garlic soup and wonderful tapas with a truly authentic interior, and in a privileged central location under the arches of the majestic Plaza Mayor. Lastly, the famous Cafe de Oriente enjoys spectacular views of the Plaza de Oriente and Royal Palace.
  • Paellas: So many establishments offer ready-made paellas for the tourist, but if you want to sample the real thing with an excellent choice of different varieties, the La Buganvilla Restaurant or La Barraca are the places to go.
  • Mediterranean: La Capilla de La Bolsa was previously the Madrid Stock Exchange and before that, a hermitage linked to the Knights Templar. The building has had several anonymous owners, giving it a continuous air of mystery, but in any case today offers gourmet Mediterranean food in a unique setting.
    And top chef Frédéric Fétivea combines Spanish, French, Italian and Moroccan cuisines at the Cafe Oliver Restaurant, honoured by the El Mundo newspaper in the "More than a Restaurant" category of its gastronomic awards.
  • Seafood: An amazing array of different fish and seafood dishes are available at the La Trainera Restaurant, the ingredients purchased every day from Madrid's most important fresh produce distribution market.
  • Vegetarian: A myriad of vegetarian dishes such as salads, vegetarian paella, vegetarian pastas and macrobiotic dishes are presented at the Al Natural Restaurant in a warm and cosy atmosphere.
 

Tapas

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Tapas Bars in Madrid, Spain

When you think of Spanish food, you inevitably conjure up an image of Tapas in your mind's eye. However, although many people have heard of Tapas, and they're available in most Spanish bars, it's not always apparent where to find them, how to order them, and what to ask for. The reasons for this are many, including the fact that the word Tapas rarely makes an appearance on any menu or billboard, and the fact that many bars and restaurants don't stick to the real tradition of Tapas.

In order to work out what Tapas are, it might help to understand where the word Tapas comes from (at least this is the most commonly accepted version). It's actually a Spanish verb (tapar), which means, "to cover". So, a Tapa was a snack (usually free) which was placed on top of a drink "to cover" it from flies, insects, and dust.

If you wish to enjoy the ultimate tapas experience, we can fully recommend this Tapas Parade for 4 guests or more, or these delicious Tapas Tours for less than 4, marvellous culinary events designed to show visitors the most traditional Spanish tapas.

There are many bars in Madrid that still provide Tapas with a glass of wine or beer, but it's not the normal practice anymore. Nowadays, when you go out for some Tapas, you are really (more often than not) ordering a plate of food known as a ración. It is usually something that is shared among a few people, or perhaps a canapé, which is something on a small piece of bread. In many bars, you can get sandwiches made with a bread roll or baguette, which are called bocadillos (or bocatas).

The good thing about these modern Tapas is that they provide the customer with a wide variety of foods, meaning you can sample many different Spanish delicacies all at the same time. And don't worry too much if you can't understand the menu - it's becoming increasingly common for bars to place out a selection of their wares for the customer to see. That way, you can see exactly what's what, without having to ask for an explanation.

One of the best Tapas bars in Madrid is El Txoko (pronounced "choco"). This is an excellent bar-come-restaurant, which serves Basque food (cuisine that is thought to be the equal to haute cuisine). Tapas here include anchovies, baked onions stuffed with goat's cheese and jamon, cod soufflé, and baked apple. Each of these is expertly cooked and delightful on the taste buds. The atmosphere in El Txoko is very friendly, but a little bit on the cramped side. The setting of the bar is lovely, as you can find the entrance to the bar in the basement of a Basque cultural building. You can locate it at (Taberna Vasca), Jovellanos, 3, Tel. 91 53234 43, Metro: Sevilla.

If you go for a wander through the city and happen to take a walk just behind the Plaza Mayor, then you're in for a treat. La Escondida is a small bar, but it is very comfortable, although on the crowded side. The music normally consists of some sort of jazz or blues, and the service here is impeccable. The only down side is that the prices are quite high. But what Tapas do they offer? Well, they have an excellent selection of cheese; in particular the 'Torta al Casar' - a soft sheep's milk cheese from the province of Extremadura - is very good. There is also a house speciality of cured meats well worth trying. Their address is: Puerta Cerrada 6. Tel. 91 365 91 9.

You can also try La Castela, located at (antes La Tercia), Doctor Castelo, 22. Tel: 91 573 55 90 or 91 574 00 15. The nearest metro is Ibiza, and it's just east of the Retiro Park, meaning there is a nice walk to get to the bar. This is a fairly modern Tapas bar, however there are some traditional dishes on the menu as well. The menu often includes very tasty seafood dishes, croquettes, chicken, and blood pudding, amongst many others.

Perhaps you're looking for a Tapas bar in Malasaña? If so, then you should definitely check out Albur (Manuela Malasaña, 15, Tel: 91 594 27 33). The Tapas here are mouth-watering, and perhaps their best is the jamon iberico canapés (the bread is toasted and coated with tomato), or their roast peppers stuffed with cod. They have a diverse assortment of cheeses as well, along with many other foods from the northern Spanish region of El Bierzo.

If you are close to the Puerta del Sol area, don't miss the excellent La Casa del Abuelo Tapas bar.

Another excellent area for tapas bars is the Plaza de Santa Ana and surrounding streets. There are several terrace cafes located in the square itself, a marvellous location to sit outside enjoying a glass of wine and dish of fine Spanish food while watching the passers-by. And the nearby streets include good restaurants, cafeterias, tapas bars and Irish pubs. This is in fact one of the liveliest areas of the city and, since it is very close to the major sights and museums, also an ideal location for your stay. We can strongly recommend this Studio Apartment, just round the corner from the square, but as a 4th floor attic lodging it is also tranquil - a nice quiet accommodation.

Another traditional area of the city to try tapas is the La Latina district. This area, close to the Rastro, is particularly cosmopolitan with a large concentration of immigrants, and many small bars and restaurants offering good cheap food.

Whichever Tapas bar you choose, whether they serve Tapas in the modern way or the traditional way, it's an experience that's well worth having when you go to Madrid. After all, how could you go to the capital of Spain and not try Tapas?

 

 

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