La Latina is Madrid’s famed tapas area, but with so many tapas bars to choose from, things can get a little confusing. Follow our guide for the best options for tapas in La Latina, from famous old restaurants to cool local favourites.
Perhaps the most famous tapas bar in La Latina is Casa Lucio, a favourite of everyone from Hollywood actors to Spanish prime ministers. Owner Lucio Blázquez started working in the original restaurant aged just 12. He ended up taking it over, adding his name to the awning and serving some hearty Madrid classics like meatballs, callos (tripe) and ‘broken eggs’, a Spanish kind of scrambled egg.
This Basque-style tapas bar displays its pintxos (Basque tapas that are usually served on a slice of baguette) on the top of its bar. It’s a great way to browse what you fancy – simply point, and the barman will add your choices to a plate. Try the huge hunk of tortilla, the chistorra sausage wrapped in potato and topped with a tiny quail’s egg or – for the brave – the worm-like gulas. Try the Txakoli (pronounced cha-co-lee), a Basque white wine poured into the glass from high above to give it some fizz.
This modern tapas bar, just off Cava Baja, takes traditional Spanish tapas to a whole new level and for many, has the best tortilla in Madrid – a gooey, rich version with caramelised onions. Grab a spot at the bar for a quick bite, or take a seat if you want to enjoy a few different dishes. The menu is split into different categories, including pintxos in a hurry, fanciful pintxos, generous dishes and truffles, wild mushrooms and foie gras.
This wine bar specialises in Spanish wine and has a good selection by the glass. It has a floor to ceiling wine rack behind the bar and an exposed brickwork look throughout. Dishes stick to traditional Spanish favourites such as Iberian ham, cold cuts and artisanal cheeses, and the menu is split into pintxos and raciones (bigger, sharing plates).
A tiny space that’s usually packed, but nudge your way in and grab a spot at the bar (it has a downstairs restaurant area, but cramming into the bar it where it’s at when checking out Madrid’s best tapas bars). It does a good range of wines by the glass, as well as its famous vermouth cocktails. Its menu is full of delicious bites, from a variety of tostas (toasted bread topped with different things) to Spanish favourites with a twist, like lentils with duck confit and foie gras.
Just down Calle Segovia on a cobbled side street that could belong to a Spanish village rather than the busy capital is this cool, modern restaurant with a lovely outside terrace, opened by a group of Brazilian and Uruguayan friends in 2009. Its menu is a mixture of Spanish classics (croquettes, octopus and ‘broken eggs’) and more international flavours (hummus, pizzas and Uruguayan steak and mussels). It’s a great spot for a relaxed evening among in-the-know locals.
This old tavern is drenched in history; it dates all the way back to the 18th century, when it was frequented by soldiers, poets and swordsmen. It is split into different spaces, ranging from its over 500-year-old basement and its wood-panelled main dining room to its lovely outdoor terrace. It does Castilian favourites from roast suckling pig to hams, cheeses and stews, meaning it’s not the most veggie-friendly place, but the perfect choice if you want to sample some regional specialities.