The truth about Spanish Tapas: a Rough Guide

There are some really stylish Spanish tapas bars in London, if you’re searching for some enticing tapas or other authentic cuisine from the Iberian Peninsula. The proper way to eat tapas is to sample a particular specialty, such as pulpo gallego, a third for pimientos de Padrón and then maybe just fino along with slices of mojama – the locals wouldn’t dream of ordering anything else. In Granada, they are called tapas but in Madrid they vary hugely, so when you order a drink, 99 percent of the time it will come with something to snack on, while in Seville the tapas tend to be higher quality and for 2€ you get the freedom to choose according to your mood.


One legend states that in order to keep the sand out of the king’s drink the bartender topped the wine glass, the king loved the idea and thus tapas were born. In Galicia, after ordering a drink the waiter will read you a list of tapas to choose which small plate you’d like, and the vast majority of foods are regional. Spain is known throughout the world due to its seafood and fresh vegetables, but while you may think Spanish cuisine is all about paella, there are many more dishes that are just as popular among locals throughout the country.


Without question the most popular tapa is tortilla de patata, this titan of tapas smashed with egg in a hot skillet, and many bars serve tortilla sliced into cubes. If you’re looking for a tapas dining guide, we know some things about eating in Spain, especially when it comes to tapas, which come plate-sized, bite-sized, hot or cold, free, atop bread or in a clay pot. Tortilla is the king of Spanish tapas, but jamón is succulent as a freshly shaved slice of cured Iberian acorn-fed ham and croquettes are just about as heavenly as heavenly gets, one of our favorite tapas in Spain.


The delicious Iberian tapas might come from the northern Spanish laborers whom, in order to offset the alcohol, bartenders would serve a bit of food, a tradition that soon became popular, but the history is less than clear. Olives are one of the most typical free tapas after ordering a drink, often served on a toothpick with anchovies, and Patatas Bravas consists of fried potatoes topped with a spicy red sauce and carrillada pops up on menus across Madrid with its rich flavor, as well. Everyone thinks they know tapas, yet nothing can prepare you for the variety available, especially if all you’ve ever encountered is deep-fried squid.


So try some Pimientos de Padrón, little green peppers served pan-fried. Spain wouldn’t be Spain without their origins and Spaniards have been arguing about tapas theory, the verb tapar, and their popular legends. Some of Spain’s most famous tapas areas are Granada (with typically large and free tapas famous for getting increasingly more fantastic) and Basque Country (San Sebastian, with its tapas atop a medallion of baguette), possibly representing the two extremes.

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