One of the things I was really looking forward to doing in Madrid was the food, having tapas throughout the day and enjoying wine and beers with meals. I don’t normally have beer with lunch or merienda, but when in Madrid it seems like the normal thing to do.
According to my MIL, when she was growing up in Madrid the locals would have breakfast before school/work at 9, lunch at about 1 or 2 pm, merienda at around 7 pm and then dinner at 10 pm. We never had dinner that late, but we did end up eating smaller bites throughout the day. My favourite was this simple neighbourhood tapas bar called Havana Blues which serves fusion Spanish-Cuban food.
Havana Blues Bar Cafeteria Cerveceria
The place is owned and run by a friendly Cuban named Rafael. We first tried it when we were looking for a place to watch the Real Madrid vs Barca match. The beer on tap was cheap and each beer came with delicious tapas for free. How awesome is that? We were stuffed by the end of the night and paid 13 € including service charge. Value for money indeed.
This experiences also fulfilled my wish to watch a Real Madrid game in a real tapas bar. It was so much fun to watch the Madrileños getting emotional over the game. Even if Real Madrid lost, I couldn’t stop smiling the whole night.
The Tortilla de Patatas with bread and topped with Mojo Verde Canario (a super garlicky mildly spicy green sauce) is a favourite. The Tortilla de Patata was perfectly cooked, but what makes this the best I’ve had is the sauce. Be ready for major garlic-breath.
Other tapas we loved were Potatoes with Mojo Picon (a red and slightly spicier version of the Mojo Verde), Potatoes fried with Chorizos, and homemade potato chips. Of course you can never go wrong with gambas alajillo and Paella. You can order also raciones portions which are bigger.
It was so good that we ended up coming back two more times during our 7 day stay in Madrid. Once for breakfast of Tortilla de Patatas and delicious Lavazza coffee.
On the last day we had lunch with the whole family there and discovered how delicious Ropa Vieja tastes! It’s a delicious beef in tomato sauce stew served with yellow rice and some plantain bananas that originated from the Canary Islands of Spain and now considered a Cuban national specialty. Below is the raciones portion I shared with TD.
This is a small family run bar with delicious food. It was exactly the kind of gritty affordable place I was looking for. The menu of the day is written on a white board on the wall and the offerings are simple and affordable. You can order at the bar or wait for someone to go to your table. But if you want faster service head over to the bar. By the end of our trip we felt like regulars and said farewell to Rafael with besos.
Another place to check out for tapas is Calle Echegaray. Go bar hopping and try different tapas, gin and tonics and sherries. Don’t go to early like 8pm, or the tapas bars wills still be closed.
HAVANA BLUES BAR RESTAURANT
Paseo de Santa María de la Cabeza 56, 28045 Madrid, Spain
+34 915 39 45 89
Tues /Thu 1–11:30 pm • Wed 1–11 pm • Fri – Sat 1 pm–12:30 am • Sun 1–6 pm
Takes Reservations, outdoor seating available
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