Chamberí, a residential neighbourhood just north of the centre, is making a name for itself for its excellent food scene, as more and more travellers look to get off the beaten track and explore outside Madrid’s historic centre.
Madrid is one of the best foodie cities in Europe, and experiencing the city’s tapas scene is an essential element of any trip. If you’re keen on discovering some hidden gems, check out the tapas bars and restaurants in Chamberí – just north of the centre, the neighbourhood is easy to reach but much less touristy, giving visitors a more local flavour. Here’s our pick of the best.
Going strong since 1949, La Mina is a classic neighbourhood tavern that is popular with young and old. Located near the ‘ghost station’ of Chamberí, it’s an ideal post-sightseeing stop for a beloved local aperitif of vermut de grifo, or vermouth on tap. Prop up the bar with the regulars and try some tapas like grilled prawns or a pincho moruno – a Spanish version of a kebab, served on a skewer.
Open since 1984, this traditional, family-run tapas restaurant, just around the corner from the Abadía Theatre, does all the classics to a high standard. Try Madrid specialities like callos a la Madrileña (Madrid-style tripe) – it’s tastier than it sounds, honestly – garlic prawns and huevos rotos (‘broken eggs’ – a popular scrambled egg dish). Its wooden ceiling beams, tiled walls and tablecloths give the space a vintage Spanish feel.
Experience a true slice of the Basque Country at Sidrería Sagaretxe, close to Iglesia metro station, which specialises in cider and pintxos, the uniquely Basque style of tapas. As is traditional in the Basque Country, the pintxos – delicious morsels that are usually placed on top of a piece of crusty bread – are all laid out on the bar top, so patrons can just take a plate and help themselves to whatever looks good. Wash them down with cider or a chilled glass of Txakoli, a Basque white wine.
Just around the corner from Chamberí Market, this butcher’s shop-themed bar is a great place to sample some quality meat and seafood – it’s a small space with stools only so try to arrive early to get a good spot. The food is a gourmet spin on Spanish classics that could have come out of the kitchen of a Michelin-starred restaurant. Its menu – which looks like a butcher’s inventory – is packed with tempting dishes like grilled red tuna with soy, king prawns and fried Roman-style artichokes.
For a taste of Andalusia in Madrid, this local chain of restaurants is for you. Close to the buzzing bars around Bilbao metro, it’s a great stop before a night out in Malasaña. Specialising in southern classics like fried fish, prawn fritters, fried aubergine with honey and salmorejo, the restaurant has both a front bar area, where patrons can have a quick beer and bite to eat and a restaurant space for longer, more leisurely meals.
You can’t miss this classic Madrid tapas bar, with its eye-catching tiled façade, located near to the Canal de Isabel II park. Inside, locals prop up its traditional aluminium bar and eat classic dishes like anchovies in vinegar, cold cuts and grilled prawns. A great place for an ice-cold beer and a true taste of Madrid.
This hidden local gem is a family-run restaurant where the owner is also the chef and is only too happy to make suggestions and help you navigate the menu. Expect friendly service and hearty local food. It does a range of pintxos such as tortilla de patatas, anchovies and avocado and tomato salad, and raciones (larger sharing plates) like langoustine in caper sauce, oxtail in sherry and jamón Ibérico. La Violeta vermouth bar is just a few doors down and the ideal place for an after-dinner drink.
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