Best Vegetarian Tapas in MadridOct 22, 2019
Despite Spain’s deep obsession with jamón, finding the best vegetarian tapas in Madrid is as simple as walking into any neighbourhood tapas bar.
Spain has gotten a bad rap in the past for being a difficult country for vegetarians. With so many dishes based around pork and seafood, it’s understandable. But some of the most classic tapas in Spanish cuisine are completely veggie-friendly—and they’re all available right here in Madrid.
Today, nearly 8 percent of Spaniards self-identify as vegan or vegetarian. And while Spain has more vegetarian restaurants than ever, you have even more options for veggie-friendly food than just those strictly vegetarian places. Instead, join us as we discover some of the best vegetarian tapas in Madrid at the classic bars that have been around for ages.
Ordering Vegan & Vegetarian Food in Spanish
Before we start our 100-percent-veggie tapas crawl, you’ll need to know how to order. Here’s some handy vocabulary that will help you communicate your dietary needs in Spanish.
If you identify as male, use the masculine ending for adjectives. Women use the feminine ending.
- Soy vegano/a: I am vegan.
- Soy vegetariano/a: I am vegetarian.
- No como ni carne, ni pescado, ni huevos, ni productos lácteos: I don’t eat meat, fish, eggs or dairy products.
- Yo no puedo comer… I can’t eat…
- Carne: Meat
- Cerdo: Pork
- Jamón: Ham
- Pollo: Chicken
- Pescado: Fish
- Atún: Tuna
- Marisco: Seafood
- Leche: Milk
- Queso: Cheese
- Mantequilla: Butter
- Nata: Cream
- Huevo: Egg
- Miel: Honey
Now that you know how to order, let’s get started devouring the best vegetarian tapas in Madrid!
Where to Find the Best Vegetarian Tapas in Madrid
1. Casa Toni
Casa Toni’s claim to fame may be their offal, but believe it or not, they also have a whole section of the menu dedicated to veggie options.
We started off with their famous patatas bravas, double-fried potatoes slathered in a red, peppery sauce (which they make in-house, unlike many places). Next up were pimientos de padrón, Galicia’s famous fried green peppers (most are mild, but be careful—some are hot hot hot!). Some berenjenas con miel (fried eggplant drizzled in sugarcane honey), tomato salad, and champiñones a la plancha (grilled mushrooms with garlic and parsley) rounded things out nicely.
Be aware that the sauce on patatas bravas sometimes contains meat stock. To double check, say this to the waiter, “La salsa brava lleva caldo de carne o pollo?“. You’re asking, “Does the brava sauce have meat or chicken stock in it?
Every single dish we had at Casa Toni was simply and fantastic — this bar is my happy place, and it fills my stomach and soul every time. And these dishes are proof that some of the most classic, rustic tapas in Spain don’t need any meat whatsoever. And it just so happens that these five tapas were all completely vegan, too.
To drink, we had vermouth (what else?). After all, there’s no better way to kick off a tapas crawl than with Spain’s (and my) favourite aperitif.
FOUR OF THE FABULOUS VEGAN TAPAS WE ORDERED AT CASA TONI (AND SOME OLIVES, BECAUSE THIS IS SPAIN).
As soon as we set foot into our next stop, we found ourselves in heady southern Spain.
Here in Madrid, you can very much eat your way around every region of Spain without setting foot outside the city limits. Case in point: Sanlúcar, which specialises in food from Andalusia.
We can’t talk about vegetarian dishes from the south without mentioning salmorejo. Salmorejo is often likened to a thicker, more filling version of gazpacho, and here at Sanlúcar, they serve it year round (gazpacho is only available in the summer). The chilled tomato purée itself is completely vegan—just tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, bread and salt—but it often comes topped with bits of hard-boiled egg and cured ham. Ask them to hold both of the above by ordering it “sin huevo” and/or “sin jamón.”
SANLÚCAR MAY JUST SERVE UP THE BEST SALMOREJO OUTSIDE OF ANDALUSIA.
Next up were some verduras asadas, a simple but delicious dish of roasted veggies that almost eats like a chunky ratatouille. If eggs are a part of your diet, a nice huevo cocido on top adds a nice touch.
VERDURAS ASADAS TOPPED WITH HARD-BOILED EGG—ONE OF THE MOST DELICIOUS WAY TO EAT YOUR VEGGIES HERE IN SPAIN.
To finish off, we ordered some huevos rotos ( “broken” eggs over fried potatoes) and garbanzos con tomillo (chickpeas with thyme). The huevos rotos are traditionally served with jamón, but you can ask them to hold the ham. Sanlúcar also topped theirs with salmorejo for an especially Andalusian twist.
3. Pez Tortilla
We had to start with the bar’s namesake, so we ordered two different tortillas. One was your classic tortilla de patatas with onion, and the other was made with goat cheese, eggplant and caramelised onion. Both were the epitome of Spain in a dish: simple ingredients prepared with love into one fabulous, delicious dish.
TORTILLA IS AS SIMPLE AS IT GETS—AND IT COULDN’T BE MORE DELICIOUS.
Next up were the croquettes, which are freshly fried to order here. Both the boletus & truffle and the caramelised leek flavours were croqueta perfection: crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside.
To wash everything down, we went with an IPA from Pez Tortilla’s incredible selection of craft beers. They have an impressive range of artisanal brews available on tap.
YOLY ENJOYING SOME OF OUR DELICIOUS VEGETARIAN TAPAS AND BEER AT PEZ TORTILLA.
4. La Campana
Madrileños and anyone in the know skip the touristy bars surrounding Plaza Mayor and head to the side streets just off the famous square for a bite to eat. This area is famous for one of Madrid’s most famous specialties—the fried calamari sandwich—and few places hold up to La Campana.
I’ve always loved La Campana’s simple, delicious bocadillo de calamares, but learned on this trip that their veggie-friendly equivalent is easily one of the best vegetarian tapas in Madrid. It’s as simple as it gets: just fried green pepper and excellent quality bread. But as with a lot of things here in Spain, the secret lies in how perfectly cooked these seemingly simple ingredients are. I might even like it better than the calamari version!
But no matter which version of the sandwich you order, there’s only one acceptable drink to pair it with at La Campana: an ice-cold caña.
THOUGH I’M NOT A VEGETARIAN MYSELF, I THINK I MIGHT EVEN LIKE THE PLANT-BASED VERSION OF THIS SANDWICH BETTER THAN THE ORIGINAL WITH CALAMARI!
5. El Cisne Azul
The next stop on our quest to discover the best vegetarian tapas in Madrid was up in the happening neighbourhood of Chueca. El Cisne Azul is constantly packed with eager diners who come for one main reason: their incredible mushroom dishes.
This time around, we went for the grilled wild mushrooms with a runny egg on top. However, if you’re vegan, they’re delicious without the egg!
EL CISNE AZUL SERVES UP HEARTY, RUSTIC FARE LIKE THESE MUSHROOMS.
On this particular trip, we also saw that they were serving grilled zucchini flower, so we couldn’t resist the opportunity to try this unique dish as well. Both dishes were incredible: the mushrooms were a major umami explosion, and the zucchini flower nice and crunchy with some truffle oil that added a nice touch.
COME TO EL CISNE AZUL FOR THE MUSHROOMS; STAY FOR THE OTHER SEASONAL SPECIALTIES (LIKE THIS DELICIOUS GRILLED ZUCCHINI FLOWER).
6. Vinoteca Vides
Last but not least, we swung by one of our favourite neighborhood wine bars. I discovered Vinoteca Vides about five years ago when owner Vicente had just opened it, and it’s still one of my go-to spots.
Vicente comes from a wine-producing family in Albacete, so it’s safe to say he knows his stuff. On this particular afternoon, he served up some Spanish sparkling wine that paired beautifully with a selection of goat and sheep milk cheeses. Not only were the wine and cheese incredible, but the bar itself is warm, welcoming and friendly. All in all, we couldn’t have picked a better place to end our veggie tapas crawl.
A Totally Vegetarian Tapas Bar
B13 is a totally vegetarian tapas bar in Madrid, serving traditional dishes. We didn’t go to it on this crawl, but my vegan friend Courtney swears by it. They do a vegan tortilla, and even vegan calamari. Check it out here.
Conclusion: Is Madrid vegetarian friendly?
Yes, there is a lot of jamón in this city. But Spain is becoming more and more veggie-friendly over time. And, if you know how to negotiate a menu, there are in fact a surprising number of vegetarian dishes in your everyday tapas bar.
Get my FREE tapas mini-guide
If you’re travelling to Spain, remember to download my free guide to my favourite tapas bars in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and San Sebastian! It’s a free PDF with my top 5 favourite tapas bars in each of those cities, plus other tips and tricks and recommendations. Salud!