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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'.
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.