January 31, 2012 - Posted by Erin in Food and wine, Madrid, Spain, Travels in Spain

When I go home to the States and order myself a drink, I half expect a free tapa to magically appear in front of me. Even a measly plate of sad olives. Instead I get a glass of semi-drinkable, expensive wine with a side of nothing. Sigh.

But then I return to Spain.

To cure this season’s round of tapas blues, I went to Alcalá de Henares – Central Spain’s city full of generously portioned free tapas.

If you’ve ever been to Andalucia’s Granada, then you’re familiar with absurdly large complimentary tapas – tapas so big you should forget any notion of actually going out for a proper meal. Then there’s the Community of Madrid’s Alcalá de Henares (about a half hour outside the city), coming to the rescue for capital-dwellers looking for the same bang for their buck (err, euro).

After having visited the city a couple of times now, I’ve discovered two restaurants that live up to my free, gigantic-grub standard (I have one of those), and have pretty sweet ambiance to match. First up is Los Balcones de Alcalá, which will please you with its Andalucia-style patio area bordered by balconies and hanging plants. If the setting doesn’t do it for you, just lose yourself in a massive tapa. The last time I visited, they served me a mini-plate of fideuà (similar to paella, but with macroni-like noodles instead of rice – ain’t nothing wrong with that!), followed by more free tapas with each beverage.

Another recent discovery is Las Cuadras de Rocinante, with its small unsuspecting entrance nestled in an almost unnoticeable corner of Calle de Carmen Calzado. Until you walk down the restaurant’s long hallway, you won’t realize that it houses a cozy room filled with tables and a bar. My recent visit there came with a nice glass of wine and a fatty cazuela of garbanzo beans that made paying for food seem like a ludicrous idea.

Finally, when stuffing yourself silly with free tapas, the only logical way to conclude your day is with a box of rosquillas de Alcalá – the town’s namesake donut-style pastry slathered in an icing so tasty that I reckon it’s more than finger-licking good, it’s pretty much box-licking good (check out the bakery Salinas in Plaza Mayor).

What can I say – I like big tapas and I cannot lie. I also want to apologize for getting Sir Mix A lot’s classic tune stuck in your head for the duration of the day.

[travelist location=”Alcala de Henares, Spain” type=”img” url=”http://www.latortugaviajera.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/garbanzos.jpg”]

12 Responses to “I like big tapas and I cannot lie”

  1. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures Says:

    Ummmmmm tapas! I love that you can have free tapas in Spain.

  2. nancy todd Says:

    In the north, there are no free tapas. One of the benefits of being in southern Spain. They sound delicious and love your pics.

  3. miruna Says:

    I really enjoyed reading your post. I love Spain, it’s like my second home. Tapas are great in Andalucia and on the islands!

  4. miruna Says:

    I have some friends living in Alcala 🙂

  5. fotoeins | Henry Says:

    Yes to southern Spain, and yes to (big) tapas! Beer me up now, and let’s start with the gazpacho …

  6. Erin Says:

    Couldn’t agree more about a beer and gazpacho….now if only we had some warm weather to go with it 😉

  7. Annette | Bucket List Journey Says:

    Gaining 5 pounds by overloading on tapas is my main goal when I am in Barcelona this year ;). YUM!

  8. Erin Says:

    I like the way you think, Annette!!

  9. Reinier Says:

    I remember ordering Tapas in Granada the first time. We ordered like five tapas which in Marbella where I live would be just enough to relieve the hunger but then came the plates and I think we only managed to finish two, haha. And it was dead cheap and good too.

  10. Reinier Says:

    Congratulations on your site by the way. You write very easy, wish I had that skill!

  11. Cassandra Says:

    You had me at the title.

    Ha, I need to go back to Alcala one of these days! One of my school pals has lived there for 4 years so I should pick his brain about his top tapa picks, as well. Thanks for sharing your favs!

  12. Sabrina Says:

    … and who can blame you? Snacks with your wine and they’re free too? Perfect! The chick peas look delicious. We had something similar in Italy once as appetizers I think. But he had to pay for them 🙂

Leave a Reply