7 Of The Best Tapas Bar (Tabernas) In Madrid

Everyone is constantly on the hunt for the best tapas in Madrid.

The Spanish capital is chock full of tabernas (taverns) at every corner, many of which have served traditional tapas for close to a hundred years or more. There are so many different types of tabernas in Madrid: cozy, quirky, old-school, new-school, stylish and no-frills. It can be a daunting task to seek out the best tabernas where you can get truly good tapas, due to the sheer number of restaurants in Madrid with many of them being tourist traps.

Here are the best tabernas in Madrid that we swear by, for some seriously good eats, unique atmosphere and a fabulous madrileño-style good time.

Casa Toni

C. de la Cruz, 14, 28012 Madrid, Spain

Casa Toni is the perpetual oldie but goodie in the city center of Madrid. Located just steps away from Puerta del Sol, Casa Toni has been slinging everybody’s favorite tapas for over 50 years in the same location. Casa Toni really is the most ideal old-school Spanish taberna that you’re looking for: no-frills décor, cheap prices and plenty of locals snacking on tapas while standing at all hours of the day. You can sip a caña and eat at the classic standing bar surrounded by vintage photos of toreros and flamenco dancers while feeling like a true madrileño.

Casa Toni
Casa Toni grill
Casa Toni grill. PHOTO NADIA CHO

Casa Toni has a comprehensive menu of all the classic tapas you would want. Everything that you order is honestly well-prepared and delicious. You can get rich chunks of fried chorizo, yummy boquerones (anchovies) that come fried or fresh with vinaigrette, perfectly roasted pimientos de padron and so much more. The house specialty are the pig ears (orejas de cerdo) which are grilled on the parrilla then served soft and chewy with bravas sauce. But again, it doesn’t really matter what you get, because everything you order at Casa Toni will be delicious and prepared in the old-school way it’s supposed to be.

Casa Toni orejas a la plancha
Casa Toni orejas a la plancha. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Casa Toni padron peppers
Casa Toni padron peppers. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Casa Toni fried chorizo
Casa Toni fried chorizo. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Casa Toni bar
Casa Toni bar. PHOTO NADIA CHO

Los Gatos

C. de Jesús, 2, 28014 Madrid, Spain

There are tons of tabernas around the picturesque neighborhood of Barrio de las Letras, many of which cater to tourists. However, our favorite in this area is Los Gatos, hands down, for its campy interior décor and mouthwatering tapas on display.

Los Gatos tapas
Los Gatos tapas. PHOTO NADIA CHO

Los Gatos is warm, homey and welcoming as soon as you walk through the door under the adorable sign with cats. Once inside, this taberna’s whimsical and slightly whacky décor really is unlike anything you’ll see in any other bar in all of Madrid. The wannabe fresco ceilings are painted with campy versions of cherubs and “The Creation of Adam,” while large figurines of a priest and aristocrat occupy their own corner of the wall. However, the floors have gorgeous red and green geometric tiles while the tavern is lit up by a shiny streetlamp and chandeliers. Los Gatos is campy and fun in a comforting way, which you won’t want to leave.

Los Gatos crab salad tostada
Los Gatos crab salad tostada. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Los Gatos best vermut on tap
Los Gatos best vermut on tap. PHOTO NADIA CHO

The great part about Los Gatos is that they have much of their food selection on display. And boy, does everything look delicious. The mouthwatering display case offers at least twenty different types of tostadas topped with everything from sardines, anchovies, jamon, smoked salmon, cheese, morcilla, and our favorite, crab salad with mayo. Also on display are the empanadas, ensaladilla, mussels, shrimp and fat olives. Not to mention, Los Gatos has the most delicious house vermut on tap. The house vermut is a tingly elixir of bright fruity and floral notes that’s seriously addictive.

Order a vermut on tap and pick out a yummy tostada, and you’re in for a fun, delicious time at one of Madrid’s quirkiest tabernas.

Los Gatos campy decor
Los Gatos campy decor. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Los Gatos assorted tostadas
Los Gatos assorted tostadas. PHOTO NADIA CHO

La Perejila

C. de la Cava Baja, 25, 28005 Madrid, Spain

Cava Baja in La Latina is THE spot for bar hopping for tapas, as the long curving street is lined with restaurants, bars and tabernas on both sides. Any traveler looking to munch on a variety of tapas must spend an evening or afternoon making the rounds through Cava Baja at some point. Out of all these yummy options, La Perejila is our top pick in Cava Baja, and one of our favorite tabernas in all of Madrid!

La Perejila menu
La Perejila menu. PHOTO NADIA CHO
La Perejila tripe stew
La Perejila tripe stew. PHOTO NADIA CHO
La Perejila steamed mussels
La Perejila steamed mussels. PHOTO NADIA CHO

The décor at La Perejila is one of the main things that stands out from all the other tabernas on Cava baja. Since perejila means parsley, which is what the taberna is named after, green is the dominant theme at La Perejila, from the bright door entrance to the chartreuse painted walls. Add the numerous shiny knickknacks, antiques and framed vintage photos of flamenco divas, and you’ve got a one-of-a-kind taberna that’s unique, whimsical and even slightly campy.

The food at La Perejila knocks it out of the park too. The taberna has a great menu of mouthwatering and heartwarming dishes that truly taste homemade. You can get delectable small plates of sobrasada sausage with caramel and queso manchego, cabrales blue cheese with apples and nuts, or house pisto with tuna and an egg on top. A house special that’s a crowd favorite is the pork cheek stewed with cherries in port wine served with potato puree. Plus, La Perejila’s callos a la madrileña (stewed tripe) are rich, smoky and flavorful, which is most definitely a sign of a top-notch taberna.

La Perejila cozy cute space
La Perejila cozy cute space. PHOTO NADIA CHO
La Perejila oxtail with port wine and cherries
La Perejila oxtail with port wine and cherries. PHOTO NADIA CHO
La Perejila flamenco diva decor
La Perejila flamenco diva decor. PHOTO NADIA CHO

Patio de Leones

C. de Serrano, 1, 28001 Madrid, Spain

Out of all the tabernas on this list, Patio de Leones is a trendier option for when you’re looking for something a bit more modern and stylish. Located just across the street from Parque del Retiro, Patio de Leones is a self-proclaimed new age taberna with a fun and chic twist on what a traditional Spanish tavern could be; where they can “express tradition in the most contemporary form.”

Patio de Leones decor
Patio de Leones decor. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Patio de Leons oxtail brioche
Patio de Leons oxtail brioche. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Patio de Leones stewed clams
Patio de Leones stewed clams. PHOTO NADIA CHO

Firstly, the space inside Patio de Leones is absolutely gorgeous! Colorful oversized posters of flamenco dancers cover the walls in the airy, luminous space. The entire back wall is a mural made of custom tiles which piece together fun portraits of Spain’s legendary painters, writers and other artists, with the likes of Federico Garcia Lorca, Salvador Dali and Lola Flores. And, as the place is called Patio de Leones, there are whimsical images of lions everywhere, including our favorite which is the majestic marble lion fountain sink in the bathroom.

On the menu you’ll find classic tapas, like Patatas Bravas or Gambas al Ajillo, which you can expect at any old taberna. But most of the menu consists of elevated versions of typical pub grub which you’re unlikely to find outside of Patio de Leones. Think croquetas with carabinero prawns, sirloin medallions with decadent foie gras and piquillo peppers stuffed with txangurro Basque crab. Our favorite bite was the delectable oxtail brioche with mint, onion and cilantro.

Patio de Leones bar
Patio de Leones bar. PHOTO NADIA CHO

What’s great about being at a trendier spot like Patio de Leones is that they also serve craft cocktails, which goes beyond the typical wine, beer and vermouth you’ll find at most old-school tabernas. You can get enjoy a Jesus Gil Negroni which comes with chipotle liqueur or a Marisol Bloody Mary with brava sauce and sherry. The drink menu also offers three different types of sangria and a long list of national wines from almost every region in Spain.

This trendy newcomer might not feel as authentic as some of the more old-school tabernas, but Patio de Leones is there for when you’re looking to impress with elevated tapas with bright, gorgeous ambience!

Patio de Leones crab-stuffed red peppers
Patio de Leones crab-stuffed red peppers. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Patio de Leones - Carabinero prawn croquetas
Patio de Leones – Carabinero prawn croquetas. PHOTO NADIA CHO

Taberna de la Elisa

Calle de Sta. María, 42, 28014 Madrid, Spain

Taberna la Elisa has a modern kitchen, but the space is still dressed like a rustic old-world taberna, and a beautiful one at that. As part of the immensely popular Triciclo restaurant group, Taberna la Elisa evokes traditional madrileño essence and flavors, while adding subtle elevated contemporary touches.

Taberna la Elisa
Taberna la Elisa. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Taberna la Elisa restored wood bar
Taberna la Elisa restored wood bar. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Taberna la Elisa manitas de cordero
Taberna la Elisa manitas de cordero. PHOTO NADIA CHO

Taberna la Elisa was a typical madrileño tavern since 1907. But in 2017, the space was taken over and reopened by the team behind the successful restaurant, Triciclo, down the street. Taberna la Elisa opened in all its glory, which preserved its singular old-world feel but with everything sparkling and new. The cozy tavern is vibrant with blue azulejo tiles against gleaming wood beams and bannisters and the refurbished mahogany bar.

Taberna la Elisa caracoles
Taberna la Elisa caracoles. PHOTO NADIA CHO

The menu of classic madrileño tapas feels familiar, but they all feature a subtle and unique touch that differentiates it from any other locale. The white beans with stewed oxtail (judión de la granja con rabo estofado) is the ultimate comfort food. The soft beans and oxtail both melt in your mouth as your slurp them up with a simple tomato broth. The caracoles (snails) come smothered in a smoky sauce so savory and herby that it’s impossible not to mop it up with bread until the plate is squeaky clean. For adventurous eaters, we recommend trying the manitas de cordero (lamb trotters) which are stewed in the typical madrileño way for callos (tripe). The soft lamb feet taste rich and fatty while giving more flavor than the callos which are more commonly consumed.

For a traditional but elevated dining experience in a pretty space, Taberna la Elisa checks all the boxes for Madrid’s foodies.

Taberna la Elisa decor
Taberna la Elisa decor. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Taberna la Elisa bar
Taberna la Elisa bar. PHOTO NADIA CHO

La Taberna Sanlúcar

C. de San Isidro Labrador, 14, 28005 Madrid, Spain

Taberna Sanlúcar is a low-key spot that’s tucked away in a side street in La Latina in front of the Basilica de San Francisco El Grande. This taberna is as classic as it gets. The whole place is done up with rustic stone walls and no-frills wooden tables and stools against warm, inviting yellow walls dotted with torero posters.

Sanlucar grilled artichokes
Sanlucar grilled artichokes. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Sanlucar decor
Sanlucar decor. PHOTO NADIA CHO

Taberna Sanlúcar prides itself on bringing its Andalusian roots, specifically from Cádiz, to Madrid. Thus, the menu offers typical Andaluz dishes which aren’t as commonly found throughout Madrid. This means authentic salmorejo cordobés, our favorite chilled and savory tomato soup with jamon, and lots of yummy seafood and pescaito frito, aka fried fish tapas. The Adobo Sanluqueño seasons the cazón (dogfish) before frying it so that the fish clearly maintains the flavors of oregano and other seasonings even after it’s battered. Other pescaito frito includes chocos fritos, chocos being a unique breed of squid native to Andalucia, boquerones (fried anchovies) with lemon and cuddlefish seasoned with chamomile. You can also get stewed noodles with choco, Spanish tortilla with shrimp and different types of seasoned fish roe.

For a taste of sunny Andalucia in Madrid, Taberna Sanlúcar in La Latina is the best bet for an inviting and delicious classic taberna.

Sanlucar adobo sanluqueño
Sanlucar adobo sanluqueño. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Sanlucar boquerones fritos
Sanlucar boquerones fritos. PHOTO NADIA CHO

EL CALAMAR, los mejores calamares de Madrid

Pl. del Conde de Barajas, 2, 28005 Madrid, Spain

El Calamar is among our favorite terrazas in the centro and one of Madrid’s best kept secrets. El Calamar is tucked away right under Plaza Mayor and Mercado San Miguel in Plaza Conde de Barajas. The taberna itself might be barebones, but the fabulous terrace is shady and roomy and it’s in a plaza that doesn’t get as much exposure with the tourist crowds.

El Calamar - Boquerones
El Calamar – Boquerones. PHOTO NADIA CHO
El Calamar -budget friendly tapas
El Calamar -budget friendly tapas. PHOTO NADIA CHO
El Calamar - Huevos Rotos
El Calamar – Huevos Rotos. PHOTO NADIA CHO

Taking after its name, El Calamar specializes in pescaito frito, aka delicious fried fish plates, which obviously includes calamari as well as chopitos (baby squid), boquerones (fried anchovies) and croquetas de bacalao (cod croquettes). There are also lots of crowd pleaser tapa options on the menus like huevos rotos (fried eggs) with shrimp, jamon and fries, pulpo a la gallega (Galician octopus), chorizo cooked in cider and grilled prawns. The best part about El Calamar, other than the location, is the super affordable prices as most plates cost less than 10 euros while the portions are generous.

Because of its ideal location in a central but not so crowded plaza along with a comprehensive and budget-friendly menu, El Calamar is our favorite terraza in Madrid; perfect for those madrileño afternoons when you want to sip on tinto de verano and nosh on fried calamari for hours in good company.

El Calamar fried cuttlefish and anchovies
El Calamar fried cuttlefish and anchovies. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Nadia Cho

Communications Associate

As the empowered female behind the blog: International Women of Mystery, Nadia reps Team JST traveling the world in search of exclusive features on hidden gems and cool hotspots. You can find her exploring metropolitan cities or lounging on tropical beaches.