Got a hankering for authentic Spanish food and tasty tapas? These incredible Spanish restaurants in London will do the trick.
They say sea, sand and sangria are the perfect combination for a holiday. You’ll be hard pushed to find all three of these in the Big Smoke, but we may be able to help when it comes to trying the tastiest tapas and Spanish food you can get without boarding a plane – washed down with sangria, of course. And hey, one out of three ain’t too bad.
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From the depths of King’s Cross buried among the bustle of Coal Drops Yard, to hipster hotspots in Hackney, London is home to lots of Spanish hidden gems that, although are a long way from the Med, serve up some supremely delicious and authentic tapas.
Whether you fancy something relaxed to nibble on like a few juicy Padrón peppers with a jug of fruit-filled sangria, or you’re settling in for the night and ready to fill your table with plates, we’re willing to bet these tried-and-tested restaurants will make a returning customer out of you.
Opera Tavern, Covent Garden
Covent Garden’s Opera Tavern has had a fresh lick of paint and a newly swished-up menu, and it’s the perfect spot for pre-theatre or post-work tapas.
Tucked just far enough away from the hustle of Covent Garden, there’s a casual buzz that spills into the relaxed ground floor (there’s a dining room upstairs). Here, from your plush leather seat, you can watch cocktails prepared at the central bar while you make your way through delicious sharing plates. You’ll find all the classics here, from Padrón peppers (juicy and moreish), jamón and manchego croquetas and chorizo picante to more filling dishes like linguine nero and ibérico pork burgers (so good).
And to wash it all down? It would be a customary thing to order a bottle of Spanish red, but we went down the mixology route instead – the El Secreto is a delightfully punchy blend of Tanqueray, aquavite grappa and quince jelly, topped with a parmesan crisp. An easy, reliable central London option.
Where is it? 23 Catherine St, Covent Garden, London, WC2B 5JS.
Traditional Spanish fare is given a hipster twist at Morito in Hackney, an extremely cool restaurant on the edge of the famed Columbia Road which manages to balance stand-out quality dishes with a nonchalant atmosphere.
If you can, sit in the window so that the view of the restaurant unfolds around you and watch imaginative cocktails being shaken up behind the central bar. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable (so we’d recommend asking for their favourites on the menu), while the energy is lively, so don’t be afraid to bring a big gaggle of friends for a night of food and fun.
Everything that we tasted was divine, but we’d heartily encourage ordering the charcoal grilled lamb chops, paprika and anchovy butter, fried aubergines, date molasses and feta and please, for your own sake, try the chocolate and olive oil mousse topped with hazelnuts.
Where is it? 195 Hackney Rd, London, E2 8JL.
Vermuteria, King's Cross
Some people go all-out for a first date, but sometimes it’s more relaxing to stay reasonably casual. Vermuteria in King’s Cross – a bar inspired by the cafes-slash-watering-holes of Spain, France and Italy – is ideal.
Featuring over 100 vermouths, cocktails and more, the drinks menu is fascinating (so you’ll have at least one thing to talk about) and helpfully labelled (choosing feels fun, not intimidating). Its inspiration comes from the origins of vermouth distilling which was established during the 18th century in the city of Turin, and then developed in the ‘great vermouth bars of Italy and beyond’.
The booze is the star of the show here, but the ever-changing food menu is simple and tasty: think anchovies with slivers of lemon rind, hot salty Padrón peppers and burrata with salsa verde.
Grab an outdoor table for ample people-watching in stylish Coal Drops Yard with two Original Veneziano spritzes and you’re ready to enjoy.
Where is it? 38/39 Coal Drops Yard, London, N1C 4DQ.
El Ganso, London Fields
Neighborhood restaurant El Ganso embodies everything about its location, Broadway Market. The vibes are relaxed, authentic and fun, with a bustling local clientele who, thanks to the delicious food and great atmosphere, come back again and again.
In the summer, you can sit outside and grab the perfect people-watching spot (take style notes from those wandering down the market). Then in winter, enjoy the cosy, romantic lighting as the evenings draw in and your sangria bill gets longer.
Standout dishes from the evening menu, in our humble opinion, would be the Pulpo Frito which is octopus with smoky paprika, chimichurri, purple potato pure and olive oil, the Carrilada de Cerdo which is braised pork cheek in red curry gravy and the Tortilla de Patata which is a Spanish omelette with tasty onions.
Where is it? 59 Broadway Market, London, E8 4PH.
Images: Courtesy of venues
Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.