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SPANISH RESTAURANTS

Spain is the top holiday destination for us Brits – you just can’t beat a bit of sun and sangria – so it’s no surprise that we’ve taken to Spanish food as well, and London is full of great Spanish restaurants serving up classic tapas, regional specialities and creative dishes.

Arros QD comes from Quique Dacosta who has three Michelin stars in Spain and is all about fire and rice. The two floor space located just off Oxford Street has an amazing open kitchen right at the centre where you can see a big wood-fired grill and lots of big paella pans over individual grills. Jose Pizarro, who is one of the nicest people in the industry, has three spots in the London (two in Bermondsey and one in the City) that are about simple dishes made with great produce and served with Spanish wine.

Eneko Atxa, whose three Michelin-starred Bilbao restaurant Azurmendi is no.16 in the World’s 50 Best, also has a presence here with Eneko. It’s a more relaxed vibe, but fortunately he hasn’t gone too casual – service is slick and the cooking creative, with some presentation tricks you’d certainly associate with Michelin fine dining. Founded by Nieves Barragan and José Etura, Spanish restaurant Sabor has taken London by storm, winning a Michelin star in 2018. Sabor means flavour in Spanish, and they have it by the bucket loads.

BARRAFINA

Coal Drops Yard, Kings Cross, London, N1C 4AB

The CDY branch of Barrafina is the biggest one in the group – very handy as it’s still strictly no ressies – with gorgeous counter seating plus some small tables if you want a little more privacy. It’s a Calalan-inspired menu, with a mix of new dishes and Barrafina classics (like their famously oozy tortillas) but be sure to check out the daily specials as well because these can be magic.

SABOR

£££
35-37 Heddon St, Mayfair, London W1B 4BR, UK

Founded by Nieves Barragan and José Etura, Spanish restaurant Sabor has taken London by storm, winning a Michelin star in 2018. Sabor means flavour in Spanish, and they have it by the bucket loads. You even get to choose which area you fancy dining at. There’s the Counter, which serves fresh fish and daily-changing regional dishes from across Spain, and the Bar for snacks and tipples, both on the ground floor. Up top is El Asador (where you make reservations) which serves dishes from Galicia and Castile, including suckling pig and rib of beef, cooked in a traditional wood fired oven.

JOSE TAPAS BAR

££
104 Bermondsey St, Bermondsey, London SE1 3UB, UK

This is the original spot from one of London’s best, and nicest, chefs – José Pizarro. José Tapas Bar is all about simple dishes made with great produce and you can’t go wrong with a plate of Iberico ham and a glass of sherry to kick things off. From there, we can highly recommend the pan con tomate; croquettes filled with rich squid ink and prawn; tortilla; and beautiful boquerones, practically swimming in olive oil, garlic and parsley. There’s also larger plates such as thin slivers of Iberico pork neck, cooked medium rare and served simply with a sprinkle of salt and a few red peppers, and baked vegetables in tomato sauce, topped with a fried egg and goat’s cheese. And a cheeky side of patatas bravas never goes amiss too.

ARROS QD

64 Eastcastle Street, London W1W 8NQ, UK

Arros QD comes from Quique Dacosta who has three Michelin stars in Spain and is all about fire and rice. The two floor space located just off Oxford Street has an amazing open kitchen right at the centre where you can see a big wood-fired grill and lots of big paella pans over individual grills. The kitchen is being headed up day to day by Richard de La Cruz, who worked with Quique at Denia, helping it win its Michelin stars. Originally from Ecuador, Richard brings a few South American touches to the menu, which is otherwise very Spanish, with dishes like Iberian presa, red prawns and the signature paellas and aioli.

ENEKO

One Aldwych Hotel, Aldwych, London, UK

Eneko Atxa, whose three Michelin-starred Bilbao restaurant Azurmendi is no.16 in the World’s 50 Best, is the man responsible for Eneko. It’s a more relaxed vibe, but fortunately he hasn’t gone too casual – service is slick and the cooking creative, with some presentation tricks you’d certainly associate with Michelin fine dining. There are some impressive dishes here, like roasted Iberico presa with chickpea and garlic cream and hake in a light tempura – go basque in it.

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PIZARRO

£££
194 Bermondsey St, Bermondsey, London SE1 3TQ, UK

Just down the street from Jose Tapas Bar is Pizarro, Jose Pizarro’s second London restaurant and it’s named after his grandfather in a nod to his bar named Pizarro in Talaván. It’s not a formal spot by any means but more of a proper restaurant set-up than the tapas bar, with small plates and more substantial dishes like skate wing in adobo with burnt butter mash and Castilian leg of suckling lamb. Naturally there is a big selection of Spanish wines and sherries on offer too alongside a gin & tonic list.

JOSE PIZARRO

££
36 Broadgate, London EC2M 2QS, UK

Jose Pizarro’s Broadgate Circle restaurant serves up the authentic tapas he’s become known for – think dishes like jamon Iberico, squid ink & prawn croquetas, Iberian pork cheeks with pumpkin puree, hake with salsa verde, with lots of Spanish wines, sherries and massive G&Ts on the drinks list. It’s a real slice of Spain in the City.

MORITO

195 Hackney Rd, London E2 8JL, UK

Morito is the little sister to Moro, the Exmouth Market restaurant run by Sam and Sam Clark. The original is a tiny place that’s right next door to Moro, with a second and bigger site opening on Hackney Road in 2016. Although not solely Spanish (the menu draws influence from the Eastern Med and North Africa as well as Spain), the menus feature tapas classics like tortilla & aioli, jamon iberico, padron peppers and grilled chorizo alongside dishes like arroz negro with cuttlefish, roast pork belly with quince, and Malaga raisin ice cream, plus a strong Spainish wine list with sherries and vermouths.

MORO

£££
34-36 Exmouth Market, Farringdon, London EC1R 4QE, UK
OPENING HOURS
  • Monday: 12:00 – 11:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 12:00 – 11:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 12:00 – 11:00 PM
  • Thursday: 12:00 – 11:00 PM
  • Friday: 12:00 – 11:00 PM
  • Saturday: 12:00 – 11:00 PM
  • Sunday: 12:00 – 11:00 PM

Moro, run by couple Sam and Sam Clark who set it up after a stint travelling around Spain, Morocco and the Sahara, opened on Exmouth Market in 1997 and has remained popular ever since – practically a lifetime in London restaurant terms. Drawing influence from the pair’s love of Moorish food, the menu (which changes seasonally) features dishes like lamb tagine with preserved lemon, charcoal grilled seabass with ajo blanco and yoghurt cake with pistachios. They’ve also got tapas bar Morito right next door, which is a more casual offering than the main restaurant.

OPERA TAVERN

££
23 Catherine St, West End, London WC2B 5JS, UK

Opera Tavern got a makeover in 2019 with the ground floor getting rejigged into a tapas bar and a more formal 45-cover dining room and bar put upstairs. The Spanish-Italian menu features dishes like pluma with piquillo pepper puree; chicken saltambucca with aubergine; Welsh lamb belly with summer vegetables and pesto; lemon sole with basil puree and brown shrimp sauce; and bavette with onion and bone marrow. And in a nod to the restaurant’s early days, the famous Iberico pork burger and the ‘nduja scotch egg both make appearances too.

EMBER YARD

£££
60 Berwick St, West End, London W1F 8SX, UK

Ember Yard’s menu is packed with seasonal and produce-led dishes, with a big nod to the Basque region courtesy of the BBQ and wood fired grill. You can get a front row view of the chefs at work by pulling up a pew and dining overlooking the open kitchen. As well as the trusty croquetas (Ember Yard has always been particularly good at these), check out the barbecued octopus and chorizo skewer, marinated chicken thighs with celeriac truffle & date mascarpone, and dulce de leche cheesecake with blackcurrant & carrot caramel. And don’t forget a couple of glasses of Spanish wines and a large Gin Mare and tonic….when in a Spanish restaurant and all.

TAPAS BRINDISA

152 Curtain Rd, Shoreditch, London EC2A 3ER, UK

Brindisa is known for providing some of the best Spanish produce in the country and after starting out as a shop in Borough Market, the group has grown to include four tapas restaurants that serve up seasonal dishes made from the finest Spanish ingredients. Each branch is slightly different – the Shoreditch restaurant is inspired by the Mediterranean coast and the Balearic Islands whilst the Soho restaurant is an homage to the bustling bodegas found in Spanish cities – but you can be sure of claasic plates like jamon iberico, patatas bravas, croquetas, Galician octopus with potatoes, and Iberico pork with red pepper puree. A reliable spot to have in your back pocket.

CAMBIO DE TERCIO

This Brompton Road restaurant is longstanding and well-loved – apparently Rafa Nadal eats here when he’s in London (as do other tennis players and TV personalities) so that tells you something. Cambio de Tercio serves up classic tapas like Spanish omelette, anchovy ceviche, Galician octopus and Iberico pluma with a modern twist and they have over 500 Spanish wines on their list so you certainly won’t struggle for choice in the vino department

DEHESA

££
25 Ganton St, Carnaby, London W1F 9BP, UK

Having first opened in 2008, tapas bar Dehesa is now something of a Soho institution. Twelve years is a long time in the restaurant world so it’s had a spruce up and now features a more contemporary, industrial style including exposed brickwork, booth seating, a new bar and a Wine Cellar Dining Room. The menu is packed with tapas classics including padron peppers, crispy calamari, fried artichokes, rosemary manchego, king prawns in chilli and prawn oil and iberico meatballs, pimped with a topping of cabra del tietar goats cheese and migas. Dehesa has been a great one to have up your sleeve for when the tapas cravings strike since it opened and though it may look a little different, nothing’s changed in that department.

COPITA

££
27 D'Arblay St, West End, London W1F 8EP, UK
OPENING HOURS
  • Monday: 5:30 – 11:30 PM
  • Tuesday: 5:30 – 11:30 PM
  • Wednesday: 5:30 – 11:30 PM
  • Thursday: 5:30 – 11:30 PM
  • Friday: 12:00 – 11:30 PM
  • Saturday: 12:00 – 11:30 PM
  • Sunday: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM

With its legs of jamon hanging in the window and counter seating, Copita is buzzy little spot that really transports to you to Spain. The tapas menu features dishes like truffled goat’s cheese with almonds, grilled baby squid with black ink risotto, mushroom croquettes, and beef onglet with chimichurri, and they have plenty of Spanish vino and sherries by the glass too.

LURRA

£££
9 Seymour Pl, Marylebone, London W1H 5BA, UK
OPENING HOURS
  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday: Closed
  • Wednesday: Closed
  • Thursday: Closed
  • Friday: 5:00 – 10:00 PM
  • Saturday: 5:00 – 10:00 PM
  • Sunday: Closed

Lurra means ‘land’ in Basque and the restaurant is all about showcasing the best produce from the region as well as the traditional methods of cooking over charcoal and wood grills. The Galician Blond Txuleta steaks are the centrepiece of the menu – the meat from ex-dairy cows that have lived between 12 – 16 years has more marbling and more flavour – so if you’re a carnivore you’ll be in heaven here. If you’re not, there’s still lots to enjoy at Lurra, including whole grilled wild turbot, octopus with piquillo sauce, and that famous oozy burnt Basque cheesecake.

LOBOS MEAT & TAPAS

14 Borough High St, London SE1 9QG, UK

Founded by four friends, Roberto, Joel, Cortés and Ruben, who all met working in another tapas restaurant (with restaurateur Ellen Chew on board), Lobos Meat & Tapas is all about good meat, good tapas (obvs!) and good Spanish hospitality. Both the Soho and Borough Market branches serve up cuts like chuleton, ribeye and Iberico pork presa alongside tapas classics like tortilla, grilled octopus, chorizo al vino, garlic prawns and black rice paella. Lobos is casual spot but with lots of attitude so order up and get stuck in.

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