Experience the Best Tapas in Madrid: Top Bars and What to Order

Madrid is celebrated for its tantalizing tapas culture, a vibrant culinary landscape where every morsel embodies the city’s zest for life and communal spirit. Amid the bustling streets and architecture echoing with stories, tapas bars dot the cityscape, representing a tradition steeped in the warmth of shared experiences. As I delve into the very fabric that weaves Madrid’s social scene, I’m captivated by the vast array of flavours, each small dish a gateway to discovering the soul of Spanish gastronomy. With options to satiate every palate, from classic Spanish offerings to the fusion of Mediterranean and European influences, the best tapas in Madrid await to surprise and delight both the discerning gastronome and the adventurous food lover.

Madrid, Spain – November 3, 2017: Skyline of Madrid city centre from Circulo de Bellas Artes rooftop

As I embark on this gastronomic journey, my purpose is to guide you through the meandering alleys lined with the top bars and reveal what to order for the quintessential tapas experience. Madrid’s tapas are more than just food; they’re a celebration, a shared adventure on a plate, and I am eager to share my findings on where to find the best tapas in Madrid. From the legendary El Anciano Rey De Los Vinos to the innovative Inclán Brutal Bar, I will uncover the diverse price ranges catering to every budget, ensuring your tapas adventure in Madrid is one for the memory books. Together, let’s explore the charm and flavours of Madrid’s tapas restaurant scene, a feast not just for the belly but for the soul.

El Anciano Rey De Los Vinos

El Anciano Rey De Los Vinos

Stepping into El Anciano Rey De Los Vinos, I am immediately enveloped by the essence of Madrid’s tapas tradition. This well-known tavern, with its classic ambience and walls lined with an impressive array of wine bottles, invites patrons into a space that feels both timeless and inviting. Here, the tapas and wines are not merely items on a menu; they’re the heartbeats of a rich culinary heritage.

The tavern’s menu is a testament to its commitment to tradition, with tapas that are as authentic as they are delectable. Here are some must-try dishes that epitomize the best tapas in Madrid:

  • Goat Cheese Salad with Caramelized Onion (Ensalada de queso de cabra con cebolla caramelizada): A harmonious blend of flavours for €8.50, perfect for those who appreciate the delicate balance of sweet and savoury.
  • Iberian Ham Croquettes (Croquetas de jamón ibérico): At €9.50, these croquettes are a staple of Spanish cuisine, offering a crispy exterior that gives way to a creamy, ham-filled centre.
  • Patatas Bravas: A classic dish priced at €5.50, featuring fried potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce that adds just the right kick.
  • Fried Green Peppers (Pimientos del padrón): For €6.50, these peppers are a delightful gamble—most are mild, but the occasional spicy one adds an element of surprise.
  • Garlic Mushrooms (Champiñones al ajillo): Priced at €7.50, the mushrooms are sautéed to perfection, with garlic infusing them with a robust flavour.

Each dish is a chapter in the story of Madrid’s gastronomic excellence, and with a 4.3 ★ rating based on over 7,000 evaluations, it’s clear that El Anciano Rey De Los Vinos has mastered the art of creating a positive dining experience.

In addition to the traditional offerings, the tavern also caters to diverse dietary needs, providing vegetarian and gluten-free options. Whether you’re a local or a traveller seeking the tapas Madrid is famed for, the tavern’s cosy and romantic atmosphere makes it an ideal spot for a relaxing meal. To ensure you have a place in this sought-after tapas restaurant, it’s advisable to make reservations online.

As I savour each bite, I’m reminded that El Anciano Rey De Los Vinos stands shoulder to shoulder with other top traditional tapas bars in Madrid, such as Casa Gonzalez and Casa Labra. Yet, it’s the unique charm of this tavern that captures the essence of a shared adventure on a plate, making it a cornerstone of the tapas experience in this vibrant city.

Bar Cruz – Casa De Las Navajas

Bar Cruz – Casa De Las Navajas

Nestled in the heart of the Rastro Flea Market area, Bar Cruz – Casa De Las Navajas has been a fixture of Madrid’s tapas scene for over five decades, charming locals and visitors alike with its traditional flair and family-operated warmth. The bar’s enduring presence since 1970 is a testament to its unique personality and the lively atmosphere it fosters.

Here’s what makes Bar Cruz a must-visit for the best tapas in Madrid:

  • Seafood Tapas: The bar’s speciality lies in its seafood offerings. The Navajas a la Plancha (grilled razor clams) are a delight, seasoned with olive oil and parsley, and priced between €5 to €10, they represent the higher end of the menu but are worth every euro for their fresh, oceanic flavor.
  • Open Kitchen: A hallmark of the bar is its open kitchen, where the chefs craft their signature dishes, including the spicy brava sauce—a perfect accompaniment to the Patatas Bravas. This dish, while spicy, is not overwhelming and is suitable for children, making it a family-friendly option.
  • Quick Service with Quality: Bar Cruz prides itself on quick service without compromising on the quality of ingredients. Whether you’re in for a quick aperitif or a leisurely tapas crawl, the efficiency here ensures your experience is uninterrupted by long waits.

For those seeking a true taste of Madrid’s tapas culture, the following are highly recommended:

  • Las Navajas!: Razor clams in olive oil and parsley
  • Calamares: A classic Madrid dish of fried squid rings
  • Zamburiñas: Small, tender scallops
  • Caracoles: A daring choice for some, these snails are a traditional delicacy
  • Champiñón Relleno: Stuffed mushrooms, a non-seafood alternative that packs a punch of flavour

During my visits, the bill has consistently been €40 or under for about five plates of tapas and drinks, making Bar Cruz an affordable option for sampling some of the best tapas in Madrid. However, take note to avoid Sundays if you prefer a quieter setting, as the bustling Rastro flea market can make the area particularly crowded.

As I continue my exploration of Madrid’s tapas restaurants, Bar Cruz – Casa De Las Navajas stands out not just for its culinary offerings but for the stories it tells through each dish—stories of a family’s dedication to Madrid’s gastronomic heritage and the joy of shared meals. Whether you’re a tapas aficionado or a curious newcomer, this bar is a celebration of the flavours that make Madrid a food lover’s paradise.

Inclán Brutal Bar

Inclán Brutal Bar

Continuing my exploration of the best tapas in Madrid leads me to Inclán Brutal Bar, a gem nestled in the bustling Huertas neighbourhood. This establishment is not just a tapas restaurant; it’s an experience blending Mediterranean and Spanish fusion cuisine with an inventive twist that tantalizes the taste buds.

Unique Ambiance and Decor:

  • Peacock Room: A visually stunning space that captivates guests with its vibrant colours and eclectic decorations.
  • Luxury Library: Offers a sophisticated atmosphere, perfect for those seeking a quiet yet opulent dining experience.
  • Cozy Indoor Patio: Ideal for intimate gatherings, this area combines comfort with the unique flair characteristic of Inclán Brutal Bar.

Inventive Tapas Dishes:

  • Tortilla with Black Truffle: Elevating the humble tortilla to new heights with the luxurious addition of black truffle.
  • Scallops with Kimchi and Lime: A bold fusion of flavors showcasing the restaurant’s creativity.
  • Burrata with Basil Emulsion and Pickled Strawberries: A refreshing and innovative take on the classic burrata.

Beverage Selection:

  • Cocktail Menu: An extensive range of options, from signature cocktails to classics and non-alcoholic beverages, priced between €6.00 and €14.00.
  • Wine List: Features a diverse selection from various regions, accommodating every palate with prices ranging from €4.00 to €170.00.

Inclán Brutal Bar’s commitment to quality and innovation is evident in its excellent reviews, boasting a 4.5 overall rating based on 5,686 reviews on TripAdvisor and a 4.5/5 rating from 112 reviews on Yelp. The restaurant’s accolades, including ‘Best Restaurant´s Cocktail Bar 2021‘ and ‘Best Restaurant With Cocktail Bar 2023‘, further underscore its status as a must-visit for anyone seeking the best tapas in Madrid.

For those intrigued by the culinary prowess behind Inclán Brutal Bar, it’s worth noting that chef Joaquín Serrano, who opened the restaurant in 2018, has honed his skills in some of the world’s most prestigious kitchens, including Michelin-starred establishments like Celler de Can Roca and Kabuki Wellington. This pedigree is reflected in every dish served, making Inclán Brutal Bar a standout in the vibrant tapas scene of Madrid.

Sala de Despiece

Sala de Despiece madrid

Venturing further into the heart of Madrid’s vibrant tapas scene, I found myself at Sala de Despiece, a tapas restaurant that redefines the concept of dining with its innovative approach. Known for its creative flair, Sala de Despiece utilizes molecular gastronomy techniques to craft dishes that are as visually striking as they are delicious, making it a standout destination for those seeking the best tapas in Madrid. The interior, inspired by a butcher’s shop, features a long white bar reminiscent of a slaughterhouse worktable, complete with raw materials displayed in refrigerated windows, setting the stage for an unforgettable culinary experience.

Unique Offerings & Ambiance:

  • Interior Design: Inspired by a butcher’s shop with a long white bar and raw materials displayed in refrigerated windows, providing an authentic and immersive dining experience.
  • Molecular Gastronomy: Utilizes innovative techniques to create unique and visually stunning dishes, elevating the tapas experience.

Menu Highlights:

  • Tasting Menus: Ranging from €40 to €60 per person, these menus allow customers to sample a wide array of unique dishes, showcasing the best of what Sala de Despiece has to offer.
  • A La Carte Options: With dishes priced between €8 and €15, the menu includes standout items like Navarra peeled tomato with fried basil and olive oil and the signature Bilbo Bombón, a beef and raspberry creation flambeed with a blowtorch right before your eyes.
  • Handwritten Menu: Providing details on the origin, background, and weight of the produce, enhancing the connection between diner and dish.

Given its popularity, securing a reservation at Sala de Despiece is highly recommended to ensure you don’t miss out on this tapas Madrid gem. Open for lunch and dinner, Monday to Sunday, it’s advisable to visit during weekdays or arrive early to avoid the weekend rush. The restaurant’s small size adds to its charm but also means space is limited. Nearby, you’ll find other culinary delights such as Smoked Room and Fismuler, making this area a food lover’s paradise. For more details on this innovative tapas restaurant, including how to book your spot, visit their official website.

Sala de Despiece not only serves up some of the best tapas in Madrid but does so in a way that leaves a lasting impression. From the butcher shop-inspired decor to the molecular gastronomy that transforms traditional tapas into modern masterpieces, it’s a testament to Madrid’s ever-evolving culinary landscape. Whether you’re a local or just passing through, a visit to Sala de Despiece offers a unique glimpse into the future of Spanish cuisine, all while honouring the rich flavours and traditions that have made tapas a beloved staple of Madrid’s gastronomy.

Juana La Loca

Juana La Loca madrid

Nestled in the heart of La Latina, a neighbourhood famed for its vibrant tapas scene, Juana La Loca emerges as a beacon for those in pursuit of the best tapas in Madrid. This tapas bar, celebrated for its genuine and simple cuisine, offers a culinary journey that blends traditional flavours with creative flair, ensuring each dish remains authentic yet refreshingly novel.

What Sets Juana La Loca Apart:

  • Basque-Inspired Pintxos: A wide variety of Basque-inspired pintxos and global flavors, creatively prepared while preserving original taste and authenticity. This approach has earned Juana La Loca its reputation as a must-visit tapas restaurant in Madrid.
  • Signature Dish: The Spanish omelette with caramelized onions stands out, hailed as one of the best ‘tortilla de patata’ in Madrid. This dish exemplifies the bar’s commitment to elevating simple ingredients into culinary masterpieces.
  • Diverse Services: Catering to a wide array of dining preferences, Juana La Loca offers online booking, accepts credit cards, boasts a fine wine menu, and provides options for food ordering/take away, group meals, home delivery, table reservations, private facilities, and even accommodates coeliacs.

Accessibility and Social Media Presence:

  • Location and Hours: Open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 1 PM to 4:30 PM and from 8 PM to midnight, allowing both lunch and dinner options for exploring tapas Madrid style. The price range of 16 to 30 euros ensures an affordable yet quality experience.
  • Getting There: Easily accessible by Madrid’s metro line 5 (La Latina station), various bus lines, and local train line Cercanías. For those preferring eco-friendly options, BiciMAD bike-share scheme has docking stations nearby, making it convenient to visit after exploring the city.
  • Stay Updated: For the latest news and mouth-watering visuals, follow Juana La Loca on Facebook and Instagram. These platforms offer a glimpse into the vibrant atmosphere and delectable offerings that await at this esteemed tapas bar.

Juana La Loca not only captures the essence of Madrid’s tapas culture but also stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of Basque-inspired pintxos, making it an indispensable stop in the quest for the best tapas in Madrid. Whether you’re drawn by the allure of the famed Spanish omelette or the comprehensive services designed to cater to every diner’s needs, Juana La Loca promises an unforgettable gastronomic adventure.

La Casa del Abuelo

La Casa del Abuelo madrid

As my journey to uncover the best tapas in Madrid continues, I find myself drawn to the storied doors of La Casa del Abuelo, a venerable institution in the heart of the city. This traditional, family-run tapas bar, founded in 1906, has withstood the test of time, now boasting six branches in popular areas of Madrid. Its rich history and evolution from a baguette-style sandwich vendor to a shrine of shrimp dishes during the Spanish Civil War is a testament to its resilience and dedication to Spanish culinary traditions.

What to Order at La Casa del Abuelo:

  • Gambas al Ajillo (Shrimp cooked with garlic): The bar’s signature dish, a must-try for anyone seeking the essence of traditional Spanish tapas. Pair it with a glass of chilled vermouth for the ultimate experience.
  • Variety of Seafood: Specializing in shrimp, prawns, and langoustines, each prepared with a traditional garlic oil method and open-grill cooking, offering a glimpse into Madrid’s seafood delicacies.

Noteworthy Features:

  • Preserved Original Decor: Stepping into La Casa del Abuelo is like a journey back in time, with old advertisements, black and white photos, and a famous house wine from Alicante adorning its walls, maintaining its essence and authenticity over the years.
  • Affordability: A racion (serving) of tapas costs no more than 10 euros, making it an accessible option for those wanting to indulge in the best tapas Madrid has to offer without breaking the bank.
  • Location and Convenience: Nestled at C/ Victoria, 12. 28012 Madrid, with the nearest metro station being Sol, it’s conveniently situated for both locals and tourists exploring the city’s tapas scene.

Moreover, La Casa del Abuelo extends its culinary delights beyond its physical locations, offering an online store for purchasing its wines and several tours around Madrid, which include a drink at its establishments to sample some of its renowned tapas. This blend of tradition, quality, and accessibility makes La Casa del Abuelo a cornerstone in the quest for the best tapas in Madrid, embodying the spirit of Spanish gastronomy with every dish served.

Poncelet Cheese Bar

Poncelet Cheese Bar madrid

As my quest for the best tapas in Madrid continues, I find myself at the doorstep of an establishment that promises a unique twist on the tapas experience. Poncelet Cheese Bar, renowned for its artisan cheese culture, offers a culinary adventure that’s a must for cheese aficionados and food lovers alike. Here’s what makes this tapas restaurant a standout in Madrid’s vibrant food scene:

  • Interior Design: The moment you step into Poncelet Cheese Bar, you’re greeted by an exquisite combination of contemporary and natural elements. The highlight is undoubtedly the vertical garden and the diamond-shaped cheese cellar, which proudly displays over 150 artisanal cheese varieties from 11 countries, making it a visual and gastronomic feast (Poncelet Cheese Bar).
  • Menu Offerings:
    • Cheese-Based Dishes: From creamy burrata to sharp cheddar, the menu is a celebration of cheese in all its forms. Each dish is crafted to highlight the unique flavours and textures of the cheese, providing a truly immersive experience.
    • “Anti-Cheese-Dishes” Section: For those who might want to explore beyond cheese, there’s a carefully curated selection of dishes that offer a delightful contrast to the cheese-centric menu.
    • Wine Pairing: Understanding that cheese and wine are a match made in heaven, Poncelet Cheese Bar offers a tailored wine list designed for optimal cheese pairing, elevating the dining experience to new heights.
  • Services: The bar goes above and beyond to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable visit for all guests. Services include online booking, free Wi-Fi, and credit card acceptance, among others. Whether you’re stopping by for brunch or planning a group meal, the kitchen’s always-open policy guarantees a welcoming experience at any time of the day.

Located in the Chamberí tourist area, Poncelet Cheese Bar is easily accessible by multiple metro and bus lines, with a BiciMAD bike-share scheme docking station nearby for those who prefer to cycle. This convenience makes it an ideal stop for anyone exploring the tapas Madrid scene.

During my visit, I indulged in the highly recommended fondue and raclette, and I must say, the service was as good as the food. The breakfast cheese platter, featuring a selection of exquisite cheeses like d�lice d’�t� and queso de Madrid de cabra, accompanied by dried fruit, fresh bread, and artisanal jams and chutneys, was a highlight of my gastronomic journey in Madrid. The addition of sourdough bread with mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, salad rocket, and olive oil, as well as sautéed mushrooms with tomato sauce and Comté, completed the meal beautifully. At a total cost of 33€, including beverages, I found the experience to be excellent value for money (Spanish Wine Lover, Indagare).

Poncelet Cheese Bar stands as a testament to Madrid’s evolving culinary landscape, offering a unique tapas experience that celebrates the rich artisan cheese culture. Whether you’re a cheese lover or simply looking to explore the best tapas in Madrid, this establishment promises an unforgettable dining adventure.

Conclusion – Madrid’s Tapas Scene is More Than Just Food

Through this culinary voyage, we’ve journeyed to the heart of Madrid’s tapas scene, uncovering an array of establishments that evoke the city’s rich gastronomic culture, from the traditional to the trailblazing. Each locale, with its unique offerings and ambience, contributes a unique narrative to Madrid’s vibrant culinary story. From the timeless charm of El Anciano Rey De Los Vinos to the avant-garde innovation at Inclán Brutal Bar, our exploration underscores Madrid’s ability to marry tradition with innovation, offering palate-pleasing experiences that are as diverse as they are delicious. These establishments not only celebrate the communal spirit of tapas culture but also stand as testaments to the city’s ongoing culinary evolution.

As we conclude our gastronomic journey, it’s clear that Madrid’s tapas scene is more than just food; it’s an immersive experience that connects diners to the city’s passionate soul, one plate at a time. For those eager to dive deeper, these establishments are just the beginning. Madrid’s streets beckon with countless flavours waiting to be discovered, inviting both novices and seasoned food enthusiasts to continue exploring. Let your taste buds guide you as you embark on your own quest for the best tapas in Madrid, and for an added adventure, consider sampling the acclaimed offerings at Poncelet Cheese Bar, where the fusion of cheese and tapas takes centre stage.


What are the must-try dishes at a tapas bar?

When visiting a tapas bar, there are several classic dishes that are highly recommended and commonly found across various establishments. These include:

  • Patatas Bravas: Often referred to as ‘wild potatoes,’ these are a spicy, fried potato dish.
  • Pan con Tomate: This simple yet delicious dish consists of bread topped with grated tomato.
  • Tortilla: A Spanish omelette that’s a staple in tapas cuisine.
  • Croquetas: Croquettes, which can be filled with ham, chicken, fish, or even vegetables.
  • Meat or Fish Dish: Options vary widely, offering something for every palate.
  • Vegetables: For example, fried aubergine (eggplant) drizzled with honey.

Which tapa is considered a legendary dish in Madrid?

La Casa del Abuelo, a family-owned establishment since 1906, is renowned for creating one of Spain’s most iconic tapas: gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp). This dish, which emerged as a creative solution during the bread shortage following the Spanish Civil War, has since become a legendary culinary offering in Madrid.

Where do Madrid locals prefer to enjoy tapas?

While tapas can be enjoyed throughout Madrid, locals often flock to two main areas for the best experiences:

  • The Literary District (Barrio de Las Letras): Known for its cultural and historical significance, this area offers a variety of tapas bars.
  • South of Puerta del Sol: This includes streets like Calle de Cadiz, Calle Barcelona, and Calle de la Cruz, each boasting its own selection of tapas bars.

What is the top street in Madrid for a tapas experience?

Calle de la Cava Baja, situated in the vibrant La Latina neighbourhood, is celebrated as one of the premier streets for a tapas bar crawl. Here, you’ll find an array of bars serving exquisite tapas made from fresh, high-quality ingredients, complemented by a selection of fine wines, Cava, and vermouth. This area encapsulates the essence of Madrid’s renowned food scene.

Show More


Hi, I'm Pablo, an internet marketer who enjoys travelling around the Costa Blanca, Spain. I have been fortunate enough to have met some amazing people on my travels and have been embracing the Spanish way of life since 2018.

Related Articles

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Back to top button

Contact to Listing Owner

Captcha Code
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x