I had the chance to visit Madrid for a second time, which reinforced my original sentiments of how much I love this city. I could spend months here and never get bored. And the first thing to do at any hour of the day (and I mean that quite literally) is to go out for some tapas. Here are some places that I love, some of them being new discoveries and others mandatory repeats.
1. Chocolatería San Ginés
Ok, so this is not technically a tapa, but everybody needs breakfast. Or dessert. Or simply a satisfactory experience to that chocolate craving that most of us get at some point. I have been here a few times during both of my visits to Madrid and the thick texture of the chocolate along with the perfectly cooked churro never ceases to make me smile. The churros are not greasy and the chocolate is the perfect consistency so that it can be a dip and a drink at the same time. This is definitely a must in the city.
2. El Brillante
They claim to have the best ‘bocadillo de calamares’ (calamari sandwich) here. I have not tried every option Madrid has to offer, but the ones at El Brillante are pretty darn good. As far as my taste buds can tell, I cannot deny their claim. This was another revisit that made a perfect affordable lunch near el Parque del Buen Retiro.
When I go to Spain, regardless of what city I’m in, I always love finding places that provide a traditional southern Andalusian environment. This is what originally made me fall in love with the Spanish culture in the first place: rumbas, flamencos y sevillanas. Although I was very much aware that this trip did not include Sevilla, Granada or Cádiz, Sanlúcar provided me with the cultural, culinary, and social environment that surrounds you in Andalucía.
This quickly became another favorite lunch spot for me. It is located in the neighborhood La Latina, near Sanlúcar. Besides being in a fantastic location (a street away from many great pubs and bars), they also offer a mouth-watering selection of fish tapas. They make paella as well, but make sure to be there earlier in the day for that, as it will most likely run out by dinner time.
5. Mercado de San Miguel
This may be a bit too much of a touristy spot, but for good reason. The tapas selection is innumerable. There is so much variety in terms of what goes in one wooden stick that you can’t help it but order a few of them, a glass of wine, and start a conversation by asking the person standing next to you where they’re from.
6. Casa González
This is a great place for a traditional selection of cheeses, meats, and wines. As in many tapas places, the waiter will bring your wine to the table with a small dish of olives (think of this as the bread basket in the US). I asked for recommendations of cheese and wine pairings, and I may not be the most knowledgeable person when it comes to wine tasting, but I couldn’t have enough of the combination I received. Casa González also has a shop section where you can purchase cheeses, sausages, olives, and some other tapas ingredients to take home.
7. El Burladero
Last but certainly not least, here is another Andalusian tavern. Rumbas, bulerías y alegrías are constantly playing in the speakers of El Burladero. They have multiple floors, but my favorite area was the back on the ground floor. It provides a similar feeling as entering a cave, except that in this one there are pictures of toreros surrounding you. The dim lighting is very cozy, and along with the music, it is hard to not get up and dance, or at least tap your feet.