Eat like local in Madrid
Making this list of the best tapas in Madrid has not been an easy task. The gastronomy offer in Spain is extremely wide, and it can be hard for visitors to figure out which ones to try.
“Tapas” is one of the most historic, traditional, and famous ways to try the best Madrid foods.
Originally, they were small-sized food portions usually served as a free appetizer while ordering a drink before lunch.
The concept of “tapa” has evolved and nowadays you can find more sophisticated appetizers, but most times they are not complimentary.
Larger size “tapas” are called “raciones” which are an excellent option for sharing in a group while standing at a bar.
If you want to eat like a local check my list of the 10 best tapas in Madrid. Trust me when I say that all these appetizers are a unique gastronomic experience you will only find in Spain.
I also include for each appetizer 3 suggestions of bars and restaurants where I have personally tried some of the best tapas in Madrid. If you come across any of them while visiting the best landmarks in Madrid, take a break and enjoy!
It´s been almost 40 years living in Madrid, but I am sure I still have excellent places to discover. I will appreciate your suggestions in the comments at the end of the article!
List of the 10 best tapas in Madrid
1. Spanish Omelet
There’s nothing that says ‘Spanish Food’ like the Spanish omelet.
It is an omelet made with olive oil, eggs, and potatoes. There is a never-ending national discussion in Spain if the best Spanish omelet should include onion. So, try both and decide!
A Spanish omelet is one of the best tapas to try in Madrid. And if you like this delicious Spanish dish, it is quite easy to prepare at home.
Find below some of the most renowned places to try excellent tapas of Spanish Omelet.
1.1 Where to taste the best Spanish omelet in Madrid?
- Bodega de la Ardosa (C. de Colón, 13)
La Ardosa is a traditional tavern located in the Malasaña neighborhood.
It is the perfect place to try the famous Spanish omelet as well as some of the other best tapas in Madrid and additional mouthwatering specialties such as the grilled artichokes with Spanish olive oil.
In case the main dining area is too crowded, take a look at the right side of the bar where there is more available space.
- Casa Dani (C. Ayala, 28 | Mercado de la Paz)
In the traditional La Paz market, this restaurant opened 30 years ago and has become one of the most famous places to taste this Spanish culinary specialty.
They start at six in the morning and prepare around 200 omelets a day. This classic Spanish tapa is the first choice of their customers.
- La Primera (C/ Gran Vía, 1)
In Gran Via, close to the most famous tourist attractions in Madrid, you will find one of the best places to try the Spanish omelet.
Like the other Paco Quirós` restaurants, the quality of the products stands out. You will always remember the outstanding views from this beautiful place while enjoying this tasty bite.
2. Croquetas (croquettes)
Croquettes are one of the top-rated tapas to eat like a local in Madrid.
These small bites are prepared with a creamy bechamel sauce mixed with another filling such as ham, cheese, or chicken. This binder is later breaded and deep fried to create the perfect croquette.
Any local will tell you that the best croquettes are the ones prepared by his or her grandma. But you will find excellent alternatives to these iconic tapas in Madrid´s bars and restaurants, such as the following:
2.1 Best places to taste Spanish croquettes
- Santerra Neotaberna (C. de Ponzano, 62)
This excellent restaurant offers one of the most famous croquettes in Madrid, with a creamy bechamel, a thin but crispy cover, and a delicious Iberian ham taste. They were chosen as the best croquettes in the world in 2018.
- La bien aparecida (C/Jorge Juan 8)
Paco Quirós croquettes, filled with pork shoulder and boiled egg, are one of my favorite tapas in Madrid. Incredibly creamy, with a semi-liquid bechamel sauce and a very thin batter. They are a must in any list of the best tapas in Madrid.
- Casa Julio (C. de la Madera, 37)
Casa Julio is the perfect example of a traditional bar to taste the best tapas in Madrid. This typical and cozy restaurant in Malasaña became hugely popular after the visit of the Irish group U2 for a photo session. Croquettes are the house specialty and they offer different delicious fillings such as the classic Iberian ham, “picadillo”, and spinach, raisins, and gorgonzola.
“Torreznos” could not be the healthiest tapas in Madrid but for sure it is one of the most popular and authentic. Although this appetizer is typical from Soria you can try excellent “torreznos” in Madrid.
A “torrezno” is a tasty fried bacon snack produced in Spain. It is obtained from the pork belly, marinated, and once dried, cut into strips and fried in olive oil until they are crispy on the skin side.
The result is an amazing crunchy “torrezno”, one of the tastiest and most affordable tapas in Madrid Spain.
Take my advice, if you run into one of the following restaurants, take a break and enjoy a succulent “torrezno” with a fresh drink.
Torreznos is one of the best tapas in Madrid, and the following restaurants are just a few examples:
3.1 Where to eat the best torreznos in Madrid:
- La Raquetista (Calle del Dr. Castelo, 19):
If you are visiting El Retiro, the most popular park in Madrid, La Raquetista offers some of the best torreznos in Madrid. It is a sober and modern tavern that prepares this delicacy for hours at a low temperature. The resulting torreznos are crunchy, tasty, and completely addictive. I am sure you will be back.
- Los Torreznos (C/Goya 86)
This traditional place in Madrid has offered since 1956 some of the best torreznos in Madrid. It is not the most beautiful restaurant in Madrid but the food is excellent, offering some of the best Madrid tapas. Obviously, torreznos is the star food of the house.
- Treze (C/ General Pardiñas 36)
Located in the heart of the Salamanca district, its torreznos are considered by many locals as the best in Madrid. You will taste a super tender torrezno with super crispy skin, crunching when you bite into it.
4. Patatas bravas
Everyone will agree that “Patatas Bravas” or just “Bravas” is one of the most typical tapas in Spanish gastronomy. According to analysts, they are the most requested tapa by locals when they visit a bar in Madrid.
Although it is a popular dish native to Madrid nobody agrees on how it should be prepared. The only point in common is that potato is the base ingredient of the recipe and that a good “brava” sauce should be at least a little bit spicy.
That is why every restaurant uses its own recipe. It usually consists of potatoes that have been cut into medium-sized cubes, then fried in oil and served warm with a slightly spicy tomato sauce.
“Patatas Bravas” is one of the best tapas to eat in Madrid, especially in the following places:
4.1 Best Patatas Bravas in Madrid
- Docamar (C. de Alcalá, 337)
Patatas Bravas at Docamar are my favorite. Potatoes are tender but crispy and the lightly spicy secret sauce is amazing. They are irresistible! You can purchase the secret sauces in case you want to prepare this typical Spanish food at home.
- A’Conchiña (C. Benidorm, 32)
A few meters away from Docamar, you will find an excellent alternative. The place, which is smaller than Docamar, is usually crowded due to its famous Patatas Bravas. Its tasty sauce is pretty different than Docamar’s but it is awesome too.
- Las Bravas (Pasaje. de Mathéu, 5)
Close to Puerta del Sol, this restaurant states that they are creators of this traditional Spanish tapa. If you are enjoying the top-rated Madrid monuments, take a break and enjoy a tapa of the original Bravas with its unique brava sauce.
5. Iberian Ham
It should be illegal not to taste the authentic Iberian Ham, one of the best tapas to try in Madrid.
Iberian Ham is a type of cured hind leg from Iberian pigs (of the Iberian breed). This delightful gastronomic jewel can only be produced in Spain and Portugal due to the special weather conditions required.
Besides, the Iberian pig is a unique species with the capacity to infiltrate fat into the muscle. As a result, its meat is very juicy and tasty.
You can try Iberian Ham in most of Madrid´s bars and restaurants, but I recommend the following:
5.1 Best places to try Iberian Ham in Madrid
- La Garriga (Paseo de la Castellana, 153)
La Garriga specializes in handmade charcuterie. Customers can taste their products there, as the shop has a small bar where they can sample some of their delicatessen accompanied by a good wine.
- Museo del Jamón (several locations)
It is not on my list of the best museums in Madrid, but the Museo del Jamon (in english, ham museum) is a classic place to taste the best tapas in Madrid, especially for their quality and price. There are several establishments located in strategic points of the city, you will quickly identify them as their walls are full of hams from all regions of Spain.
- El Jamon del Abuelo (C. Víctor Andrés Belaunde, 36)
The tapas offered at El Jamón del Abuelo are top quality. And Iberian Ham is a must in this remarkable Andalusian restaurant in Madrid.
Believe me, there is nothing like a tapa of recently-cut, high-quality Iberian ham and a glass of wine enjoying the Spanish nice weather on a terrace.
6. Fried Calamari
Fried Calamari is one of the most popular tapas to try when visiting Madrid. It is the main ingredient of the renowned calamari sandwich, one of the most traditional Madrid foods.
There are several ways to prepare fried calamari depending on the region and, of course, every restaurant has its own recipe. I personally love “rabas”, the Cantabrian-style fried calamari.
Some of my favorite places to try these tapas in Madrid are:
6.1 Top-rated fried calamari in Madrid
- Cañadío (C. del Conde de Peñalver, 86)
Cañadío is the Madrid branch of a well-known establishment of the same name in Santander. The “rabas” at Cañadío offer a delightful mix of crispy tentacles and tender meat. You should not miss this exquisite fried experience.
- El Pescador (Ronda de Toledo, 2)
If you are visiting El Rastro flea market take a break and try the tasty calamari at El Pescador. Consider that this place is especially crowded on Sundays.
- De la Riva (Cochabamba, 13.)
Opened in 1932, this restaurant is an institution in Madrid. Fried calamari is among its specialties and is considered one of the best tapas in Madrid.
7. Anchovies in vinegar (Boquerones en vinagre)
If you want to try the best tapas in Madrid like a local, anchovies in vinegar should be a must on your bucket list.
The raw filets of anchovies are marinated in vinegar and most times seasoned with olive oil, garlic, and parsley, these are my favorite.
This delicious tapa is often served in Madrid with potato chips and goes surprisingly well with an ice-cold beer.
You can order them as a tapa at the most traditional bars in Madrid, and I recommend the ones at:
7.1 Best places to taste Boquerones en vinagre in Madrid
- El Cantabrico (C/ Padilla, 39)
This Galician seafood restaurant offers some of the best anchovies in vinegar you can have in Madrid, perfectly accompanied by some good fried potatoes. El Cantabrico is a highly recommended place to enjoy the best tapas in Madrid.
- Bodegas Ricla (Calle Cuchilleros, 6)
Opened in 1867, this is one of the most charming taverns in Madrid, preserving all the charm of the old traditions. It is a popular place to enjoy tapas in Madrid, especially its delicious anchovies in vinegar.
- Fide (Ponzano 8)
Fide is a highly recommended place in Madrid to eat seafood. In this traditional and crowded brewery on Ponzano street you will experience the authentic anchovies in vinegar, and don’t forget the side of chips and an ice-cold beer.
8. Huevos rotos
The next of the most popular tapas in Madrid is the “huevos rotos”. The direct translation to English would be “broken eggs”.
It is a simple but delicious dish of fried eggs over fries which is usually served with some strips of ham.
It is quite a famous dish in Madrid and you will see many groups sharing a “racion” of “huevos rotos” while having a beer on a terrace. They are a tasty appetizer especially in:
8.1 Where to try the best huevos rotos in Madrid
- Casa Lucio (C. de la Cava Baja, 35)
Casa Lucio is famous in Madrid for preparing the best tapa of huevos rotos since 1974. You can then choose different meats to have on top, but the most popular is the Iberian ham. Visiting Casa Lucio is a must on your bucket list.
- Los Rotos (C. de las Huertas, 74)
This popular restaurant in Madrid offers tapas of fried eggs and potatoes with a variety of toppings such as the typical Iberian ham, blue cheese, and sausage.
- El Almendro (C. del Almendro, 13)
Crowded place in La Latina neighborhood to enjoy a top-quality tapa of huevos rotos with chips and ham. It´s a different style but I am sure that you will love them too.
9. Ensaladilla Rusa (Olivier Salad)
Although the direct translation to English is “little Russian salad”, the original recipe comes from the traditional salad dish in Russian cuisine called “Olivier salad”.
This recipe has evolved to become one of the most iconic tapas to eat in Madrid.
Every restaurant has its own recipe but all of them are based on boiled potato and mayonnaise. Most times it also includes boiled carrots, tuna, boiled eggs, and peas.
Ensaladilla rusa is widely consumed in Madrid and it is served as a tapa in the most renowned bars and restaurants such as the following:
9.1 Best places to taste ensaladilla rusa in Madrid
- La Primera (C/ Gran Vía, 1)
I have tried to recommend different restaurants for the best tapas in Madrid but in this case it is impossible. Apart from the Spanish omelet previously mentioned, La Primera offers in my opinion the best ensaladilla rusa in Madrid.
- La Tasquita de enfrente (Calle de la Ballesta, 6)
Potatoes, carrots, and boiled eggs are cooked separately so that all are at the perfect point, subsequently mixed with homemade mayonnaise with olive oil and topped with trout roe.
- Restaurante Rafa (Calle de Narváez, 68)
Prepared with passion and top-quality ingredients such as diced potatoes, carrots, eggs, and mayonnaise, this restaurant is an icon for many lovers of this exquisite tapa.
10. Snails (Caracoles)
Snails are one of the best tapas in Madrid.
There are countless ways to prepare the snails but the most popular recipe in Madrid seasons the snails in a slightly spicy sauce, yummy!
This delicacy is usually served on rounded clay plates to keep the snails hot. Some slices of white bread are necessary to enjoy the spicy touch of this appetizer.
You can find snails at Madrid restaurants such as the following:
10.1 Where to try the best snails in Madrid
- Casa Amadeo – Los Caracoles (Plaza de Cascorro, 18)
In this case, I will just recommend one place, as Casa Amadeo is the temple of Madrid-style snails. Founded in 1942, the snails are cooked in a large pot behind the bar, with spices and chorizo. It is impossible not to dip bread in its delicious spicy sauce.
I hope you liked my list of the best tapas in Madrid, leave your comments below!