Any mention of Spanish gastronomy and its addictive tapas and world-class wine inevitably come to mind. In the Spanish capital of Madrid, you might be miles away from the nearest wine-producing vineyard, but its tabernas and tapas bars have got a reputation to uphold. Madrid is never short on authentic Spanish tapas and exquisite cuisine, and has a plethora of classic restaurants to prove the point.
If you thought Spanish food is all about paella and sangria, think again. From acorn-fed Ibérico ham to $4000/kg exquisite truffles, olives, chorizo, anchovies and cheese, the variety of Spanish tapas is immensely diverse and the number of choices endless. Dished out in pocket-size portions, they are perfect for sampling and snacking, making bar-hopping pretty much a standard night out for the Spaniards. They love it so much so that a verb even exists for the action of tapas bar-hopping: tapear!
For those who are looking to get under the skin of Madrid’s gastronomic scene, here is a list of operators that organize regular tapas and wine tours in Madrid .
1. Book Madrid
Conducted in Madrid’s historic quarters, this tapas tour will bring you to 3 or 4 bars to try a variety of the traditional and some newer flavors of Spain. At each stop you will have a glass of wine, glass of beer or something similar along with a selection of tapas. Besides sampling tapas, the guide will share with you interesting knowledge: the history of tapas; the Spanish “tapeo” culture and information on wine and food of the distinct regions of Spain.
One striking feature of this tapas tour operator is that its tapas bars are well off the standard tourist trail, making the experience all the more exclusive. It also organizes different tapas tours routes to gear towards your interests. All the tours also include tips and recommendations for how to spend your time in Madrid, with a map, recommended restaurants, list of typical tapas included. Tours are conducted in private groups.
Cost: €80 per person, discount for groups of 4 or more.
Duration:2.5 to 3 hours
With a veteran guide (featured as a tapas tour guide on the Travel Channel) to show you around one of Madrid’s oldest neighborhoods, you’ll visit three restaurants, tasting their house specialties paired with rare wines exclusive to the tour. Food items you’ll get to sample include acorn-fed Ibérico ham, rare spanish champagne, Galician seafood, carbonic red wine, Spanish beef, cava (champagne), vermouth and a surprising sweet finish. What sets this apart from the rest is the guide’s passion and genuine knowledge in wine and tapas.
Cost: €59 per person, with all foods, wines and taxes included.
Duration: 3 hours
This culinary operator specialises in organizing a wide spectrum of tours and cooking classes around Spain, catering to foodies of different needs. Its tapas tour around Madrid is a private tour, perfect for families with children. In the company of a local expert, you will visit the most authentic and famous tapas bars, sampling regional or house specialties depending on your taste. Unlike the other tours, this one is slightly more flexible – there is no fixed schedule and all the groups of small and private. Best of all, A Taste of Spain guarantees you’ll feel like a local.
Cost: €15o per person for a group of 2, €120 pp for 4 and €100 for 6+ people.
Duration: 2.5 hours approximately
This tour also brings you through Madrid’s historic center, starting from Puerta del Sol. You’ll sample a wide variety of tapas and wine with a local English-speaking expert. If you’re short of time and a night tour is not feasible, Gastromaniac also organizes tours in the afternoon, starting at 1pm. Tours are carried out in small groups, maximum of 6 people.
Cost: €90 per person
Duration: 3 hours