There is a healthy pastime in Madrid: having your aperitif with a small side order of food, the tapa. This wonderful pursuit is one of the most important chapters in fully understanding and enjoying the pleasures of eating out in Madrid. Each area of Madrid has its own underlying style of bar and by extension, its own particular style of tapas. Here are just some examples:
Cava Alta, Cava Baja, Plaza Mayor y Sol: A tendency to serve traditional tapas, although there is a degree of creativity creeping into the recipes. The closer you get to the La Latina, the greater the diversity of styles. By metro: Latina/Sol.
Quarter of the Letters: Some very interesting tapas, especially in and around Huertas Street and Santa Ana Square. By metro: Sevilla/Ant’on Martín.
Salamanca´s Quarter: Here the tapas have a somewhat sophisticated edge to them and are made using only the highest quality ingredients. By metro: Serrano/Goya/Velázquez/Núñez de Balboa.
Lavapiés: Traditional area for having tapas, where in recent years we have seen the introduction of more “ethnic” and “exotic” tapas. By metro: Lavapiés.
Bilbao & Malasaña: Traditional tapas bars stand side by side those that have a very much experimental approach to this art. By metro: Tribunal/Bilbao.
Chamberí: Very traditional bars in one of the most vibrant areas of the city centre. By metro: Ríos Rosas/Iglesias.
Argüelles & Moncloa: Here the tapas bars are the favorite haunt of the young, especially students. By metro: Argüelles/Moncloa.
Cuatro Caminos, Bravo Murillo & Tetuán: Neighborhood tapas, the true taste of Madrid. By metro: Cuatro Caminos/Alvarado/Tetuán
Ibiza & Narváez: Area bondered by Doctor Castelo, Menorca and Menendez Pelayo streets dotted with traditional bars serving tapas with a distinctly international flavor. By metro: Ibiza/O´Donnel/Sainz de Baranda.
You can also enjoy this mouth-watering pastime without having to leave your hotel. In fact, the chefs from many of the city’s major hotels use tapas as a way to tempt clients to try the restaurant’s other dishes. A tapa can also be a great snack when visiting the city’s wonderful museums. For example you can enjoy tapas at bars in the following museums: the Prado, the Reina Sofía, the Thyssen-Bornemisza, Caixa Forum or the Costume museum (museo del Traje).
The best and simplest way to truly enjoy tapas in Madrid is to use your sixth sense, or better still, your sense of smell. Here you are some gastronomic events: Madrid Fusión, a highlight of the culinary calendar where there is always a section devoted to these bite sized creations (end of January). International Gourmet Fair ideal for sampling tapas from both Spain and abroad (in March). Tapa Festival, the end of spring marks the opening of the Feria de la Tapa (Tapa Festival). La Plaza, Urban Food Market that takes place four times throughout the year in different squares around the city. Certámenes de tapas, these contests are held regularly in different districts of Madrid (ask at your nearest Tourism Centre for more information, see map). Gastrofestival, Every year during the second half of January, Madrid hosts Gastrofestival, a culinary and cultural event packed with all kinds of activities that give you the chance to savour the city’s many flavours. Renowned chefs delight us with special menus, and restaurants, museums, art galleries and markets take part in a programme which features everything from tastings to courses. Club Millésime Madrid, a unique gastronomic event launched a little over a year ago that brings together the greatest chefs in Spanish cuisine. (End of October). San Miguel Market, this beautiful wrought-iron market built in 1916 has emerged as the place to go to for the best delicatessens in Madrid.
Sources| Ayto. Madrid, Tourism of Madrid, esMadrid, San Migurel Market, Madrid Fusion