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El Mercado de la Reina
El Mercado de la Reina

Aperitivo time!

Find the best bars in Madrid to go for the city's popular pre-lunch 'aperitivo' hour. Build up your appetite with beer, wine or vermouth, tapas and friends.

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Meeting up for a midday aperitif and some appetizers is a tradition among locals. The terraces fill up in La Latina, Malasaña bars are overflowing, and curious but uninformed tourists are left spending a small fortune in Plaza Mayor. Don't miss out on this great pre-lunch tradition in Madrid's best bars for the 'aperitivo' hour - there's something for everyone among this list of reliable classics as well as top newcomers.

La Ardosa

Bars and pubs Tapas bars Malasaña

A favourite for aperitifs and early afternoons, lined with old dusty beer bottles. Draught beer on tap to wash down a small dish from the attractive menu – the Spanish omelette is justly famous. Ducking under the counter you’ll find an intimate bar-room.

Viavélez

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Spanish Chamartín

Asturian chef Paco Ron's place is a favourite place for fine tapas. Downstairs there's a small restaurant with more elaborate dishes and cream-of-the-crop raw materials – don't pass up a chance to try their set lunch menu. The bar and terrace upstairs are also great spots to enjoy Chef Ron's remarkable cuisine.

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Orio

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Spanish Centro

This place belongs to a successful Basque restaurant chain and is always packed full. It’s a good option if you’re out shopping in the area. Its bar is heaving with the Basque tapas known as 'pintxos' (with dozens of seasonal specialities) and a quieter eating area upstairs where you can dine a la carte at one of the long shared tables.

©Roberto de Baltasar

Taberna Arzábal

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Spanish Retiro

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.

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Casa Labra

4 out of 5 stars
Bars and pubs Tapas bars Sol

Famously the birthplace of the Spanish Socialist Party back in 1879, this legendary bar, with its brown 1950s paintwork and luggage racks, is worth a visit for its history alone. The speciality of the house is the cod croquettes served up by dour white-jacketed waiters.

Juana la Loca

Bars and pubs Tapas bars La Latina

Where the hip go to 'tapear'. It's kind of pricey, but Juana la Loca offers undeniably creative cooking; for instance, a miniature portion of ostrich, plum and crispy bacon, or foie gras with caramelised apple. Other tasty options might include salmon with dill, avocado and fresh cheese, or a giant prawn and wild mushroom vol-au-vent.

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El Mercado de la Reina

Restaurants Spanish Centro

Very centrally located and open year-round from morning until the second drink of the night, this huge space (with a terrace in the square out the back where you can get a great G&T) has a bar (very busy at night) packed with 'pintxos' and an area that's quieter than upstairs. It's been much-talked-about since some time around its grand opening.

El Anciano Rey de los Vinos

Bars and pubs Wine bars Sol

Kept much as it has been for the last century – very simple, but spacious and light inside with a wide counter and mirrored walls – El Anciano Rey de los Vinos serves good canapés, and is a great place for a drink after visiting the nearby cathedral or royal palace. Prices are quite high, especially if you sit outdoors.

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Casa Camacho

3 out of 5 stars
Bars and pubs Wine bars Malasaña

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'.

Clarita

Restaurants Mediterranean Malasaña

Lying beside the vaunted Triball area, this small restaurant is usually filled at weekends by the huge influx of people visiting the neighbourhood. Here you can start the night with a few snacks or book a table for casual dining. On offer are 20 dishes ranging from a seasonal cream soup to mushroom risotto and grilled octopus.

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