Travel and days out

The Ultimate Guide to Discover the Best Tapas in Spain

best tapas cities in Spain

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Spain is a renowned tourist destination for many reasons: its stunning architecture and historical landmarks, Mediterranean atmosphere, diverse landscape, tasty food… The list goes on.

But if there’s one thing Spain is genuinely famous for, it would be its tapas. Tapas are small dishes typically served as appetizers in Spanish restaurants and bars. And while they may be small in size, they are undoubtedly extensive in flavor!

There are endless possibilities for tapas recipes, which is why it can sometimes be hard to decide what to order when you’re in Spain. But don’t worry – we’re here to help. This guide will introduce you to some of the most popular and delicious tapas dishes you can find on your next holiday to Spain. So whether you’re looking for something traditional or a little more modern, we’ve covered you.

So without further ado, let’s get started!

Where are the best places to eat tapas in each city?

There are a few great places to eat tapas in each city. Here are some of our favorites:

Madrid

Begin your exploration of one of the capital city’s most classic areas: La Latina district. Some of the most renowned tavernas can be found on streets like Cava Alta, Cava Baja, and Humilladeros, which are often bustling with people who appreciate tapas, especially on weekends. Patatas bravas, mature cheeses, potato omelets, croquettes, olives, and offal dishes are Madrid specialties. It’s common to find these supplied for free with your drink.

Barcelona

Passeig de Sant Joan is one of the city’s most fashionable streets and where you can expect some of the best tapas. While the classic tapas areas are Poble Sec and Sant Antoni, the hottest new bite-sized delicacies may be found on Passeig de Sant Joan.

What are the most popular tapas? They range from the most basic (sometimes tweaked to create modern inventions) such as Bombas (whole fried potatoes loaded with meat), potato salad, and small sandwiches to haute cuisine in tapas. This essentially reflects the influence of celebrated Spanish chef Ferran Adrià and Barcelona’s avant-garde chefs.

San Sebastian

First and foremost, if you’re enjoying tapas in San Sebastián, you should know that they’re called pintxos here (pinchos). Make a point of visiting the historic town center and streets such as Calle 31 de Agosto, Calle Pescadera, and Calle Fermn Calbeltón.

The best thing about Donostiary’s ancient town center is the variety of tastes available for tapas. From the fundamental Gilda (olive, hot pepper, and anchovy) to more innovative ideas, you can try as many as you want here.

Bilbao Ancient town

Although tapas may be found throughout Bilbao, visiting the old town center and streets like Plaza Nueva, Calle Somerda, and Calle del Perro is advisable. Here, the possibilities are nearly limitless for pintxos of squid, omelet, mussels, mushrooms, fish, etc.

Granada

Many consider Granada one of the best cities for bar-hopping and savoring tapas, which are frequently complimentary with a drink. It’s no surprise that Granada is known as the “Tapas City.” Tiny fried fish, patatas bravas, pinchos morunos (pork skewers), sausage montaditos on toast, and potatoes with alioli are among the regional specialties. You can get them almost anywhere in Granada, but it’s fun to munch them while taking in the sights.

What is the history of tapas and how did it develop in Spain?

Tapas are a wide variety of appetizers or snacks in Spanish cuisine. They may be cold (such as mixed olives and cheese) or hot (such as shrimp in garlic sauce), and many are fried.

Tapas originally were slices of bread or meat, which sherry drinkers in Andalusian taverns used to cover their glasses between sips. This was a practical measure to prevent fruit flies from hovering over the sweet wine. The meat used to cover the sherry was often ham or chorizo, both ubiquitous ingredients in tapas today.

Over time, the concept of tapas has evolved significantly. Now, it is not uncommon for people to order several different tapas dishes and share them with friends as a meal. This is especially common in bars and cafes, where standing and eating at the counter is customary.

What is the difference between Spanish tapas and other small plates from around the world?

Spanish tapas are small dishes that are typically served as appetizers. They can be done hot or cold and are often made with simple ingredients like bread, cheese, olives, and ham.

Other small plates from around the world vary significantly regarding ingredients and preparation. For example, Japanese sushi is a small plate typically made with raw fish, rice, and vegetables. Indian chaat is another small plate often made with fried dough, potatoes, and spices.

So there you have it: a delicious guide to some of the best tapas in Spain.

Award-winning writer, blogger, social media consultant and charity campaigner. Social Media Manager for BritMums, the UK's largest parent blogging network Freelance clients include Firefly Communications and Save the Children UK. Works with brands on marketing projects. Examples include Visit Orlando, Give As You Live, Coca-Cola and Kodak. Cambridge Law graduate with many years experience working across three sectors in advice, media relations, events, training and project management. Available for hire at affordable rates.

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