Best tapas (2000)
Tapas and tarps have a lot in common. A tarp is a waterproof cover designed to keep things from getting wet. Tapas, which means "covers," came into prominence in Spain in the 19th century when barflies began topping the mouths of little sherry glasses with slices of cured ham or sausage to keep out the dust and flies. Flies apparently are as fond of a chilled glass of bone-dry sherry as anyone. Though why a Spaniard would prefer flies socializing on a slice of cured meat to drunk and sterilized in a glass of fino is anyone's guess. Anyway, you can relive this 19th century appetizer tradition at Café Madrid. With a cozy dining room furnished with old wooden tables and chairs, Madrid's little plates are always fresh and intriguing, from chopped octopus salad to anchovy filets in garlic to chewy marinated quail. Café Madrid has a broad Spanish wine list organized by regions and a splendid selection of sherries.