Unleashing Our Inner Foodie in Madrid: A Night of Tapas, Sparkling Wine and Sights

Looking for a fun night out in Madrid? Look no further than an evening tapas tour. One of our favorite memories from Madrid was all the incredible food. Plus, you’re on vacation so the diet can wait until you get back home. Or at least that’s what we told ourselves!

A bowl of homemade potato chips? Who am I to say no?

And what better way to explore Madrid’s top dining spots than with a local expert? That’s where Luis Ortega Bofill comes in — the founder and guide for Spanish Tapas Madrid.

Kevin hears about the history of Puerta del Sol, the heart of Madrid.

I don’t take travel planning lightly. For every trip, I spend months researching the best travel experiences and tours that offer the best value. Luis, who’s operated Spanish Tapas Madrid since 2012, remains one of the top-rated tour guides in Madrid. He brings a local insiders’ perspective and focuses on the best spots in the city you likely won’t just stumble upon yourself.

One of the hidden side streets Luis pointed out along the tour with restaurants tucked away.

We met Luis at 7:30 PM in Puerta Del Sol Square, the bustling heart of Madrid. The square is often packed with people and street performers, but it was easy to spot him with the red umbrella. Luis keeps his tours small to allow a personalized experience. We recommend making advanced reservations to secure your spot, especially during the busiest months of September and October.

Puerta del Sol serves as “Kilometer 0” or the starting point where all roads are measured in Spain. So it seemed like a very appropriate spot to begin our food journey!

All roads begin from the heart of Madrid at the Puerta del Sol

Stop #1: Sampling Iberian Ham

There are countless reasons why you should try Iberian ham: the intense aroma, the smooth sensation upon chewing it and the delicious flavor. Kevin and I were eating it all along our journey in Spain, but it wasn’t until Luis explained how it is made that we got a full appreciation of it.

The handout on how to choose the right ham for you – who knew there were so many options?

There are a lot of options to choose from, but Iberian ham is special since the pig is fed acorns the last 4 months and fattens up. Luis explained that’s what accounts for the meat’s healthiness as acorns are packed with oleic acid. Within minutes we also got another surprise — a bottle of sparkling wine called Cava. Kevin literally began to clap! It’s his favorite.

Iberian ham is becoming more and more popular around the world. But you won’t find the quality any better than on its home soil. So eat up! And don’t feel shy about it. We certainly didn’t as we polished off the plate of Jamon de Bellota (from free-range pigs), Iberian loin, Salchichon (Spanish summer sausage with pepper), Manchego cheese and Chorizo (Spanish pork sausage).

Stop #2: La Plaza de Santa Ana

This was one of our favorite squares we visited in Madrid. It’s lined with cozy cafes and trees around the main plaza. We ate so much food at the previous stop — so we were happy to get a few steps in. Along the way, we grabbed our photo in front of Pedro Calderón de la Barca, one of the most influential authors of the Spanish Golden age. We later came back to this square and enjoyed watching all the people pass us by.

Stop #3: Chowing on the Ultimate Local Madrid Food: Squid Sandwiches

Bocadillo de calamares, or fried squid sandwiches, are an institution in Madrid. Luis explained that there are even tourists from across Spain who come to Madrid just to try it out. I figured, well, if I’m coming all the way from California, I better not miss out! He took us to one of the most famous shops in Madrid. We grabbed the sandwiches to go — and ate it on the street. Warning: these things can get messy!

The sandwiches are pretty simple but that seems to be the magic formula to it! It consists of a fresh bread roll filled with squid rings that have been coated in flour and deep-fried in olive oil. I can see why it has such a big following… especially post bar hopping, say at 3 AM!

Stop #4: A Taste of some Classic Seafood Dishes

We were starting to get full, but it certainly didn’t stop Kevin and me. We followed Luis through the many winding streets and got his perspective on life in Madrid (he’s passionate about current events and politics!). What’s also fantastic about this tour is that Luis gives you recommendations on where else to eat or see — stopping at each place and handing out their cards.

One of the Basque-style tapas restaurants recommended along our trip, located on the colorful Calle De Cava Baja (a stretch known for its restaurants)

A music club, not too far from Plaza de Santa Ana.

We loved this part of the tour, and enjoyed hearing his take on a variety of current events. We continued the conversation, as we sat down and sampled more food.

Continuing our walk, passing by the popular Plaza Mayor

We sat down at a table nearby Plaza Mayor — far enough not to be overly swamped with people, but still close enough to take in the energetic vibe.

We enjoyed a typical dish of shrimp in white wine sauce. And what pairs well with it? More white wine naturally! We loved that the food walking tour included equally as delicious wine.

Stop #4: Sangria and Spanish Tortillas

Luis did a great job covering all the major must-try items. We were starting to get pretty full, but couldn’t pass up the freshly-made Sangria. It went down smoothly, or maybe it was from the white wine we just had! And the conversations continued to flow.

Back to eating! Next dish: Spanish tortilla. This is a lot different than what Kevin and I were mostly familiar with — Mexican tortillas.  These hearty snacks are made primarily with eggs and potatoes. It is one of the most popular snacks across Spain. Luis also got another snack — Padron Peppers. Never heard of it? We certainly didn’t. But learned that some of these are hot and some are not. Most of the peppers we had on the plate were sweet and flavorful. But I guess it’s a little like Russian roulette.

Stop #5: Ice Cream!

Luis knew how to win Kevin over! Our last stop included dessert. We couldn’t believe how late it was — and how much we ate! Luckily, we were walking a lot so we don’t think the calories actually counted. Interestingly, Luis explained that many tours don’t include a dessert. And this is just one of the many ways his tour is different than others.

Chowing down on the ice cream — and someone looks pretty happy!

It was the perfect way to end the night. After the tour, we walked back to our hotel and were certainly ready to get some rest. All that eating is a lot of hard work!

THE LOWDOWN:

  • Spanish Tapas Madrid offers a variety of tours including day trips to Toledo, tours focused on families or private tours as well as tapas experiences with Flamenco shows
  • Tapas tours include a variety of high-quality food and drinks from typical Spanish taverns and traditional Castillian restaurants — in addition, you’ll get recommendations on what else there is to see and do in Madrid.
  • We recommend the Madrid Tapas Tour, which we outlined in this blog post, which costs 54.99 Euros per person
  • Advanced reservations are recommended, especially during the high tourist season in September-October.
  • To make reservations or if you have questions, reach out by email at info@spanishtapasmadrid.com or call directly at (+34) 672 301 231
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Unleashing Our Inner Foodie in Madrid: A Night of Tapas, Sparkling Wine and Sights
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Unleashing Our Inner Foodie in Madrid: A Night of Tapas, Sparkling Wine and Sights
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Looking for a fun night out in Madrid? Look no further than an evening tapas tour. One of our favorite memories from Madrid was all the incredible food. Plus, you're on vacation so the diet can wait until you get back home. Or at least that's what we told ourselves!

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