The most authentic way to relax in Spain is to eat and drink with friends, a pastime the Spanish have down to a fine art. Tapas is one of the country’s national dishes and a must for tourists to try. Legend holds that King Alfonso X recovered from ill health by drinking wine accompanied by small dishes of food and consequently decreed that taverns should serve snacks with wine. Alternatively, the etymological explanation has it that drinkers used to cover their drinks with a card or slice of bread to keep the flies out and it became a habit to place a snack on the lid; the Spanish verb ‘tapar’ means to cover.
Whatever the provenance of its name, some of the finest tapas can be enjoyed in Madrid, the nation’s capital, city of music, partying and fine cuisine. Check out these hot spots for light bites:
Le Cabrera, Calle Bárbara de Braganza 2
In the safe hands of cocktail mastermind Diego Cabrera and prolific culinary genius Sergi Arola, enjoy wine, beer or fruity alternatives, accompanied by tapas with a twist!
Taberna Martritum, Cava Alta 17
For a cosy diversion from the chaos of the city, escape inside the rustic Matritum for a huge range of fine wines to enjoy alongside perfectly complementary tapas.
La Camarilla, Calle Cava Baja 21
Right in the bustle of the action at Cava Baja, soak up the atmosphere and a glass of Spanish wine at La Camarilla and enjoy great snacks with live music until the early hours.
José Luis, Calle de Serrano 89
A true Spanish institution, with tapas restaurants all over the country, José Luis in Madrid is the original and worth a visit to taste 50 years of expertise.
Mercado San Miguel, Plaza de Oriente 3
Shop for high-end fashion during the day and relax in one of the many tapas bars that open in the evening under the wrought iron cover of this beautifully restored marketplace.