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Tapas is a term for a small plate, or appetizer, served all over Spain. Tapa can be hot dishes, or cold side snacks.
One of the largest ‘tapas markets’ in Madrid is the Mercado De San Miguel. It’s next to the Plaza Mayor in the city center. It’s an upscale (almost gourmet) open market where you can buy fresh fruit, meats, beverages, and tapas. Unfortunately we were there right after our 2nd breakfast of the morning, so Sangria was more than enough for me.
More often than not, we found our selves at the neighborhood restaurant in Chamberi with outdoor patio called Casa Benito. It’s been in operation since 1975, and the owner often holds court on the patio – chatting with the locals.
When you order a beer – “una caña” you are going to get one small beer. It’ about 1/2 pint – anywhere from 8 to 12 ounces. In Spain, they never seemed to mind the bubbly head on the beer, but makes for less of a serving. The interesting thing is that for every drink, even a coffee, the waiter and chef would give you tapas … and you never knew what it was. Over the three days we received (in order)
sausage, potatoes and onions; potato chips with vinegared white fish; olives; sauteed squid in mixed vegetables; and fried cheese balls. Oh, and did I mention that freshly made potato chips were served with just about everything … what a treat!
Enjoying life in the middle of the afternoon with a beer and a surprise small plate was the perfect way to spend some ‘down time’ in Madrid. We typically went during the ‘siesta hours’ between 2pm and 5pm and it was the perfect way to get a small taste of life in Madrid.