Tag Archives: tapa

7 Places Where I Get My Paella Fast and Cheap

I love paella! It tops my list of favorite traditional Spanish delicacies. It’s a dish fit for the gods and that I can claim to be as my ultimate comfort food. I swear I could eat this divinely palatable rice concoction all day, every day.

Paella swept me off my feet immediately after I had it as my primera cena de la tarde at Restaurante Museo de Jamon, in Puerta del Sol Madrid almost three years ago. It goes without saying that I savored my first ever paella to the fullest.

I can attribute my great fondness to the dish to the aromatic saffron, the Middle Eastern Mediterranean spice that caused the rice to turn yellow, and the rich mix of a variety of sea foods such as clams, squid, prawns among others, without which paella would not be the delicious food that it is.  It is Spain’s version of the Italian risotto, and so, so much more.

I must say, however, that the dish isn’t cheap since restaurants typically require diners to order at least two raciones, the combination of which is equivalent to one filled-up large, wide and shallow pan. A racion ranges from 15 euros to as high as 50 euros. It’s surely quite an amount, and so it is ideal that you come with a friend or two with whom you can split the bill to avoid serious dent on the pocket.

Paella Tapa, anyone?

Spain is the land of tapas, and so I was almost certain that there are also places that serve this dish on a plate. And indeed, there are restaurants that do offer them. It must be that these establishments make paella available to those who are on the go, and needed a quick fix.

So, why go for tapas?


It takes arroceria restaurants some 30 minutes to serve an order. On the other hand, you can have and relish your tapa in no time at all.


Can you imagine dining on a 5-euro plate, and chances are, it’s a heaping one? Never mind if it’s reheated, for especially if you’re a shoestring traveler like me, paella tapas are a great option to keep your hunger satisfied and yet be able to spend within your budget.

While clearly, the paellas from the establishments in this list may not be straight fire like those from genuine paella restaurants, and connoisseurs might frown or even be appalled by the existence of a tapa version of Spain’s beloved classic dish. But in my case, but they do satisfy nonetheless. Whether it is cooked upon order or reheated, I’ll take it gladly anytime.

While there must be quite a number of restaurants and food joints around Madrid that serve these tapas, the following are my most frequented ones:

1. PAELLA Y OLE (Mercado de San Miguel, Plaza de San Miguel, cerca Plaza Mayor)

17474080_10155154154059605_1650055860_o2017_040120_0019_347Make a quick stop at Mercado San Miguel and pass by Paella y Ole, a food kiosk that boasts of the  main varieties — mixta (with rabbit and chicken) and sea foods. I always opt for the latter as it tastes great albeit the dish is a bit less in quantity and wanting of ingredients. A small plate can be had for only 4 euros


2017_052111_1258_159Bocadillo de callamares is Bar Postas’ main fare, but it also serves arroz tapas, among others. For just 4 euros, you get a plate of heaping rice delight, made more delectable by its generous sea food and vegetable bits ingredients

3. RAYPI, Mercado de Maravillas

2017_052111_0148_075Raypi’s paella excites me to no end, extremely amused that it is served on a mini paella pan. The food bar complements it with a small plate of tapa that consists of bits of potato, chorizo, and bread. I ordered media racion, which costs me 4 euros

4. DP TAPAS, Mercado de San Ildefonso

2017_052111_1835_809According to DP Tapas, it serves only “100 percent Spanish food;” this is surely why paella tapa is included in its menu. Most food kiosks in Mercado San Ildefonso sell tapas, and DP is one of only two that serve paella. A bit soupy and mushy for others (this is how I like mine), but a plus is that the shrimp is aplenty. An order sells for 7 euros.

5. EL SABROSO, Calle de San Joaquin 16, near Tribunal Metro

C360_2017-05-23-23-08-30-212Its logo says comida para llevar, but a few of its shops, including that in Tribunal, have tables and side bars to offer a dine-in option. I shell out 3.80 euros for an order

6 ABANDA, Plaza Mayor

2017_052100_2604_452The restaurant got its name from paella abanda,  a seafood variety that originated from Valencia. Here, the tapa is 7 euros
2017_052100_2612_047Paella negra’s rice turns black because of the ink of the squid. The waitstaff advised us to visit Abanda during lunch time, when all paellas are freshly cooked

7. CARDEÑO,Calle Alfonso Rodríguez Santamaría

Thursday’s paella day at Cardeno, the only day of the week when the restaurant includes the dish in its menu del dia. Ingredients are various sea food, chicken and rabbit. Lunch can be as early as 1pm, when the piping hot rice dish is ready to be served. Menu del dia costs 13 euros

Tapas, Tapas, and More Tapas at Mercado de San Miguel

2017_040119_5904_095In the heart of Plaza Mayor and a stone’s throw away from Puerta del Sol, is the famous Mercado de San Miguel. The edifice itself, unusual for a market since it is made of iron and glass, is a major attraction of the city.

You see the instance you enter the market and make a quick round how diverse the food offerings at San Miguel is. In fact, the mercado has long been recognized as one of Madrid’s center for great food and Spanish gastronomy.

2017_040912_3617_604Day after day, whether it is a week day or the end of the week, the establishment attracts huge throngs of tourists, both local and foreign, many raring to buy all kinds of food stuff – wet or dry. Others troop to the place to relish some delicious tapa, drink a chilled copa of beer or wine while enjoying some animated conversation in some corner with friends.

Immediately after my first visit of Mercado de San Miguel, I place it high on my radar for places to have quick paella (two other favorite joints are Museo de Jamon and that take-away resto that sells some mean “para lleva” paella for only 2,70 euros).

2017_040119_5917_682Hungry people walk through the main middle isle of the market. There must be more than a hundred of these kiosks, selling all kinds of tapa delicacies you can think of17474080_10155154154059605_1650055860_oThe wide pan in the foreground is almost empty of paella2017_040120_0019_347Seafood paella at San Miguel – this small yet filling plate got me going thru the rest of my night at Puerta del Sol2017_040305_5504_474A tapa of pescado fritos (squid) is generously portioned and placed in a paper cone, but at 14 euros, I passed up on buying one. Luckily, a friend bought an order and shared it with the group. Tastes great, especially after we sprinkled it with a bit of lemon2017_040120_0104_739Compared to the squid, chicharones sells much less at 5.50, yet the serving is generous. I decided to have it with my paella, and thought the two paired well2017_040120_0129_852This crab burger is such a fine delicacy, and best of all, it doesn’t cost much (3.50 euros apiece)2017_040120_0145_179One of the best tapas you must taste at Mercado de San Miguel – olives tapas, which you can easily pop in your mouth. At 1 euro a piece, you can have several of these delightful goodies.

More tapas to relish at Mercado de San Miguel

2017_040912_0643_748Bacalao (codfish) con tomate y verdura, 1 euro

2017_040912_0557_582Anchoas (salted anchovies) con pimientos, 1 euro

2017_040912_0613_113Brandada bacalao con caviar de lumpo, 1 euro2017_040912_0658_757Gambas y huevos con caviar lumpo, 2.50 euros2017_040912_0710_933Ensalada de pato (duck salad), 2.50 euros
2017_040120_0116_235After you’ve had your fill, you might want to wash everything down by heading to the nearest cerveceria to buy yourself a copa or two of chilled wine or ice cold beer2017_040120_0154_300A bit of advice: If you do fancy some delicious tapas and would love to try as many as possible, the best time is from 10AM to 12PM and 5 to 7 PM, or hours before lunch and dinner. These are the best hours to roam around conveniently and hop from one food kiosk to another.

Prices: Generally affordable in spite of its touristy location. Tapas cost as low as 1 to 1.50 euros.

Horarios: Open to customers starting 10 AM, closes at 12 on weekdays and as late as 2AM on weekends

Plaza de San Miguel Madrid 28005. Nearest landmarks are Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, Palacio Real de Madrid, and Catedral de Almudena.


My Top 25 List of Delightful Spanish Tapas

The word “tapa” is derived from tapar, which means “to cover”. It is said that during the early days in Andalusia, supposedly the origin of the Spanish tapa, locals covered their glasses of wine or beer with a piece of bread or slice of ham to keep away pesky flies. Hence, this delectable Spanish food served in little plates was born.

Nowadays, you see locals and tourists eat tapas anywhere, not just in Madrid, but all over the country. Whether it is simple olives, or an exquisite dish like rabo de toro, every tapa is a gastronomic delight. Now if you’re a tapa lover, the good news is that there are tons of them that you can try.

Most are eaten according to their purpose – as Spanish appetizers or starters to the main course. Also, the Spaniards love to drink their vino or tinta de verano, and often, they take this with their favorite tapa. The latter’s popularity is so immense that it brought about the proliferation of more food establishments in Madrid that serve nothing else but tapas.

Needless to say, you can never claim to have been in Spain if you didn’t taste even one of these tasty appetizers. Don’t worry, if you stay in Madrid, you won’t miss them since every café must serve these culinary delicacies.

In my case, I am proud to have created my own list of Spanish tapas that I have already tasted from all over, in various Madrid barrios like Lavapies, in nearby towns such as Toledo, and even in much farther regions like Barcelona in the north of Spain, and faraway Granada, which is down the country’s southern part.

Here is my list of favorite tapas; they not in any particular order. But I’m sure many, if not all of them, are also your favorite:

1. Lacon

Lacon is one grilled Spanish food I could eat everyday. It can be a filling snack or light lunch, eaten without bread or as a bocadillo. With powdered paprika added on top, it’s perfect with iced-cold beer or refresco.  Also, lacon is usually drenched in olive oil for added taste. Where to eat: Restaurante el Jamonal, Calle Jacometrezo, Callao

2. Grilled Sardines

As a fish lover, I wouldn’t mind going to El Rastro just to have a taste of what I thought is the finest grilled sardines in town. Grilled perfectly and sprinkled with sea salt before serving, it’s quite a filling tapa and eaten best with a trozo of pan and chilled beer or coca cola. I recommend Bar Sarturce, Plaza Gral Vara de Rey Madrid


3. Morcilla de Burgos

If you have an aversion to blood-based food, I suggest you have some morcilla de burgos, and perhaps this Spanish tapa might change your mind. This is a delicious sausage that dark color of which is caused by it’s main ingredient, pig’s blood. The grainy feel as you chew it must be caused by the rice ingredient, or the perhaps some bits of coagulated blood. Paprika, salt, pepper, oregano complete the ingredients. I had this at Cafeteria El Sueno de Gonzalo, Gral Moscardo 9 Madrid


4. Aros Cebolla

I love the aros cebolla at 100 Montaditos — it’s firm, crispy, not soggy nor oily that all you want to do is pop one after another into your mouth until your plate is done. Not to worry, aros de cebolla one costs 1 euro every Wednesday and Sunday at 100 Montaditos.


5. Jamon serrano

This Spanish ham is thinly sliced and cured, and made from the meat of a white pig. It is less expensive than the Jamon Iberico. My very first dinner in Madrid includes Jamon Serrano, at Museo del Jamon.


6. Boquerones Fritos

This is a popular tapa that’s not just served in Madrid but anywhere else in Spain. For me, boquerones is one of the sea food dishes to die for, together with calamares and gambas. A squeeze of lemon enhances the savory flavor further. Museo del Jamon serves some of the best Boquerones.


7. Salmorejo Cordobes

Salmorejo is a soup, or to be specific, a purée of tomato and other ingredients such as bread. And like gazpacho, salmorejo is also served cold; but instead of croutons, diced jamon is added. Originated from Cordoba, the salmorejo took off and is now found in every region of Spain. Tasted my first salmorejo at El Nuevo Templete, Ave. de Francia, Valencia.

8. Chorizo

Chorizo tapa goes well with cerveza, which you can order at any Spanish bar or cafe. In my case, I had my first taste at Museo del Jamon branch in Paseo del Prado, near Atocha station, Since then, I prefer Museo’s thin chorizo over ones served in other bars, which are often thicker. I love to pair this tapa with a bocadillo de queso.

9. Croquetas

Another common Spanish tapa is the croqueta. It’s known for being tasty, and for me, the best I’ve tasted is at Bar Melo’s at barrio Lavapies. Each croqueta is such a delight because of its hot, melted ham-cheese filling. When eaten together with the equally delectable zapatillas (humongous lacon sandwich), my occasional late-night trip to Melo’s means a hearty, heavy meal.

10. Salpicon de Marisco

Salpicon is spicy and full of flavor, and eaten best with a copa, which is why it is the perfect tapa during summer. It is a fine mix of various sea foods like mussels, clams, gambas (shrimps) and fish, with veggies like bits of tomatoes and onion added. I had my first salpicon de marisco at Santiago de Compostela, O Paris.

11. Pimiento de Padron

Your own tapa list would not be complete without a plate of deep-fried pimiento de padron At Bar Sarturce. it is grilled or fried, and sprinkled with sea salt to taste. It’s called the Russian Roulette tapa because at least one in a heap will be spicy hot.

12. Brochetas

The name is derived from the French term brochette, which is skewer. Here in Madrid, not a few restaurantes serve skewered meat, and include it in their list of regular tapas. I ordered grilled brocheta de pollo, or skewered chicken at O Paris in Santiago de Compostela. A dish that’s full of flavor.


13. Palomitas de Pollo

This one’s simply chicken pops, and also considered as a tapa or appetizer. Usual spices are added to the mix for a truly delicious and spicy pops like paprika, black pepper and soy sauce. Try some of these palomitas at 100 Montaditos — the dish is 1 euro a plate during Wednesday and Sunday.


14. Gazpacho

Gazpacho is cold soup made of tomato, and so you get that tangy, sour taste, which is a delight to those who love tomato-based food. A refreshing appetizer on a hot afternoon. My gazpacho had croutons added, but other gaspacho dish have bits of veggies instead. Enjoyed this soup-tapa at Restaurante La Cava, Valencia Spain.


15. Salchichas

Hotdogs are great fillings for sandwiches, albeit that from Spain known as salchichas are served in bars in Madrid as tapas in cocktail form. I relished my first plate at 100 Montaditos at the corner of Bravo Murillo and Plaza de Castilla on a Sunday; hence, had it for only 1 euro.

16. Albondigas

If you want a tapa that can satisfy your hunger but won’t cause serious dent on the pocket, try Albondigas. Many Madrid restaurants and bars offer this Spanish tapa, which is simply meat balls in tomato sauce. One of the best-selling appetizers in town, it goes well with copas, although I had mine with coca cola and pan. Try some delicious albondigas at Cerveveria Don Simon, Hernani 57 Madrid.


17. Callos

A must-include in your list of Spanish tapas to taste, I had my first Callos at Museo del Jamon. A bit on the salty side, it was nonetheless a delectable dish. The main ingredient, the callos meat or tripe, must have been boiled for hours as it was so tender. Every piece just melted in my mouth. A must-have tapa!


18. Oreja a la plancha

I had this rich-tasting dish along Bravo Murillo. I swear the pig’s ear was so tender, and I love that it was served with a generous spicy sauce on top. Serious advice for those who want to taste as many Spanish tapas as possible — include this on your list. Enjoy some orejas at Casa Aurelio, along Bravo Murillo in Tetuan.


19. Chistorra

I had this tapas on my first night in Madrid, at . and that was 2 years ago. Chistorra is such a divine treat, whether eaten on its own with beer or with bread. It is similar to chorizo, although it is smaller and fattier. The chistorra at Museo del Jamon deserves to be on your top 5 list of Madrid tapas.


20. Alitas

Alitas is fried chicken wings, and is one of my usual orders at 100 Montaditos. While most tapas at Montaditos are priced at 1 euro during Wednesday and Sunday, alitas cost 2 euros. Still, it is affordable, and great to chomp on with cold beer.


21. Tortilla de Patata

Spanish omelette is a simple dish with eggs and potatoes as its main ingredients. While many tortillas are a bit dry and firm from too much potato, the one served at a cafe near home at Capitan Haya is creamy, which for me is just perfect.


22. Gambas Pritas

Another rich and flavorful tapas served at Bar Sarturce. Gambas are fried, with skin (shell), and served with a liberal sprinkling of sea salt. I enjoy having this with pan, consuming everything, meat, shell, and all.

gambas fritas

23. Rabo de Toro

A traditional Spanish tapa — I would order this Oxtail stew dish if served in the menu. Rabo de toro is from Andalucia, in Cordoba, and the tail ingredient is either from a bull or ox. Of course, it’s now available in many restaurants and bars all over the country. Had my first rabo de toro at Barcelona.


24. Torreznos Fritos

One of the typical tapas, and popularly requested as tapa in Museo del Jamon, Torreznos is pork cut in small cubes and fried to perfection, which means crispy on the outside and tender and moist on the inside. I would just love to have some Mang Tomas (a Filipino sweet-sour-spicy liver sauce for roasted pig) on this.


25. Gambas al Ajillo

My salmorejo at El Nuevo Templete came with Gambas al Ajillo, and together with a trozo of pan, I finished everything off with a large glass of ice-cold cola, more than enough to cool myself down during my hot afternoon visit of Valencia. The gambas dish is oily but not too much, and has a strong garlicky flavor that made me love it all the more. Overall, a tasty Valencian tapa.