Just a 15-minute walk from campus, Bodega offers a sensory transportation to the lively streets of Madrid. The trendy, bar-like atmosphere makes Bodega perfect for getting together with friends for either a hearty lunch or a festive dinner. Tapas-style dining also makes it easy to share many dishes (trust me, you’ll have a hard time picking just one), and service is speedy so you won’t be waiting for long.

The lounge setting is enhanced by fun, Spanish music that is just loud enough to make your conversations private, but quiet enough that you won’t have to shout to be heard. Also, the more private back room has a cozier romantic feel if you’re looking for a place to take that special someone. The music and low lighting is complemented by the striking red and black upholstery, eclectic wooden furniture and animal print accents. Altogether, the ambience is actually quite welcoming, especially considering that Bodega has two dining rooms, with room for large groups, and an outdoor patio.


The menu is also appropriate for lunch, although the atmosphere can seem too dark on a sunny day. Bodega offers a lunch special for $10.95, a steal considering that it includes a soup or salad and two tapas. Another good option for lunch or dinner is tapas for the table. I went for lunch with a friend, and we ordered gambas al ajillo (shrimp in garlic-infused olive oil), pan con jamon (tomato bread with Serrano ham) and croquetas de pollo (chicken croquettes).

The gambas came simmering in an aromatic bed of spices and garlic-infused olive oil, and the shrimp was undoubtedly fresh. The simple, mouthwatering dish is understandably a favorite of the restaurant’s loyal customers. The pan con jamon included perfectly seasoned and not-too-salty jamon serrano and, for just an extra buck, creamy Manchego cheese. The meat was generously piled onto pieces of freshly baked bread with tomato puree spread. The croquetas de pollo were fried potato-and-chicken-filled morsels that were on the blander side but tasty nonetheless.

We were stuffed and satisfied by the end of the meal and ended up paying $20 each with tip. The tapas dishes average around $9, so most meals will likely come to $20-$30. If you’re going in a larger group, don’t forget to try the delectable paella. The slow-cooked rice and meat dishes are famously delicious and quite large, but on the more expensive side (an average of around $40). I would highly recommend committing to the traditional manner of sharing tapas. In a large group, instead of small clusters of private conversations, you’ll end up getting involved — even if it’s just to compete for the last croqueta. It’s also the perfect way to sample the variations of a new cuisine with a smaller group of friends, and sharing with a date makes a romantic evening even more intimate. All things considered, Bodega offers an authentic culinary experience with a lively atmosphere that will make any meal special.

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