If you fancy a change from classic British cuisine, then why not dine out at one the best tapas restaurants in London from our top pick of epic tapas restaurants below? Tapas was around long before small plates ever became fashionable, so if it is a multiple dish kind of a day, a tapas restaurant is a great shout. Whether you are hankering after some Spanish tortilla, craving a plate of patatas bravas or just want an authentic piece of chorizo, you have come to the right place.
When it comes to dining, the Spanish know what they are about, for it was they who created the tapas concept – small individual portions of food that are perfect for sharing with friends or family around the dinner table. Of course, the popularity of this concept has since exploded, which means you can now find small plates practically everywhere you look, but the great thing about the original concept of tapas is that the dishes are wide, varied and generally satisfying. From meatballs to garlic prawns, stuffed piquillo peppers, calamares and many, many more, tapas offer the possibility of sampling a wide range of Spanish delicacies.
A sociable ritual as well as an exciting culinary experience, tapas restaurants are highly popular on the London dining scene and the capital is packed with great tapas restaurants and bars dotted around the city. Our jam-packed guide to the best tapas restaurants in London below includes a lively mix of small independents and chain restaurants, from the cool and contemporary to the traditionally rustic, spread all across London. Check out our top picks below and click on the name of each restaurant to be taken through to their individual listing pages, where you can learn more about the menu and reserve a table online.
The Little Taperia, Tooting
What: It’s small, but with seating at both the bar and kitchen, you shouldn’t have to wait too long for a table at cute tapas spot The Little Taperia, sandwiched between the many Indian restaurants on Tooting High Street. The emphasis in this buzzy joint is very much on food, from simple pan con tomate to a highly-Instagrammable morcilla Scotch egg, though the bar serves up knock-out Negronis, local craft brews and Aperol Spritz too.
Where: 143 Tooting High Street, SW17 0SY
Capote y Toros, Fulham
What: Bright walls and a flamenco soundtrack make the highly animated dining room at Capote y Toros a fun atmosphere in which to enjoy ham and sherry. You’ll find classic tapas dishes such as Spanish omelette with chorizo and lamb shoulder casserole with oloroso on the menu too, but it’s the mouth-watering choice of ibérico hams that guests rave about.
Where: 157 Old Brompton Road, SW5 0LJ
Escocesa, Stoke Newington
What: Several ex-Barrafina chefs are behind the steel dining counter at this Stokey favourite, so you can be sure of top-quality Spanish fare. ‘Escocesa’, Spanish for ‘Scottish’, specialises in seafood-based tapas, meaning the specials you might find on the moderately priced menu include Ullapool mussels a la plancha, or Shetland razor clams. If you like a bit of theatre, book a seat at the counter; if not, there are tables towards the back.
Where: 67 Stoke Newington Church Street, N16 0AR
What: Ideally located for a mid-shop lunch stop, Salt Yard’s younger sibling Dehesa offers a delicious mix of Spanish and Italian small plates. Zigzag your way across the Med with plates of tortilla, ricotta and spinach malfatti, nduja croquetas with guindilla alioli and Parma, but be sure to save room for dessert; Dehesa’s deep-fried milk with cinnamon is a revelation.
Where: 25 Ganton Street, W1F 9BP
What: The roomy, concrete-chic space at Morito can get pretty noisy, but the fantastic vegetarian-leaning menu keeps fans raving about it. The younger sibling of North African Morito in Exmouth Market, this Hackney branch serves up tapas with a Cretan twist that yields the likes of fried aubergine drizzled with date molasses and runny feta. Breakfast and brunch offer similarly tempting dishes so if you can head East on a weekend, it’s worth dropping by.
Where: 195 Hackney Road, E2 8JL
Morito, Exmouth Market
What: Immensely stylish little spot Morito fills up fast (bookings are only taken at lunchtime), thanks to its rustic small plates. All the usual tapas classics are here, along with specials such as pork belly with mojo verde or deep-fried rabbit shoulder flavoured with rose harissa. Fun and lively with outside seating and counter dining, it’s a top spot for a proper taste of Spain.
Where: 32 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QE
What: It might be a chain, but the Iberica group’s executive chef Nacho Manzano (winner of three Michelin stars) directs the kitchen here, reprising his own signature dishes and placing them alongside some new-century tapas. Current classics include a red berry, beetroot and anchovy gazpacho, and spring onion tempura with lemon aïoli and soy, though dishes flit on and off the menu all the time. Drinks cover the spectrum of Spanish booze from beer, cider and sangria to countless sherries and cava by the glass.
Where: 195 Great Portland Street, W1W 5PS
Sabor: The Counter, Mayfair
What: This SquareMeal Gold awarded tapas joint is the place to go if you want the sort of Spanish-accented small plates you won’t find anywhere else in the UK. Seats at Sabor’s long, L-shaped counter surrounding the open kitchen can be tricky to come by, but once you’re in, you can expect the likes of oil-soaked pan con tomate topped with a vivid ruffle of cured meat, wild mushroom croquetas, and bombas de chocolas (grown-up profiteroles).
Where: 35 Heddon Street, W1B 4BS
Ember Yard, Soho
What: Two-tiered Ember Yard in the heart of Soho offers Spanish and Italian food with a smoky twist. The succinct small-plates menu, which features the likes of Ibérico pork fat chips, hot-smoked Gloucester pork belly served with smoked apple and cider, and brown crab alioli is ideal for groups, though there are plenty of intimate corners upstairs. The range of Spanish lagers and intriguing cocktails work well with the Kentish single-species charcoal used to cook the food.
Where: 61 Berwick Street, W1F 8SU
Barrafina Dean Street, Soho
What: Popular enough to spawn three more locations, the original Barrafina in Soho corresponds most closely to many people’s idea of the perfect tapas bar. Marble surfaces, an open kitchen, red-leather bar stools and endlessly fascinating food come together to make this top tapas joint a must-visit for fans of Spanish small plates. Unless you’re happy to queue, we’d advise popping in for an off-peak lunch.
Where: 26-29 Dean Street, W1D 3LL
What: This fantastic Basque kitchen has always served the food and drink of San Sebastián, so expect pintxos like foie gras with walnuts, jamón croquetas or tempura prawns with ham and mango, in addition to an excellent charcuterie selection. White walls and tables combine with grained wood and marble to give the interior of Donostia a calm and polished feel synonymous with the area.
Where: 10 Seymour Place, W1H 7ND
What: Reliable mini-chain Camino, which promises authentic tapas from the country’s various different regions, is a bright, lively spot in which to catch up with friends after work or on the weekend. Here you can sample a range of dishes from platters of artisan charcuterie to Mallorcan cheese fritters, hand-dived scallops with samphire and ‘ajo blanco' sauce and presa ibérica cooked on a charcoal grill, as you sip sangria or one of Camino’s zingy cocktails.
Where: 2 Curtain Road, EC2A 3BL
Jose Pizarro Broadgate, City
What: A warm and relaxed vibe, a comfortable all-weather terrace and a menu bursting with clever renditions of tapas classics ensures José Pizarro’s City outlet is always buzzing. Dishes such as spicy chicken skewers, house croquetas, and sugar-cured salmon with PX, lime mayo and capers are all delicious, but don’t miss the carved-to-order jamón ibérico. Cracking breakfasts and lunches to go are also a great shout.
Where: 36 Broadgate Circle, EC2M 1QS
Tapas Brindisa, London Bridge
What: Brindisa is one of the UK’s best-known importers of Spanish produce so you can bank on wonderfully authentic tapas dishes here. Hand-carved serrano and ibérico de bellota hams take centre stage, but you’ll also find the likes of tortilla, croquetas, chorizo and Padrón peppers. You can’t book and, being in Borough Market, it’s often busy, but well worth a table if you’re willing to wait.
Where: 18-20 Southwark Street, SE1 1TJ
Barrafina Drury Lane, Covent Garden
What: Barrafina favourites and a daily specials selection make this third West End site as well-loved as its forebears. Spanish staples such as chorizo tortilla and piquillo croquetas are a must, while a short wine list boasts a cracking Spanish selection that’s pretty much all available by the glass. As ever, expect to queue for those first-come, first-served seats.
Where: 43 Drury Lane, WC2B 5AJ
Salt Yard, Fitzrovia
What: Not only are the genuinely shareable, sensibly-paced small plates at Fitzrovia tapas joint Salt Yard simply gorgeous to eat, they’re also keenly priced and as changeable as the British weather. Bare wood, brown banquettes and brass lampshades keep the look of the place low-key, but in-the-know regulars will attest that it’s anything but. Be sure to get the staff’s advice – they’re knowledgeable as well as friendly.
Where: 54 Goodge Street, W1T 4NA
Bravas Tapas, St Katharine Dock
What: While the faded brick-and-iron marina setting is unlikely to put anyone in mind of Spanish sunshine, the menu most definitely will. The kitchen conjures up specialities such as foie gras ‘crema catalana’ with cherries and Bellota ham, and Malaguena salad with pineapple, fennel and sherry, while whipped-to-order alioli has been a signature since day one. If riverside dining is your thing, you’ll love Bravas Tapas.
Where: St Katharine Docks, E1W 1AT
El Pirata, Mayfair
What: Speedy service, authentic flavours and very fair prices considering its Mayfair location make popular Iberian restaurant El Pirata a great place to go for tapas. Whether you choose to dine in the lively ground-floor dining room, surrounded by mirrors and Picasso prints, or outside, you can expect the likes of kidneys in sherry and patatas bravas in addition to changing specials such as grilled pressa or chicken breast wrapped in serrano ham with capers and Albariño jus.
Where: 5-6 Down Street, W1J 7AQ
What: It shouldn’t come as a surprise that London’s best-known Spanish chef, José Pizarro, really knows his produce. Guests at his teeny Jose tapas bar in Bermondsey can look forward to exemplary small plates, from simple chorizo al vino to patatas bravas, tortilla and cured tuna with almonds. It’s perennially packed, but worth braving the crowds for.
Where: 104 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3UB
What: Dinky Soho eatery Copita is popular with West Enders looking for authentic Spanish tapas and a good, affordable copita of Spanish wine. Pull up a wooden stool amid tile-clad walls and glowing candles (or people watch from one of the little tables out front) and tuck into the likes of mushroom croquetas or pizza-style coca bread layered with soft roasted peppers. The menu changes all the time, but the quality is always top-notch.
Where: 27 D'Arblay Street, W1F 8EN
What: It might look low-key and unassuming, but this joint on the Clapham/Brixton border is hugely popular, in spite of its somewhat cramped interior. That’s because what counts at Boqueria is superb cooking, pinpoint presentation and the can-do attitude of the attentive staff. The food menu covers the sorts of classic tapas dishes you find in Barcelona, while the all-Spanish wine list is bolstered by plenty of sherry and cava at affordable prices.
Where: 192 Acre Lane, SW2 5UL
The Port House, Covent Garden
What: Cosy, candlelit restaurant The Port House works to a winning formula that brings together a gin bar, regional cooking and an excellent list of port and sherry. Generous pintxo skewers of things like morcilla with mustard sauce and crispy onions, sit alongside Basque-influenced tapas dishes such as jamón croquetas while Portuguese custard tarts and sugary churros finish things off.
Where: 417 Strand, WC2R 0PD
Barrafina Adelaide Street, Covent Garden
What: The action at Barrafina’s lively theatreland outlet centres around a curved marble-topped bar – an intimate, chatty and exuberant space overseen by hard-working chefs and helpful staff who know their stuff. The menu is varied enough that traditionalists after plates of Padrón peppers, tortilla, and Ibérico ham, and more adventurous diners looking for dishes such as crispy fried pig’s ears with chimichurri sauce will both be satisfied. Spanish regional wines, specialist sherries and cava complete the package.
Where: 10 Adelaide Street, WC2N 4HZ
Barcelona Tapas Bar, Whitechapel
What: Gaudy mosaics, colourful tiles, and a flamenco soundtrack banish the suits-and-briefcase-stuffiness of Barcelona Tapas Bar y Restaurante’s EC3 location, but it’s the long list of generous tapas dishes that’s the real draw. From charcuterie and cheeses to albondigas (meatballs), patatas bravas and desserts such as crema Catalana and Santiago tart, the kitchen here promises an authentic taste of Spain.
Where: 1 Middlesex Street, EC3A 7DT
Lobos Meat & Tapas, Borough
What: Dreamed up by a team who met while working at renowned Spanish food group, Brindisa (also featured on this list), this cosy, on-the-money tapas joint is a fun member of Borough Market’s excellent dining scene. Lobos Meat & Tapas menu has a clear emphasis on meat, most of which is sourced from just a few paces away, though you’ll find traditional tapas dishes too, along with a generous selection of cava and sherry.
Where: 14 Borough High Street, SE1 9QG
If you love Spanish cuisine, check out our round-up of the best Spanish restaurants in London.