A Fiesta of Spanish Restaurants in London
Tapas and paella can be fairly grim if they're not done properly – here's the places we've tried recently in London.
Paella in London (image: Pixabay)
Barrafina — Drury Lane, Covent Garden
- Barrafina is a small chain of tapas restaurants in London.
- I'm often at the Drury Lane outlet in Covent Garden before heading to the theatre.
- It's a small space, generally jammed full with people, but the friendly and efficient team behind the counter effectively manage the queue for seats and keep everyone plied with drinks and snacks.
- The food they're serving is modern, fresh, and delicious.
Boqueria Tapas — Acre Lane, Brixton
- This is one of the top favourites of Brixton locals.
- After you've been here a few times you'll be greeted like members of the family by the friendly and effusive staff.
- Boqueria Tapas delivers great Spanish food – perfect for sharing with friends or a larger group.
Brindisa Tapas — Southwark Street, Borough
- One of the long-standing destination restaurants within Borough Market (just beside London Bridge), Brindisa Tapas gets pretty much everything right.
- I like this place for breakfast, but they also do interesting and intelligent tapas-style food throughout the day and evening – recently I've tried their quail with plums, and their clams in a green sauce; really delicious and a long way from a basic patatas bravas.
- After work it's usually so crowded that you'll struggle to get a table, but you can always prop yourself at their counter to snack on chorizo and contemplate a glass of Amontillado while you wait.
Camino – multiple locations
- This is a chain of restaurants with a number of outlets across London. I used to go to the one at Canary Wharf, but I think that’s closed down now.
- Not bad in an emergency, but there's plenty of better places out there.
Dehesa – Covent Garden
- Dehesa delivers classic Spanish tapas, but done really really well.
Fernandez & Wells – multiple locations
- Now a small chain of cafe/restaurants, the Fernandez & Wells outlets generally follow a fairly appealing fit-out of a long wooden bar/counter, some small intimate tables lit by candlelight, and some perfectly chosen music to create a bit of ambience.
- This instantly creates the kind of atmosphere of the perfect little local bar that you'd expect to see everywhere in Madrid but never quite find.
- My default order is a plate of Salame Toscano and a glass of Amontillado: Heaven. Who needs Madrid?
Ibérica — Farringdon
- Ibérica is slightly tucked away, around the corner from Farringdon Station. It’s a beautiful space, but a number of restaurants have tried their luck in this location without being successful. Ibérica however is a winner.
- It's always busy when I'm here, but the helpful and professional staff are pretty adept at finding a space for you to stand in the bar while they secure a table for you.
- The menu has plenty of options and it's often difficult to know when to stop. Last time I was here, we shared some fresh squid and a chicken dish, both of which were outstanding. Plus there were cocktails, and then some dessert. One of the highlights for me was a gin martini garnished with an anchovy — a total revelation.
Meson Don Felipe — The Cut, Waterloo
- Meson Don Felipe is always busy – a firm favourite with the locals who live in the South Bank precinct.
- It's loud and boisterous – small tables jammed closely together.
- If that's what you're in the mood for, then you'll love this place.
- I generally eat here with a friend and we snack on tapas washed down with fino, shouting at each other happily over the noisy din of this busy and vibrant restaurant.
Tramontana Brindisa – Curtain Road, Shoreditch
- The food here is really good — top-drawer tapas and modern Spanish cooking.