Part of the great fun in having a travel blog is that my readers are as enthused about food as I am. It was great to get an email from one of them when I arrived in Madrid, promising me a Sunday of tapas, wine and walking “just like the locals do”. I actually thought La Latina would be quite touristy – it’s a famous area, after all. But it was packed with people from Madrid, the occasional tourist thrown into the mix. I didn’t realize just how crowded the narrow Cava Baja street would be, people spilling out into the streets, laughing as they moved to the next place.
We started out just outside the La Latina metro stop, on Cava Baja and wound our way up and then down Cava Alta and in the surrounding streets too, the afternoon a wonderful heady mix of terrific food and cheap wine. Many of the dishes in the tapas restaurants are already made, sitting on artfully giant arranged plates on the bar. For those who do not speak Spanish, it’s easy to order – once you wrestle your way past the crowd to the bar, just point and receive!
The tapas ranged from the basic to the creative, from bread topped with goat cheese and meat to french fries topped in thinly sliced jamon serrano smothered in egg.
Wine flowed quickly and easily, most coming in at 3 Eur-5 Eur a glass. As afternoons go, I had no complaints – and even made friends with one of the owners, who insisted I wear a tiara for our photo op.
Where to go:
- Juana La Loca (Plaza de Puerta de Moros, 4), more expensive but extremely creative plates. The pintxos were much larger than most of the other restaurants, and take more time to order as they will be made on demand. Definitely try the duck egg with truffle.
- Taberna Txakoli (Calle Cava Baja, 26), for Basque-style tapas and melt-in-your mouth Iberico ham
- Taberna Salamanca (Calle Cava Baja 31), for croquetas (croquettes), albóndigas (deliciously rich meatballs), and a very thorough wine list by the glass.
- Casa Lucio (Calle Cava Baja, 35), for patatas con huevos (fries with eggs) – a cholestorol-laden treat.