Beautiful in its simplicity – eggs, potatoes, olive oil and onions, the tortilla de patatas is rightfully a Spanish staple.
Tasty, filling and cheap – and basically any time of day snack or meal. During my time in Spain, I have had the pleasure of enjoying many (too many?) excellent melty tortillas with a cool crisp caña. I thought I’d share some of my faves and look forward to hearing your delicious recommendations too.
What makes a good tortilla?
For starters high quality, impeccably peeled potatoes suitable for frying (para freir), and roughly chopped (if in doubt check with a Spaniard who knows the tortilla score).
Next up, the optional step of adding onions – In some places they offer the tortilla con cebolla (with onion – sometimes caramelised) or sin cebolla (without) – it’s up to you.
Next good olive oil – the taste of the oil is key! Finally, quality eggs and a good pinch of salt, for the potatoes.
And then it’s all in the cooking time…
…and sloppiness of the tortilla – I love my tortillas, oozy, golden and warm, ‘poco cuajada’– just that right balance between holding together and having that gorgeous runny centre.
Preferably not microwaved which can dry the joy and flavour out of the tortilla. So…here are my recommendations for the best tortilla in Madrid- not in order (I struggled to keep my tortilla love to a top 5 so Top 6 it is!).
I chose places where you could order a pincho so legendary places like Taberna La Pedraza were not on this list as they serve whole tortilla. The prices were correct when I last visited but there may be some slight changes. La Ardosa Malasaña
Juana la Loca, La Latina
In the heart of La Latina and near the bustling fun Cava Baja is the elegant and airy Juana la Loca, this year marks their 17th year in business. I sat down to enjoy my pincho next to a lady called Isabel, who happened to be the owner of the bar. We got chatting and Isabel told me her story of coming to Madrid and being amongst the first the restaurant of the ‘pinxo’ bars in Madrid (pinxto being a Basque take on pinchos) and also in using caramelised onions in tortillas. A chef dedicated purely to making the tortillas comes every morning and makes the unctuous delights. The tortilla is a rich dark brown, oniony, sweet, perfectly cooked -medium thick – not for the faint hearted. Juana La Loca, La Latina
Approx tortillas produced per day: 20-46
Pinxto cost: €4
Cost caña: €2
Address: Plaza Puerta de Moros 4, La Latina, 28005 Madrid. Book in the evenings to get a spot or get there early/go for lunch!
El Ponton, Chamberí
This gem of a no frills bar típico is tucked away in Chamberí. Tortilla is their thing and you get a little tapa sized portion free with a caña. Their delicious tortilla is well worth the visit– and hits all the spots- served up no frills style. You can choose either con or sin cebolla here and as the tortilla is so poplar you may have to wait for next one to be served up. El Ponton, Chamberí
Approx tortillas per day: 50
Pincho de tortilla cost: €2.20
Cost caña: €1.50
Address: Calle de García de Paredes 11, Chamberí, 28010 Madrid
Casa Dani, Barrio Salamanca
With an expanded presence inside Mercado de la Paz in barrio Salamanca, the recently refurbished Casa Dani is also famous for its tortilla. And it is a joy.
Casa Dani is it’s own distinct corner in the market, with a range of people working in the area, not just the local residents, eating together at the busy bar and dining rooms there which adds to the lovely welcoming feel there.
It is run by Dani (son of the original Dani who retired last year) who jokingly describes himself as the David Munoz of the menú del dia. And from 1pm it gets busy with super speedy service as the waiters keep pace with the demand.
The tortilla there is substantial and satisfying, but maintains the slightly runny tortilla middle of dreams. They also offer medio pinchos as well as pinchos if you fancy something a little, um, lighter. They get through about 650 kg of potatoes and 50 dozen eggs a day Casa Dani, Mercado de La Paz
Number tortillas per day: 2-300!
Pincho de tortilla cost: €2.80
Cost caña: €1.50
Address: Calle de Ayala 28, Barrio Salamanca, 28001 Madrid.
Madrigal, Puente de Vallecas
Just round the corner of Puente de Vallecas metro is Madrigal, a small traditional bar on Peña Prieta run by Ismael, with excellent tortillas cooked by chef Miguel. It’s a lovely chilled no frills spot to have a caña and read the paper at this local bar whilst enjoying your pincho. The umami-ish tortilla here manages again to hit the sweet spot of holding it together whilst having that gooey center. They only cook a couple each day so get there early or the tortilla will likely have gone! Madrigal, Puente de Vallecas
Approx tortilla count produced per day: 2
Pincho de tortilla cost: €2.5
Cost caña: €1.40
Address: Avenida de Peña Prieta 22, Puente de Vallecas, 28038 Madrid
Another Madrid classic, with a bar downstairs and a more formal restaurant upstairs that you need to book, Sylkar also serves a wonderful tortilla, that is regularly featured in best tortilla in Madrid lists. It’s possibly the runniest of the all, so much so that it almost slides off the plate.
When I visited I was invited into the kitchen by the friendly enthusiastic owner to see the incredible tortilla preparation process. As with the other bars it gets super busy and if you want to eat at the restaurant, booking is advised. If you can get the tiny table by the stairs in the bar –amazingly you table service even if the bar is packed. Sylkar, Chamberí
Number tortillas per day: 70-80
Cost pincho de tortilla: €2.90
Cost caña: €1.60
Address: Calle de Espronceda 17, Chamberí, 28003 Madrid.
La Ardosa, Malasaña
La Ardosa is a Malasana oldie, trading for nearly 140 years, and specialising in traditional tapas. The Ardosa tortilla is famous with tortilla lovers; Made with cebolla frita, it’s a little slimmer and (comparatively) lighter than other tortillas.
It’s also notoriously hard to get a seat here in the evenings so be prepared to get cosy – a tip if you’re wanting to try the tortilla in more chilled surroundings is to pop next door to the sister bar of the same owner, Casa Baranda, where they serve the Ardosa tortilla though it wasn’t on the menu when I last went so you have to ask for it specifically, or go to the Ardosa in the morning for a brekkie tortilla. La Ardosa, Malasaña
Approx tortilla count: 75
Cost pincho de tortilla: €3.49
Cost caña: €2.95
Address: Calle de Colón 13, Malasana, 28004 Madrid
So there’s some of my favourite pincho spots – other places I’ve enjoyed are: Cerveriz –a great bar in the centre of town opposite the Mercado San Miguel as well as Roca Blanca –a no frills bar in Malasaña, and El Dos on Calle Palma in Malasaña
So where are the best tortillas in Madrid that you’ve enjoyed – let us know and share the tortilla love.