Where is the best tapas bar in Madrid? Also how easy is it to get a train from Madrid to San Sebastian. Is it best to book online before we go? Should we travel 1st or 2nd class on the train
The train is easy but best booked in advance for lower fares. Buy thru Renfe (nat'l railway company), or Trainline if you struggle with Renfe (many people do, it's not the most user-friendly website around). Second class is perfectly appropriate, but if first class is less than 25% more expensive I would consider it - some extra comfort for a fairly long trip.
Can't advise about tapas bars, but I'll say that the joys of tapas is the ability to bar-hop. So I wouldn't stay in a single place for the entire "tapas meal".
balso makes a great point about tapas. Tapas are small portions, and generally, a bar will focus on one type of tapa and do it really well. There are some that produce mushrooms prepared in a number of ways; there are some that have bocadillos, little sandwiches of one type or another; there is even one tapas bar that specializes on pigs' ears, crunchy and gelatinous.
Experiment. Walk into the establishment, purchase a "tinto" and point to the snack you might like to try. That's the true tapas experience. After one or two (and maybe another small glass of wine) you wander down the alley for another culinary adventure.
We had so many wonderful tapas in Spain, it would be hard to choose one. My daughter and I grazed our way through Mercado San Miguel and had a delightful time. It's a feast for the eyes too. Lots of upscale stalls selling a variety of tapas, seating area in the middle and standing areas around the perimeter, several bars from which to get your beverages. Not the cheapest, but definitely worth a visit. As others suggest, this could be just one stop along your tapas tour. Enjoy!
An adventurous beginner in Madrid should try the bars along calle de la Cava Baja;
a more adventurous person should try the bars around the Lavapies metro/plaza.
Keep in mind that timing is important -- good local spots will be nearly empty at 8:55 pm and overflowing into the street at 10:45pm.
So if you want to actually sit down or get your elbows on the bar, aim for the 9 o'clock hour, and as you get tipsier and the evening goes on, expect to have to stand up un-supported. Or join a group that already commands a table.
Was going to suggest Cava Baja too -- we had an apartment near there and it was a great place to walk from place to place sampling Tapas. I felt like the Mercado while lovely at a distance was kind of awful close up -- given over to tour groups and what pleases them.
This is such a difficult question. My favourite one is called La Malanga inside La cebada food market. 5star le cordon blue chefs at an affordable price
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