Best Spanish restaurants in London

Full of flavour and featuring some of the most exciting ingredients, Spanish cuisine is much-loved. So why not try out some of the best Spanish restaurants in London? If you’re desperate for some patatas bravas or paella, then pick from our selection of London’s best Spanish restaurants. When it comes to the best Spanish restaurants in London, you’ll find them right here. If you want to feel like you’re in Barcelona or Madrid without actually having to leave the country, then make your way through our round up of London’s best Spanish restaurants. Scroll down to check out our list of the best Spanish restaurants in London and book a table with SquareMeal today.

Posted on 31 July 2018

Best Spanish restaurants in London

Full of flavour and featuring some of the most exciting ingredients, Spanish cuisine is much-loved. So why not try out one of the best Spanish restaurants in London, with our informative list. Every one of the restaurants featured in SquareMeal’s list of the best Spanish restaurants in London have been tried and tested by food critics and our own customers so check out the reviews and book a table online with SquareMeal today.


Morito Hackney

Morito Hackney

£30 - £49
Tapas
Spanish

195 Hackney Road, London, E2 8JL

North African Moro has perched atop Exmouth Market’s food chain since 1996, and is celebrating 20 years of rave reviews with the opening of this second little sister in Hackney (following Morito Exmouth Market). The capacious, concrete-chic space (oh-so east London!) generates much noise, best suiting it for fun, casual meals – and the vegetarian-leaning menu doesn’t disappoint, offering trademark vibrancy in small plates such as cheese fritters with thyme honey or a generous green salad with figs and sesame brittle. 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. Another highlight for us was the char-grilled lamb chop, perfectly pink and glistening in anchovy butter – great value at under £5. Don’t miss the mango and yoghurt ice cream with crumbled pistachios, but be warned: lingering is discouraged on busy nights. Try migrating to the large, curved bar for light, fruity cocktails, a sherry or perhaps Tempranillo on tap. 

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Morito Exmouth Market

Morito Exmouth Market

£30 - £49
Tapas
Spanish

32 Exmouth Market, London, EC1R 4QE

‘Orange is the New Black’, as they say on TV, which makes the chosen colour for the dinky offshoot of big-hitting Moro totally on-trend. Morito is a tiny spot and it fills up fast (bookings are only taken at lunchtime), 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. The plancha turns out lamb chops spiced up with cumin and paprika, while desserts might include a divine chocolate and olive oil mousse. The enticing all-Iberian wine list features some splendid sherries and watch out for Morito’s annual ‘seafood and sherry’ festival.

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Barcelona Tapas Bar y Restaurante - Middlesex Street

Barcelona Tapas Bar y Restaurante - Middlesex Street

£30 - £49
Tapas
Spanish

1 Middlesex Street, London, EC3A 7DT

EC3 may be all suits and briefcases, but this branch of Barcelona Tapas is a far cry from minimalist, corporate style. Summoning up the spirit of Las Ramblas, the space is decked out with gaudy mosaics and colourful tiles, while a flamenco soundtrack strums away in the background. The long tapas menu covers all bases, moving from charcuterie and cheeses via ‘los classicos’ small plates and the odd modern riff to more substantial items for sharing. Albondigas (meatballs), patatas bravas and crispy deep-fried baby squid with salsa romesco keep it familiar, while generous helpings of morcilla de Burgos with roasted peppers, skewers of spice-infused lamb or pans of paella are perfect for large groups. A fistful of desserts includes the usual crema catalana and Santiago tart, while the vast drinks list encompasses sangria, Spanish-style G&Ts and regional wines. Takeaways and local deliveries too.

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Moro

Moro

£30 - £49
North African
Tapas
Spanish

34-36 Exmouth Market, London, EC1R 4QE

The word “love” crops up repeatedly in Moro’s plaudits – a sure sign that it’s still held in high regard after rocking on for two decades. From day one, Sam and Samantha Clark’s ground-breaking eatery made an impact with its zinc-topped bar, pavement tables, wood-fired oven and compelling Spanish/North African cuisine. The whole shebang still thrills, although nothing can trump the food: heady spicing and subtly matched flavours are at the heart of things, from a lamb and saffron broth with wee dumplings, or a rustic salad of warm white beans and celery topped with bottarga, to luscious chocolate and apricot tart. In between, the wood-fired oven makes easy work of sesame chicken (served with couscous), while the charcoal grill offers up lamb with fava bean and bitter leaf purée. Alternatively, pick some small plates from the tapas bar menu – perhaps fried spiced chickpeas or anchovies on toast. The wine list shows the same geographical interests as the menu, and the sherry line-up warrants proper consideration. “Fabulous, I just love this place”, raves one fan.

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Tapas Brindisa Borough

Tapas Brindisa Borough

£30 - £49
Tapas
Spanish

18-20 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1TJ

Given its prime location right by Borough Market, it’s no wonder that tables at well-respected Tapas Brindisa are much in demand, though the roadside location isn’t to everyone’s liking. You can’t book, so be prepared to join the scrum at the bar or – if the weather’s more Margate than Marbella – wrap up warm and sit outside. Brindisa is one of the UK’s best-known importers of Spanish produce, so it’s no surprise that the cheeses, breads and charcuterie (including hand-carved serrano and ibérico de bellota hams) take centre stage. Half-a-dozen seasonal dishes using ingredients from the market supplement tapas staples such as tortilla, freshly made croquetas, grilled chorizo and Padrón peppers, and the all-Spanish wine list is divided in to categories like ‘smooth and soft’. Service can sometimes creak under the weight of Brindisa’s unerring popularity.

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Ember Yard

Ember Yard

£30 - £49
Spanish

61 Berwick Street, London, W1F 8SU

“Cool but not too expensive”, this casual spot deals in Spanish and Italian food with a “smoky twist”. The two-tiered space is suitably clad in wood, with assorted seating upstairs, more intimate corners and a large bar in the basement. A succinct small-plates menu is great for groups, from Ibérico pork fat chips or smoked burrata with zingy heritage tomatoes to morsels of “wonderfully rich and juicy” hot-smoked Gloucester pork belly served with smoked apple and cider – all given the treatment over single-species charcoal from Kent.

The menu is also peppered with trendy extras such as whipped jamón butter, brown crab alioli and chorizo ketchup, while a range of Spanish lagers and intriguing cocktails (acorn liqueur, anyone?) refresh the palate after all that smoke. Ember Yard delivers the goods, whether you’re after a beer and some buttery barbecued flatbread or a full-on celebration; meanwhile, “enthusiastic staff” add the final gloss to this “smoking” venue.

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Lurra

Lurra

£30 - £49
Tapas
Spanish

9 Seymour Place, London, W1H 5BA

Across the road from sister Donostia, this Basque grill restaurant is best known for its “delicious lumps of old cow” – the 14-year-old Galician steak which causes intense excitement among beef geeks. But even without the charcoal-grilled centrepiece (or its equally excellent pescatarian equivalent of whole turbot with Txakoli sauce), Lurra promises plenty of thrills. It’s particularly big on fish; try Cornish monkfish with moscatel and garlic sauce, grilled octopus with piquillo peppers or courgette flower stuffed with cod brandade. Fries with smoked paprika and aïoli go with everything, while desserts feature home-made ice cream, a simple milk pudding served with orange-blossom honey and exemplary chocolate fondant. 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. The wine list benefits from the owners’ expertise in the import business.

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Barrafina Adelaide Street

Barrafina Adelaide Street

£30 - £49
Tapas
Spanish

10 Adelaide Street, London, WC2N 4HZ

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. Each has its own personality and style, although the no-bookings policy, marble and glass interiors, long bar and attentive, enthusiastic staff are common to all three. As ever, dishes range from the dainty (little shells of zingy, sweet scallop ceviche) to the gutsy (gorgeous, creamy milk-fed-lamb’s brains breadcrumbed and served with a punchy olive and tomato sauce) – not forgetting the Harts’ lauded tortilla laced with spicy morcilla and piquillo pepper. “There’s always something new and wonderful to try”, and two of our favourites are hits from the daily specials board – grilled John Dory lathered in a silky olive oil, garlic and parsley sauce, and Josper-grilled baby vegetables atop romesco sauce. To drink, sniff out the owners’ hand-picked sherries, or pick something suitable from the carefully sourced Spanish wine list. If you’re used to Spanish pinxtos prices, you’re in for a shock – but then again, a trip to Barrafina Adelaide Street is cheaper than a flight to Valencia. 

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Salt Yard

Salt Yard

£50 - £79
Tapas
Spanish

54 Goodge Street, London, W1T 4NA

It’s easy to see why Salt Yard’s genuinely shareable, sensibly paced small plates are loved by Londoners, because its “consistently great food” is leagues ahead of your average tapas. In fact, its top dishes wouldn’t be out of place in a far more formal setting than this bar-like amalgam of bare wood, brown banquettes and brass lampshades. Just consider gooey and crisp smoked eel croquetas on precise dabs of vivid pink beetroot purée, hake fillet and baby artichoke with foaming ajo blanco or rosy slices of Ibérico presa and calcot-style grilled onions with a ruby romesco sauce like pure silk.

Cream stools are comfy, but it’s the sharp cooking, keen pricing and ever-changing menu that keep in-the-know regulars perpetually hooked. “Lovely staff” buy into the concept and advise with confidence; we certainly appreciated their suggestion of a classy chocolate mousse with mini-churros and cherries for dessert. The cracking Mediterranean-leaning wine list is strong on by-the-glass options.

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Pizarro

Pizarro

£50 - £79
Spanish

194 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3TQ

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 some “great theatre” if you can. This is a good-looking place, contemporary without being achingly fashionable, and it attracts a local crowd to match. The ingredients are always top quality and handled with expertise by the kitchen team: meltingly soft chicken livers on sourdough are “a must-try”; grilled baby gem lettuce is paired with blue cheese, piquillo peppers and caramelised walnuts; Cornish hake might be grilled on the plancha and served with sautéed potatoes. To finish, expect inventive desserts ranging from a strawberry soup with basil and lime granita to cream-cheese ice cream with blackcurrant and chamomile syrup. The wine list is among London’s best for good Spanish producers and emerging regions. There’s a newer branch in the City, but fans tend to favour this “truly remarkable” original.

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Cambio de Tercio

Cambio de Tercio

£50 - £79
Spanish
£30 - £49

163 Old Brompton Road, London, SW5 0LJ

It might be rolling into its third decade, but “Abel Lusa’s masterpiece gets better every year”, according to one of his many loyal customers. There’s nothing old-fashioned about this “incredibly authentic” and wildly underrated 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, featuring innovations such as a riff on gazpacho involving tomato ‘water’ cherry sorbet, cod brandade and cristal bread or spicy suckling pig meatballs with crunchy ear, poached skate and Colombian tamarillo. Just as exciting are the “very long” all-Spanish wine list and the treasure-trove of gins and sherries – thanks to sibling bars C. Tonic and Capote y Toros, where you can continue the fiesta with live flamenco.

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Escocesa

Escocesa

£30 - £49
Spanish

67 Stoke Newington Church Street, London, N16 0AR

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 Ullapool mussels a la plancha, or Shetland razor clams. Sit at the curved entrance bar or retreat to the compact, stripped-back dining room, which brims with a casual, local crowd. Our meal contained hardly a dud dish: sobrassada sausage baked in honey was the highlight, a lively blend of chewy meat and almost treacle-like sweetness. Rocket salad with Manchego is also given a sweet lift – via quince and Pedro Ximénez – while salt-cod croquetas are crisp and creamy. More substantial dishes, such as octopus with potato, sometimes suffer from too many ingredients: best stick to lighter bites, paired with a Rebujito cocktail (La Goya Manzanilla sherry with lemonade, lime and mint). Service can be haphazard but is incredibly charming, which sums up Escocesa rather well.

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Sagardi

Sagardi

£50 - £79
Steak
Spanish

Cordy House, 95 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3BS

Massively popular in Spain, the Sagardi steakhouse chain has chosen Shoreditch to open its first London branch. But this is no routine grilled-beef joint – the gastronomic hotspot of The Basque Country provides the culinary know-how behind the menu. The capacious dining room can seat more than 140, yet the dark-wood and slate interiors and leather-clad benches produce a warm, inviting atmosphere. As do the staff, who are keen to provide pairing suggestions for each course from the Basque-focused wine list. Charcuterie and pintxos (Basque tapas) account for starters. We began with moreish ham croquettes, plus some spicy grilled morcilla (black pudding) before the main act. Txuletón is what to order here: steak from cattle that are at least six years old, which is then seared on a Basque-style grill (over an oak-wood fire). The massive 800g cut we enjoyed is initially served medium-rare, with staff happy to cook it for longer if required – but our beautifully tender slab needed no extra grill-time. Sides of spiced potato wedges and salad make ideal accompaniments. Grilled fish is also an option, and the list of ‘grandma’s home cooking’ Basque dishes shouldn’t be ignored: braised lamb’s trotters in Biscay sauce, perhaps. Desserts stick to Basque country traditions too, and we loved the melt-in-the-mouth goxua sponge cake. Is there space for another steakhouse chain in London? Given Sagardi’s singular contribution to the genre our answer is ‘yes’ – or, as the Basques would say, ‘bai!’

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Dehesa

Dehesa

£30 - £49
Tapas
Spanish

25 Ganton Street, London, W1F 9BP

Like its big brother Salt Yard, light-footed Dehesa flits between Spain and Italy, embracing the best of both worlds. The selection of “dreamy little small plates” allows for a magpie approach, and diners can zigzag their way across the Med, taking in tortillas and pork rillions (“naughty as hell”), then maybe tender ricotta and spinach malfatti, before alighting on zesty ‘nduja croquetas with guindilla alioli. Charcuterie pits Spain’s acorn-fed finest against Italy’s famous Parma, while desserts feature deep-fried milk with cinnamon (“a revelation”). The regional wine list makes inspired reading, but don’t miss the “crazy Salvador Dali brandy in a melting bottle” urges one fan. Dehesa’s corner site is pretty – and well-positioned near Liberty’s; it also wins friends by taking bookings.

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Sabor: The Counter

Sabor: The Counter

£30 - £49
Spanish

35 Heddon Street, London, W1B 4BS

Nieves Barragán Mohacho was the breakout star of Barrafina, winning a Michelin star for the group’s original outpost and, by devising different menus for each successive branch, helping to transform Londoners’ attitude to Spanish food. She’s now taken that development even further with her first solo restaurant, Sabor, which while looking like a tapas bar – a long, L-shaped eating counter surrounds an open kitchen decorated with colourful Andalusian tiles – serves the sort of Spanish-accented small plates you won’t find anywhere else in the UK. 

Some of them involve tweaking the familiar. Oil-soaked pan con tomate is topped with a vivid ruffle of cured meat, piquillo croquetas are dusted with a fine shaving of Manchego cheese, while garlic prawns have a wobbly, barely cooked texture and arrive atop a squelch of saline-heavy seaweed. But there is much that tastes completely new, including a superbly cooked piece of presa Ibérica served with a mojo verde so fragrant with coriander it tastes almost Indian. The biggest surprise is that the best dish is left until the very end: bombas de chocolas, a trio of doughnuts dolloped with a sticky mess of chocolate and coffee sauces so sinfully rich they taste like the most grown-up profiteroles imaginable.

Not all of it is so accomplished – the wild mushroom croquetas taste like deep-fried soup – and there will doubtless be diners who long for the straightforward comfort of chorizo and calamares. But we applaud Mohacho and her front-of-house partner José Etura for not simply Xeroxing the Barrafina formula. If you don’t want to queue for a seat, come early in the week for lunch, or book the upstairs Asador, specialising in lamb cutlets and suckling pig cooked in an open kitchen and served at communal tables.

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Tendido Cero

Tendido Cero

£30 - £49
Tapas
Spanish

174 Old Brompton Road, London, SW5 0BA

Those looking for something less formal than Cambio de Tercio head over to this casual ‘tapas & bar’ 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 (£22 a plate), tortilla and chorizo in cider – although the kitchen also knocks out a few surprise packages in the form of tuna tartare with avocado mayonnaise, quails marinated in sherry vinegar, ‘new-style’ patatas bravas and Iberian spare ribs with ‘mojo canario’. Also look for the ‘solomillo de buey’ (fillet of beef ‘carpaccio-tataki’) and the lamb casserole with roasted almonds. The Cambio group has a reputation for sherry, and Tendido’s selection is guaranteed to please aficionados and new converts alike. The whole package regularly wins plaudits, and the place “looks in fine fettle”.

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Social Wine & Tapas

Social Wine & Tapas

£30 - £49
Tapas
Wine Bars

39 James Street, London, W1U 1DL

It might feel like London is full of Jason Atherton’s Socials, but James Street was sorely in need of a restaurant that prizes quality as well as conviviality, and this is it. Customers enter through a wine shop and tasting area dedicated to executive sommelier Laure Patry’s eagle-eyed finds, then head down to the cellar bar where wine is everywhere – even, via a recorded soundtrack, in the toilets. It’s dark and masculine, but service is warm, and the food is a mixture of trad tapas and elevated ideas. Creamy piquillo croquetas and sweet, oily pan con tomate are difficult to beat, though crispy duck egg with artichoke and grated truffle comes close. Readers also recommend the “awesome” lamb fillet with char-grilled celeriac, cucumber and yoghurt, “genuinely mouth-watering” char-grilled broccolini with chilli, pear and air-dried tuna shavings, and the crisp-crunchy Szechuan-fried chipirones with togarashi and squid ink aïoli. Puddings run from elegant to nostalgic – a cornet of soft-serve salted caramel ice cream with butterscotch sauce, for example. Fans (ourselves included) “can’t wait to go back”.

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Sabor: El Asador

Sabor: El Asador

£30 - £49
Spanish

35 Heddon Street, London, W1B 4BS

Queue-averse diners will find solace – and the ability to book a table – in El Asador at Sabor, the third and final part of Basque chef Nieves Barragán Mohacho’s three-pronged Spanish concept on Heddon Street.

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. It looks the part too, with its wrought-iron staircase, tiled kitchen, communal tables and short blackboard menu. 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. Enjoy with sides of chips (with espelette pepper or mojo rojo, perhaps) and a perfectly dressed tomato salad. For a feast, start with Galician octopus and potatoes or a slice of glossy cuttlefish empanada, its rich filling as black as night.

After that, a few spoons of refreshing goats’ cheese ice cream with a splash of liquorice jus is about all you’ll manage. 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.

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Cigala

Cigala

£30 - £49
Tapas
Spanish
Under £30

54 Lamb's Conduit Street, WC1N 3LW

While the bar for London tapas has been mightily raised in recent years, it’s done nothing to dent the popularity of old-time stalwart Cigala. Wines built for long lingering lunches are a big reason for its success, with bags of choice on the Spanish-led list and the sort of kindly mark-ups that are never likely to go out of fashion. Gleaming linen and cream walls lighten up the corner site, while Jake Hodges’ kitchen dishes up reliable renditions of grilled sardines in garlic, parsley and lemon, Basque-style baked crab, or squid blasted furiously on the plancha with mojo verde and guindilla peppers. Regional hams and olives, paellas for two and a compact selection of mains (perhaps hake with prawns and cockles in green sauce) complete the menu, although there’s no sign of the titular langoustine. Functional service gets the food delivered, but you’ll be glad of straight-talking wine notes.

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Capote y Toros

Capote y Toros

£30 - £49
Spanish

157 Old Brompton Road, London, SW5 0LJ

Sister site to the grown-up Cambio de Tercio next door, Capote y Toros is everything you’d expect from a younger sibling – louder and boozier, but with all the same quality in its DNA. Prepare for an Andalusian assault on the senses, courtesy of the pink and yellow colour scheme, the wall of framed bullfighting pictures and the swinging hams. 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. In contrast to Cambio’s envelope-pushing cuisine, the menu here plays it straight. Expect classic tapas dishes such as Spanish omelette with chorizo; lamb shoulder casserole with oloroso; the speciality homemade cod sausage with Padrón peppers – and, of course, a mouth-watering choice of killer ibérico hams.

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Aqua Nueva

Aqua Nueva

£50 - £79
Tapas
Spanish

Fifth Floor, 240 Regent Street (entrance 30 Argyll Street), London, W1B 3BR

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 glazed veal cheek with pickled mushrooms or poached cod fillet atop fennel purée. Respect for ingredients and presentation is evident throughout, from melting black-ink seafood croquetas presented in mussel shells to deep-pink raw tuna rolls, stuffed with a confit tomato and almonds, then studded with pomegranate (a riot of colour and texture). There are also larger plates of grilled octopus or perhaps Ibérico secreto pork, but our advice is to stick with the smaller, more adventurous tapas. Big bills come as standard, but the striking black-and-gold bar provides a more wallet-friendly alternative with its evening snack menu, array of cocktails and a terrace overlooking Regent Street.

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José Pizarro Broadgate

José Pizarro Broadgate

£50 - £79
Tapas
Spanish

36 Broadgate Circle, London, EC2M 1QS

Hot on the heels of his Bermondsey debut, José Pizarro’s City outlet is part of Broadgate Circle’s “egalitarian crescent of on-trend restaurants”. Dark brown chairs, “clean metallic lines” and slate-grey walls give the place a distinctly warm and relaxed vibe, while the menu mixes pitch-perfect renditions of the tapas classics with more “enterprising” contemporary ideas: we recommend the spicy chicken skewers, the house croquetas and the sugar-cured salmon with PX, lime mayo and capers, but don’t miss the carved-to-order jamón ibérico or the “close to perfect” octopus a la plancha. If something bigger is required, go for the “full-flavoured” rabbit stew, hake with green beans and dry sherry sauce or something veggie (perhaps a goats’ cheese pastry with parsley oil), before rounding off with apricots in cava or “fluffy” cinnamon fritters. With cracking breakfasts, lunches to go and an all-weather terrace figuring in the mix, José continues to impress the Square Mile.

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Tendido Cuatro

Tendido Cuatro

£30 - £49
Tapas
Spanish

108-110 New King's Road, London, SW6 4LY

‘Tapas & paella’ in the strapline for this branch of the Cambio de Tercio group, and it remains the venue’s real selling point. On summer evenings, gaggles of happy punters spill out of the concertina doors onto the pavement, while bright decor, Catalan charm and sunny Iberian service keeps things cheery on the rainiest of days. Among the sharing plates, you can't go wrong with traditional albondigas (meatballs), Galician-style octopus or Padrón peppers, but also note the aubergine chips with rosemary honey and some exceptional jamón ibérico. While the standard tapas deliver on quality, the kitchen also ups the ante by offering, say, mini Wagyu burgers or grilled Iberian pork with chorizo purée and figs. Gourmet paellas (six versions) are as popular as ever, and an excellent sherry list caps off a first-rate offering.

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Barrafina Dean Street

Barrafina Dean Street

£30 - £49
Tapas
Spanish
One michelin star

26-29 Dean Street, London, W1D 3LL

It might be modelled on Barcelona’s legendary tapas bar Cal Pep, but well-travelled readers reckon Barrafina Dean Street surpasses the original. The Barrafina chain is a homage to the traditional tapas bar, refracted through a very London vibe – a feeling enhanced by this handsome space (all steel, marble and mirrors) which takes up most of the ground floor of Quo Vadis. 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. To drink, an excellent choice of all-Spanish wines includes own-label Manzanilla and plenty by the glass. However, serving such “delicious and exciting” Michelin-starred food does have its downside: you need to turn up at Barrafina Dean Street before 6pm to guarantee a place at the counter, and even then you could face an hour’s wait – although it’s no hardship with a glass of rosé cava in one hand and a plate of ham croquetas in the other.

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Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

Tapas
Spanish
One michelin star

COMO The Halkin, 5 Halkin Street, London, SW1X 7DJ

If Ametsa’s dining room looks a little clinical with its test tubes of spices undulating in the ceiling, that’s no coincidence – there’s a meticulous, almost scientific approach to gastronomy here. But it’s also worth taking notice of the poppies etched on the mirrors because the cooking has a boundary-pushing, dreamlike quality, intended to astound more than just the taste buds. The menu describes its dishes in a florid style – ‘scallops leaving home’, ‘tuna with cinnamon on fire’ and ‘sea bass with celery illusion’ – and they all deliver “incredible artistry” and Michelin-starred “wows” galore. A dessert of orange toast with spinach has a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity to round off the meal. “Fantastically knowledgeable staff” get their share of plaudits, while the sommelier is “informative and spot-on” when it comes to the Spanish-biased wine list. “Pure theatre”.

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Trangallán

Trangallán

£30 - £49
Tapas
Spanish

61 Newington Green, London, N16 9PX

Selling itself as a ‘gastronomic and cultural space’ with a Spanish accent, Trangallán is housed in a disused Stoke Newington social club that has been filled with furniture from auction rooms, markets and fairs. Everything here is also for sale, if you fancy putting in an offer for some cutlery or the chairs you’re sitting on. The ground floor is a tapas hangout dealing in “seasonal Spanish food”, so graze your way through charcuterie, cheeses, smoked anchovies and more fashionable delights such as tuna tartare with ajo blanco, green and white asparagus with egg yolk and crispy jamón or Iberian ‘presa’ (pork shoulder) with chimichurri and ‘wrinkled’ potatoes. We’re also fans of the gutsy carrilleras (a stew of pig’s cheeks) with savoy cabbage. The Spanish-led drinks list features some interesting ‘natural’ wines and exclusive, ‘limited edition’ sherries. Meanwhile, Tranga’s dinky basement is given over to regular film screenings, cabaret, flamenco, sherry tastings and other events. “Fantastic, unique…and so very close!” cheers one Stokey local. 

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José

José

£30 - £49
Tapas
Spanish

104 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3UB

José Pizarro began his London career working for Spanish food importer Brindisa before launching his Bermondsey flagship Pizarro, then this little tapas bar down the road. 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 of preparation areas (‘kitchen’ may be too grand a word) from turning out “amazing” croquetas, grills and assemblies. Beyond the patatas bravas, tortilla and Padrón peppers, we’re very partial to the cured tuna with almonds, baby chicken with potatoes and romesco sauce, chorizo al vino and figs with sheep’s cheese and honey dressing. A few little plates and a glass of wine or sherry is sufficient to set most people off in a good mood for the rest of the evening. It’s perennially packed, but the accommodating staff are as expert at dealing with crowds in confined spaces as Spanish bus conductors.

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Bravas Tapas

Bravas Tapas

£30 - £49
Tapas
Spanish

St Katharine Docks, London, E1W 1AT

It may be softened by candelabra 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. Nevertheless, Bravas Tapas lives up to its name, even though it beats to a vaguely avant-garde drum. 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 or blue cheese croquetas with pickled carrot salpicón. BT’s seafood speaks of wider, cleaner waters than the Thames, but dishes such as grilled octopus with toasted garlic and olive oil feel just right. Whipped-to-order alioli has been a signature since day one, as have the tongs with which you’re expected to pick everything up – not recommended with the caramelised brioche pudding and passion fruit sorbet.  

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Copita

Copita

£30 - £49
Spanish

27 D'Arblay Street, London, W1F 8EN

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. The name translates as ‘little glass’, but with numerous sherries and affordable Spanish wines to sample, the ethos here is ‘little and often’. Such an offering cultivates a congenial mood as punters perch on wooden stools amid tile-clad walls and glowing candles. 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. In similarly trendy vein, you might also find bao buns, playfully stuffed with silky Ibérico ham and spiced pepper sauce. To finish, nibble on a caramelised custard tart – paired with a copita of light Moscatel, naturally. Service is smiley and prices are fair, making this a welcome pit stop.

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Barrafina Drury Lane

Barrafina Drury Lane

£30 - £49
Tapas
Spanish

43 Drury Lane, London, WC2B 5AJ

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. Choose from new dishes such as piquillo croquetas alongside the Barrafina favourites, and a daily specials selection. Highlights on our last visit included pan de coca generously layered with intense slices of anchovy and sweet roast pepper, soft morcilla topped with golden-yolked pheasants egg and the crab bun – soft brioche stuffed with moist buttery crab meat in a bisque-like sauce; so good you’ll want to order another one straight away. 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. As ever, expect to queue for those first-come, first-served seats. The private dining room, with room for 28, is one option for those who hate to wait.

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Rambla

Rambla

£30 - £49
Tapas
Spanish

64 Dean Street, London, W1D 4QQ

Chef and restaurateur Victor Garvey has made a name for himself with a pair of restaurants (Sibarita, Bravas Tapas) cut from a different cloth from the Spanish norm. Rambla, his latest, is named after the most famous street in Barcelona and its breezy design is meant to evoke the city’s beachfront restaurants, although the people-watching is arguably more diverting here, through big windows looking onto Dean Street.

The menu deals in raw and cured meats and Catalonian specialities from the mountains and the sea, and Garvey is once again to be congratulated for attempting to wean Londoners off chorizo al vino and ham crouquetas. So while you will find croquetas at Rambla, they’re filled with spinach and topped with pine nuts; elsewhere there are meaty lamb chops with rosemary aioli, a Camembert-like navat cheese baked in a dish with bread and crudités for dipping, and excellent octopus grilled to almost-melting gooeyness, with crispy garlic and tarragon aioli. It’s all nicely dine, if lacking the high-octane culinary thrills of Encant, but ticking the box for a younger, more casual crowd. To drink, a gin and tonic served in a highball rather than the giant balloon glasses we’ve got used to seemed like a missed opportunity, although the bottle of white Idoia that the waiter recommended is the sort of wine you take a photo of to track down online when you get home. 

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Donostia

Donostia

£30 - £49
Spanish

10 Seymour Place, London, W1H 7ND

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 – although it’s now reaping the benefit of a 2016 refurb. The food doesn’t need much flattery, even if the act of pouring natural Basque cider from great heights does add a certain ceremony to the experience. Excellent charcuterie dominates the selection of cold plates, while pintxos could be foie gras with walnuts and PX vinegar, jamón croquetas or tempura prawns with ham and mango. Bigger tapas dishes give meat and fish a starring role, as in Ibérico pork shoulder with romesco sauce, crispy-fried cod cheeks with squid-ink aïoli or marinated quail with spinach, pancetta and truffle oil. There are classic extras including blistered Padrón peppers and masterfully made tortilla too. Donostia’s owners started out in the wine import trade, and there’s quality in every glass.

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