Spanish restaurants with tapas-style meals are taking the world by storm, and London is no exception.
That’s because tapas are perfect for every occasion: they’re easy to share with friends, there are a variety of options even for the pickiest of diners, and, of course, they’re small enough to devour all by yourself. Here we present you with a list of the best tapas bars in London you simply cannot miss.
This famous restaurant was named the Best of the Year in London at the OFM Awards in 2016. Their offer is simple—authentic tapas—but even Spanish guests claim that tapas at Barrafina are even better than what they’re used to eating back home.
There are several locations, but the one in Covent Garden has the most genuine tapas bar feel. Each location offers daily specials, which are very much worth trying. From the menu, try the rabo de toro (oxtail), and definitely consider getting rice of the day (arroz del día). Paired with some wine from the impressive Spanish wine collection, this is going to be an unforgettable meal.
2. Lobos Soho
Lobos is exactly where to go if you enjoy authentic flavors, trying new things, and a modern industrial-yet-cozy vibe. It’s not a fancy restaurant; on the contrary, it’s relaxed and easygoing with wooden panels on the walls and the bar right in the dining area, making it a perfect casual workday dinner spot. The secret to ordering is to do it like they traditionally do in Spain: get several things from the tapas menu for the whole table to share, and one main (also called “big ones” on the menu).
This restaurant offers all the essential tapas: plenty of cheeses and olives, patatas bravas cooked just to the right point of crispy, tender tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelet with potatoes) and more. Our favorites, and two “must-gets,” are the tapa of black rice with prawns and aioli, and the octopus leg with sweet potato and chorizo.
Based in Fitzrovia, this bar has a chill and young vibe with an affordable price tag. They have a fabulous selection of wine and delicious cocktails, and the staff always gets positive reviews for being attentive and quick with guests.
Here, you can try traditional tapas as well as more modern and creative options. Plates are small and meant to be shared, so consider getting five or six smaller plates for every two guests.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so make sure to make reservations for dinner time in advance, especially on the weekends. Our favorite options include unexpected croquetas de remolacha y queso de cabra trufado (beetroot and truffled goat’s cheese croquettes) and timeless chorizo a la brasa (charcoal-grilled Spanish chorizo with piquillo sauce and saffron-pickled cabbage).
4. José Tapas Bar
The first restaurant of Chef—yes, you guessed right—José Pizarro is inspired by both the busy Boquería market in Barcelona and the sunny streets of Andalusia. Here you won’t find a fixed menu: it changes on a daily basis, and the offerings are written out on a blackboard.
Located on Bermondsey Street, it looks just as Spanish from the outside as it does on the inside: a small space full of wooden elements, which is always busy and gets pretty loud in true Spanish fashion, and yet has a homey ambience to it.
You get a full-on sensory experience at José Tapas Bar: jamón legs are hanging from the ceilings, wine bottles are lined up on the walls, and the chefs are right on the other side of the bar, cooking right in front of you. We highly recommend trying the pork cheek 5J with sweet potato if it’s available on the day you go.
5. Ibérica Marylebone
As the name implies, at this restaurant you can devour the best Spanish ham!
There is a special section on the menu for jamón platters, and a wide selection of both classic and contemporary tapas, paellas and desserts. Our picks would be the twice-cooked lamb with marinated cherry tomatoes and red peppers from León, confit artichoke served with a sherry sauce, and churros con chocolate to kick the sweet tooth to the curb.
But the food isn’t all we love about this place. Leather and wood in the interior and lots of natural light, along with the elegant cutlery and glassware create an amazing dining experience that feels luxurious, perfect for both a date night and a meeting with business partners at any time of day or night.