By Roo Sadegi
Visitors will be shoulder to shoulder in this overcrowded spot that has earned a reputation as one of Madrid's best tapas bars. The kitchen pays special attention to detail and the recipes are inventive, ushering in a wave of change, and a whole new world of experimentation in tapas. There are only four desserts: chocolate cake, lemon tart, "angel" tart (a kind of angel food-like cake), and napoleon, all made from secret family recipes. There is a second location at Velasquez, 57 (off the Velasquez subway stop), as well.
Lateral (Main Location) Paseo de la Castellana, 132. Subway: Santiago Bernabeu. Meals served noon to 1am. Saturday 2pm to 2am. Sunday 2pm to 1am.
2. Juana La Loca
This bar is a favourite on Sundays after the Rastro. The tapas here are unusual and very creative, giving a new twist to classic pinchos, as in the tortilla Espanola, here made with onion preserve. Other specialties: the best-selling fresh liver with figs on toasted whole wheat bread. This extremely popular place is a particular hit with young people in the movie business, boasting famous customers such as Eduardo Noriega and Jordi Molla.
Juana La Loca Plaza Puerta de Moros, 4. Subway: La Latina. Meals served 12:30pm to 1am. Sunday until 6pm. Closed Monday.
3. La Plateria
This small bar, located across from the Prado museum, serves yummy ham tapas and lomo (cold cuts) at all hours, as well as a succulent cake with chocolate and almonds. Between 7:30 and 11:30 in the morning, try the typical Madrileno breakfast with hot chocolate and churros (beignets). The terrace is lovely in fine weather. La Plateria is quite central, nearby to landmark hotels in Madrid, and a lively place to meet friends.
La Plateria Moratin, 49. Subway: Atocha. Meals served from 7am to 2am. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until 2:30am.
4. Los Gabrieles
The original turn-of-the-century décor, a series of alcoholic beverage ads on azulejos, provides an attractive setting for meeting pretty senoritas and taking in great latino music. Flamenco concerts are held during the week. After 9pm, the lights dim, and the temperature rises.
Los Gabrieles Echegary, 17. Subway: Sevilla. Meals served daily 1pm to 3:30am.
5. Taberna Bilbao
A traditional Basque-style tavern, well-known for how they deep-fry everything from the bocaditos de queso (delightful cheese bites) to bunuelos de bacalao (cod fritters). The little plaza is charming and ambiance-rich, making this an ideal spot to relax with your amigos.
Taberna Bilbao Plaza de la Paja. Subway: La Latina. Meals served 1pm to 4pm and 8:30pm to 2am. Closed Monday.
Roo Sadegi is an online travel writer based in London's East End, although he spends much of his time travelling around Europe's travel hotspots.
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