Mmmm tapas. That tasty, finger-licking thing that the Spanish get so right and us Brits just can’t get enough of. In recent years, Spanish-style eating has gone from strength to strength across the capital. Nowadays, London has got so much to offer that a top-quality pincho of tortilla no longer has to involve a RyanAir flight to Barcelona and some rather dodgy tan lines… Here’s our pick of the best tapas in London:
1. Bar Gansa
This great little spot in the heart of Camden bills itself as being one of the ‘most authentic tapas bars in London’, and it’s pretty darn hard to argue with them. A lively place, it’s decked out in terracotta decor, Spanish flags and wall to wall bottles of wine, and they hold weekly flamenco nights on Sundays.
The star of the show though at Bar Gansa really is the food, with classic small plates including serrano ham croquettes, padron peppers and Galcian octopus with potatoes among many other tasty things. Veggie options include patatas bravas, aubergine slices with honey and pan-fried courgettes with red peppers, onions and a fried egg.
Wash all of this down with a range of Hispanic-slanted cocktails, with sangria, mojitos and margaritas all on the menu.
You’ll find Bar Gansa at 2 Inverness Street, Camden, London, NW1 7JH. Nearest station is Camden Town.
Expect to see hoards of people stretching all around Soho for this one. Ever-popular, Barrafina was once named the ‘best restaurant in Britain’ at the National Restaurant Awards, and it’s secured itself a Michelin-star. When you get a taste of their tortilla, you’ll understand why.
With caramelised onions and an oozing centre so sloppy you could spread it on bread – it’s probably the best pincho you’ll ever eat outside of Spain.
Other delectable options include chorizo, potato and watercress, anchovies, baby gem lettuce and pancetta and a whole host of Spanish cheeses. Add in glasses of cava, sherry and vino tinto and you’ve got a hell of a lot to enjoy at Barrafina.
Note that you can’t make bookings at the Dean Street branch of Barrafina, but you can at their four other branches in Adelaide Street, Drury Lane, Coal Drops Yard and Borough Yards.
You’ll find Barrafina at multiple locations in London. You can check their website for further details.
3. Toro Gordo
If there’s one really good reason to head out to Hammersmith, it’s Toro Gordo – an authentic Spanish tapas restaurant-come-cocktail bar with modern Japanese decor. Literally translating to ‘fat bull’, the main attraction here are the succulent meat dishes – the Iberico ham platter and the trio cutlets of lamb are real showstoppers.
Vegetarian options include grilled green asparagus, a Manchego cheese board and oozing fried camembert – and fish fans can gorge themselves on fried sea bass and calamari rings.
It was voted the ‘best restaurant in Hammersmith’ in 2019 – no resting on their laurels there then – and the drinks list include Asian-inspired cocktails and lovely jugs of sangria.
You’ll find Toro Gordo at 121 King Street, London, W6 9JG. Nearest stations are Hammersmith and Ravenscourt Park.
4. El Pirata
“Quite simply one of my favourite restaurants” – high praise there from Fred Sirieix of First Dates fame. Well, who can blame him – it’s easy to see why. The food at El Pirata is pretty phenomenal and has been voted the ‘best Spanish tapas restaurant in London’ by the SME Awards for the past two years’ running.
It’s just a stone’s throw from Green Park and Hyde Park Corner tube stations, and whips up all the traditional classics including octopus and potatoes, mussels and chorizo and melt-in-the-mouth marinated cod cheeks.
If you’re looking for something more substantial, they’ve got two choices of paella, and for a special treat, ask for a plate of the Bellota Jamón. It’s ham from Black Iberian Pigs, which are allowed to roam in oak woodland in the southwest of Spain where they eat acorns, herbs and roots.
You’ll find El Pirata at 5–6 Down Street, London, W1J 7AQ. Nearest stations are Green Park and Hyde Park Corner.
5. Salt Yard
Combining a taste of both Spain and Italy, the cosy Salt Yard takes a simple approach to food and it’s simply bloody delicious. Don’t believe us? Well how does this sound – courgette flowers stuffed with goats cheese and honey, one of their signature dishes, is an ultimate treat for the tastebuds.
As you’d expect from a Mediterranean restaurant, there’s plenty on the menu for seafood lovers, including citrus cured trout with Sicilian blood orange and grilled octopus with peperonata and sobrasada aioli.
Their signature cocktails range from lemon sorbet and chamomile infused vodka with prosecco, as well as blood orange caipirinhas. It really is a culinary hotspot and well worth a visit if you’re ever in Fitzrovia.
You’ll find Salt Yard at 54 Goodge Street, London, W1T 4NA. Nearest station is Goodge Street.
As you enter LOBOS, a pegboard sign greets you with the words, ‘MEAT & TAPAS: the wolf is always evil if you only listen to Red Riding Hood’. Yep – it’s probably fair to say that this spot doesn’t cater for veggies.
The relatively brutalist and in-your-face theme extends into the interior too; nestled under a railway arch in London Bridge, the ceiling hangs low and the staff all sport black T-Shirts saying ‘Attitude’, ‘Captured’, ‘Instinto’. They mean business.
The idea behind it was born out of a love of excellent meat cuts, good wine, great hospitality, Spain and London, and the four restaurateurs really do all of the above brilliantly well. They’ve also got a branch in Soho if you’d prefer to stay in central.
You’ll find LOBOS at 14 Borough High Street, London, SE1 9QG. Nearest station is London Bridge.
7. Salvador and Amanda
Located just around the corner from Leicester Square and Covent Garden, this lively spot is all about great food and a familial atmosphere.
You’ll be sat down in comfy leather booths on candlelit tables, and there’s a flashy dancefloor which majorly comes into play on Thursdays through to Saturdays when a DJ spins the decks. They’ve also got regular flamenco nights, as well as reggaeton on Fridays.
They’ve recently launched their new brunch menu, which features mouth-watering Spanish cuisine that you can wash down with their signature sangria, beer, wine or bubbles, all whilst you sit back and listen to some authentic Latin music. Salud!
You’ll find Salvador and Amandor at 8 Great Newport Street, London, WC2H 7JA. Nearest stations are Leicester Square and Covent Garden.
With restaurants in both Brixton and Battersea, Boqueria combines traditional tapas with a taste of the more contemporary. Expect lively vibes and great cocktails at this whitewashed, authentic spot, which is named after Barcelona’s famous food market.
As you wine and dine, you’ll likely hear traditional flamenco music on the soundsystem, and you’ll be attended by a whole host of friendly staff.
You’ll bring back memories of your trips to Spain as you tuck into baby squid, patatas bravas, chorizo with cider and grilled king prawns with parsley and plenty of garlic. This is a really great one if you’re ever south of the river. No wonder that Spaniards name it among the best restaurants for Spanish food in town.
You’ll find Boqueria at 192 Acre Lane, London, SW2 5UL and at 278 Queenstown Road, Nine Elms, London, SW8 4LT. Nearest stations are Brixton and Battersea.
A strong condenser for the best tapas in London here. Brindisa has five tapas bars in the city serving up a range of authentic Spanish food to hungry Londoners. At Brindisa Battersea you can even eat breakfast like the Spaniards with ‘El Desayuno’ – after all, it is the most important meal of the day!
Tapas dishes served are around £4–6 and they’ll be brought out in intervals – there’s everything from vegetarian options to seafood to artisanal ham and cheeses. The arroz negro is pretty much to die for, and the Galician octopus with capers, paprika and olive oil is pretty much to die for.
For dessert, don’t miss the churros which are dripping with an oozing chocolate sauce. Sounds pretty good to us! They’ve also got a great summer terrace.
You’ll find Brindisa at multiple locations in London. You can check their website for further details.
Rounding off this list of the best tapas in London is Laxeiro. This small and rustic restaurant is situated right on Columbia Road, and whips up a whole host of north-western Spanish specialities and hearty tapas-style dishes.
Now in its 35th year, this family-run spot is a firm favourite among locals round this neck of the woods, and it started out as a lovely deli – the first of its kind in the East End. Go for the pan-fried prawns with garlic and chilli oil or the cod and coley adobo from the beaches of Málaga.
There’s also a lovely wine list with some of the best wines from north-western Spain.
You’ll find Laxeiro at 93 Columbia Road, London, E2 7RG. Nearest stations are Hoxton and Cambridge Heath.