TAPAS BARS

1. Tasca La Farmacia

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Like all genuine Madrid tascas, this pub (see Tasca La Farmacia) on the edge of Salamanca serves its customers a tasty appetizer with each drink, to give them an idea of what’s on offer. Croquetas de Bacalao – béchamel paste deep-fried with nuggets of cod – are the house speciality.

2. Taberna del Alabardero

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Located in the vicinity of Teatro Real, this little taberna opened its doors in 1974 and has been delighting its clientele ever since. Try the Basque cuisine that the chefs make with fresh vegetables straight from the garden.

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Taberna del Alabardero

3. Venta El Buscón

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A traditional tapas bar (see Venta El Buscón), decorated with artisan tiles and paintings of the Spanish poet Quevedo. It serves typical tapas Madrileñas at excellent prices, along with a variety of fish and meat dishes. Don’t miss the Spanish omelette or the fried squid.

4. Los Gatos

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Bring your camera when you visit this wonderfully over-the-top bar (see Los Gatos), often overlooked by tourists. Every inch of space is crammed with bric-a-brac – signed basketball shirts, old telephones, beer barrels, bulls’ heads and countless other curiosities. Steer your way to the bar for a glass of beer and a plate of shrimps. While you are there, take a look at the tempting array of canapés, filled rolls and delicious tapas.

5. Taberna de Antonio Sánchez

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This Lavapiés hostelry (see Taberna de Antonio Sanchez) dates from 1830. The wooden furniture and bullfighting memorabilia are as authentic as the menu of tortilla and stews.

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Taberna de Antonio Sánchez

6. La Casa del Abuelo

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Near Plaza Santa Ana, “Grandad’s Place” is a spit-and-sawdust bar (see La Casa del Abuelo) with bags of atmosphere. It’s customary to order the house wine to accompany the tapas – variations around the humble shrimp. Try them grilled in their shells (a la plancha) or peeled and sautéed in oil and garlic (al ajillo). Standing room only.

7. El Bocaito

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The bocaitos are small squares of toasted bread, served with a topping of salmon or anchovies. They are the mainstay of an extensive tapas menu. Expect quality rather than quantity and keep an eye on how much you’re spending, as it’s quite easy to run up a fair-sized bill (see El Bocaíto).

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Salmon tapas, El Bocaito

8. Bodegas Rosell

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Manolo Rosell, the owner of this high-ceilinged tapas tavern (see Bodegas Rosell), has won Spain’s “Golden Nose” award for wine-tasting, and proudly serves his discoveries alongside tasty tapas. His helpful waiting staff are able to suggest perfect pairings.

9. El Rincón de Goya

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Located just off Calle Goya, this is the perfect place to stop and refuel after shopping in Salamanca. The tapas are listed on the wall behind the bar, and the most popular are the large, toasted canapés with toppings such as brie, steak, wild mushrooms and prawns. There is a small seating area by the bar, as well as the cellar bodega. It is a popular place with locals.

10. Casa Labra

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The specialities here (see Casa Labra) are cod and cod croquettes. If you don’t fancy standing at the bar, classic Madrid dishes are served in the gorgeous 19th-century, wood-panelled room at the back.

TOP 10 SPANISH TAPAS DISHES

1. Croquetas

Spanish croquettes are made with a thick béchamel sauce and chopped ham, cod or spinach, then deep-fried.

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Croquetas

2. Canapés

The toppings for canapés range from anchovies and egg slices to morcilla (black pudding) and smoked salmon.

3. Tortilla

The famous Spanish omelette is far thicker than those of other cuisines and is made with sliced potatoes and onions.

4. Pimientos

Peppers are usually served rellenos (stuffed with meat, cod or tuna) or pimientos de padrón – grilled and salted.

5. Empanadillas

These are small pastries usually with tuna and tomato or meat fillings.

6. Potato dishes

These include patatas bravas (fried, with a spicy tomato sauce) or patatas alioli (boiled, with a mayonnaise and garlic dressing).

7. Raciones

Larger dishes to share, including hot stews, jamón serrano (cured ham), chorizo (spicy sausage) or queso manchego (sheep’s milk cheese).

8. Conservas

Canned fish, including boquerones (anchovies), mejillones (mussels) and berberechos (cockles).

9. Soldaditos de Pavía

These are cod sticks fried in batter.

10. Gambas

Shrimps are grilled in their shells (a la plancha) or peeled and then sautéed in olive oil and garlic (al ajillo).

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