La Venencia isn't a trendy hip tapas bar. If you want cocktails or cañas or vermouth, you will have to go elsewhere. They serve sherry here, that's it. So, if you don't like sherry, don't go. If you have never had good sherry before, though, give it a try. They have different kinds, from very dry to sweet. I am a huge fan of the manzanilla. It costs 2 euros per glass and is delicious.
The charm of the place is in its history and its unchanging character. Yes, it is old. Yes, it is small and a little bit dark. The furniture is old. It looks like it hasn't been painted since 1934. For me, that gives it a wonderful atmosphere. It's a trip back in time to old working class Madrid. It's not dirty or run down. It's just not glitzy and modern. It's traditional. I love that they don't try to change who they are, and they remain true to their roots.This is honestly one of my favorite places in Madrid.
The bartenders are old school, professional, serious. They do what they're paid to do and don't depend on tips. They are attentive, but not fawning. I've been here many times and never found them to be rude. But they aren't going to stand around and chat with you all day. The bar attracts a lot of local patrons as well as tourists. Given how busy it gets at times, I'm amazed at how the bartenders manage to take care of so many people and not loose their patience.
It's the policy of the bar to not allow photos of the interior. It annoys some people, but there's something to be said for living in the moment and enjoying the time spent here without documenting it all on instagram. Put your phone away, it won't kill you.
I prefer going mid day during the week when it's not quite so crowded. You can sit and read or talk to friends over a glass or two of sherry and spend a very nice hour here. They serve some very basic food to go along with the sherry (olives, cheese, ham). Don't go expecting to make a night of it here and have a full meal. Go to for an hour or so and enjoy it for what it is. If you are looking for more variety in food and drink, try the Cervecería Alemana on the Plaza Santa Ana right around the corner. It's more of a typical Madrid bar/ tapas place and also has a historical feel to it.