Tapa Tapa(s)

Spain and India have two things in common: the love for “tapas” or snacks & the penchant for eating late into the night. Tapas can be found everywhere in India- from our odd road side stalls serving up chaats, pani puris, jhaalmuri to delicious cholay batura, vada pau, kathi rolls, kebabs….droll….I need to stop now.

It’s no surprise that Indians visiting Spain embrace the concept of tapas, eating into the wee hours of morning (Restaurants in Spain are open from 8pm-1am for dinner service)

So here it is-the guide to understanding Spanish Tapas

Tapas are small plates of tasty treats, typically fried, best accompanied with a glass of cold sherry or sangria or lager. In Spain, most tapas bars pack up between 6pm-11pm with people catching up with friends & colleagues. The tapas are usually displayed on the bar counter top, a standard bar having at least 10 different varieties to choose from.

I have provided a list of tapas that are served across the country, however this can vary from region to region. A term you will often come across is “Raciones”, which refers to a larger plate of tapas, serves 3-4 people


Croquettes: seen almost everywhere these croquettes are stuffed with tiny diced bits of Iberian Ham- a speciality in Spain
Patatas Bravas: a classic, deep fried small squares of potatoes with a paprika spiced tomato sauce
Patatas Aili Oilio: deep fried small squares of potatoes with a garlic infused mayonnaise sauce
Aceitunas: assorted olives, usually served complimentary with drinks

Pescado Frito/ Calamares Frito: Deep fried small fish/ Deep fried Calamari
Sepia a la plancha: grilled cuttlefish served with a lemon wedge
Andaluzia Gazpacho:famous chilled soup made with plump ripe tomatoes, garlic & peppers


Chorizo: sausages stewed with red wine
Foie al Pedro Ximenez: duck liver with Pedro Ximenez( sweet sherry wine) sauce
The vegetarian version-Deep fried aubergines in a Pedro Ximenez sauce

Tortilla: a spanish omellette, usually stuffed with potatoes and spinach
Asparagus Tortilla: Spanish omellette with asparagus
Queso Manchego: cheese made from sheep’s milk. A Spanish staple
Jamon y Queso: a platter of Jamon Serrano ham and manchego cheese


Pimentos de padron: type of green chillies known as padron, fan fried & sprinkled with sea salt
Albondigas: Country fare, delicious meatballs in a thick tomato gravy
Piquolo peppers with tuna


Lentejas al estilo del Alto Aragon: Lentils or broad beans slowly cooked with garlic, tiny bits of ham & sausage
Pintxo( pincho) de Pollo/Gambas: grilled skewer stick of chicken/prawn
Montaditos: tiny savouries fixed with a pick onto bread- ham & cheese being the favourite

Pulpo alla Gallega: a Galician speciality of octopus braised with garlic, paprika & olive oil
Gambas al ajillo: Prawns cooked with garlic, red chilli flakes & olive oil in an earthenware pot
Pan con tomato: a simple Catalan staple, toasted bread rubbed with ripe tomao, drizzled with olive oil
Ensaladilla rusa: Spanish version drawing inspiration from the Russian salad comprising of mayonnaise, carrots, green peas, green beans
Sardinilla el conserva: pickled sardines

Here’s a picture we took from one of the many tapas bars that line the street of Seville( please pardon the poor quality of the image) This should give you a basic idea of what to expect from a standard Tapas bar. In smaller towns such as Granada & Cordoba, it is common to serve a tapa complimentary with your drinks( Bebidas). However in Barcelona & Madrid, the most we got with our drink was a complimentary plate of acietuna or olives.


Tapas & Beer( Passage de Gracia, towards Plaza Catalunya)- a simple no nonsense place that lets the food do the talking, prices are great and their albondigas(meatballs) are a killer!
Tapa Tapa (Passage de Gracia) – part of a large chain of Tapas restaurants, it offers standardised Tapas, great for your first time tapas experience & good ambience, slightly expensive though

Bodegas Mesquita 5 minutes away from the Mesquita, serves over 40 different types of Tapas and claims to serve over 60 Spanish wines

There are many options in  around the Santa Cruz area( minutes away from the notre Dame cathedral) Tiny bars with moorish tiled walls & bull’s head make for an atmospheric place to drink & eat. The bars lining the streets of Calle Mateos Gago( lined with orange trees) offer a great range of tapas

Check out one of the many bars lined up on Calle Navas, nicknamed as “Tapas street”, each offer a fantastic range of Andalusian specialities. Not  to be missed are the bars around Plaza Santa Ana


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