Some friends and I are heading to Spain in a few weeks. We're not looking for El Bulli-caliber recommendations, but more DR.com users' favorites tapas bars, etc. Gracias!
There are far too many wonderful tapas places to get lost in in Madrid. Avoid some of the expensive joints right around the Plaza Mayor unless you're simply into the outdoor scene and checking out the people. The only exception to that would be to try "toro tapas bar" (I'm unsure of the name) [La Torre del Oro] that's right in the plaza. It's got pics of bullfighters all over, bulls heads on the wall and black and white checked tiles. Our favorite tapas crawls revolved in the area that stretched from Plaza Mayor down towards the Prado, around Plaza Santa Ana. Chocolateria San Gines, while popular, is a worthy late night (early morning?) stop for chocolate and churros.
Also in Madrid, the Asturian cider at Bar Neru.
My two biggest recommendations would be:
1) Hop on a bus to Chinchón, about a half hour or so outside Madrid. Aside from being an incredibly beautiful small town frequented by Madrilenos on weekends, you'll find the most incredible roast lamb at Meson Cuevas del Vino. A surprisingly huge place when you compare it to the unassuming entry door. Visit the wine caves downstairs and drink the house tinto.
2) Lots of travel help can be found at Madrid Man's website, which is where I frequently get help on travel to Spain such as the type you're asking for.
If you're heading towards Salamanca, I have another restaurant recommendation.