Thu 19 Nov 2009
Before heading to Madrid I regarded Tapas Bars as a heaven of food and wine. Always comforting, the expected Croquetas de Jamon, Tortilla Espanola, Gambas al Ajillo, Jamon Serrano, and the fancy Jamon Iberico, were the perfect match to my Crianza, or better yet, to my year-long waited Xakoli. As with so many cliches, the tapas in Madrid soon deflated the romantic idea I had, and I quickly became used to the Pinxtos, the Basque Tapas reminiscent of a bruschetta, found and consumed all over at all times.
Cava Baja, in La Latina, is Madrid‘s home of Tapas. Filled with many great destinations, Casa Lucas stands out for its excellent quality and value. Elected one of the best 50 tapas bars in the country, the tiny place is packed daily with locals and tourists wanting a piece of history. A few very old-fashioned tapas bars can be found in Huertas, where La Casa del Abuelo has been serving their famous Gambas al Ajillo since 1906 to notorious patrons such as Andy Warhol.
Near the Palacio Real lies the gorgeous Mercado de San Miguel. Established in 1835, it recently went under a major renovation to house some of the best purveyors of Madrid. In a historical monument- the only steel market to survive to this day, one can feast on an array of Mediterranean specialties. I favored some fresh oysters with a chilled Cava while watching strangers in pursue of the same heavenly grub. That’s what made Mercado de San Miguel my favorite place in Madrid.