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Pintxos.
Pintxos.

Food & Drink

Sunday tapeo in La Latina

On Sundays, hordes of locals (and savvy tourists) flock to Madrid’s historic La Latina district to eat, drink and be merry. The tradition is known as a tapeo – or bar crawl – in which every drink comes with a free bite-sized snack or tapa.

In the old days, Sunday tapeos started around noon, providing an ideal opportunity to meet up with friends before going home for lunch (in Spain, lunch starts at 2 pm or later). Nowadays, people still meet at noon but, more often than not, keep going all day and for most of the night.

How does it work?

Walk into any bar and ask for a caña (glass of beer). If you don’t like beer, order a copa de vino (glass of wine) or – something that’s very much in fashion these days – a vermut (vermouth).

In some bars, a plate of food will come to you automatically. In others, you may have to be pushy. Phrases that come in handy include: Viene con una tapa? (Does it come with a tapa?) or, more politely, Perdona, me pondrías una tapita de algo, por favor? (Excuse me, would you please give me a little tapa of something?).

Be aware that the free tapa could literally be anything – you don’t get to choose. If you’re picky, order from the menu. A tapa made to order will usually cost anything from about €1.50 for something simple to €10 for more elaborate dishes.

La Latina on a Sunday.

Where to go?

Take the metro to La Latina and start in Plaza de la Cebada, before slowly making your way towards Plaza Mayor. On a normal day, this is less than a 10-minute walk. On Sundays, it will take anything from one to five hours, depending on how many pit stops you make along the way.

The best bars are in Plaza de la Cebada, Calle Cava Alta, Calle Cava Baja, Calle Almendro and Calle Humilladero. Stop into any bar that takes your fancy, but here’s a suggested ruta (route):

El Viajero

Always busy, not least because of its two terraces – on the street and on the roof.

Plaza de la Cebada 11

Taberna Aranda

Lively, friendly, cheap and cheerful; with some of the best free tapas in town.

C/ Almendro 22

Mar y Ola

A quaint little place that specializes in seafood.

C/ Almendro 25

Txirimiri

Serves one of Madrid’s best tapas of tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelet).

C/ Humilladero, 6

Left: Egg and potato in Taberno de los Huevos. Right: A typival canâa and free tapa, this one is from Lamiak.

Lamiak

Aside from the freebies, has a great selection of pintxos (tapas on bread – traditionally from the Basque country) priced at €1.80.

C/ Cava Baja 42

Taberna el Tempranillo

A must for wine lovers, stocking more than 100 different wines and spirits.

C/ Cava Baja 38

Taberna de los huevos de lucio

The house special is plain egg and potato (huevos rotos). Make it more interesting by adding ham, chorizo or morcilla (black pudding).

C/ Cava Baja 30

Posada del Leon de Oro.

Posada del Leon de Oro

Always busy and the free tapas don’t disappoint.

C/ Cava Baja 12

Left: Tapas selection in El Madroño. Right: Taberna Tempranillo.

El Madroño

Cheap-as-chips vermouth is the house special.

Plaza Puerta Cerrada 7


Text: Isabelle Kliger

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