During my first weeks in Madrid, I was just delighted to discover new kinds of food and recipes at every corner.
However, soon came the time where I had to call the shots and decide where to go for tapas, to show friends and family how amazing Madrid is to discover Spain’s food. This “Best Tapas in Madrid” series is exactly what I wished I had when I arrived: simple and straightforward friendly advice on the best places to go in Madrid when you want to have tapas (Spanish appetizers if you want) with friends. Today, I want to present my favorite tapas place, El Lacón, so you can use my advice and know directly where to go to have a great “tapas” night out.
El Lacón is an authentic and traditional Spanish tavern right in the center of Madrid since 1966. The first thing that really made me love this place is that they still have the traditional “caña y tapa” deal, that 90% of other bars in Madrid are just ditching. This “caña y tapa” deal was that if you had a “caña”, or small beer, the barman would have to give you for free a small appetizer. Not only olives or crisps, but a small bit of Spanish Omelette with bread for instance. This is disappearing in Madrid, and when you can find bars who still give the tapa with your beer, they are usually quite plain or even bad.
Well, at “El Lacón”, you get “cazuelitas” (small plates) with fresh tasty dishes, such as Fish Omelette (see photo on the left), Callos (typical Madrid dish), Gazpacho (refreshing tomato soup from South of Spain)… And you can choose within the 4 fresh recipes of the day they write on the board (see photo on the right), and the asortment changes throughout the year. No fixed menu for these tapas, it’s all fresh and cooked the very same day.
And did I mention the price ? 1,35 € the “caña” beer with this quality tapa – amazing ! This means that can invite friends to come and join you, everyone have the drinks they want, choose the tapas they want, you already have eaten fresh quality food without even noticing !
One thing I really love with El Lacón is the amazingly good and friendly service they have. Let me take an example: la Latina, the most famous street in Madrid for tapas. So famous all the good tapas bars are crowded and need to fight your way to order, and then the waiters are just stressed out and never smile. Here, at el Lacón, I know the name of the waiter we always go too, on the left when you come in: Carlos. And he always recognizes us and shakes my hand everytime I come. This sounds like a detail, or maybe you think this has nothing to do with the taste of the food, but I can assure you it makes all the difference in the world. Being able to go somewhere where the waiters recognize you, call you by your name, always smile and chat a bit with you makes you feel nearly at home, and shows what Spain is about: the sense of belonging to a community. By the way, it’s no surprise this restaurant is owned and managed by the same family since it opened in 1966. For Jorge Alonso, the manager and part-owner, the restaurant belonging to several members of the family, this is not a business, it is a passion. He is proud to be an authentic Spanish tavern or restaurant, where the Michelin stars are not the objective. The objective is pleasing their local clients and friends, who keep on recommending the Lacón to their friends. Traditional quality food for a great price served with a smile.
I usually go to the Lacón just to have a few “Cañas y Tapas”, but I always end ordering one of their tasty dishes or “raciones”. One unique thing they have is
their meat or fish “Tablas” to share, or boards (see menu for photos and prices). If you’re hungry for more after some tapas, I really recommend sharing with another person a Fish or Meat” tabla for 21,50 € – great value for money, perfect to share and always fresh and quality products. I also love the “Chipirones a la Plancha” (squid), “Pulpo a la Gallega” (octopus) and “Morcilla de Sotopalacios” (black-pudding) (see menu). By the way, for desserts, I recommend the Chocolate Filloas (Spanish pancakes), or the “Sorbete de Limón” if you’re already full !
So trust me, give it a try, it’s right in Madrid center (map here), first have a few “cañas” beers to start with, taste the tapas that go with the cañas. If you’re satisfied, keep on going and order a dish such as a “Tabla” to share or an Octopus. In the end, before you realise it, you will have spent a great night out, in a great environment, with friendly waiters who will recognise next time you come, and while you did not count how many beers and dishes you ordered, the tab is always below what you expect to pay ! Do post a comment afterwards to tell me how much you enjoyed it !
C/ MANUEL FERNÁNDEZ Y GONZÁLEZ, 8
28014 Madrid – 914 296 042
Pierre Waters –Flataway Madrid – Moving to Madrid Blog