Ah, London! A city where cultures collide, and culinary delights are as diverse as the people who inhabit it. From the bustling streets of Camden to the posh lanes of Kensington, London’s food scene is a smorgasbord of flavours, waiting to be explored. And if you’re a fan of small plates packed with big flavours, then you’re in for a treat. Let’s dive into the world of tapas in London, shall we?
Spanish food in London
When you think of Spanish food, images of sun-soaked terraces, pitchers of sangria, and plates of paella might come to mind. But London, with its ever-evolving food scene, has embraced the tapas culture with open arms. From traditional dishes to modern twists, the city offers a plethora of options for those looking to indulge in a Spanish fiesta of flavours.
|Nine best tapas restaurants in London
Situated on vibrant Bermondsey Street, José Tapas Bar is a culinary gem that brings the heart of Spain to London. Established by the acclaimed chef José Pizarro, this cozy tapas joint exudes authenticity. While the city’s food scene is ever-evolving with new establishments popping up, José Tapas Bar remains a beloved classic, reminding us of the sheer joy of rediscovering old favourites.
The ambiance, with its limited seating and bustling atmosphere, ensures an intimate dining experience. The bar’s limited seating ensures every visit feels personal. As you step in, the aroma of authentic Spanish dishes wafts through, promising a delightful culinary journey ahead. Guests are treated to a menu that boasts of Iberian classics: from the rich pan con tomate to the delectable squid ink and prawn croquettes, and the ever-popular tortilla. A must-try, as are the thin slivers of Iberico pork neck, cooked to medium-rare perfection.
But it’s not just about the food. The wine list is curated with precision. A particular standout is the Flor de Vetus Verdejo, a wine so exquisite that it’s bound to turn heads and spark conversations. Start your meal with a dry sherry paired with the finest Iberico ham, setting the tone for the gastronomic delights to follow.
José Tapas Bar is a celebration of simplicity. It’s about dishes crafted with the finest produce, served without any pretence. If you’re looking for an authentic Spanish experience in the heart of London, José Tapas Bar is where you should be.
Address: 104 Bermondsey Street, Bermondsey, SE1 3UB
First & last food orders: Monday to Saturday 12:00 until 22:30, Sunday 12:00 until 22:00
Reservation not possible, walk-ins only on a first-come-first-served basis
Llerena Ibérico Tapas Bar
Llerena takes its name from a small village in Extremadura, southwest Spain, where four generations of the family have raised Iberian pigs since 1939. They produce authentic “Bellota” jamón ibérico, chorizo, and other pork delicacies. The family business, Jamón y Salud, was created around the farm to sell these gourmet products.
The family have brought this exquisite taste of Spain to Islington with the Llerena Ibérico Tapas Bar. It has 5/5 TripAdvisor rating and won a Travellers’ Award in 2022. You can sample ibérico pork grilled meats, the finest jamón, creamy Torta del Casar cheese, and other traditional delights from Extremadura, complemented by the best wines from the region.
The venue is described as a “Neighbourhood Gem” that’s good for special occasions and has a charming ambiance. The restaurant offers a variety of Spanish dishes, including tapas, and is known for its authentic flavours and ingredients.
Address: 167 Upper Street, Islington, N1 1US
Open: Monday & Tuesday 17:30 until 23:00, Wednesday & Thursday 12:00 until 23:00, Friday & Saturday 12:00 until 00:00, Sunday 12:00 until 22:00
Book a table at Llerena Ibérico Tapas Bar
Glamour meets gastronomy at Barrafina. With branches spread across London’s prime locations, this Michelin-starred tapas bar is a testament to the city’s love for Spanish cuisine. From their iconic tortilla to an array of Spanish cheeses, every dish is a masterpiece. It’s so popular, that queues form just minutes after opening. But don’t let that deter you; the wait is part of the experience.
When it comes to food, Barrafina doesn’t disappoint. Every dish, from the crisp-skinned chicken in Romesco sauce to the molten tortilla, is a testament to the restaurant’s commitment to authentic Spanish flavours. The smoky, paprika-dusted octopus with tiny capers and the honey-drizzled, deep-fried zucchini flower stuffed with salty goat’s cheese are must-tries!
Despite the fast-paced environment, the staff remains cheerful and attentive. They ensure that every diner, whether solo or in a group, has a memorable experience.
The clientele is diverse, from media and advertising professionals during weekday lunches to celebrities in the evenings and weekends. The drinks menu is a journey through Spain’s finest, with a focus on sherries and wines. Start with a glass of Fino or a full-bodied Manzanilla, and as you progress through your meal, explore the Spanish wine list, which offers plenty of options by the glass.
Address: 10 Adelaide Street, Covent Garden, WC2N 4HZ – 43 Drury Lane, Covent Garden, WC2B 5AJ – 26-27 Dean Street, Soho, W1D 3LL – Coal Drops Yard, Kings Cross, N1C 4AB – 2 Dirty Lane, Borough, SE1 9PA
Open: Monday to Saturday 12:00 until 15:00 and 17:00 until 23:00, Sunday 12:00 until 15:00 and 17:00 until 22:00 – Drury Lane open Monday 17:00 until 23:00, Tuesday to Saturday 12:00 until 15:00 and 17:00 until 23:00, Sunday 12:00 until 15:00 and 17:00 until 22:00
Book a table at Barrafina
The Counter at Sabor
Rustic charm meets modern flavours at The Counter at Sabor. Whether it’s the tortilla made with txistorra sausage or the goat cheese ice cream with liquorice sauce, every dish is a revelation.
Nestled in the heart of Mayfair, The Counter is not just a place to dine; it’s an experience. The seating is intimate, best suited for pairs or solo diners who don’t mind sharing their food. The atmosphere is electric, with the open kitchen allowing you to witness the culinary magic unfold right before your eyes.
Staff members, with their infectious energy, chalk down your order right next to you on the counter and engage in a way that makes you feel like you’re eating with friends.
One of the standout dishes is the Basque Country-inspired tortilla made with salted cod. The stuffed chipirón (baby squid) is a must-try. It lies in its own black ink, reminiscent of a dramatic aquatic crime scene, accompanied by golden breaded hake and a dollop of aioli.
For those with a sweet tooth, leave some room for the tartaleta. It’s a dream made of delicate pastry filled with fragrant rhubarb and creamy mascarpone, making it the perfect sweet ending to a Spanish feast!
Address: 35 – 37 Heddon Street, Mayfair, W1B 4BR
Open: Tuesday to Saturday 12:00 until 14:30 and 17:30 until 22:30
Reservation not possible, walk-ins only on a first-come-first-served basis
Situated on Beak Street, Bar Kroketa is a delightful haven for croqueta enthusiasts. These crispy delights come in both savoury and sweet varieties, with the gambas croqueta, topped with a seafood aioli, being a standout.
For those with a sweet tooth, the dessert croqueta drizzled with salted caramel and filled with molten chocolate is pure bliss!
The restaurant’s passion for Spanish culture is evident in its décor. The ambiance is authentically northern-Spanish: intimate, rustic, and buzzing with energy, making it an ideal spot for both quick bites and leisurely sips of Cava Brut Reserva.
The drinks menu complements the food perfectly, offering a range of traditional Spanish wines. And if you’re unsure of what to pair with your croqueta, the friendly servers are always ready with expert recommendations.
Address: 21 Beak Street, Carnaby, W1F 9RR
Open: Monday 12:00 until 22:30, Tuesday to Sturday 12:00 until 23:30 Sunday 12:00 until 22:30 – Last orders: 30 minutes prior to closing
Book a table at Bar Kroketa
Nestled in the heart of Soho, Copita offers a genuine Spanish dining experience that’s hard to find elsewhere in London. From the moment you step in, the ambiance and laidback vibe transports you straight to Spain.
The menu is a delightful blend of traditional and inventive tapas. Highlights include the onglet with roasted shallots and chimichurri, the flavourful Andalusian chickpea and spinach stew, and the black ink squid croquettes that are to die for.
For lovers of the sweet treats, they offer desserts paired with wine suggestions. The coffee and burnt milk ice-cream with shortbread, complemented by dolce mataro, is a noteworthy combination.
The drink selection is commendable, with a range of Spanish wines and sherries available by the glass, and their cortado coffee is a must-try.
Sandwiched between a couple of estate agents on Stoke Newington Church Street, Escocesa combines the best Scottish seafood with traditional Spanish tapas flair. Founded by Stephen Lironi, a Scot with a passion for the rich flavours of Spain, Escocesa intertwines two distinct cultures to fantastic dishes.
As you step inside, the place feels decidedly Spanish. Like an true tapas spot, the bar wraps around the bustling open kitchen to offer a front-row seat to the culinary magic. Sip on Spanish wines while you watch your tapas being crafted from scratch.
The menu is influenced by the Basque and Catalan homes of the operations manager and head chef. It’s a seafood lover’s dream, with standout dishes like the freshly caught langoustines, and the tender octopus. The salt cod croquettes are the perfect combination of a crispy outside and melt-in-the-mouth middle.
The drinks menu is equally impressive, featuring fabulous cocktails adorned with fresh ginger or fig slices.
Address: 67 Stoke Newington Church Street, Stoke Newington, N16 0AR
Open: Monday to Thursday 18:00 until 22:00, Friday 17:00 until 21:00, Saturday 12:00 until 15:30 and 17:00 until 23:00, Sunday 12:00 until 15:30 and 17:00 until 21:30
Book a table at Escocesa
Cambio de Tercio
Cambio de Tercio is a gem on Old Brompton Road, celebrated for its innovative approach to traditional Spanish cuisine. As it approaches its third decade, the restaurant continues to impress its patrons with its ever-evolving menu and vibrant atmosphere, a bustling dining room and knowledgeable staff.
It’s famous for its unique twists on classic dishes. For instance, their ‘nuevas’ patatas bravas are hollowed out and filled with spicy tomato and alioli, offering a delightful surprise. Another standout is their gazpacho, which is creatively presented with tomato ‘water’, cherry sorbet, cod brandade, and cristal bread.
For the carnivores, the spicy suckling pig meatballs with crunchy ear, poached skate, and Colombian tamarillo are a must-try. They also offer an extensive all-Spanish wine list, complemented by a rich selection of gins and sherries.
Located in the vibrant heart of Soho, Maresco is more than just a tapas bar; it’s a culinary journey that intertwines the rich flavours of Spain with the fresh bounty of Scottish seafood.
As a sister site to the renowned Stoke Newington’s Escocesa, Maresco has inherited the same commitment to quality and authenticity. It has a 4.5/5 rating on TripAdvisor and reviews from diners highlight the amazing service, with the staff going above and beyond to ensure a memorable experience.
The menu is a testament to the restaurant’s dedication to innovation and tradition. Signature dishes like courgette flowers stuffed with goat cheese and the thick-cut pan con tomate showcase the chef’s prowess in blending classic tapas with modern twists.
But it’s not just the food that stands out. Maresco’s cocktail menu is a curated selection of drinks that complement the dishes perfectly.
Address: 45 Berwick Street, Soho, W1F 8SF
Open: Monday to Thursday 12:00 until 15:00 and 17:00 until 23:00, Friday 17:00 until 21:00, Friday and Saturday 12:00 until 15:00 and 17:00 until 23:30
Book a table at Maresco
¡Salud! to London’s tapas scene
London’s tapas scene is a testament to the city’s love for global flavours. Whether you’re a local or a traveller, these tapas bars promise an unforgettable culinary journey. So, gather your friends, order a pitcher of sangria (or Tinto de Verano if you want to drink like the Spanish do), and embark on a Spanish fiesta right in the heart of London. ¡Salud!
After a varied career, I now earn a crust by creating digital content as one-half of The Jetset Boyz. I love exploring new places, traveling in style & staying in luxurious surroundings. I have a passion for food, whether it’s enjoying Michelin-starred fine dining at a swanky restaurant or tucking into local street food at a food stall.