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Vegan Tapas in Madrid Guide

written by Veren Ferrera June 1, 2018
Vegan Tapas in Madrid Guide

We’ve learned a few things about eating vegan tapas in Madrid since living in here for almost 2 years.

One. The vegan tapas scene in Madrid is bursting from the seams with incredible vegan food (over 30 all-vegan places) that you couldn’t possibly eat all of unless you lived here.

Two. According to the front page of googling “vegan tapas in Madrid”, your vegan options are  a handful of places of which half are vegetarian.

We are here to set the score straight – Madrid has one of the best, and one of our favorite vegan scenes out of many major European cities – click to see our list here of the most vegan-friendly cities in Europe

For an all-encompassing list of vegan food available in Madrid and our opinions for optimizing your experience – check out our Ultimate Vegan Guide to Madrid.

It’s the most comprehensive resource of its kind – if we’re talking online.

There’s something else even more massive (we’re talking five times bigger) with exclusive vegan info you won’t find anywhere else.

Whether you’re visiting, just moved, or already live here, we’re offering five times more guidance for a truly authentic Spanish tapas experience- made vegan.

 

Click here to Learn more about The Alternative Traveler’s Madrid Vegan Guidebook

 

 


Not hungry enough for a guidebook?

We’re confident this online guide will whet your appetite.

For an extensive sample of the best vegan tapas in Madrid, read on.

A Brief Tapas Primer – What You Should Know about Spanish Tapas

Going out for tapas means getting free food with your drink.

That’s right – we will repeat.

Many international “Spanish” places (especially in America) have missed one of the biggest draws of tapas – the free tapita (mini tapa) that comes with your drink, often called an apertivo.

Free vegan tapa at Llantén Veggie Bar in Madrid, Spain

This came free right after we ordered.

With every drink you buy, whether it’s a caña (a small glass of beer), a glass of wine, or cocktail, you’ll receive at least a light snack. Lunch is the biggest meal here, so dinner is a smaller, more shared, para picar (for picking at) affair. Also, the Spanish drinking culture isn’t about drinking until falling face down into a sewer drain. They like to eat while they drink, which mediates alcohol intake. Going out for tapas refers to going out for drinks and food, but not each person getting their own big entree – it’s about the sharing plates called raciones.


General Tapa Rules of Conduct

A general rule of thumb is this: order your drinks first and wait for aperitivos. If they come, have a couple more drinks and each subsequent aperitivo will upgrade in quality. If nothing comes, then get ready order a ración or two. Sometimes you’ll get aperitivos after you order.

Even in the most generous scenario, you will find it difficult to fill up on these aperitivos alone in Madrid (for massive free tapas you’ll have to go to the city of Granada and eat the generously sized free vegan tapas there). You may want more than just small plates of olives and chips (the usual accidentally veggie tapas in Madrid).

Raciones are larger sharing plates that you can order. These may be anywhere from 4 – 12 euros, depending on the quality and quantity of food. While patatas bravas (fried potato chunks smothered in red pepper sauce) are cheap and plentiful, croquetas (ovoid-shaped breadcrumb covered fried deliciousness) can cost a euro a piece.

Tapa Time(s)

People generally start going out for tapas at 9 pm. However, you might want to go earlier, and we would suggest you do unless you like extremely crowded places with no seats. Some of these spots are small bars and get crowded quickly. Others are restaurants that you should probably reserve in advance.

Either way, nothing is open earlier than 8 pm on weekdays. On weekends some tapas restaurants may have already been open since lunchtime, and many places close on Sunday and Monday nights, so double check hours, if they even have them posted – often bars don’t, but restaurants usually do. Expect places to close around 11pm, 12 am.

How We Decide Who Wins Best Vegan Tapas in Madrid

Our sole criterion is simply this: appropriate price for the given quality of raciones. We don’t care how delicious the ración is if it costs nearly twice as much and is half the size of what other places serve. Bonus points if the place gives aperitivos with your drinks regardless of ordering raciones.

Of course, we have been to many more than what is featured in this article, but alas, not everyone can be the best, or the word would lose all meaning. We don’t include places that only have one or two solid dishes. We include places that offer a wide selection.

The following are the ones we like the best, tend to frequent, impress even omnivore friends without fail, and can recommend for vegan tapas in Madrid.

Price GuideCompared to NYC (or eating out in the U.S. in general), Madrid is crazy cheap.

A person can eat and drink for:
€ = 10 and under
€€ = 15 and under
€€€ = 15 and up

Also, GF = significant gluten free options.

Best All Vegan Tapas in Madrid

There’s a variety of tapas in Madrid so we are going to categorize them by themes so that you, dear reader, can decide whether you want something traditionally local, something international, or something in between.

Super Spanish Tapas

If you’re looking for a no-frills experience serving typical Spanish tapas made vegan.

B13 

B13 has been around some time and subsequently developed a hardcore following. The most vegan of vegans come here to feel like being vegan is just normal.

Whether it’s bocadillos (sandwiches), tortilla española, or chorizo (smoked paprika sausage), the food at B13 is housemade, rich, and indulgent. This is Spanish bar food veganized. While they do offer salads, the real stars of the show are the generously greasy grubs.

We always get a pincho de tortilla (piece of “Spanish omelet”), any of the hamburguesas (hamburger) or sandwiches, like the bocadillo de calamares (calamari sub sandwich) and bocadillo chorizo (chorizo sandwich). You can also get the calamari as a side that, of course, still comes with bread (everything comes with bread in Spain). Patatas bravas, a very typical bar food of fried potato chunks, are generously topped with mayo and salsa brava (creamy red pepper sauce), while the homemade albóndigas (meatballs) are covered in tomato sauce and rest on a queen sized bed of french fries. Virtually all the faux meats are expertly prepared – pollo al ajillo is garlicky “chicken” sauteed with olive oil and mushrooms (and ridiculously delicious). Hearty portions, cheap prices, and high patronage means you should come to fill up your belly and not plan to run a marathon until next morning.

Vegan Spanish Tortilla at Distrito Vegano in Madrid, Spain

Their Spanish tortilla aka Spanish potato omelet.

We recommend: pincho de tortilla (pictured above), ración de calamares, la hamburguesa linda but literally everything as we love the whole menu.

Rustic Fusion €, GF

Want to go to B13 but it’s always too packed when you show up? Well, it’s no longer the only vegan spot in the vein of traditional Spanish bar. This new spot is arguably more castizo (very Madrid) than B13 because they actually let you sit at the bar and order drinks, along with receiving complimentary tapas with said drinks (not a knock against the wonderful B13, just a fact). To top it off, they are easily twice the size as B13, with a bar counter that wraps around a corner.

Expect a comparable amount of no-nonsense vibes, punky servers, and candid cooks. If traditional Spanish tapas made vegan are your priority, and you don’t mind venturing a bit outside of the center, you won’t be disappointed.

As for raciones, they have everything you’d expect. Patatas bravas, croquetas, bocadillos de chorivegano (chorizo), nocalamar (faux calamari), but some surprises like onion rings, and arepas. The biggest surprise though is the extensive pizza section, with three increasingly priced tiers of topping selection, and a dozen special combination pizzas.

We recommend: any bocadillo but like B13, it’s hard to go wrong here.

Note: Not in the city center. Allergens marked on menu.

El Perro Gamberro €€

To sum this place up: Traditional Spanish tapas made vegan – but with a twist!

This restaurant found its early beginnings as a blog and now all the recipes are available for you to try in real life. There’s the usual Spanish bar tapas albeit made with unconventional ingredients – in case vegan wasn’t enough! Croquetas made with apple and eggplant. Tortilla is formed with a calabaza (squash) base. Even the Vegatas, what they call their vegan bocatas (a baguette sandwich), are slathered in rich sauces. This is not typical of the mouth parching cured ham sandwiches that are the norm in Spain (meaning a sandwich does not come with dressing or sauce, lettuce, tomato, onions, or cheese, unless otherwise noted – literally salt dried meat and bread is the standard).

If you need more shareable plates than sandwiches, there are many appetizer style versions of the sandwiches and plates on offer. There’s even a taco tasting menu for two to three persons where you receive all the prepared ingredients, and stuff the tacos yourself.

We recommend: pincho de tortilla, anything chorizo, las croquetas

Internationally Styled Vegan Tapas in Madrid

Expect these places to mostly serve non-Spanish food inspired by a variety of outside influences.

Distrito Vegano €€, GF

We love it here and are regulars. Distrito Vegano is a cozy, alternative space adorned with locally made art that changes every month or so. They know their food is great and are reluctant to share any recipes – which we respect (except Sam still keeps prodding). Everything is made from scratch and they are always trying out new things, like currywurst and red velvet cupcakes. So expect a mix of new and traditional offerings influenced by food outside of Spain. Their prices fit neatly in between not the cheapest but definitely not the most expensive.

If you come here, you must get their croquetones – bigger than normal croquetas. Best in town and in a league of their own. Don’t just take our word for it – they won an award during the annual Tapapies festival. Then they won the audience award again for the most recent Tapapies festival. A vegan winner in a nonvegan food contest? That should tell you something. Unless only vegans were voting for the audience award. Hmmm…

If you’re looking for a sharing plate, the Mexican style nachos are amazing. We have vegetarian friends who attest to this – even one from Texas! They’re honestly the only authentic vegan Mexican nachos in town. There’s a gulf as wide as the Grand Canyon for what passes for nachos in Madrid. Here they come generously drizzled with melted cheese and black beans, a big scoop of guacamole, and pico de gallo salsa, among other creamy toppings. These nachos at Distrito Vegano are leagues above the grease soaked corn chip troughs all too common in American restaurants and Tex-Mex bars.

Vegan mexican nachos at Distrito Vegano in Madrid, Spain

If you go on a Saturday night, they may still have their weekly tortilla española, also the best in town. Now they are sporting more varieties, like chorizo and spinach, and even once made one with cheese. A recently vegan Spanish friend of ours liked the regular one so much, that after eating it for the first round of tapas, ordered it again for the last round of tapas (we had many rounds in between).

We recommend: pincho de tortilla (best in Madrid, Saturdays only), nachos, croquetones

Note: Small space – get reservations – it’s too popular for walk-ins. Croquetas may run out. If it’s full, no problem, just head around the block to their new sister restaurant, La Tia Carlota – see right below.

La Tia Carlota €€, GF

This new spot is the sister restaurant to Distrito Vegano. It’s even more internationally themed, with Spanish foods only represented in a couple of dishes, with the rest spanning several continents. We had the honor of being invited to try their entire menu, and there wasn’t a dish we didn’t love. For full details, click here for the full restaurant review.

Arancini all nonna at La Tia Carlota in Madrid, Spain Close up of Arancinis de la Nonna at La Tia Carlota, a vegan gastrobar in Madrid, Spain | AlternativeTravelers.com

We recommend: Tartar, Arancini (pictured above), Churrasco Chilean sandwich.

Llantén Veggie Bar €€

If you want to eat all your tapas away from the bustling crowds, we highly recommend this Argentine-run bar restaurant. If you want a traditional Spanish bar interior experience, this is a great spot, as it looks as if they’ve hardly changed it from previous owners. 

Llantén never disappoints. This is a great spot to experience top-notch faux meat and cheese dishes. To us, the food is reminiscent of French/Italian bistros where pasta and filets come slathered in creamy savory sauces. Often they even serve up traditional Argentine food made vegan, like empanadas.

vegan Empanadas at Llantén Veggie Bar in Madrid, SpainDo note that they do not have a regular tapas menu, but rather a menú del día (a priced fixed 3-course meal) for lunchtime AND dinner. Don’t fret yet – these plates are still easily shareable, and with more friends, you’ll have more options, as they offer four menús every day. This place is adored by fans and regularly accumulates rave reviews. Just don’t come here expecting anything light like salads or Buddha bowls.

Vegan chorizo tapa at Llantén Veggie Bar in Spain

Come here for the vegan chorizo.

Bear in mind that this is not in the middle of the nightlife scene in the center of Madrid, so don’t plan this for a multi-stop tour of the vegan tapas in Madrid, unless you want to do some metro hopping. Though if you had to make one super indulgent stop that night, you would be quite satisfied.

We recommend:  chorivegano (vegan chorizo), empanadas, pulpo (mock octopus made with mushrooms – very “sea” tasting) any pasta or pizza dish, and anything seitan.

Note: slightly off center.

Hakuna Matata Veggie €€

Now you’re really getting north of the center here, but if you can, it’s totally worth it. Upon our first visit, Veren grudgingly hoped that it wasn’t that good so that we wouldn’t be missing out due to its long distance from our apartment. He’s mostly glad he’s wrong.

Whether you want meals you don’t share, or meals you can share, they got you covered. Their faux meats and cheeses rival Llantén, though their implementation is much more Spanish. For every typical Spanish tapa, expect a more internationally inspired one.

We recommend: patatas bravas, hamburguesa, escalopes, croquetas de seta.  Don’t leave here without trying their Vegamisú (vegan tiramisu).

Note: most likely too far outside the center for most. Though the lucky few won’t regret it.

Organic, Whole Foods Plant Based Tapas

Here the focus is less on traditional Spanish food and less dependent on fried or processed foods. However, you should still expect Spanish culinary sensibilities, like seasoning with pimentón, no spiciness, and generous amounts of quality olive oil. As vegans, we are more familiar with uncommon diets, so as a warning: avoiding oil in Spain will be difficult.

That being said, these are more gourmet-ish, fancier tapas than the other places. Also La Tia Carlota (see entry above) could easily fit in here, depending on what you order, as they source organic ingredients whenever possible. The following two places are 100% ecológico (organic)

Vega €€, GF

While they are more expensive, the quality of the tapas is quite good if it is within your price range. So while we haven’t gone here as many times for tapas, we love coming here for the menú del dia – it’s one of our top choices. Since it’s consistently great food, we can’t imagine someone not enjoying themselves here, and frequently hear stories of very satisfied friends.

Free vegan tapa at Vega in Madrid, Spain

Memorable tapas, in particular, are the focaccia de romero con queso ahumado (rosemary flatbread with smoked cheese), loaded with veggies. This cheese would fool omnivores. Also, the patatas asadas (roasted potatoes) with barbecue sauce and house sauce were perfectly cooked and paired. They also offer an aperitivo section where you choose any three of six. We normally don’t eat salad out, but make an exception for Vega, as their salads are always deluxe and delicious, with many ingredients and homemade dressings. They also now serve Heura, a vegan faux-chicken produced in Barcelona.

We recommend: focaccia de romero, patatas asadas, any salad

La Encomienda €€, GF

With a similar situation to Vega, their tapas come pricey but in even smaller portions. So why are we recommending them? They’re one of the few places that gives generously portioned housemade aperitivos with every new round of drinks – not olives, chips, or those awful rock hard bread sticks that 90% of bars serve. There’s no set menu for the free tapas, but frequently they are snack sized portions of roasted veggies like squash and tomato, and whole grains like quinoa and couscous, well seasoned and quite tasty. Just the other day they had this tofu crumble with sesame dressing and basil pesto.

Our recommendation is to come here for their excellent drink selection and quality, including carrot wine! They also serve organic wines and locally brewed beers. They pair so nicely with the delicious aperitivos that they send out with them. That being said, the raciones they do have are delicious. Like memorable delicious. They’re just too damn small for us. 

Vegan stuffed mushrooms at La Encomienda in Madrid, Spain

Their deliciously stuffed mushrooms.

This bothers us, but it may well be perfect for you. We know button mushrooms are not a luxury item, but hey, maybe that’s the true cost for organic tapas. Other tapas we can recommend are the tagin and the tacos.

Again, delicious raciones, just there are cheaper places we prefer and similarly priced with bigger portions.

We recommend: champiñones, tagín, tacos

Best Vegetarian Tapas in Madrid with Vegan options

Why go to vegetarian places that rarely offer (if at all) satisfying replacements for dairy and egg? Often they don’t, and you pay the same as everyone else as you request key ingredients withheld. As vegans, it’s not only easier but more satisfying to eat at the vegan spots. That aside, there are exceptions, and that’s these mostly vegan vegetarian spots.

Loukanikos 

Now recently all vegetarian (it’s mostly vegan anyway) this is a great spot for bar style Madrid vegetarian tapas. There’s a strong socialist vibe and decor. Maybe taking a cue from Distrito Vegano (mentioned earlier) on our latest visit they exhibited a series of photographs by a local artist of recent riots around the world. When we first went here, there was a 1940’s style pro-labor poster and another one with a sarcastic list of “public enemies” who were simply radical leftists. The bar is named after a famous Greek riot dog.

This place recently went full vegetarian (after having just one lone meat option on the menu) and has a new menu with all vegan options clearly marked. No free tapas with drinks but you can always ask for olives. Come here for their hard-to-beat sweet spot of cheap raciones and hearty portions. They have exemplary patatas bravas, and we have yet to find better ones. Their croquetas de champiñones y puerro (mushroom and leek croquettes) just may be the best with their perfect crunchy outside, and soft smooth and well textured mushroomy inside. We don’t recommend the dips/pates or the fried eggplant. Also has some craft beers, including a proudly vegan one called Veer with an aardvark on the label.

We recommend: hamburguesa lenteja con patatas fritas (lentil burger with fries), patatas bravas, croquetas de champiñones y puerro, salmorejo (a cold and creamy Andalusian style tomato soup).

Note: Cash only. Come early. Gets unbearably crowded very quickly, especially in the winter and weekends.

La Alpargata 

We love this small no-frills kitchen and counter spot. Recently it has become vegetarian as well, and it’s always been mostly vegan.  It’s a great chance to hang in the indoor market, the Mercado San Fernando in the barrio of Lavapies. Non-vegan items are the exception here – vegan options are marked with an encircled green V.

We heartily recommend the generous slab of lasaña (lasagna) and any tosta del díá (bread with toppings of the day). The miniburguer (sliders for 2.20 euros) with mayo, lettuce, and tomato has the perfectly soft bun and chewy homemade patty. You may want to order two. Their albóndigas de mijo are solid too. Just take a gander at the glass case counter and go for whatever looks delicious.

We recommend: lasaña, miniburguer, tostas

Note: hours subject to Mercado’s schedule. The market gets crowded, so come early, or don’t expect a table to eat your tapas on.

Best Places with Vegan Options

Need recommendations on where to go with omnivore friends who aren’t interested in vegan food? There are some solid options in Madrid, but understand outright – the vegan and omnivore sphere have little overlap. Do not expect nonvegan places to have satisfying nor intentionally vegan options. If you’re willing to sacrifice the best vegan tapas to appease your omnivore friends, the following are your best bet for solid vegan options.

Viva Chapata €€

This is a good reliable go-to for vegan tapas in Madrid, but know that it’s stubbornly part of the old vegan-friendly vanguard, due to its lack of updated vegan products. We’re grateful they’ve helped pave the way, but it doesn’t make the Tofutti shreds any less terrible. Also surprisingly a bit overpriced for such a divey dive bar.

We advise sitting at the bar with a couple friends max, as this place gets packed quick, and they charge 10% extra for table seating.  The best raciones here are the tortilla and the croquetas, but they’re more expensive than most vegan places, and not as good. The tortilla quality varies widely, as once with friends we shared the last piece from one pie, and the first from the next, and one was clearly better than the other. It’s also oddly served with tomato sauce.

Vegan tortilla de patata at Viva Chapata, a vegan friendly bar in Madrid.

Yes, this is the same tortilla at Viva Chapata just mentioned above.

We personally recommend coming here for their mostly vegan selection of cakes. If you’re with all vegan-friendly friends, come here last after you’re all tapa’d out for the night and looking for dessert. You need to try their phenomenal vegan cakes, especially the dark as a black hole chocolate cake. So best to come after you’ve had a good fill of tapas, or only looking to snack.

We recommend: pincho de tortilla, tarta chocolate

Note: 10% surcharge for table seating. Stick to the bar to avoid the surcharge.

Other Places with Notable Vegan options

Looking for even more vegan options for tapas with omnivore friends?

Are you worried about finding more authentic and satisfying vegan food in Madrid?

Sounds like what you need is a guidebook:

Learn more about The Alternative Traveler’s Madrid Vegan Guidebook

 

 


One may think that the only authentic Spanish experience is a non-vegan one, but that’d go contrary to many vegan Madrileños typical night out.

Tapas are definitely one of our favorite Spanish meal traditions. However, you’re only experiencing half the vegan picture if you haven’t tried los menús del día, Spain’s best-kept food secret from tourists that’s isn’t a really a secret, but no one seems to take advantage of.

Further Madrid Resources:

The Alternative Traveler’s Vegan Guide to Madrid: Our comprehensive guidebook detailing all the vegan things you’d ever need to know.

Ultimate Vegan Guide to Madrid: Our massive list of all of the vegan restaurants, cafes, and places with vegan options in Madrid.

Places for Vegan Menu del dia in Madrid: Where to have the best vegan lunch specials – a Spanish tradition!

Main Sights in Madrid Free and Cheap: The low down on how to visit Madrid’s main sights on a budget.

Have you had vegan tapas in Madrid? Anything you can recommend that we haven’t tried?

Madrid Vegan Tapas Guide | Best Vegan Tapas in Madrid #VeganTravel #Madrid #Spain #Vegan via AlternativeTravelers.com

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Vegan Tapas in Madrid Guide - AlternativeTravelers.com

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*Editor’s note: This post was originally posted in April 2017 and has since been updated tremendously.

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