London has not always been blessed with great Spanish food - indeed, some will remember a time when London was not blessed with great food at all - but in recent years we've been rather spoiled by the culinary talent in the capital.
This city is a melting pot of different cultures - one of the greatest multicultural cities in the world - and that reflects in the food scene. A close relationship with Europe has brought talented chefs to London from all over Spain, and they have built a vibrant Spanish food scene that has opened our eyes to the irresistible cuisine of the Iberian peninsula.
Early trailblazers like Brindisa and Barrafina have done a great deal to raise the reputation of Spanish food over here. The essence of both is the importance of provenance and great ingredients - something that British food has wholly embraced in the last decade or two. Lots of classic Spanish dishes are simple on the surface, but the quality of ingredients and perfect cooking elevates them to new levels. Take a scarlet prawn, for example, cooked over salt and grilled until it takes on a hint of smoke and bitterness, with perfect seasoning - the result is far more than the sum of its parts.
If we’ve given you a taste for Spanish food, or you’re just hankering for classics like patatas bravas, boquerones, albondigas and paella, scroll on down to our list of the best Spanish restaurants in London. We’ve ordered everything by area - north, south, east, west and central - so wherever you find yourself in the capital, you’ll never be far from a tasty Spanish spread.
Best Spanish restaurants in Central London
Central London is awash with brilliant tapas bars and Spanish eateries, from the thrilling counter experiences at Barrafina (all three of them) to Nieves Barragán Mohacho's stupendous Mayfair gem Sabor, which has a claim to being one of the best restaurants in London, period.
Barrafina Dean Street, Soho
What: The Barrafina chain is a homage to the legendary tapas bar Cal Pep, refracted through a very London vibe. Classic croquetas, garlic prawns and grilled sardines are done to tapas perfection, deep-fried courgette flowers combine fragility with a hot spurt of grassy goats’ cheese, octopus is rendered meltingly soft and sticky from the hotplate, and Barrafina’s made-to-order tortillas, bound with barely set egg yolk, are the finest you’ll eat anywhere.
Where: 26-29 Dean Street, London, W1D 3LL
Book now: Barrafina Dean Street
Aqua Nueva, Oxford Circus
What: Refurbished in 2015, Aqua's upmarket Spanish eatery is predictably sleek and glamorous, although the food is sufficiently accomplished to hold its own. Low-lit black tables are arranged beneath an arched, copper-clad ceiling, while the menu of show-stopping tapas ranges from ultra-traditional pan con tomate and patatas bravas to contemporary dishes like roasted hake, fennel and charred hummus.
Where: 240 Regent Street, London, W1B 3BR
Book now: Aqua Nueva
Salt Yard, Fitzrovia
What: It’s easy to see why Salt Yard’s genuinely shareable, sensibly paced small plates are loved by Londoners - they’re leagues ahead of your average tapas. Just consider crisp and charry grilled octopus with peperonata and the punch of a sobrasada aioli, or gooey jamon and manchego croquetas. Lovely staff buy into the concept and advise with confidence.
Where: 54 Goodge Street, London, W1T 4NA
Book now: Salt Yard
Barrafina Drury Lane, Covent Garden
What: The West End is slowly becoming a Barrafina barrio with this 23-cover site joining Barrafina Soho and Adelaide Street – and as far as we’re concerned that’s no bad thing. Siblings Sam and Eddie Hart have sprinkled Michelin stardust over the former site of Osteria Dell’Opera, replacing Italian with their trademark Spanish tapas, red leather bar stools and marble-topped counters. Spanish staples such as chorizo tortilla are flawlessly executed, while a short wine list boasts the Hart brothers’ own brand of manzanilla sherry, as well as a cracking Spanish selection that’s pretty much all available by the glass.
Where: 43 Drury Lane, London, WC2B 5AJ
Book now: Barrafina Drury Lane
Ember Yard, Soho
What: This casual, affordable spot deals in Spanish and Italian food with a ‘smoky twist’. A succinct small-plates menu is great for groups, from buttery barbecued flatbreads to patatas bravas with zingy aioli. Mains are often grill-focused - like chorizo and octopus skewers or marinated, grilled chicken thighs - while a range of Spanish lagers and intriguing cocktails (acorn liqueur, anyone?) refresh the palate after all that smoke.
Where: 61 Berwick Street, London, W1F 8SU
Book now: Ember Yard
What: Across the road from sister Donostia, this Basque grill restaurant is best known for its 14-year-old Galician steak which causes intense excitement among beef geeks. But even without the charcoal-grilled centrepiece, Lurra promises plenty of thrills. It’s particularly big on fish; try Cornish turbot or grilled octopus with piquillo sauce. Enjoy it all in a laid-back space spread over two floors, with plenty of places at the counter and a bright dining room done out in ashy-pale wood and marble.
Where: 9 Seymour Place, London, W1H 5BA
Book now: Lurra
Arros QD, Fitzrovia
What: After getting off to a bit of a rocky start, three Michelin-starred Valencian chef Quique Dacosta’s spectacular paella restaurant has found its feet. Arros QD uses wood-burning stoves, and all that smoke really does take Dacosta’s paellas to another stratosphere. The contemporary versions (like sticky black squid ink rice with calamari, artichoke and oyster aioli, for example) are definitely worth a go if you want to see why there’s so much fuss about Dacosta in his native Spain, or just plump for something classic - they’re all delicious.
Where: 64 Eastcastle Street, London, W1W 8NQ
Book now: Arros QD
Iberica Marylebone, Marylebone
What: Spanish powerhouse Ibérica has sites across London (Canary Wharf, Victoria, Farringdon) but the original Marylebone site is the one we find ourselves heading for time and time again. Andalusian tiles create a rustic, chic Spanish vibe, and the menu matches up well - cured meats and artisan cheese set the scene, before classic tapas plates - tortilla, pulpo, croquetas and patatas bravas - start appearing from the kitchen. Churros and chocolate sauce make the perfect final act.
Where: 195 Great Portland Street, London, W1W 5PS
Book now: Iberica Marylebone
What: This marvellous Basque kitchen has always served the food and drink of San Sebastián and its environs against a backdrop of purest white, with touches of grained wood and marble. Excellent charcuterie dominates the selection of cold plates, while bigger tapas dishes give meat and fish a starring role, as in Ibérico pork shoulder with romesco sauce, and monkfish with arroz negro. Donostia’s owners started out in the wine import trade, and there’s quality in every glass.
Where: 10 Seymour Place, London, W1H 7ND
Book now: Donostia
Barrafina Adelaide Street, Covent Garden
What: London’s three branches of “buzzing” Barrafina can hold their own against Spain’s finest, and Barrafina Adelaide Street, on a corner site in theatreland, is no exception. As ever, dishes range from the dainty (delicate slices of cured monkfish) to the gutsy (gorgeous, charcoal-grilled milk-fed-lamb’s kidneys) – not forgetting the Harts’ lauded tortilla laced with spicy morcilla and piquillo pepper.
Where: 10 Adelaide Street, London, WC2N 4HZ
Book now: Barrafina Adelaide Street
El Norte, Mayfair
What: Opened by Spanish twins Arian and Alberto Zandi, El Norte celebrates Spain’s gastronomic delights with a menu of greatest hits, all set in the midst of glam Mayfair. Signature dishes include truffle tortilla, creamy croquettes, Joselito Iberico Ham and cherry pistachio gazpacho, all accompanied by a wine list of award-winning Spanish labels. You can also drop in for a drink if that’s more your vibe - there are resident DJs playing electronic and Spanish sounds all throughout the week in the lounge.
Where: 19-20 Dover Street, London, W1S 4LU
Book now: El Norte
Morito Exmouth Market, Farringdon
What: Morito is a tiny spot and it fills up fast, but we guarantee you’ll love this immensely stylish little joint. Once you’re in, get stuck into small plates with a decidedly rustic Spanish flavour: salt cod croquetas, Padrón peppers, jamón Ibérico, patatas bravas and other tapas classics are all here, but keep an eye out for the specials too – perhaps pork belly with mojo verde or deep-fried rabbit shoulder flavoured with rose harissa.
Where: 32 Exmouth Market, London, EC1R 4QE
Book now: Morito Exmouth Market
José Pizarro Broadgate, Liverpool Street
What: Hot on the heels of his Bermondsey debut, José Pizarro’s City outlet mixes pitch-perfect renditions of the tapas classics with more enterprising contemporary ideas: we recommend the house croquetas, chorizo braised in wine and spicy prawn fritters. With cracking breakfasts, lunches to go and an all-weather terrace figuring in the mix, José continues to impress the Square Mile.
Where: 36 Broadgate Circle, London, EC2M 1QS
Book now: José Pizarro Broadgate
What: Like its big brother Salt Yard, light-footed Dehesa flits between Spain and Italy, embracing the best of both worlds. The selection of dreamy small plates allows for a magpie approach, and diners can zigzag their way across the Med, taking in tortillas and pork rillions, then maybe tender ricotta and spinach malfatti, before alighting on zesty ‘nduja croquetas with guindilla alioli. Dehesa’s corner site is pretty – and well-positioned near Kingly Street; it also wins friends by taking bookings.
Where: 25 Ganton Street, London, W1F 9BP
Book now: Dehesa
Sabor: The Counter, Mayfair
What: Nieves Barragán Mohacho was the breakout star of Barrafina, and her first solo restaurant, Sabor, serves the sort of Spanish-accented small plates you won’t find anywhere else in the UK. Some of them involve tweaking the familiar - piquillo croquetas are dusted with a fine shaving of Manchego cheese - but there is much that tastes completely new and fresh. Sabor remains one of the most in-demand tables in the city, so get in early with your bookings.
Where: 35 Heddon Street, London, W1B 4BS
Book now: Sabor: The Counter
What: Part of a wave of traditionally breezy Spanish eateries that turned the West End into a rather delicious barrio, Copita is as accomplished and popular as ever. A daily changing list of tapas might include anything from crisp, gooey mushroom croquetas or pizza-style coca bread layered with soft roasted peppers and duck egg to scallops dolloped with cauliflower purée and chorizo. Service is smiley and prices are fair, making this a welcome pit stop.
Where: 27 D'Arblay Street, London, W1F 8EP
Book now: Copita
Sabor: El Asador, Mayfair
What: El Asador, one floor up from the fino-fuelled bar and tapas counter at street level, tells a traditional story of Spanish country cooking, long family lunches and copious quantities of Rioja. The Galician steak here has its followers, but most come for suckling pig (quarter, half or whole), cooked in a Castilian wood oven the time-honoured way, to produce crispy, tanned skin and tender flesh that needs only the slightest touch with a knife to fall off the bone. The Spanish wine list is a pleasure to explore, with plenty by the glass from well-known producers, old and new – another highlight of this Iberian high-flyer.
Where: 35 Heddon Street, London, W1B 4BS
Book now: Sabor: El Asador
Best Spanish restaurants in South London
It's hard not to gravitate towards a Jose Pizarro restaurant when you're south of the river, and why wouldn't you? Between the more formal Pizarro and legendary tapas bar Jose, this is undoubtedly where you'll find some of the best Spanish food in London. Don't sleep on other options though, like perenially busy jamon and sherry haunt Bar Tozino, and Brindisa in Borough Market - still going strong after many years in the game.
What: This is the smarter of José Pizarro’s two Bermondsey eateries, and the only proper sit-down option – although we recommend perching at the kitchen counter and enjoying the theatre if you can. The ingredients are always top quality and handled with expertise by the kitchen team: the classic ‘pica pica’ all are fantastic, as are mains like cuttlefish and red shrimp fideua and bacalao. The wine list is among London’s best for good Spanish producers and emerging regions too.
Where: 194 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3TQ
Book now: Pizarro
Tapas Brindisa, Borough
What: Given its prime location right by Borough Market, it’s no wonder that tables at well-respected Tapas Brindisa are much in demand. Cheeses, breads and charcuterie take centre stage. Half-a-dozen seasonal dishes using ingredients from the market supplement tapas staples like tortilla, freshly made croquetas, grilled chorizo and Padrón peppers. You can’t book, so be prepared to join the scrum at the bar.
Where: 18-20 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1TJ
Book now: Tapas Brindisa Borough
Bravas Tapas, Tower Hill
What: It may be softened by candelabras and fresh flowers, but the robust, artfully faded brick-and-iron marina setting is unlikely to put anyone in mind of Spanish sunshine, almonds and piquillo peppers. Artisan snacks are what you’d expect (pickles, anchovies, Ibérico ham), but the interest builds as the kitchen rolls out its specialities – perhaps foie gras ‘crema catalana’ with cherries and Bellota ham, Malaguena salad with pineapple, fennel and sherry. Whipped-to-order alioli has been a signature since day one.
Where: St Katharine Docks, London, E1W 1AT
Book now: Bravas Tapas
What: José Pizarro began his London career working for Spanish food importer Brindisa, so it’s no surprise that London’s best-known Spanish chef also knows his produce: the hams, cheeses and everything else here are exemplary. There isn’t a great deal of space and it’s standing room only much of the time, but that doesn't stop the tiniest kitchen from turning out amazing croquetas, grills, patatas bravas, tortilla and more.
Where: 104 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3UB
Book now: José
Mar I Terra, Southwark
What: Well-worn features and a faded green frontage testify to Mar I Terra’s longevity and enduring appeal – and it’s easy to see why people keep coming back to this thoroughly authentic tapas joint. There’s no doubting the excellence of the all-Spanish wine list or the punchy vigour of the nifty menu – try the berenjenas alinadas (braised aubergine parcels with tomato and Manchego), higadillos de pollo (chicken livers with Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar on a bed of spinach) or garlicky sardines ‘a la plancha’. Food is available throughout the day, although it’s limited to cold deli plates during the afternoon.
Where: 14 Gambia Street, London, SE1 0XH
Book now: Mar I Terra
Bar Tozino, Bermondsey
What: Located under the railway arches of Maltby Street in Bermondsey, Bar Tozino is a hidden gem for lovers of good jamon and good wine. Vintage and provenance are the focus here, particularly for the jamon, which hangs from the ceiling and is carved right before your eyes in this charming Spanish bar. The atmosphere on market days - if you can nab a table - is fantastic.
Where: Lassco Ropewalk, London, SE1 3PA
Book now: Bar Tozino
What: Named after Barcelona’s most famous food market, Boqueria provides a snapshot of that city’s classic tapas – from patatas bravas and pulpo a la gallega (octopus with paprika) to top-quality hams, artisan cheeses, properly made paella and black rice. What sets Boqueria apart is the accuracy of the cooking, pinpoint presentation and the can-do attitude of the really attentive staff. Although it’s cramped and tables are packed close together, there’s also something infectious about the garrulous, noisy vibe – and it’s really cosy in winter.
Where: 192 Acre Lane, London, SW2 5UL
Book now: Boqueria
The Little Taperia, Tooting
What: Tooting’s Little Taperia is no longer one of south London’s best kept secrets - the smooth marble counter is often packed to the gunnels with diners looking for a little taste of Iberia. The Little Taperia sticks to the classics - boquerones, Padron peppers, croquetas de jamon and the like - but some more inventive plates are also worth a go. Try the pork cheeks with truffled celeriac puree and finish off with a bundle of churros.
Where: 143 Tooting High Street, London, SW17 0SY
Book now: The Little Taperia
Best Spanish restaurants in West London
The Cambio de Tercio group has West London on lockdown with sophisticated Cambio de Tercio, informal Tendido Cero and raucous sherry bar Capote y Toros catering for all comers. Alternatively try El Pirata in Mayfair for authentic, well-priced tapas.
Cambio de Tercio, Chelsea
What: It might be rolling into its third decade, but there’s nothing old-fashioned about this authentic Brompton Road flagship of the sophisticated Cambio mini-chain - a venue whose fizzing energy is fuelled by a packed dining room, clued-up staff and a constantly evolving menu. Regulars rave about must-order classics, such as the hollowed-out ‘nuevas’ patatas bravas filled with spicy tomato and alioli, but there’s also an excellent-value tasting menu.
Where: 163 Old Brompton Road, London, SW5 0LJ
Book now: Cambio de Tercio
El Pirata, Mayfair
What: A favourite with Mayfair's Spanish community and converts to the new Iberian cause, El Pirata may not be as trendy as some of the young tapas upstarts in the capital, but it does the business by offering speedy service, authentic flavours and very fair prices into the bargain. Staples such as albondigas, kidneys in sherry, grilled sardines and patatas bravas are supplemented by more enterprising daily specials. Eat in the lively ground-floor room surrounded by mirrors and Picasso prints, or bag a table outside when the weather's kind.
Where: 5-6 Down Street, W1J 7AQ
Book now: El Pirata
Capote y Toros, Chelsea
What: This highly animated dining room becomes a flamenco-soundtracked chapel to ham and sherry as the evening gets going. Grab a table or hover under the wall-mounted barrel ends, and pick from a line-up of 125 sherries: from straw-coloured and salty manzanillas through crisp, boozy amontillados, to glasses of sweet Pedro Ximénez. The menu here plays it straight - expect classic tapas dishes such as Spanish omelette with chorizo; lamb shoulder casserole with oloroso; and, of course, a mouth-watering choice of killer ibérico hams.
Where: 157 Old Brompton Road, London, SW5 0LJ
Book now: Capote y Toros
Tendido Cero, Chelsea
What: Those looking for something less formal than Cambio de Tercio head over to this casual sibling in droves. The food may be rather more traditional than its bullish neighbour across the road, with the emphasis on staples such as exclusive jamón de bellota, tortilla and chorizo in cider. The Cambio group has a reputation for sherry, and Tendido’s selection is guaranteed to please aficionados and new converts alike.
Where: 174 Old Brompton Road, London, SW5 0BA
Book now: Tendido Cero
Best Spanish restaurants in East London
If Exmouth Market is a bit out of your way, fear not - you can get your fix of Spanish-inspired small plates at Morito Hackney instead (with a Cretan vibe thrown in thanks to head chef Marianna Leivaditaki). Otherwise, try Laxeiro on Columbia Road for authentic home-style Spanish cooking.
Morito Hackney, Hackney
What: Morito’s capacious, concrete-chic space is best suited for fun, casual meals, and the vegetarian-leaning menu doesn’t disappoint, offering trademark vibrancy in small plates. Former Moro head chef Marianna Leivaditaki provides the twist, adding her Cretan heritage to the mix: think delicately fried aubergine drizzled with date molasses and leavened by runny feta. Try migrating to the large, curved bar for light, fruity cocktails, a sherry or perhaps Tempranillo on tap.
Where: 195 Hackney Road, London, E2 8JL
Book now: Morito Hackney
What: Massively popular in Spain, the Sagardi steakhouse chain has chosen Shoreditch to open its first London branch. Charcuterie and pintxos account for starters, before the main act - steaks grilled over an oak-wood fire, with sides of spiced potato wedges and salad. Grilled fish is also an option, and the list of ‘grandma’s home cooking’ Basque dishes shouldn’t be ignored. Desserts stick to Basque country traditions too, and we loved the melt-in-the-mouth goxua sponge cake.
Where: 95 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3BS
Book now: Sagardi
What: Big portions of home-style food, terracotta on the floor, a cat prowling from table to table - Laxeiro is the very essence of a provincial Spanish family restaurant. Simply presented raciones (meat, seafood and vegetable) include tapas standards such as chorizo al vino, garlic prawns, tortilla and octopus from the owners’ native Galicia, supplemented by seasonal specials. Paella for two is a forte. Booking is advisable, though is not available on Sundays when you really need it.
Where: 93 Columbia Road, London, E2 7RG
Book now: Laxeiro
Best Spanish restaurants in North London
North Londoners don't have quite as much to choose from as those to the east or west, but if you can get to the area around Newington Green and Stoke Newington, you'll find a couple of real diamonds in the rough.
Escocesa, Stoke Newington
What: From the team behind Bar Esteban and with several ex-Barrafina chefs behind its steel dining counter, this Stokey slice of España is of top-quality calibre. Escocesa, Spanish for ‘Scottish’, claims to hijack Scotland’s finest seafood before it reaches Spain. Specials on the moderately priced tapas menu might include Shetland mussels a la plancha, or Cumbrae oyster with mojo verde. Sit at the curved entrance bar or retreat to the compact, stripped-back dining room, which brims with a casual, local crowd.
Where: 67 Stoke Newington Church Street, London, N16 0AR
Book now: Escocesa
Many of these restaurants also feature in our list of best tapas restaurants in London, which is worth a look if you love that small plates experience. Also, check out our favourite Portuguese restaurants in London - Spain's Iberian cousins are well represented in the capital these days too!