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Spain: they won the FIFA World Cup, they won the tennis at Wimbledon and they’ve won us over when it comes to dining in London. We are lucky enough to have plenty of restaurants to choose from: restaurants serving simple tapas dishes while you sip on a beer; restaurants that serve sangria so delicious that you’d go there for that alone; restaurants serving paella dishes big enough to swim in; and restaurants serving elaborate tapas where every dish looks like a piece of art. There’s so many decisions to make when it comes to eating Viva L’Espana, but don’t worry, we’ve sorted the wheat from the chaff for you. Football champions, tennis champions, and now, here are London’s Top 10 Spanish Restaurant champions.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Steve Slater (Wildlife Encounters)
Tags: Cuisine types
Kings Cross / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Spanish
I know I'm onto a good thing when I go to a Spanish bar/restaurant and it's full of its natives. Camino is a lively night out as well as a decent place to grab a bite to eat. Tucked away in a Victorian courtyard - often used for live music and big screen sports, especially if Spain are competing - Camino also has a restaurant (make sure to book ahead of time) that boasts an extensive tapas menu. I often follow that with a shared jug of sangria with friends at the bar.
City of London / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Spanish
Shoreditch - When conversing on the topic of London's best cocktail bars and clubs, Shoreditch comes top, but it rarely gets a look in when comparing its restaurants to those of Mayfair and Soho. There are a handful of excellent restaurants in Shoreditch, though; this is one of them. Despite its locale, the fine Spanish dining and subdued decor at this restaurant will mainly suit the wallets of lunching City workers, and booking is always advised. The dish most highly recommended is the acorn-fed, grilled Iberian pig fillet marinated with paprika, thyme and garlic. An excellent range of Spanish wines, many by the glass, leaving ample head capacity for an assault on the ports and sherries.
Iberica Canary Wharf
Canary Wharf / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Spanish
Canary Wharf - One of our journalists returned from a holiday in Spain recently. We sent her to this Spanish bar and restaurant in Canary Wharf and she returned saying, "It was like a neater, cleaner version of the places I frequented during my holiday and it seemed to rid me of any Spanish withdrawal symptoms." This might have something to do with the Spanish posters and wine bottle installation on the wall, the Spanish staff, or the spacious, high ceiling interior. Or something to do with the authentic Spanish menu (we recommend leaving room for the whisky cake with almonds, honey and ice cream). This would be a great venue for entertaining clients, lots to talk about.
Mayfair / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Spanish
Not many restaurants can boast their head chef in the alumni of world famous, three Michelin starred El Bulli, but Aqua Nueva can. It's easy to spank more than average wad for the pleasure, but the full-of-flavour crab ravioli, light-as-air seabass with spring onion foam, and wholesome 24-hour cooked oxtail makes the expense totally worthwhile. Plus, as well as the food, Aqua Nueva is also spot on for Soho sun seeking after work drinks out on the terrace (I booked, so should you).
Fitzrovia / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Spanish
Goodge Street - This is not a restaurant, this is a tapas bar, and the owners are quick to point this out. It's a laid-back place to hang out, drink wine by the glass, play chess, and chat over small plates of traditional Spanish tapas, such as artisan cured meats and cheeses, or pork & oxtail albondigas meatballs. We recommend a seat at the intimate high table. The hanging hams and marble topped bar help to lend it authenticity. Service: questionable, but it fits the vibe.
El Pirata de Tapas
Notting Hill / Restaurant / Cuisine: Spanish
This two-floored Spanish restaurant is great if you're on a first date because it's located in a trendy part of west London in the Notting Hill, Westbourne Grove, Bayswater district. It's also great date material because you can impress your date with prior knowledge of its appearance on Gordon Ramsay's Best Restaurants TV show. We thoroughly recommend the Chef's Tasting Menu (plenty of material there to chat about) and encourage you to get involved with the liquid dessert menu if at all possible. Fab wine list and great traditional Iberian tapas menu, which includes the likes of paprika crispy fried squid, octopus carpaccio, and Serrano ham croquettes.
Clerkenwell / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Spanish
Clerkenwell - Serving traditional Spanish dishes with an Arabian twist, Moro is located in the increasingly popular area of Clerkenwell, bang on Exmouth Market. The restaurant attracts an eclectic crowd united by their love of Spanish food. The restaurant?s cuisine has its roots firmly planted in Spain and the Muslim Mediterranean. These two regions are linked historically by the Moors? 700 year occupation of Spain. Two great culinary traditions were drawn together, in what is often known as the marriage of saffron and cinnamon. Today you will find a wide range of tapas available at the bar as well as more unusual main courses in the restaurant.
City of London / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Spanish
Shoreditch - As you might expect for Shoreditch, the emphasis on style is evident at this Spanish tapas restaurant and bar. The industrial interior uses a full palette of colour, the music choices verge on edgy, and the furnishings are deliberately loved/worn. The price scale is not the most favourable however, so our recommendation is only for smaller groups or intimate catch-ups looking for a decent array of cocktails and a few small plates of tapas; specifically, try the passionfruit & vanilla daiquiri, and any kind of seafood tapas, especially the calamari. The location is great because it will meet the requirements of Shoreditch revellers, City suits, and those in the nearby IT sector.
Putney / Restaurant / Cuisine: Spanish
La Mancha has found that perfect combination of great food, great staff and great atmosphere. With groups of family and friends tucking into Tapas dishes Calamares Fritos (deep fried squid), Paella, and Patatas Bravas (potatoes with hot tomato sauce), drinking Sangria, and laughing and smiling to the point of hysteria, it's my belief that this bar brasserie is actually a portal from Putney to Spain. I like to pop in at lunch when you can get two courses for £9.95.
Borough & Southwark / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Spanish
Housed in an old potato warehouse on the corner of Borough Market, Tapas Brindisa isn't the most glamorous of restaurants but the punters don't care. Brindisa import the finest ingredients - meat, cheese, cured fish, stews - directly from Spain and deliver them literally on a plate to us lucky Londoners. They don't take bookings so I always head down very early in the evening to avoid the crowds and I always, always visit the 'jamoneria' before leaving too, to pick up charcuterie to take home.
Bloomsbury / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Spanish
Salt Yard near Goodge Street is Spanish cuisine with a strong Italian twist. Jamon croquetas with manchego sits alongside saffron Arancini with seafood and a chili alioli, and the menu is also complemented by charcuterie and cheese boards. Desserts are a smorgasbord of flavours with homemade ice cream as well as lemon and cinnamon doughnuts on offer. Popular with tourists and business workers alike, this central London restaurant is busy at lunchtimes and during pre-theatre rush.