One of my all-time favorite tapas in Spain is the fried salt cod at Casa Labra--the old restaurant and taberna in Madrid. One of Ana's all-time favorite tapas is Casa Labra's salt cod croquettes. So whenever we're in Madrid (and we were these last two weeks), we go to Casa Labra.
In the picture below, the croquette is on the left and the fried bacalao--also called soldaditos de Pavia, or "little soldiers of Pavia"--is on the right. Ana had her croquette with a caña (short beer) and I had mine with the house wine--a Valdepeñas, I think. Both were beautiful.
What makes these tapas so fabulous is the salt cod, which is Casa Labra's specialty. Andrés, Ana's dad, always praised it as top quality. One of things I like about the cod at Casa Labra is that they use the fattier, bonier cuts. These cuts may not have the reputation (or price) of the solomillo or lomo de bacalao, but they have a great texture and flavor, and they are perfect for these tapas--far more so than the more expensive cuts would be. You may come across a bone in the fried cod (not the croquette) at Casa Labra, but don't worry. The bones are few and large and no more difficult to manage than those of a buffalo wing.
Casa Labra is an old-fashioned place (it was founded in 1860) and thankfully still does things in the old way. This can be confusing to the newcomer. You buy the tapa or pincho at a side counter, and the drinks at the bar. You pay for each separately.
Here's the side counter (to your right as you enter).
And here's the bar.
You can find Casa Labra right in the center of Madrid, near Puerta del Sol, at Tetuán 12.