Come with me as I take you around some of the most celebrated (and one or two lesser-known) tapas haunts in the centre of Madrid. On the way, I'll be explaining what tapas is, telling you about its origins and giving guidance on the best ways to enjoy it. I'll also be talking about some of the dishes that are a key part of Madrid - and Spain's - foodie culture, as well as filling you in on some of the legends and stories associated with Madrid's tapas hotspots. You'll even be picking up a few tips on what - and how - to order.
As we take this route together, you'll be retracing the steps of the most humble, to some of the most famous and, indeed, infamous characters who have lived here throughout the years. I hope you enjoy it as much as they did in their day. So, on that note, Let's Tapear!
The Mercado de San Miguel, Cava Baja, Casa Lucio, Mercado de Cebada, Church of San Pedro el Viejo, Madrid de las Austrias, Plaza Mayor, Casa Labra, Puerta del Sol, Calle Victoria, La Villa Rosa, Plaza Santa Ana, Calle Huertas, Viva Madrid
The tour starts outside the front entrance to the Mercado de San Miguel, which can be accessed by walking down Calle Mayor in the direction going away from Puerta del Sol. Take the Calle Mayor exit from the Sol metro station and look for Calle Mayor straight ahead. Walk along Calle Mayor until you get to Cava de San Miguel, which is five roads up on your left. The opening to this street is opposite the 'Carrefour Express' supermarket. Keep walking down the left side of Cava de San Miguel. You will soon come across the wrought iron structure of the Mercado de San Miguel, which stands on the Plaza de San Miguel to your right.
Places to stop along the way:
This tour is all about places to stop on the way - whether they be down-to-earth bars or more upmarket restaurants. Nevertheless, if you just fancy a quick coffee, you'll be passing a variety of cafes as well.
Best time of day:
The idea with this tour is to help you work up a healthy appetite for lunch, whilst perhaps staving off a few hunger pangs as you go. Don't forget, lunch in Spain is eaten later than in most English-speaking countries and doesn't start until around 2.30pm. If you want to enjoy it to the fullest, the best time is between 11am and 1.30pm, before the lunchtime rush sets in. Be aware that some bars will be closed on Mondays, whilst the lead up to Saturday and Sunday lunchtimes are especially busy. On the other hand, this is a good time to see Madrid's tapas culture in full swing.
If things are too crowded, you might prefer to take the tour in the afternoon, at around 5pm when the bars re-open (although some are closed on Sunday evenings). In August, everywhere is quieter as many Spanish people head out of town.
Keep an eye on your belongings, as pickpockets do operate around central Madrid. In particular, make sure you don't leave phones and other valuables out on tables, especially outside. Also, ensure bags are stored safely. Whilst sitting outside, it's best to keep bags on your lap and even strapped across your body. Inside bars and restaurants you can be more relaxed, although always be vigilant.
From the church to rebellion; from bandits to traders. As the capital of Spain, Madrid has always been a city of contrasts, attracting many newcomers throughout its complex history. And they have always found a home just outside the ancient city... More»