Madrid’s Tapas Culture

Looking back on our trip to Madrid several years ago, the most memorable thing was the food. In fact, in looking at our photos from the trip I noticed that they were almost exclusively of food!

Tapas, those bite size portions of food that Spain is known for, are sometimes described as an art form in Madrid. There are many, many web sites dedicated to providing lists and descriptions of the best tapas places in Madrid. I like sites that provide a map of tapas bars so you can see what is around your hotel or other sites you are interested in visiting. There are even tapas walking tours you can participate in.

The Appeal of Tapas

  • obviously, they are incredibly yummy, of course! olives, cheese, jambon (ham), seafood, excellent bread, what more to say!
  • it can be budget friendly, order a glass of wine and get a bite size snack, so for 4-9 Euros ($4.18-$9.41) you get something to eat AND a glass of wine, it is easy to get carried away, however, with wanting to sample everything, so you may want to share! here is a good site for Madrid bars with free tapas
  • you get to hop from place to place, sample at one place and experience the ambiance, and then move on to another
  • in case you don’t like something, you don’t have a lot of it to finish, nothing like spending a lot of money on a dish you don’t like, so just move on to the next thing in case you don’t like it, oh, and enjoy the glass of wine that came with it!

Food Specialties in Madrid

Some broad categories of what you will find in Madrid

  • jambon (ham), it’s everywhere!
  • street food in cones, fish, calamari!
  • churros and chocolate
  • olives
  • barquilleros, not a tapas item, but very Madrid, roving people selling thin rolled waffle sweets with a roulette wheel on their back, what????? you pay them for the sweet and then get to spin the wheel to see how many waffles you get? mostly found in the touristy areas of Madrid, including El Rastro flea market
Museum of jambon (ham)
street food, pork rinds
street food
street food, fish, calamari
jambon (ham)
jambon (ham)
jambon (ham)
Churros and chocolate



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