La Castela sits on an old tavern founded in 1929, called Bodega de Méntrida. Refounded in 1989, it preserves the traditional architecture of Madrid’s taverns, with its tin counter, stucco vasars, mirrors and marbles. From its coil, cooled in the old way, flow vermouth and beer that have been the delight of generations. Rigorous with the typical dishes of our city and generous with tapas, it is offered as a traditional forum. In its back room, enabled in the dining room, a market cuisine rooted in the Madrid recipe book is served, to which original gastronomic contributions are added. In short, La Castela grows with the vocation of being a place that nobly tercia tradition and modernity.
On the moneyed east bank of the central Retiro Park, La Castela fiercely guards the traditions of a true Madrid barrio bar: lightening-fast waiters, a generous (and here, elaborate) free tapa with each drink and a loud, loyal local clientele. However it’s the food – simple with a soupçon of sophistication – that makes this unassuming taproom truly sing. Their unctuous rabo de toro (bull tail stew, €12) is tip-top and the blisteringly fresh seafood nesting on ice – fat mussels and candy-sweet razor clams – sublime. So grab a frothy caña (draught beer, €1.50), dive into a bowl of almejas a la manzanilla (clams in sherry sauce, €12) and make like a madrileño.