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10 Spanish bars in Madrid with hearty and complimentary tapas: giant sandwiches, the classic, a vegan option and the regional specialties

Tres de los bares de tapas que recomendamos

Nerea Díaz Ochando


Tapas are a gastronomic tradition shared throughout the entire country. Going out for a drink and enjoying it with a good portion of food is always a great option, especially if it's free. In Andalusia, they were pioneers in implementing the “caña con tapa” (beer with tapa) concept, and over time, this trend spread to other corners of Spain, such as Madrid.

Those who have some years under their belt will remember a well-known precursor of this delightful combination, now sadly gone. Before the custom of having tapas with drinks became commonplace in establishments throughout the city, a modest place hidden on Cruz Verde Street in Malasaña became a reference point for young people looking for cheap food. This treasure of tapas for over five decades was El Boñar de León.

Their philosophy was clear: more is more, and it's better to have leftovers than to run out. Their tapas were enormous, and their prices unbeatable. For just 1.50 euros, you could enjoy a pitcher of beer accompanied by an impressive plate of paella, stew, or bravas. The quality may not have been the best, but filling your stomach at such a low price was an irresistible offer.

El Boñar paved the way for many others who came later and drew inspiration from its concept. It is now difficult to find what this bar in Malasaña offered, but some of its essence still persists in other establishments in the capital. At Hoy Se Sale, we have compiled a list of bars offering cheap and hearty tapas that have managed to become worthy successors to the original. Here are ten places in Madrid where you can eat a lot (almost) for free:

The one with giant sandwiches: Bar Padrao

Social media has made this bar near Plaza de España go viral. Videos of foodies reacting to the sandwiches at this establishment have spread all over TikTok. Breaded chicken, pork loin, bacon, and many other combinations accompany every drink at Bar Padrao.

Furthermore, there are tapas that resemble the size of full servings, such as plates of paella, chicken wings, or mussels. The only downside is that you can't choose the tapas; they are courtesy of the establishment, so you can't “pick or demand” them. However, this condition has not stopped many Madrileños from stopping by the bar to have some drinks and see if their sandwiches are as big as they say. Most people who haven't tried it agree: it's impossible to leave there hungry.

  • Where: Travesía de la Parada, 4 (Santo Domingo Metro Station, Line 2)

The classic: Sidrería El Tigre del Norte

It's hard not to know about the existence of El Tigre if you live in Madrid. It's a classic to go to this bar before going out partying in the city. That's why, although the clientele is quite diverse, young people and students who want to fill their stomachs for a few euros abound. At El Tigre, the specialty is piling up various servings of tortilla, lacón (cured pork shoulder), chorizo, or cheese on a plate, along with their typical bravas and chicken wings.

For every drink ordered, there's a tapa included. The price of a beer is 3.50 euros, which may seem high, but the substantial size of the tapas makes up for it. The constant queues outside are a clear sign that it's worth a visit.

  • Where: Calle de Hortaleza, 23 (Gran Vía Metro Station, Lines 1 and 5)

The vegan option: La Pajarería

In Vallecas, there's a place where the Andalusian-style squid doesn't contain any fish, and the bacon sandwiches are made without meat. La Pajarería has become an essential spot in any list of vegan restaurants in the capital. Its wide variety of dishes and affordable prices are its main attractions. For people who don't eat meat, it can be challenging to find a place to enjoy tapas that offers more than just salads or french fries.

At La Pajarería, there's a wide variety of options. They offer nachos with various sauces, potatoes with garlic aioli, croquettes, tortilla skewers, and much more. With each drink ordered, they provide a complimentary tapa. Their menu offers a diverse range of dishes, including hamburgers and meatballs in sauce. The best accompaniments are their craft beers and natural cider.

  • Where: Plaza Puerto Rubio, 22 (Nueva Numancia Metro Station, Line 1)

The one from Extremadura: Entre Cáceres y Badajoz

In this list, there are several bars that originated beyond the borders of Madrid, and Entre Cáceres y Badajoz is one of them. It is described as an “informal tapas bar with tradition.” If there's one thing they excel at, it's offering good tapas and drinks. This slice of Extremadura in Madrid provides food and drink enthusiasts with everything their hearts desire.

The decor of the establishment pays homage to the flag of their region, with the colors green, white, and black adorning the walls of the bar, where a few strings of garlic hang. They are open to all customers, catering to both the young and the not-so-young. And most importantly, their tapas are spectacular, ranging from grilled mushrooms to fried fish or eggs with chistorra (a type of Spanish sausage), not to mention the excellent ham and wines from the region.

  • Where: Calle de Don Ramón de la Cruz, 109 (Manuel Becerra Metro Station, Lines 2 and 6)

The Galician one: Herjomar

El Herjomar is a simple, traditional bar. Its clientele is mostly composed of university students, as the Complutense University is just a short ten-minute walk away. Most of the reviews mention that the prices are affordable, the food is excellent, and the service is spectacular.

The owners of the establishment are Galician, and among their diverse tapas, you can find anything from hearty soups to “huevos rotos” (broken eggs). Broken eggs is a popular Spanish dish that consists of fried eggs served over a bed of crispy fried potatoes, often accompanied by other ingredients such as ham or chorizo. Additionally, they offer the option of ordering beer buckets, which come with a serving of food. This attracts young people who want to drink and eat as much as possible, always at the best price.

  • Where: Avenida de la Reina Victoria, 34 (Guzmán el Bueno Metro Station, Lines 6 and 7)

The one from Castilla: El Rincón Abulense

Visiting this bar is like teleporting to any of the establishments surrounding the walls of Ávila, always packed with people enjoying a plate of revolconas (a traditional dish made with mashed potatoes and pork). The location of this place is absolutely privileged, right in the heart of Gran Vía, which attracts a steady stream of customers.

It's a touristy place, and that can often mean inflated prices, poor quality, and small portions. However, if you visit El Rincón Abulense, it's impossible to leave hungry or thirsty. The tapas that come with your drink are generous in quantity and quality. Moreover, their customizable “huevos rotos” (broken eggs) for 6.50 euros make many reconsider ordering another beer and a side dish. Not to mention their daily menu, which changes every day and offers various options to suit all tastes.

  • Where: Calle del Caballero de Gracia, 18 (Gran Vía Metro Station, Lines 1 and 5)

The Asturian one: La Pomarada

If there's one thing that defines Asturias, it's their love for good food. The oversized “cachopos” (breaded and stuffed meat cutlets) are one of their iconic dishes, and La Pomarada proudly embraces the essence of Asturias. While their specialty is the cachopos, their tapas are also not to be missed.

The tapas vary every day, and they usually pass around a tray filled with skewers for each customer to choose their favorites. Another highlight of La Pomarada is their Spanish potato omelette, which is a strong contender if you enjoy it well-set and with onion.

  • Where: Calle del Conde Duque, 3 (Ventura Rodríguez Metro Station, Line 3)

The Andalusian: La Pequeña Graná

At this point in the list, it seems like we're telling a joke rather than making bar recommendations. The one from Extremadura, the one from Galicia, the one from Ávila, the one from Asturias... And of course, we can't forget about the one from Granada. Granada is known for many things—its culture, its history, and, of course, its free tapas.

The level of tapas in Granada is hard to surpass. Going to Granada means paying only for drinks and getting more food than you pay for. But La Pequeña Graná has managed to bring this philosophy to the capital, specifically to Calle Embajadores, where the bar has become an icon. They offer 100% Andalusian tapas, ranging from fried fish to baby squids (chopitos), and delicious shrimp omelettes. One distinctive feature is that you can choose your tapas.

  • Where: Calle de Embajadores, 124 (Delicias Metro Station, Line 3)

The student's choice: El Lagar Restaurant

This longstanding bar has managed to carve a place in the hearts of Madrid's students. The service, just like the food, is incredible. It's best to go with a group of friends so that the free tapas are larger, even resembling the size of the dishes on their menu.

It doesn't have anything special at first sight, it's just another neighborhood bar, but the university students have given it the fame it has today. With just 3.50 euros, you can get a double beer accompanied by tapas that can easily replace a meal or dinner.

  • Where: Calle de Ferraz, 39 (Metro Argüelles, L3, L4, and L6)

The traditional Madrid style: La Chata

There's nothing more quintessentially Madrilenian than strolling along Cava Baja and stepping into one of its century-old taverns to have a beer with a serving of tripe stew tapas. La Chata embodies the essence of “castizo” (traditional Madrilenian), with its tiled façade adorned with hand-painted artwork and a sign proudly announcing “tasting of all kinds of cheeses and Jabugo ham.” The temptation to enter is irresistible, driven by curiosity about what awaits inside.

Inside, the bullfighting aesthetics capture the essence of Madrid. In addition to its delicious tapas served with small glasses of wine, it's a must-try to taste their “huevos rotos” (broken eggs) with ham, which rival those of their neighbor, Don Lucio.

  • Location: Calle de la Cava Baja, 24 (Metro La Latina, L5)