True Spanish tapas is something special. This isn’t the kind you get served sticky and over-marinated on the British high street, oh no. This is tapas as it was meant to be eaten: garlicky prawns that explode with intense flavour; crisp
y squid that melts within its delicate batter; fluffy tortilla, smoky peppers and chorizo that picks your taste buds up and runs away with them. Sounds good? Here are the best places to get a bellyful.
Logroño: Tapas is about quality not quantity – but in a town with over 50 tapas bars you can be pretty sure that you’ll find something to suit your tastes. Logroño has a greater concentration of tapas spots than almost anywhere else in Spain, and with each restaurant and bar serving its own specialities, this is the perfect place to go on a tasting tour. Try Las Cubanas for hunger-sating pork and potato, or for lighter seafood specialities Puperia la Universidad is well worth a visit.
Gaucin: This small, quiet village not far from the seaside resort of Malaga is distinguished by one of the finest local tapas bars in Spain. Paco Pepe’s is owned and run by Pepe himself, and the food packs such a punch that tourists visit the village simply to eat there. The menu changes daily, and ranges from perfectly cooked asparagus to fermented cheese and local pork – but the best thing about this place is the atmosphere, which is as quintessentially Spanish as it’s possible to get.
Valencia: From the rural to the metropolitan – Valencia is one of Spain’s largest and most beautiful cities and has a collection of world-beating tapas bars to boot. Our favourites include Tasca Angel for eccentric but delicious dishes delivered in the warmth of a wonderfully authentic atmosphere; the stunning Las Cuevas, which is worth a visit simply for its location in ceramic-lined underground catacombs; and Sagardi, best known for its mouth-watering topped bread.
Madrid: You can eat tapas all over Spain, but nowhere is it so close to being an haute cuisine art form as in Madrid. The Spanish capital is bursting with high-class tapas restaurants, including Boitin – registered in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest restaurant in the world. If you’re looking for something a little more cutting edge, try El Txoko (pronounced ‘choco’), where the dishes on offer include baked onions stuffed with goat’s cheese, cod soufflé and anchovies that melt on the tongue. For an upbeat vibe, La Escondida behind the Plaza Mayor has nightly music and is famous for its great service.
Finally, it’s worth noting that there are still plenty of Spanish bars that offer tapas for free when you order drinks. Snacks served gratis may not pack the flavoursome punch of restaurant tapas, but they still come as a welcome treat. The three cities most renowned for their free tapas culture are Salamanca, Granada and Leon.
If you are looking for further inspiration for your holiday in Spain, visit the Thomas Cook website.