For most madrileños having drinks and “Tapas” (free bites of food that cames with your drink) or “Raciones” (a few dishes that you can order in big plates for sharing) is the best option for spending our quality time with friends and family.
The typical moments for having tapas are at midday or mid-afternoon. At midday, around 12:00, when it’s not yet time for lunch (remember that in Spain we have lunch late, around 14:00 or even 15:00), but we are hungry enough, we call it “aperitivo”.
At mid-afternoon you can start with some drinks and tapas and combine it with “raciones” for a perfect, cheap and fulfilling dinner.
TYPICAL DISHES FOR TAPAS AND RACIONES
Tapas: A tapa can be whatever that you can eat, the definitions is just something free that they offer you to eat with your drink. But there is some things that are more usual than others, you can have for example chips or olives (the cheaper option for the bar owner) or paella, tortilla, jamon… In some places you can choose your tapa, but it’s unusual.
Raciones: There is plenty o different dishes that you can find for sharing, but here is a sample of what you will find in almost every bar for “raciones”:
- Oreja: Pig’s ear, one of those things that you might find “weird” (and I could see your point), but if you are brave enough to try it you will find them really good.
- Calamares (Fried calmars).
- Croquetas (croquettes).
- Tabla de ibéricos: A plate with Jamon, chorizo, lomo…
- Tortilla (spanish omelette).
- Huevos Rotos con jamón: Literally “Broken eggs”, they are basically French fries with fried eggs on the top, and pieces of jamon (sometimes chorizo). Mix it together and you will find out that is as simple as delicious.
BEST AREAS FOR TAPAS IN DOWNTOWN
The most popular areas for tapas in Madrid are La Latina, Chueca, El Barrio de las Letras and Lavapiés. They are very different one from each other.
In La Latina most of the bars are concentrated in La Cava Baja Street, there is a fantastic atmosphere until very late in the night
Chueca is the Gay district and a very trendy neighbourhood, apart from its restaurants and bars, Chueca is one of the best places for alternative fashion shopping, many small shops show here their art in fashion, away from the big chain companies that we can find in the adjacent Gran Via.
El Barrio de Las Letras (Letters neighbourhood) own its name to the Spanish Golden Age, when the best writters like Cervantes or Quevedo lived here and meet in its bars for talks and discussions. Nowadays there are restaurants in every corner and the nightlife is …
Lavapies (and its surrondings) is by far the most multi-ethnic place downtown, people from all over the world coexist here, Spanish, Chinese, Indians, Morocans, Cubans… and this is off course represented in the gastronomy, smells and colours in their restaurants are as spicy as varied.