We hit some of the main tapas places in the heart of Madrid. Of course, this meant they were the popular tourist spots, too, but we had a great time. One of our favorites was La Casa del Abuelo for shrimp and their famous sweet red house wine. We loved it so much we went back two nights in a row.
La Casa del Abuelo is actually a small chain with three locations in Madrid. We went to the one on Calle Victoria, an area with a cluster of tapas bars where there's something guaranteed to please everyone.
The place was packed that first night (see below), with hardly a free square foot to stand in, but as a couple left I pushed my way in and grabbed their tiny spot at a wall with a very small and rather high counter. Just the right size for two people, even though the counter was nearly at head level for me (which is why I don't have a downward shot of the shrimp), and with a fabulous view of the guy cooking up front.
The waitress pretty much knew what we wanted. There are just a few dishes that everyone gets, and we got them. (Big surprise...) We had to try the wine, which was indeed very sweet and heavy and dark. We ordered two types of shrimp, one prepared in a garlic and olive oil sauce -- gambas al ajillo -- and the other battered and sprinkled with salt -- gambas a la gabardina. (Pictures of both are in the extended post.)
Both dishes arrived piping hot. The sauce for the garlic shrimp was still bubbling. You can scald your tongue in your eagerness to try these tasty bits (like we did), or you can lean back, enjoy your wine and crowd watch while they cool down to a non-dangerous level.
We enjoyed them both, but our personal favorite was the battered shrimp. They look plain, but they were all sorts of delicious.
La Casa del Abuelo
C/ Victoria, 12
Tel: (34) 915 212 319