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The historic taverns of Madrid

Madrid has a history that dates back several centuries. This is not only clear from the buildings in the city, but also from the pub culture. In addition to all the modern and trendy places that shoot up like mushrooms (and disappear again equally as fast), there are many historic pubs that are immune to trends. These are the places where, for centuries, the people of Madrid have been drinking a cold ‘cerveza’, often accompanied by delicious tapas.

Those looking for the ‘real’ Spain of yesteryear need to look no further than a traditional ‘taberna’. The tavern décor of shiny tiles, paintings and yellowed pictures appears to be far more timeless than the cold concrete and wenge-coloured plastic of the lounge bars of the 2000s. The tapas here have not yet been fused with Chinese dim sum or Turkish mezze. Enjoy traditional Spanish culture in these 3 historic cafes.

Pintxos (Basque ‘tapas’) and cerveza
Pintxos (Basque ‘tapas’) and cerveza

Madrid

Gijón: ambiance and quality

La Taberna del Gijón

Since Gijón opened in 1888, it has not lost one bit of its charm. Monday is poetry night and, consequently, it is one of Madrid’s most famous literary pubs. Throughout the ages, many an artist, writer, poet and even politician has sat down at a table here. The national library is just around the corner. The atmosphere and quality of the food have an excellent reputation.

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Paseo de Recoletos 21

Casa Alberto

Casa Alberto is one of the most intriguing taverns in Madrid. Its walls are adorned with oil paintings and a 70-year-old can often be found manning the bar. Casa Alberto, established in 1827, is housed in a building in which the famous Spanish writer Cervantes is said to have written one of his novels. The tavern has survived all these decades thanks to its fantastic tapas and vermouth on tap. Make sure to try the legendary oxtail stew.

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The interior of Casa Alberto

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Calle de Las Huertas 18

Nightlife in Madrid

Casa Ciriaco

Since the very start, Casa Ciriaco has enjoyed numerous famous guests, including both bullfighters and members of the Spanish royal family. Smiling portraits of many of them hang on the walls of the dining area. This tavern was a meeting place for intellectuals before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. In other words, it offers a solid dose of history and delicious food (the specialty is suckling pig).

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Calle Mayor 84

Photo credits

  • Gijón: ambiance and quality: Mark Pattison, Flickr
  • The interior of Casa Alberto: dr_zoiberg, Flickr
  • Nightlife in Madrid: James Guppy, Flickr