Let's Tapear! The Madrid Tapas Route
Can you see the green awning of Bodegas Ricla on your right?
(3 seconds silence)
Stop around here while I tell you about it.
So, another word for somewhere with a wine cellar is a ‘Bodega’.
Bodegas Ricla is close to many locals’ hearts. Nevertheless, its wine selection has been described as ‘conventional’. The Vermouth gets the thumbs up, though. They serve Yzaguirre, which comes from the Basque Country and is recognized as one of the best on the market.
So, what makes Bodegas Ricla so special?
Firstly, it's one of those places in which time stands still. It's brass taps and blood red wine vats barely seem to have changed since it opened in 1867. In fact, the current façade and wall fixtures actually date to around 1910. The interior's last major re-fit was in 1939, at the end of Spanish Civil War. In fact, during the civil war, the wine cellar served as a bomb shelter.
It's a ‘standing-room-only’ affair, which is exactly how tapas should be done. Another feature is the toilet, which is only accessible by ducking under the bar. These aspects help to preserve it as an authentic hang out for the Spanish community although it does attract the more adventurous tourist.
Nowadays, it is owned by the Lage family. Matriarch, Ana Maria, is said to be the bar’s culinary heart and soul. Bodegas Ricla is known for its home-cooked ‘Callos’ – a traditionally Madridleñan stew, made from beef tripe, blood sausage, chorizo and chickpeas.
The tapas menu doesn’t include Callos, which is a larger meal normally served at lunchtimes. It does, however, include a tasty ‘cecina de León’ which is thinly-sliced veal ham. Most bars serve Serrano ham, so this is one of the things that distinguishes them from the crowd. Their ‘bacalao en aceite’ or cod in olive oil is also a popular favourite. My favourite, though, is the tapa of sardines in vinegar, which beats any of the others I have tried in bars around Madrid.
Both this bar, and the next one I am about to show you, don’t accept credit cards.
Most of the tapas in this bar costs around 3 euros 60 each and a glass of wine is around 2 euros 50. They serve very honest, home-cooked food that is well worth it for the surroundings.
Doors are said to open between 13:00 and 16:00 and later between 19:00 and 24:00. Around 8pm is an ideal time to come and you’ll also avoid the crowds. It's closed on Tuesdays and in the evening on Sundays.
If you want to pop in for a visit, just end the tour. When you're ready, resume the again tour from this location.
Let's carry on now.
Keep walking in the same direction along this street.