A bar in Alcalá de Henares pays homage to homeboy Cervantes
Me cobras la tapita? I asked our waiter. He wagged his finger at me–No se cobra la tapa, ¡se cobra la bebida!
Tapas, tapas, tapas. This is what Alcalá de Henares is known for, so don’t you dare head for Mickey D’s in the main square. Tapas in this town are famously generous, but you do need to know a bit of the tapas culture so you won’t be surprised when ordering. Tapas aren’t like those in León, were a bar is known for one or two specific things. Nay, Alcalá is the king of options. Typically, there will be an entire tapas menu, so everyone in the crowd can happily choose his or her own fav. Bars will stress that the tapas are FREE–don’t ask to pay for the tapa, as they will tell you it’s the drink they’re charging you for.
Tapas (taken here to mean a drink + a tapa) will run you between 2.4 and 2.80. I can’t remember my bill stretching to 3 Euros/tapa, and this is that I have had ample Alcalá experience as of late. Due to my Masters program, I made the pilgrimage to this town half a dozen Saturdays. And every Saturday, I joined fellow classmates in a tapa-hop. Below are my top choices for tapas in Cervantes’ hometown:
Typical tapas in Alcalá – cured meats and bread with fresh tomato and olive oil
1) La Taberna de Don Rosendo / Calle Calle Atienza 5
This restaurant comes very highly recommended, partly because of the range of tapas and also for the great price-quality ratio. Ordering a drink + tapa will be less than 3 euros, but a tapa by itself is a scant €1.50. This is the only place I’ve been to which brought our group a tapa in addition to our regular tapa. So far my favorite tapas have been the tempura verduras con salsa soja (vegetable tempura) and setas rebozadas con alioli (wild mushrooms with alioli). They have a lot of other tempting cazuelitas and tostas on the menu, as well as racciones to share.
2) La Taberna de Rusty / Calle Diego de Torres 2
This is where I brought my boyfriend when I wanted to introduce him to some of the best of Alcalá’s tapas. The decor has wood accents with low lightening, and if you’re lucky you’ll snag one of the tables made of wine barrels. This used to be my favorite place for tapas in Alcalá, but in March the menu underwent a face lift and now there aren’t as many offerings as before. The good news? Empanadas are now on the menu! These flaky, savory pastries were being offered sporadically during the fall and winter and were so delicious they often sold out before the lunch rush ended. Appearing on the laminated menu still doesn’t ensure they’ll be around–if you want to try the chicken or beef empanadas, put Taberna de Rusty first on your list.
Ensaladilla rusa con langostino, Taberna de Rusty
3) Indalo / Calle Libreros, 9
For weeks and weeks this was THE place to get tapas among our group.You’ll find classic Spanish bar food such as huevos rotos and croquetas, and even hamburgers and chicken nuggets. There are 24 different tapas; I liked the tostas and the chipirones (fried cuttlefish). While this wasn’t my favorite restaurant overall, it was certainly a crowd-pleaser, which is why I’m including it here. If you’re in Madrid, you can visit Indalo at Calle Pérez Galdós, 7.
4) Argentinian grill & pizzeria / Calle Mayor on Plaza de Cervantes
After so many weekends in Alcalá, I still don’t know the name of this place! We simply referred to it as “the pizza place.” You can find it at the north end of the Plaza de Cervantes, under the covered arcade. While the restaurant serves up pizzas and roasted meats, order a drink at the bar area to get pizza as a tapa. Yes, pizza! After so many patatas bravas, chorizo, and tostas de jamón, pizza starts to sound pretty appealing. Just point to the type of pizza you want (olive, onion, ham…) and the waiter will heat it up in their pizza oven for you.
Chalkboards announces which tapas are on offer
Bonus: Café de Libreros /Calle de Libreros 18
If you want to get an after-lunch coffee, I recommend Café de Libreros. They have a wide range of coffees, teas, juices, cakes, and snacks, as well as ample seating. I’d got back for their gorgeous café con leche, which is similar to an Italian cappuccino!
Have you ever been to Alcalá? Do you have any tapa recomendations?