Eater London is kicking off a new series of maps dedicated to navigating the city’s best restaurants according to cuisine type. Given the pedigree of restaurants in the category, Spanish was a sensible place to start. Tapas, lest it be forgotten, are small plates. And London is in love with that menu convention. So let’s go back to one of the places it all started — the restaurants in London who serve the best jamón ibérico de bellota, boquerones, tortilla, patatas bravas and more, perfect for both infernal sunshine and the need to dine outside.Read More
Where to Eat Spanish Food in the Sunshine Right Now
The ultimate directory for where to find the best jamón, tortilla, and sherry
The Newington Green locale has enjoyed a recent rise in the number of quality restaurants opening. And yet its best has been around for the last six years: a comparatively unheralded but excellent Spanish restaurant, spilling out on to its patio just off the green itself. Some classics — like, when it appears, a fine tortilla — are executed with aplomb, but its with the modern preparation of Spanish ingredients that the kitchen likes to flex. Cod with hispi cabbage and Iberian pork, for example, or rare grilled beef with anchovy emulsion. A wine opus, with a decent selection from notable Spanish producers, will keep enthusiasts occupied.
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Various regions of Spain — chief among them Catalunya and the Moorish South — find more-or-less faithful representation at this Clerkenwell classic. Unusually for London, the veg-led dishes are easily as good as the more typically carnivorous ones — with none better than the superlative fried chickpeas. The pioneering drink offering is also a strong suit, introducing London to the joys of ice cold fino or an early-evening vermouth, not to mention malaga raisin ice cream drowned in Pedro Ximenez on the newly tabled Exmouth Market.
Fun, friendly and partly standy-uppy, in true tapas-bar style, Copita adventures far beyond patatas bravas. On the daily changing menu, you might find smoked anchovies with pork crackling; sweet potato with bravas sauce, alioli and peanuts; and crusted sweetbread with butterbean puree. The inviting all-Spanish wine list features sparkling Raventos and a dozen different sherries, now best sipped on the pedestrianised Soho street on which it sits.
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Yes, it’s Michelin-starred, but it’s so much more than that: the sheer gustatory thrills of meat and seafood, especially anything grilled, are worth every moment in a queue. Request a glass of godello or Hart Bros Special Selection manzanilla en rama, and look forward to a thrilling, molten tortilla, grilled quail with alioli, and pluma Ibérica, as well as sensational specials like razor clams, carabineros, and pig’s trotter and prawns, with a coveted terrace a newly cherished string to its bow.
The first solo project from ex-Barrafina executive chef Nieves Barragan Mohacho has taken over its considerable outdoor street space for “Sabor Al Fresco,” before reopening the restaurant proper in autumn. It still wants to explore the regional culinary diversity of Spain, and the coexistence of dishes like Galician octopus cooked the traditional way in giant copper pots, suckling pig roasted in a custom-built stone convection oven, or a chicken oyster bocadillo with a glass of vermouth served on tap work to make this truly Spanish bar, restaurant, and asador (grill) the most accomplished in the city.
6. Tapas Brindisa London Bridge
This now-chain of tapas bars across the city’s original Borough market site was important not just for its setting the template for the modern tapas restaurant in London, but also for its wholesale business’ import of high quality Spanish ingredients. With a wealth of pavement tables, it’s spilling into the market community more than ever, but pour one out for the celebrated chorizo roll, yet to return to its solitary grill station.
It’s true: Many places in London serve Spanish food and call it tapas. But José Pizarro does it differently, or rather, he does it how they do it in Spain. This is a bar — a very good one — serving up jamón ibérico, croquetas, grilled seafood and plentiful Rioja, with its usual squished camaraderie swapped for outdoor tables and social distancing.
8. Bar Tozino
London SE1 3PA, UK
This bar, located under the arches on Maltby Street, is perhaps the most dedicated London purveyor of jamón ibérico de bellota. Vintage and provenance are the focus of the cured meat, which is everywhere, hanging from the ceiling. Every plate is carved to order, and lingering on the terrace outside the arch is encouraged.
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9. Cambio De Tercio
Equal parts quirky and classy, Cambio de Tercio has been a South Ken gem since it opened in 1995; its menu reads like a distillation of the best things to happen to Spanish food from the time of Cervantes to the present day. Go traditional with jamón ibérico followed by stickily caramelised oxtail; if that doesn’t appeal, go full Ferran Adrià bonkers with a tasting menu for the table. The wine list is as thick as Don Quixote; the gin-tonics come in the vast balloon copas so beloved in the king of drinks’ spiritual home; and the tables outside, windows flung open, make the Old Brompton Road feel like the Camino de Santiago. With more cars.
10. The Little Taperia
Blessed with a smart patio garden for outdoor dining, quality pan con tomate (a very useful indicator of a Spanish restaurant’s creds) bodes well at this buzzy bar and kitchen, where a series of small areas lead back from a cosy front room with a marble bar. From the shortish, largely traditional tapas menu, morcilla scotch eggs, salt cod fritters, and stuffed baby squid are particularly commendable. Sherry lovers will be pleased to see manzanilla en rama on the wine list.
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