Wine Lovers Madrid 2012

by mary on December 14, 2012

This is a much needed update to my 2010 post on good wine bars in Madrid. Madrid is still a challenging wine place….getting better, but challenging. Great tapas and easy-drinking quaffable wines to wash them down abound, but if you are visiting and really want to explore some of the better wines it's still not easy. For wine lovers visiting Madrid there are a few vital wine places I would recommend….the top two being Casa Lucas and the Mercado de San Miguel.

1. Casa Lucas at Cava Baja 30, near Plaza Mayor. My favorite wine bar in Madrid. Not only because the wine selection by the glass is excellent and the tapas outstanding, but especially because the service and the welcome is unfailingly warm and inviting. These guys are awesome! My favorite tapas are the Cariñena tosta, the Arroz cremoso, the carpaccio de pulpo and canelonis de curry….really unique and delicious food…but really anything on the menu is amazing. I tend to order wine by the bottle and they always have new and great recommendations…but by the glass is great too. Go early, they open at 8PM, to get a seat if want to order food. (Make sure you don’t confuse them with the famous Casa Lucio across the street…very pricey…definitely not my favorite!)

2. Taberneros at Calle Santiago 9, near Plaza Mayor: Excellent wines and excellent tapas in a gorgeous setting, though the service is never what it is in Casa Lucas. It has remained one of my favorites over the years…love the cecina, the scallops, the potatoes and eggs with truffles and many more. Great selection of dessert wines by the glass…very hard to come by in Madrid. One of my favorite Spanish dessert wines by the glass, a botrytis Chardonnay, Caligo, is usually available by the glass here.

3. Mercado de San Miguel, also right by Plaza Mayor: Really beautiful renovation of a historic market into a market/tapas place and one of the most popular places in Madrid! One of my long time favorites. It is not perfect, can be overcrowded, and sometimes it can be closed for private events, but Pinkleton, the wine bar in the Mercado has some of the best wines in Madrid. I love to go there with my friends…we usually order by the bottle, but the by-the-glass selection is excellent. These guys know their stuff and can recommend a great bottle of wine for a good price…almost always have an English-speaking staff member. We rarely spend more than 20€ for a great bottle. If you like the bottle you can even buy one at a reduced price to go. Grab a table and go around the market and get a few tapas to go with your wine. The cheese stand is outstanding as is the olive stand. My personal favorites are the Sorlut oysters at the oyster stand and the cheese stand….but there is so much more. Lots of choices at different price ranges. Open till very late. Love it…a really great concept!

4. El Corte Ingles Gastronomic Space: El Corte Ingles will be on your radar if you are at all interested in shopping while you are in Madrid, but even if not, stop by for some great food and wine. There are various of these now…the original one I recommended is in El Corte Ingles Goya but there is a much bigger one in El Corte Ingles Castellana. The newest and most convenient to many visitors to Madrid would be in El Corte Ingles Callao, right by Sol in the center. These gourmet areas combine tapas with restaurants for a total Spanish gastronomic experience.

Great selection of wines and gourmet food to sample and you can buy it all to go! The selection avries depending on the store, but there is the oyster and champagne bar, the gourmet hamburger stand, the cheese and jamon vendor….also some decent wines and beers to sample. They even have a corkage concept…you can get a bottle from the wine section and for 3 euros over retail price they will open it for you to enjoy with your tapas. Open 7 days a week…only limitation is that it closes at 10PM or 11PM depending on the day….and it is in a department store! Not too crowded…which you will appreciate after the Mercado de San Miguel! You can do your shopping and then sample great wine afterwards!

5. A new favorite is the Cheese Bar from the folks at Poncelet, one of my favorite cheese stores. Beautiful space, amazing selection of artisanal cheese and wines. Not super cheap but worth every penny. Spectacular! Also a bit off the beaten tourist track up on Calle Abascal, 61. Check my detailed review.

5. Laredo and Taberna Arzàbal: These are off the beaten track a little on the east side of Retiro Park, near Ibiza or Goya metros. Great restaurants, but also great places to stop for nice wines by the glass and fantastic tapas. See my separate review of Arzàbal or check Laredo's website.

6. Cava Baja: the best wine street in Madrid. There are lots of great tapas areas but this street has the largest concentration of bars with good wine selections by the glass. El Tempranillo, Orixe, and of course, Casa Lucas, are some good ones, but there are lots! Very centrally located right by Plaza Mayor. The streets around also have some great places. The places are open for lunch, closing around 5ish and then reopen at 8 or 830.

 

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Christopher O'Gorman January 17, 2013 at 8:30 pm

THIS is the site I’ve been looking for!
My wife and I are headed to Madrid in March. We’re both in the wine business, and can’t wait to sample the local food and ESPECIALLY the wines of Spain. We’re staying on Calle Atocha, but sounds like we need to get over to Plaza Mayor.

We’ll be using this as a reference guide for sure.
Thanks!
Chris

Reply

mary January 17, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Hey Chris! Glad you like it! Definitely Plaza mayor area for Cava Baja and mercado de San Miguel. Not sure what part of Calle Atocha…it’s a super long street that actually ends up in Plaza Mayor! Another cool area to check out along it is Plaza Santa Ana…an awesome area for inexpensive but great tapas, though the wines are more basic. Another great district for tapas bars, cool little restaurants, and a favorite of mine is Chueca…it’sa bit more to the north of Gran…but walking distance from Sol and Plaza Santa Ana. I hope you have a great time!

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Christopher O'Gorman January 22, 2013 at 12:23 am

Thanks Mary. I’m there for the Bacchus Wine Competition, and that is being held near the Chueca area. Any specific places to hit near there?
Also, I’m trying to get tiks to a Real Madrid game which is further north. Do you know that neighborhood?
Finally, any non tapas-style restaurants in Madrid you recommend?
Muchas gracias,
Chris

Reply

mary January 22, 2013 at 2:11 am

Hi Chris! That’s cool…I was a judge for Bacchus before I left Madrid….used to be biannual, now it will be every year it seems. Interesting! I guess it will be held in the Casino as usual? That is near Chueca…
You should check out the Mercado de San Anton near the Chueca metro stop. Same sort of concept as Mercado de San Miguel but a really different vibe….we hang out there a lot. The tapas bar on the ground floor has great wines (unusual) by the bottle and the best croquetas…great unusual flavors! The rooftop bar is great for drinks. More locals, less tourists than san miguel.
The Cisne Azul, Calle Gravina, is a super basic but really well known tapas bar in Chueca…famous for wild mushroom dishes. A lot of my friends like La Bardemcilla, Calle Agusto Figueroa…Javier Bardem is part owner….i’ve been there few times….it’s pretty good. Baco y Beto on Calle Pelayo is good too. Calle Libertad is fun street to wander…lots of places. It’s really a late-night bar neighborhood…with great drinks places…..just be aware….it is a gay neighborhood and some places are exclusively gay.
As to restaurants…it’s kind of a fine line between some tapas places and restaurants. One tapas place that is more like a restaurant is Taberneros on Calle Santiago…great food and wine, near the Mercado de San Miguel.
My two new favorite restaurants are in the Retiro area on the other side of the park…near Goya. Taberna Laredo and Taberna Arzabal…they are really close to each other. I already did my post on Arzabal. Love them both!
Also recommend Diverxo…the most cutting edge and unique restaurant in Madrid…it you are into tasting menus…hard to score reservations.
I really like Cheese Bar, but then I love cheese!
The Bernabeu stadium is in an area where I didn’t really hang out…sorry!

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Nick July 31, 2013 at 2:24 am

For a wine shop rather than bar, don’t forget Bodegas Santa Cecilia. A little out of the way but much better prices than Lavinia (15-20% cheaper) and fabulous range of Spanish wines.

Loved Temranillo on Cava Baja. Some of the best pichos in Madrid!

Reply

mary July 31, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Hi Nick..thanks for your comment. Bodega Santa Cecilia was one of the main places I shopped when I lived in Madrid and I still return there often when I visit. They do have great prices!
Tempranillo on Cava Baja is a classic. I used to go there a lot..thanks for the reminder to go back!

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