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Tapas in Madrid | SmartRental

Published on March 14, 2023 by Laura

Tapas, the small plates of food that are served alongside drinks, are a staple of Spanish culture. Madrid, the capital city of Spain, is home to some of the best tapas bars in the country. In this article, we will explore the history of tapas, the culture of tapas in Madrid, the best places to try tapas in the city, and some of the most popular dishes.

The History of Tapas

The origins of tapas are somewhat murky, but there are a few theories as to how they came about. One theory is that tapas were originally used to cover glasses of wine to keep flies out. Another theory is that tapas were created as a way to prevent people from getting too drunk while drinking alcohol.

Regardless of their origins, tapas have become an important part of Spanish culture. They are often enjoyed with friends and family and are a great way to socialize and unwind after a long day.

The Culture of Tapas in Madrid

In Madrid, tapas are more than just a way to eat; they are a way of life. The city is filled with tapas bars and restaurants, and it is not uncommon for locals to spend hours hopping from one spot to the next, trying different dishes and enjoying the company of friends.

One of the unique things about tapas culture in Madrid is that it is not uncommon for people to stand while eating. Many bars and restaurants have high tables or counters where patrons can enjoy their food and drink while chatting with friends.

Another important aspect of tapas culture in Madrid is the concept of sharing. It is common for groups of friends to order several different dishes and share them among the group. This not only allows everyone to try a variety of different foods, but it also creates a sense of community and togetherness.

The Best Places to Try Tapas in Madrid

Madrid is home to hundreds of tapas bars and restaurants, so it can be overwhelming to decide where to go. Here are a few of the best places to try tapas in the city:

Mercado de San Miguel

This indoor market is one of the most popular places in Madrid to try tapas. It is filled with vendors selling all kinds of food and drink, including traditional Spanish dishes like croquettes, jamón ibérico, and paella.

El Tigre

This bar is known for its generous portions of tapas. For the price of a drink, you can enjoy a plate of food that is often large enough to share among a group.

Casa Labra

This historic bar is famous for its bacalao (salt cod) croquettes. The recipe has been passed down through generations and is a must-try for anyone visiting Madrid.

La Casa del Abuelo

This bar is famous for its gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp). The dish is simple but delicious and is a favorite among locals.

Taberna La Concha

This cozy bar is known for its selection of artisanal cheeses and meats. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, and the staff is knowledgeable about the different products they offer.

Popular Tapas Dishes

Now that we’ve covered some of the best places to try tapas in Madrid, let’s take a look at some of the most popular dishes:


Croquettes are small fried balls of dough that are filled with a variety of ingredients, such as ham, cheese, or chicken. They are a staple of Spanish cuisine and can be found in almost every tapas bar in Madrid.

Patatas bravas

This dish consists of fried potatoes that are topped with a spicy tomato sauce and sometimes served with aioli. It is a classic tapas dish and is often enjoyed with a cold beer or glass of wine.

Jamón ibérico

Jamón ibérico is a type of cured ham that is made from Iberian pigs. It is considered a delicacy in Spain and is often served as a tapa alongside other dishes.

Gambas al ajillo

Gambas al ajillo are shrimp that are cooked in olive oil and garlic. The dish is simple but delicious and is a favorite among locals.

Pimientos de padrón

Pimientos de padrón are small green peppers that are fried and seasoned with salt. The peppers are known for their varying levels of spiciness, with some being mild and others being quite hot.

Calamares a la romana

Calamares a la romana are fried squid rings that are seasoned with lemon and sometimes served with alioli. They are a popular tapa and can be found in most bars and restaurants in Madrid.

Tortilla española

Tortilla española is a Spanish omelette that is made with potatoes and onions. It is a classic tapas dish and is often served as a snack or light meal.

Tapas culture is an important part of Madrid’s vibrant food scene. From historic bars serving traditional dishes to modern restaurants putting their own twist on classic tapas, there is something for everyone in Madrid. Whether you’re looking for a quick snack or a leisurely meal with friends, tapas is the perfect way to experience the rich culinary traditions of Spain.

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