Tapas at one time was a tradition and a religion; here you’ll find recommendations for places where free snacks still reign.
“Tapa” – comes from the word ‘tapar’ meant to cover. The origins of this tradition are steeped in myth. Some stories claim they were created to fuel the bravado of the troops, as the Christian reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula needed a boost, and others say it was to avoid fist fights in the taverns between the soldiers.
The origins of Spanish tapas likely came from Andalucian grocery stores at the end of the 19th century. As people migrated, the trend was later exported to Madrid.
Food shortages in post-war Spain produced a need for cheap and functional nourishment that could sustain the population. There was also a social element that increased the popularity of tapas and of course then came the tourists who loved this uniquely Spanish tradition. Each region has it’s specific type of tapas but in general it is a mouthful of something simple, practical and cheap.
The Tapas In These 7 Cities Is Worth Packing Your Bags For
In the Húmedo and Romántico districts of the city, go to Flechazo for spicy chips, La Comptetencia for pizza and the Rebote for croquetas.
Close to the gothic Cathedral, savor salmorejo (a purée consisting of tomato and bread) at the Camarote Madrid when the weather is hot, and trout soup in the Pajarín when it’s cold. At the end of the day, take a stroll to the Plaza del Grano square and visit La Piconera. There you can sample a small beer, a Prieto Picudo wine or the oddly named El Butano – the gas.
Granada has the Alhambra, the Albaicín district, and the most generous tapas in the world. Even those on the tightest budgets could live on the tapas here. At El Tablón only a couple of euros will buy you a beer with bacon and eggs. There’s also El Arenal where you’ll find pork loin and chips (lomo con patatas fritas) with your first drink, fried squid with cabbage (calamares con col) with your second and hamburger with your third – you’ll have to visit to find out what you get with your fourth.
If your you have a sophisticated palette, head over to Aliatar – Los Caracoles for some snails If you’d like to recreate Andalusia’s glorious past, head over to Omka for Moroccan delights such as couscous, saluka, brewat and delicious tagines. Though a little far from the sea, Los Diamantes do fabulous fried fish and mussels.
Many of Madrid’s bars still offer a small snack with your drink. It may just be as simple as a basket of potato chips, or a plate of olives or a piece of bread with a slice of local sausage on top.
Taperia Manxega, in the Pico del Pañuelo neighbourhood, offer a tapa and drink at a reasonable price. Two other spots in the area are Venta Matadero where they may dish up a small plate of pasta salad or potato salad, and La Peña Atlética de Legazpi where you may be offered roasted peppers with cumin.
When in La Coruña try La Bombilla. In Lugo, the list is inexhaustible. There are two bars in particular: Las Cinco Vigas and the Paprica. The tapas scene here is similar to Granada, just in the north.
In Galicia, this is particularly true. In Santiago, O Cabalo Branco is a must. The best tapa here is tray of potatoes with mayonnaise, prawns, croquettes and bacon. You have two options for tortilla – La Tita and the Moha. You must try El Avión on a Friday – miraculously – you will be served crab!
In Seville, the tapas are great. La Grande, for example, offers prawns, making it worthy of review.
The point of real connection among Spaniards is the desire to eat cheaply and well. While this list has failed to cover all the best tapas bars it’s a great place to start for your next visit to Spain. Buen provecho!