Spanish

MARESCO

He already runs Bar Esteban in Crouch End and Escocesa in Stoke Newington, and now Stephen Lironi has opened his third spot, Maresco in Soho. It’s a tapas bar, so there’s mainly counter seating (plus a handful of tables for bigger groups downstairs), with one section running down the length of the open kitchen, and the other looking out the large windows onto the street. Named after the Spanish words for sea (‘mar’) and Scotland (‘esco’, short for ‘Escocia’), the restaurant was inspired by Lironi’s childhood visits to Spain and a Guardian article that detailed how the best Scottish seafood was exported to Spain. Stephen, Head Chef Pablo Rodriguez and General Manager Naroa Ortega (who are also partners in the other two sites), are showcasing that Scottish seafood through a Spanish lens, like halibut with black rice and txistorra del mar (fish sausage made with mackerel and monkfish). There are plenty of meat and veg tapas classics too and an all-Spanish wine list to get stuck into.

BIBO

Shoreditch’s Spanish restaurant BiBo has launched a brand new Sunday brunch menu. The restaurant, inside the swish Mondrian hotel, is known for its extravagant rice dishes created by paella don Dani Garcia. Their brunch menu offers something a bit different from the standard eggs and fry-ups, and includes plenty of Dani’s paellas, our favourite being the paella with runny fried eggs and cecina. Pre-paella you can snack on some of their tapas dishes, like BiBo’s famous oxtail brioche, crispy adron peppers, and their speciality grilled avocado (great if you just can’t do brunch without avo). If paella isn’t your thing, they also have some classic brunch dishes to choose from, including eggs benedict with jamon Iberico, and a dry-aged Txuleta BiBo burger. All this can be enjoyed with live Latin music and flowing sangria. Salud! 

JOSE PIZARRO AT RA

Anyone who’s been following Jose Pizarro since the early days of his first tiny tapas bar on Bermondsey Street, will be bowled over by his latest restaurant, which is now open in the palatial surroundings of the Royal Academy – you could easily fit his original restaurant 100 times over in here. It’s a beautiful space that feels a fitting testament to a chef that has done so much for Spanish food in London and never seems to put a foot wrong. If you’ve eaten at Jose’s other restaurants, much of the menu will be familiar, but the setting is a whole new ball game – there really can’t be too many places around the world that you can have tortilla and patatas bravas in an actual art gallery. It’s hard to go wrong on a menu that features boquerones; pan con tomate; prawn buñuelos; and sobrasada with mahon cheese and honey on toast. Don’t miss one of our favourites too, the chorizo cooked in red wine with quince. 

LOBOS MEAT & TAPAS

14 Borough High St, London SE1 9QG

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.

LURRA

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.

COPITA

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.

DEHESA

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.

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

TAPAS BRINDISA

152 Curtain Rd, Shoreditch, London EC2A 3ER

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.

EMBER YARD

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.

OPERA TAVERN

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.

MORITO

195 Hackney Rd, London E2 8JL

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.

PIZARRO

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

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.

IBÉRICA

You only need to travel a couple of minutes from Farringdon tube station to get a real taste of Spain at Iberica, where you’re greeted by a 15-metre long bar and a dining room decked out with Spanish tiles, dark wood and oversized hanging lamps. When it comes to the menu it’s Spanish classics all the way. The cured meats are a favourite – wafer thin slices of air cured Cecina beef, wild boar chorizo and the trio of jamones – as are the croquetas (made following chef Nacho’s family recipe), and you’ll want to leave room for the Spanish sweet stuff at the end. With wines from all over the country alongside sherries and vermouths you can drink your way around Spain here too.

SABOR

35-37 Heddon St, London W1B 4BR

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.

ARROS QD

64 Eastcastle Street, London W1W 8NQ

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.

JOSE TAPAS BAR

104 Bermondsey St, London SE1 3UB

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.

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