We love nothing better than a morsel of food with our evening aperitif, which makes us firm fans of traditional Spanish tapas. But what about when you’re not sauntering about the streets of Andalusia or the in-roads of the Basque Country? Luckily, we’ve spent some time narrowing down the best tapas-serving spots around the world, so that whether you’re in NYC or London, you know where to go for your fix.
From brothers Sam and Eddie Hart comes Barrafina, a seductive staple on London’s dining scene with a handful of branches across the English capital that all seek to deliver the same thing: tasty tapas, low on pretension but exceptionally high on quality. It’s a mission they’ve well and truly nailed. You can’t book, you’ll definitely have to wait and there’s no point going if you’re after a quiet, discreet dinner, but that’s why we love it. Snag a seat at the Frith Street location and get to ordering anything and everything on the menu. Our favourites? Molten, melting ham croquetas are worth the wait, and the succulent red prawns elsewhere on the menu beg you to mop up every last dribble of juice before your plate is cleared.
New York City, El Quinto Pino
As with all the best tapas bars, the seats around El Quinto Pino‘s tight curved bar are always filled. Venture in, and you’ll have made it to one of NYC’s best snacking spots. The aim of the game at this eatery isn’t simply delivering delicious dishes, it’s bending the rules of flavour combinations and taking tapas to new realms of pleasure. Case in point, the Catalan salad xató, which brings you bonito tuna and fresh chicory with raw salt cod, that comes dressed two ways. It’s big, bold and altogether brilliant. Simple stuff is done well too, from the chorizo to the breadsticks. Make it your Manhattan pitstop.
Lisbon, A Cevicheria
At A Cevicheria, you’re in for a tapas treat. The space is a little more elegant than your standard Barcelona corner bar – sure it’s busy and you might be knocking elbows, but it’s still a little lap of luxury compared to other more traditional tapas spots. Instagrammers might come to snap shots of the giant octopus hanging from the ceiling, but anyone who truly cares for their taste buds will make it over to get a spoonful of Chef Kiko’s incredible ceviche. If you’re in town, don’t miss the kitchens ceviche puro: white fish, sweet potato puree, onion, algae and tiger’s milk (that’s ceviche broth to you and I). This is fish treated right in a fresh, modern setting.
Hong Kong, 22 Ships
At Jason Atherton’s 22 Ships in Wan Chai, it’s clear from the off that this is the place Hong Kong’s hipsters congregate. Yes, everything feels a little bit too cool, but roll with it and you’ll soon feel right at home. Grab a seat and get ordering. The suckling pig and the sardines are better than good, plus anything with scallops gets a resounding yes. But, if there’s only one thing you’re going for, we say make it the Iberico pork. It’s meaty and rich, with that slippery, salty edge that only great Iberico brings. Go natural and have it on its own (and a glass of red) or layer it on freshly-cooked bruschetta and drizzle it with fragrant olive oil.
Barcelona, Quimet & Quimet
A tapas list wouldn’t be complete without one Spanish city making the cut. Our choice is the Barcelona stalwart – it’s been around for more than a century – Quimet & Quimet. This city institution is known for its wine-lined walls and a menu groaning with local delicacies and better-known tapas favourites. Make sure you give the drinks list some time (there is some brilliant vermouth and sherry hidden there, as well as excellent wine) and then head straight to anything involving cheese. It’s all top-notch. As is the pâté. And the army of montadito options. Oh, and the olives. OK, we can’t pick, just get as much as you can before the bar collapses with the weight of dishes.