Happy Hour: Tapas in Madrid

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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!IMG_8428

IMG_8583IMG_8587IMG_0218IMG_8432Bottom Line:
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.

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  1. Thanks for the information. We’re heading there in a couple of weeks and can’t wait to try all the treats.

  2. This is great info. We leave for a two week trip starting Sunday. We will start in Barcelona then to Seville and end in Madrid

  3. I was just in Madrid a few weeks ago with some local friends showing me around. With local showing us around, they took us to some off beaten restaurants away from the tourist areas. One of the place they took us to was “Juana La Loca Bar,” it’s not too far of a walk(about 10 minutes) from the Mercado De San Miguel. Anyone going to Madrid should try it out. Get there early because it gets crowded. The Potato Tortilla are absolutely amazing.

  4. @Chuck and @Bill – try as many different kinds of tappas as you can. I actually regret not eating more while I was in Madrid!

    @Bill – your trip sounds fabulous. I’ve been to Barcelona before – it seemed more European where Madrid was definitely more Spanish.

    @Mike – Next time I am in Madrid I will ask my friends to take me to the Juana La Loca Bar. I can always use a good recommendation!

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