This award-winning project of Diego Cabrera's is indeed a cocktail bar, but it's one where, in addition to quenching your thirst in the most agreeable of ways, you can also please your stomach with a selection of hummus, mini-burgers, tapas and pickled treats that quickly become addictive. A comic-book theme dominates the casual ambience and 1960s-style cocktail-bar decor. Cabrera aims to democratize and dignify everything related to mixology while also offering dozens of classic cocktails, others of his own creation, and new combinations that he's concocted with Pepe Orts, the country's greatest botanist.
Half restaurant (with an open kitchen) and half bar, Arima is a must-stop on any vermouth fan's route. They've got some 30 varieties they've selected from around the country – from Tarragona to Coruña, and Amurrio to Castellón – and they serve your choice in an elegant glass (with an olive and a bit of orange), and you can find a description of each one in the menu. Not only is vermouth is revered here, it's also revisited. Try the slushy version they've come up with for a real treat in warmer weather.
The idea is for La Esperanza to look like an updated version of a bar that's been around the area forever, giving it a retro-modern flair. The result is a clientele that spans generations, from pensioners to millennials, everyone happily sharing space at the bar with a vermouth in one hand and a tapa in the other. The menu is similarly pleasing for all. Try ordering dishes at a half portion so you can taste more of a variety. La Esperanza has a bit of everything on its more or less classic menu, with familiar Spanish cuisine that's very tasty indeed.
La Fisna made the leap from wine shop to bar, though there's still a room that serves as a shop. Not only can you choose from dozens of wines by the glass but if you fancy sampling a few different ones while you're there, you can also order by the half glass. The simple menu lists all the wines, and though it's easy to get lost in the vastness of the names and varieties, you can ask for advice and suggestions from the knowledgeable staff. When you feel peckish, you can order from a quality selection of homemade nibbles. La Fisna is an essential stop in Madrid for anyone interested in wine culture.
Once you cross the threshold of this famous century-old tavern in the Malasaña neighbourhood, you might feel like you've been teleported back in time. As for the food menu, La Ardosa specialises in home-made recipes and tapas. If you're there for the drinks, bear in mind that La Ardosa were pioneers in bringing certain imported beers to Madrid, so don’t be surprised if the beer on tap is the Czech Pilsner Urquell. They also have a host of others, including Budweiser and Guinness. If you'd rather have a vermouth, don't leave without trying the one prepared exclusively for La Ardosa.
Narciso Bermejo wants his 'Bar with no name' to honour the culture of real Madrid hospitality while also try to be all-encompassing. They do that by serving good tapas and beer and stellar cocktails at more than reasonable prices; but especially by putting their clientele above all else. Not only can you eat and drink here, but you can also join in salsa classes, catch trap or jazz concerts on the lower floor, and enjoy the occasional gastronomic event upstairs.
It's a constant battle for the prize for best 'torreznos' in Madrid, and it's a tough one to win. Among those in the photo finish for best in town are the ones you'll find in El Escaparate in the Vallehermoso market. Open all week, the place shines during aperitif time. The scene is set with a champion 'gilda' (usually pickled 'guindilla' pepper, anchovy, and olive on a toothpick) and comes to a finale with their 'callos' (tripe) in a succulent sauce. Dessert comes from the cold kitchen of Fernando Sáenz in the form of ice cream – but what ice cream! Plus, premium tinned treats and a select wine cellar mean it's hard to go wrong.
Even if you’re only stopping in for a tapa of grilled prawns and a glass of vermouth, El Boquerón is well worth the visit. There's a little dining room behind the bar where you can binge on an array of fresh shellfish and other seafood. The bartenders may barely give you a grimace (let alone a smile), but what they lack in friendliness they more than make up for in efficiency and diligence. You'll never leave this bar disappointed if you've come for good food and drink.
What looks to be a personalised death notice with a Gothic feel about it adorns the cover of the concise drinks menu at Santos y Desamparados. The cocktail bar, lined with low-lights and singular details shows off a completely unique character. The space welcomes you to an old-fashioned (if you've had a bad day) or a daiquiri (if you're up for a celebration), and beyond. With a firm code of cleanliness, discretion and elegance, the staff dress in rigorous Johnny Cash black and set the scene with a playlist that's always aware of the surroundings. We have found ourselves a new lair.
We're not even sure the folks at Casa Revuelta themselves know how many kilos of cod they serve every week. One can only imagine the number is pretty overwhelming. Their 'tajadas de bacalo' (chunks of battered cod) are not only their speciality but they're practically the only dish keeping the tabernary tradition alive in the centre of Madrid. A quick word of advice: try to avoid busy hours during the week and at weekends (especially sunny ones) because the place can get jammed.
During his formative years, Carlos Campillo spent some time at La Pyramide – an institution in the culinary universe – in Vienne, France. More recently, in 2003, he moved his passion for natural wines to Madrid. 'I knew it was only a matter of time before this way of drinking would come together here....' His tavern, with more than a hundred varieties, serves around 20 wines by the glass, which is a great starting point for neophytes, and a haven for those already into it. Their food is based on French cuisine – cassoulet, oysters, rillette – with well-chosen products, which can pair nicely with natural wines.
An obligatory stop on any bar crawl in Madrid. Word is the best draught beers in town are poured here (order a 'caña' to get one), and maybe that's why El Doble's fame has spread throughout the Spanish capital, and why both the bar and its surroundings are always bustling. As the name suggests, they serve cañas that are double in size of those you'd get elsewhere, and they're always accompanied by a delicious tapa at no charge.
Vermouth house, restaurant and wine bar all included. Oh, and it's located right on Gran Vía. Could it get any better? This music to our ears comes in the form of Gran Clavel in the Hotel Iberostar Las Letras Gran Vía. With Rafa Cordón running the kitchen, and Alejandra Ansón and Miguel Bonet at the helm, this space aims to bring together all things that define Madrid. And that means serving stew on Saturdays as much as creating a cosmopolitan atmosphere, and showing off the culinary diversity in the Spanish capital city.
This tiled bar has become a tourist destination in its own right. It is beautiful, with vaulted ceilings and evocative decor, but it tends to get rammed with young foreigners looking to pull, or at least get plastered, so you'll either love it or loathe it. Anyone over 21 will best appreciate it in the afternoon.
Arnaud Keres and Clément de La Jonquière have opened an eatery that stands out among Madrid's saturated restaurant landscape. Their lobster bar is the perfect balance of champagne and exceptional raw materials from Galicia, and the informality of sitting on stools and eating with your hands. Full of character with its low lighting and gold and marble finish, this beautifully decorated bar is a must. Hats off to them.
If you’re looking for somewhere to grab a beer in Chamberí, this is the place. The proof that they know what they're doing when it comes to a well-poured beer is in the loyal clientele who come from all over the neighbourhood and beyond. The bar staff reflect a friendliness and efficiency of those who have dedicated themselves to their career. Fide is a classic where snacking on tapas at the bar is a religion – though there is also a small interior room when you fancy a bigger feast.
One of the most successful examples in the city of what is known as an ‘enlightened tavern’. It has a bar overflowing with tapas and a large selection of wines served by the glass. In the back there's a small dining room where you can sample more elaborate dishes, which, while not overly sophisticated, are tastefully reminiscent of home cooking.
The Madrid of yore lives on not only in the decor and furnishings at Café Comercial – the original bar, floors and mirrors are all intact – but in the kitchen too, as traditional recipes are modernised but only a bit, so the most diehard traditionalists are happy too. Their 'patatas bravas' are made with sweet tomato, garlic mayonnaise and mustard. There's also the scrumptious shrimp croquettes and omelettes, both made with whole shrimps. We can also recommend the 'ensaladilla', and the meatballs with Pedro Ximénez sauce and saffron. All the quality recipes pay tribute to Madrid.
Passionate about wine, Mikel Rico opened his Ardoka Vinoteka in the Basque Country over a decade ago, and in 2017 he inaugurated Ardoka in Madrid's Chamberí neighbourhood. Rico recognizes that though the competition in Madrid is fierce, the amount there is to learn at all levels is unmatched. The quality of the raw material comes as standard here, as does Rico's enthusiasm and spontaneity. Every season they aim to change 30 percent of their products, both in the wine cellar (they serve some 50 varieties by the glass) and on the menu (hot and cold 'pintxos' and several dishes to share).
This venture is based on respect for, and is a tribute to and an update of the most traditional recipes (crunchy cod cubes or 'patatas bravas', for example), that territory where tapas at the bar and a plate of offal share the limelight, where you can get a well-poured beer on tap or some of the best wines in the town, where there's fresh seafood at weekends and hearty stew to soak up all the bread in the basket. They've always got one hand stirring in tradition and the other searching for creative ways to improve it.
If there’s one tavern you simply can't miss in the Retiro neighbourhood, it's here at La Catapa. Miguel Ángel Jiménez has many years of experience under his belt, so it comes as no surprise that this is one of the best bars in the city. Whether you're in the dining room with a tablecloth under your plate or standing up to have a glass of wine at the bar, the ambience and staff will make you want to stay a while. The wine options they have by the glass are the most attractive, and they've also got sherry and champagne. With the help of one of the best sommeliers in town, you'll get the perfect varieties to pair with your food for an outstanding meal.
The crown jewel at Taberna Averías is the wine cellar. They define themselves as a place for people who like the good life and good wine. We say amen to that. And they don't disappoint. There are plenty of bodegas around town with not much to offer, but that's not the case in this tavern that offers dozens of wines by the glass (and even more by the bottle) of the biggest varieties in Spain and beyond. The collection is quite impressive. It's so big (and carefully selected) that you won't have trouble finding new labels to try. Just leaf through the wine menu and launch yourself into the blissful unknown.
With six taps of splendid craft beers (various in rotation) and traditional dishes served, the folks at Bodega Salvaje do their best to stay true to their inheritance from Alberto and Ramona, who came from León and managed this same spot, dispatching wine from the barrel since the 1970s. They want to bring back the kind of traditional eatery and bar that's been on the decline. Their biggest sellers are La Gorda and La Flaca, as they're the most accessible for newbies, but the sensation of the summer was called Wai-iti, made with eight experimental hops, a treat for the most experienced palates. Delicious tapas are topped off with the perfect dessert: their birramisú (tiramisú made with stout) and a Bola Ocho on tap make for a final ovation.
Take two traditional dishes found in nearly all Madrid bars – croquettes and 'tortilla' (omelette) – and combine them with the always-popular line-up of craft beers, and you can't really go wrong. In a traditional Madrid bar that's not been renovated much since its origins, the owners serve up a splendid sampling of croquettes with at least half a dozen different fillings, and incredible tortillas made of surprising combinations. Wash it all down with lagers, IPAs and pale ales from Spain and around the world, served from five taps that rotate on a regular basis – and you can get some great advice on pairings with the food.
Totally unrefurbished, La Venencia is gloriously shabby, with old, peeling sherry posters, barrels behind the bar and walls burnished gold by decades of tobacco smoke. It serves only sherry (locals will order a crisp, dry 'fino' or 'manzanilla', leaving the sweet stuff to the occasional tourist who stumbles in), along with manchego cheese, 'cecina' (air-dried beef) and chorizo by way of tapas. You’ll invariably be served some excellent olives with the first round. Orders are still chalked up on the bar, and an enamel sign asks customers not to spit on the floor or take photos. No tips accepted.
It's a long-standing Spanish tradition to enjoy a vermouth with all its accompaniments (olives, crisps, anchovies...). When you want a good vermouth experience, get yourself to La Violeta to sample from among their 30-some varieties. The owners are the fourth generation behind the bar, which has been renovated, sure, but it's a tavern with character – the kind of place you want to be able to say you've been to when the next person recommends it. To go with your vermouth, try smoked anchovies, whitebait in vinegar, cheeses... and a great atmosphere.
The croquettes alone are reason enough to spend a bit of time in El Quinto Vino. But all the food options – from nibbles to stews – listed on the chalkboard go down better with the big variety that comes out of their wine cellar. The disjointed decor shows off the space's history and is something you can easily grow fond of. A mixed clientele sits at the bar and tables, but everyone comes to enjoy this place that's set in an unfixed time and is always at the top of lists of where to go for a bite and a drink with friends.
Run by Narciso Bermejo, an award-winning bartender from Asturias who's familiar with the essential ingredients needed to create delicious cocktails, Macera sells no brands, but instead you'll find tempting artisan soft drinks, which you can enjoy on their own or accompanied by gins, rums, vodkas and whiskeys prepared with all kinds of ingredients: cinnamon, citrus, spices, licorice, fresh and local seasonal fruits, and olives. The maceration process takes about a week, and it happens right there on the premises. When it's ready, the resulting mixes are placed in the pantry in the back room, for all to see. There you'll find a lot of bottles with handwritten labels, reminiscent of an old apothecary.
Another Madrid classic, with wonderful tiling outside and rows of dusty beer steins inside, La Dolores has been serving ice-cold frothy beer since the 1920s. There's a short list of tapas, which are good if a bit overpriced. Specialities are smoked fish, anchovies and 'mojama' (wind-dried tuna). Weekends see the space fill up with friends who meet up to have a snack and well-poured beers.
La Taberna de Pedro has the charm of the best tapas bars, with its high tables, chalkboards on the wall with a list of dishes, sandwiches and wines of the week, and the constant bustle of attentive and friendly waiters carrying orders to and fro. You can't pass up the classics on the menu, which are also available in half portions. There's also a selection of fresh meats and fish, but if you're into stews, be sure to try one here, because that's their speciality, along with seasonal vegetables. With a clear objective based on offering simple and honest cuisine made with the best fresh and quality products, La Taberna has made a name for itself among the best bars in Madrid.
If you want to enjoy perfectly prepared authentic recipes from Cádiz without leaving Madrid, this restaurant is a must. They just might have the best 'cazón' (dogfish fritters) in the city, but this tasty treat is just the tip of the iceberg in such a busy restaurant, the result of the professionalism and dedication of its owners. Despite having moved to a much larger location, it still fills up, so you should book a table in advance at weekends.
This small and lively tavern is a popular place for locals to come and have a beer or an open toasted sandwich (there are about twenty to choose from, topped with cold cuts, tinned goods, cheese ...) or a small dish of anchovies or tuna tartar. In good weather, its outdoor terrace doubles its capacity.
Garra Bar invites you to free your mind of preconceived ideas about hotel lobby bars as you step into the imposing interior design is full of winks to art deco, with plenty of gilt, careful lighting and a bar that's set around a majestic column/showcase displaying bottles of champagne. Goldfinger would be in ecstasy. Under the high ceilings there's a real New York vibe, while behind the marble bar, Ramón Jiménez works his magic to find the perfect cocktail for you. Among their concoctions are the curious fino and tomato, the sake and cider, and the rum and peach juice.
A tiny, bright and friendly mother-and-son operation, Bodegas Ricla does a great line in garlicky 'boquerones' (whitebait) and an incongruous one in soft rock. Cheap but good wine and sherry are available by the litre, poured from tall clay urns, or there's vermouth on tap. Also worth trying are the 'cecina' (thin slices of cured venison) and cabrales cheese in cider.
A diamond in the rough, the diminutive Casa Camacho has changed little since it opened in 1928, except for the addition of a fruit machine and a TV – both in constant use. Pre-war dust coats the bottles and plastic flowers on display, and the floor is a sea of toothpicks and crumbs. But for a slice of real neighbourhood life it can't be beat, though nowadays it tends to fill up with local hipsters. Make sure you try a 'yayo' (gin and vermouth cocktail).
This is one of the best bar-restaurants in the Retiro neighbourhood, where guests are invited to enjoy tapas at a large bar or have a quieter meal in the main dining room. Its gastronomic offer is based on seasonal products, so the menu is constantly changing. Known for traditional Spanish cuisine with a modern twist, banner dishes include rabbit cutlets with fries, roasted aubergines with fried artichokes, stewy rice dishes, Russian salad, braised steak, oxtail, monkfish and hake with almond alioli, and suckling pig confit with cream of truffled potato. You'll appreciate the free snacks you get with each drink order, and be sure to check out their extensive wine list as well.
When you cross the threshold at El Cangrejero, you step into one of Madrid's truly traditional bars that's somehow managed to survive the hipsterization and gentrification of the Conde Duque neighbourhood. You can get quality tinned foods ('conservas'), which are famous around Madrid, and you'll be happy to know this is considered one of the best beer bars in town, as they're true artists when it comes to pouring a perfect glass of draught.
In Casa Labra you've got one of the most traditional bars in Madrid and one of the busiest at weekends. Famously the birthplace of the Spanish Socialist Party back in 1879, this legendary bar, with its brown 1950s paintwork, is worth a visit not only for its history but also for its house speciality: 'bacalao' (cod) in the form of croquettes or fried slices called 'tajadas'. Order a few draught beers ('cañas') and get yourself a spot at one of the high tables they set out on the street as a makeshift terrace.
What does a Lannister taste like? Fans of 'Game of Thrones' can savour the famous blond family thanks to the José Alfredo cocktail bar. In case you're wondering, the answer is: Vodka Citadelle 6C, triple sec, lemon, sugar syrup and ginger. In addition to their extensive cocktail list, they also serve gin and tonics, and vodka and rum drinks with great mastery.
You may have seen 'Ferretería' written on signs outside hardware shops around town, because that's what the word means, and when you come into Ferretería you'll see that that's what this bar and restaurant in a century-old building used to be. You find yourself here, between two lively neighbourhoods, trying popular classics like 'salazones' (salt-preserved food, usually fish and meat), croquettes, Russian salad, 'morcilla' sausage from León – and of course, quality ham is fundamental.
High ceilings, austere and minimalist décor and an infinite number of glass bottles are the order of the day in this Malasaña cocktail bar. It's a complete experience for customers, as you can let yourself be guided by recommendations from the team led with gusto by Alberto Martínez. The ambience of 1862 Dry Bar is one of elegance thanks to its sophisticated and classic cocktails, with more than 150 brands on its shelves.
At Dry Martini they follow a strict bartending philosophy that produces high-quality signature cocktails and mixed drinks. When it comes to the menu, you'll find top-notch tapas, whether it's superb tinned treats like cockles and Jose Peña razor clams or classics like prawn omelettes, club sandwich, sirloin carpaccio, steak tartare or wild sea bass in vegetable papillote. Be sure to book yourself a spot if you don't want to miss out.
When the lights of the wonderful décor shop Kikekeller are turned off, others are turned on – those of their secret bar. After you've marvelled at the gorgeous furniture such as roller-skate magazine racks, ingenuous teapots and eclectic lamps, you can discuss it all with your friends over a glass of wine, a cocktail or a refreshing beer. Just make sure that your mates are as hip as the surroundings. When you feel like calling it a night, you can take the bar with you: everything they sell can be bought to take away as well.
This was one of the first craft beer breweries in the neighbourhood of Malasaña. Their passion for artisan ales led them to create a diverse variety of them, all top quality, which they serve in their beautiful bar in C/Valverde. While you enjoy a perfectly poured beer, you can check out the equipment and even see how they brew, from the crushing of the malt to its fermentation. You can't go wrong.
You can easily imagine Frank Sinatra sitting in this New York–style bar with one of their elegant cocktails, which are the house speciality. The bar is king here, serving everything from mojitos and caipirinhas, to international classics like dry martinis and Manhattans, to trendy cocktails like cosmopolitans, apple martinis, mai tais and sex on the beach. They also have some of their own creations such as the Del Diego and El Soltero Tranquilo.
Somewhere between a 1950s American burger joint or diner and a cocktail bar, Harvey's is an easy sell as a spot to grab a bite and get the first drink in before heading out into Malasaña's renowned nightlife. Cosy, good prices, and better music.
This bar is no looker, but it's a popular post-Rastro stop. Its specialities include the eponymous snails in spicy sauce, knuckle of ham, and 'zarajo', the lamb's intestines wrapped round sticks without which your Madrid trip would not be complete.
Ideal Bar, in the Malasaña neighbourhood, is a great place to get together with mates. Not only do they serve up well-poured beers and all kinds of mixed drinks and cocktails, but you'll also find a calendar of events and appetising dishes prepared by the ladies from Bolero Meatballs. If you start the night here, it'll be a late one.
This battered old bar with its tiled walls, zinc bar top, overflowing sink and glasses stacked on wooden slats has become the Chueca meeting-place par excellence, thanks to its position overlooking the main square. A newer room to the back of the bar, however, has a faux pub look enhanced with amplified MOR radio and a rule that only doubles and pints are served after midnight.
This Galician seafood restaurant that's been around for more than 60 years boasts an extensive bar, high tables that are like prized islands, and a small dining room all full of customers eager for sea delights every weekend. A page hangs on the wall spelling out daily specials, and behind the bar, under laurel branches, crustaceans are passed constantly from the scale to the table. You've also got the option of good tinned classics, cold cuts and salt-cured fish.