I can’t believe I haven’t talked about tapas yet! There are in fact two important things I want to say about this topics. First, Spanish people aren’t eating tapas all the time. Spanish food is very rich in variety, and tapas are only a small part of this universe. In fact, tapas are something to have when you go out with your friends or family and you want to have a casual lunch or dinner, I don’t know anybody who cooks tapas to have at home on a regular day.
This may be sound simple, but in second place I want to say that tapas can’t be ANYTHING. This is particularly true when you are abroad and you go to a so called Spanish restaurant. If they give you olives or peanuts with your drink yes, it’s nice, but that aren’t tapas. That’s just aperitivos (snacks). Gazpacho or any other cold soup will never be a tapa, that’s a first course. Anything served in a tiny, tiny plate won’t be a tapa, because true tapas must be generous!
Tapas are a very ancient creation: first documents that mention tapas are dated back to the Middle Age! Tapa literally means “cover”, and one of the most commonly accepted theories about the origin of tapas is that in medieval taverns they used to serve wine jars with a big slice of cheese in top of them, just to cover wine away from flies. Nevertheless, origin of tapas is still uncertain and there are many legends around them that even involve the Catholic Kings (15th Century) or King Alfonso X the Wise Man (13th Century).
Anyway, today I’m sharing with you five pubs in Madrid that provide all of them free tapas to their customers. I’ve proven all of them and sure you’ll want too!
Rubenvike, Flickr, Creative Commons
Probably the most popular one on this list. In fact, is always so crowdy that makes it one of my least favourites because so much people make me feel overwhelmed. In any case, I must say you will be amazed by the quantity of free food you can get for just one drink! El Tigre is placed at gay village Chueca, very closed to Gran Vía. It’s just an old tavern that provides huge free tapas. Most popular drinks there are beer, cider and sangria, so double combo!
#MadridHack If you go there but you can’t make it because there is too many people in there, you can have a second try at El Tigre del Norte, which is a sort of El Tigre branch with same owners, philosophy and colossal free tapas.
Bar el Tigre, Calle de las Infantas 30, Madrid
El Tigre del Norte, Calle Hortaleza 23, Madrid
Imagine a place where you order a pint and you get a four-hamburger tapa for free. Or sausages with fried potatos. Or sandwiches. Or a mix of everything. Well, this is the place! As it happens with El Tigre, this place is very popular, so we suggest going early in the evening (by early I mean 20:00 pm, always remember Spanish crazy schedules). Plus, this place is located at Malasaña and in the very same street as Pachá Disco, so you can have some free tapas and then go out and have a wild night!
#MadridHack Free tapas are served only at bar, tables are only for people who are willing to order lunch or dinner. Again, if it’s overcrowded you can get a second change at Petisqueira II or, as I like to call it, Petisqueira’s sequel.
Bar Petisqueira, Calle Churruca 6, Madrid
Bar Petisqueira II, Calle Mejía Lequerica 17, Madrid
La blanca Paloma
This place merges two very spanish things: tapas and religion. Paloma comes from patron virgin Virgen de la Paloma, so you will find some religious – and random decoration in here. The specialty is fried eggs with paprika, but you can find or even choose your favorite free tapa. This pub is also located at Malasaña so again, let’s make a plan for the weekend!
Bar La blanca Paloma, Calle Espíritu Santo 21, Madrid
This is more a regular pub, the one you may find next door at your neighborhood. It’s usually plenty of students that come attracted by low prices and huge free tapas. Patatas bravas (chips with spicy sauce) are the specialty, but if you are like enough you can even get paella. You can also get sandwiches, croquetas or empanadillas (pasty/ small empanada), this is like a tapas roulette where you always win!
Bar Sierra, Calle Galileo 41, Madrid
La pequeña Granada
I’ve saved probably the best for last! This place is almost a free tapas palace, although they aren’t the common ones. What makes it also different is that you can choose from a list what you wish to try. According to their website, you can find at their top ten tapas things like yakitori chicken, shish kebab, Argentinian style meat, Andalusian style fish or York ‘n’ cheese crepes.
#Madridhack This pub is located close to the Railway Museum, which is a very charming place if you like old trains. There’s a very popular flea market inside the museum every second weekend of the month, so that sounds like a plan!
Hope you find all these tapas suggestions fine. Let’s enjoy Madrid as locals!