One can still find the old, traditional tascas (a tavern of bar) that bring so much character to the Spanish capital. These typical Spanish restaurants serve simple, appetizing tapas with wine, vermouth or beer. Few are still in operation—maybe a dozen—but they bear witness to the ethos of what was once the Town and Court of Madrid.
Most of the remaining tascas date back up to 150 years. They proudly show off carved wooden counters, shelves filled with bottles, tiled walls and round tables with walnut stools and benches. The have etched-glass facades with handwritten signs promoting the menu, address and the owner’s name. Review our selection of international restaurants and gastronomic offers.
If you visit old Madrid, do not miss Casa Labra and La Casa del Abuelo: two venerable institutions that keep alive one of the city’s gastronomic traditions.
Tetuán Street, 12
Close to Puerta del Sol, in the heart of Madrid, the traveler will find one of the most emblematic tascas in town. Founded in 1860, it continues to brighten the lives of anyone who comes through the door. The joyful and relaxed atmosphere feels hardly changed since the 19th century. In addition to some of the best Manchego cheese and Iberian ham, —Casa Labra serves local specialties in its charming dining room. Guests indulge in tripe and cod, prepared in various ways: with tomato, Vizcaya style, pil-pil or in green salsa. They also offer a selection of wines to accompany the tasty dishes.
La Casa del Abuelo
Victoria Street, 12
La Casa del Abuelo is within walking distance of Madrid’s Retiro Park. Four generations after its founding in 1906, the place seems impervious to the passage of time. It is a proud reminder of a past that doesn’t want nor does it plan to disappear. In the 1940s, the cozy establishment began serving grilled and garlic prawns. Such was the quality of their dishes they attracted the attention of politicians, actors and writers of the time. Shortly after, owner Patricio Ruiz developed his own sweet wine to accompany the famous prawns. Today, La Casa del Abuelo has two branches, but the original on Victoria Street remains the most popular because it is the most authentic and traditional. Apart from the fresh prawns, the menu at La Casa del Abuelo also features the emblematic cocido madrileño (Madrid stew). Other house specialties include Iberian ham croquettes, Andalusian squid, Galician octopus, cod, and unforgettable seafood paella. ■