• Best Cocktail Bar: Try the daiquiris at Del Diego, and you'll have to agree they're the best in town. Cool decor, low-key atmosphere, and smooth attentive service add to the charm of this discreet spot, tucked away in a quiet street just below the Gran Vía.
  • Best Literary Cafe: Once several distinguished old-world cafes served the intellectuals, artists, and lesser mortals who would gather to enjoy a leisurely chat or stimulating tertulia (social gathering). Today, practically the sole survivor of these legendary watering holes is the Gran Café de Gijón, established in 1888, with its wrought-iron columns and checkered tabletops. Get a window seat if you want to enjoy the ever-changing scene on the Paseo outside.
  • Best Place for Sherry: The cavernous La Venencia sells sherry and nothing else, from ultradry manzanillas to hearty olorosos. The space is uncompromisingly preserved, with a run-down and untampered look. This means flaking tobacco-brown walls with tattered sherry posters, old barrels, and a basic wooden bar top. Olives, manchego cheese, and mountain ham are on the concise, no-nonsense tapas list. Check out the sitting area with tables and chairs at the back, too.
  • Best Tapas: Cited as a favorite snack 'n' wine locale by Oscar-winning cineaste Pedro Almodóvar, the stylish little Bocaíto is set in the heart of bohemian Chueca. They will usually serve a free miniportion of cecina (smoked beef) or something similar with your vino before offering a wealth of marine delights that ranges from salmonetes (red mullet) to pescaítos (small fried fish).
  • Best Old-Style Taberna: You can't get more traditional than the much-copied, 200-year-old original La Taberna de Antonio Sánchez. It's a vintage example of Old Madrid, complete with zinc counter, carved wooden bar top, barrels, honest wines, and a genial bartender. Formerly patronized by painters and playwrights, this small cavelike locale has also had long associations with the bullfight world. (The bull's head on the wall is not there just for decoration.)
  • Second Best Old-Style Taberna: Another genuine oldie, charismatic tavern Casa Alberto has been around since 1827. The dark maroon exterior and tunnel-like interior, with its zinc bar top, bullfight pictures, and engravings on the walls, create the ideal ambience to enjoy a tasty tapa or three. The restaurant at the rear provides more substantial versions of the traditional seafood and Castilian meat dishes available
  • Best Locals' Taberna: Perhaps because of its location up in the northern suburbs, few people realize the former coaching inn Casa Pedro, with its secluded array of dining alcoves, is the second-oldest eating spot in Madrid (after Sobrino de Botín). Don't be put off. It's barely half an hour by metro, and the unique dining experience makes it more than worthwhile.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.