La Latina is one of the oldest neighbourhoods of Madrid and known for its many tapas bars centred around Calle Cava Baja. While many wash down their tapas with a beer, the area is home to some excellent wine bars. We take a look at some of the best.
Juana La Loca
Bar, Restaurant, Tapas, $$$
Named after Spanish queen Joanna the Mad, this modern tapas bar is the place to come for elevated and creative tapas, all washed down with some quality wines from the extensive wine list. It is renowned for having one of the best tortilla de patatas in Madrid, a huge, unctuous slice that includes caramelised onions, which cause a flavour-bomb that will leave you wanting more. There is a smallish bar area and back room, but reservations are advised if you want to make sure you get a table.
Taberna La Concha
Pack into the small bar area of this popular tapas bar on Cava Baja and order La Manuela, one of its signature vermouth cocktails. Vermouth, a fortified white wine, is one of Spaniards’ favourite aperitifs, so make it the first drink before dinner to fit in with the locals. Alternatively, there is Cava by the glass, to start the night with something sparkling. The bar has a chalkboard full of tempting tapas, with lots of vegetarian and gluten-free options, not always the case in Madrid.
Taberna El Tempranillo
Bar, Spanish, $$$
This atmospheric bar is immediately recognisable from its floor-to-ceiling wooden wine rack – a wall of dusty bottles that immediately tells you what the bar specialises in. Taberna El Tempranillo proudly serves only Spanish wines from around the country, with a good range that can be sampled by the glass. It also does tapas dishes to go with your vino, from grilled asparagus to Spanish jamón, cheeses and crunchy croquettes. Try to nab the window seat for a great place to people-watch.
Vermutería La Bolita Negra
This small bar is the place to come to try a traditional vermút de grifo (vermouth on tap). The fortified white wine is a popular aperitif in Madrid and has recently had a bit of a renaissance that has seen it go from the favourite of abuelas to one of the coolest choices on the drinks menu. This bar is a good stop-off spot before dinner, where you can whet your appetite and enjoy a free tapa with a drink (not the norm in Cava Baja).
Restaurant, Spanish, $$$
Head off the packed Cava Baja onto the next street for this charming restaurant, which has the feel of a traditional French bistro but serves some delicious Spanish dishes – and whose name is quite literally “Madrid” (in Latin). Its wine list is extensive, with well over 100 options from across Spain and beyond, as well as weekly specials selected by the restaurant’s sommelier.
Vinos El Mentidero
Bar, Spanish, $$$
Off the main drag of Cava Baja, this cute little bar is a good place to relax with a few glasses of Spanish wine while standing at a wine-barrel table. It has the feel of a local favourite, with few tourists despite being moments away from Madrid’s most famous tapas street. Vineyards from around Spain are represented alongside traditional tapas offerings.
This bohemian café-cum-bookshop is decorated with walls of books, candles and little tables that bring to mind a Parisian street café. Overlooking the Jardín de las Vistillas park, it’s a pretty spot to spend the evening. It holds regular poetry readings and other events and is known for its Cava. It’s a laid-back place to sample some Spanish sparkling wine and makes for a cosy date-night spot.