Traditionally, tapas are simple snacks served for free alongside alcoholic beverages to avoid drinking on an empty stomach. These appetisers have become so popular that they’re now often the basis of a full meal. Even in Spain, where they originate, you’d be hard pushed to find a bar serving free tapas anymore.

Tapas Brindisa
18-20 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TJ, UK
+44 207 357 8880 www.tapasbrindisa.com

Brindisa now boasts three locations in London. The first, and arguably the best, is Tapas Brindisa next to the famous Borough Market. This gourmet restaurant gets packed most evenings, sadly they don’t accept reservations, but the food is well worth the wait.

Air cured tuna steak with pear, tangy Monte Enebro cheese deep fried with orange blossom honey, and a very sweet black pudding with cinnamon and orange are not for the faint-hearted but are a modern take on Spanish classics. Crispy pork belly with quince sauce and the lamb cutlets with allioli (differs from aioli that it doesn’t use eggs) are also deliciously moreish.

Pinchito Tapas
11 Bayley Street, London WC1B 3HD, UK
+44 207 637 3977 www.pinchito.co.uk

This modest-looking eatery in town is also highly affordable. It is possible to be stuffed silly after numerous tapas, wine and dessert for around £20 a head. Amongst their best dishes are succulent garlic prawns, perfectly cooked tortilla, and charcuterie platters. Don’t miss out on the churros with thick hot chocolate, these doughnut-like strips are a typical snack in Spain.

El Parador
245 Eversholt Street, London NW1 1BA, UK
+44 207 387 2789 www.elparadorlondon.com

This discreet tapas restaurant has been operating in Camden for over 20 years. The delectable menu includes scallops with beetroot puree, grilled octopus, chargrilled artichokes in harissa oil, and lightly spiced meatballs. Tarta de Santiago almond tart and orange crème caramel are amongst the tasty desserts.

An affordable restaurant with attentive smiley staff, and the basement floor’s discreet atmosphere and deep red walls are ideal for a quiet date.

Meson Los Barriles
8 Lamb Street, London E1 6EA, UK
+44 207 375 3136

Located amidst the hustle and bustle of Spitalfields Market, tapas at Meson Los Barriles are wholesome and inexpensive. The stuffed peppers and bean and chorizo stews are just right for hungry appetites, whilst charcuterie platters with Manchego and quince jelly are perfect accompaniments to one of their robust red wines.

Café Espana
63 Old Compton Street, London W1D 6HT, UK
+44 207 494 1271

This cheap and cheerful tapas eatery regularly has queues winding around the pavement outside, no doubt attracted to the popular choices on the menu. Garlic prawns, tortilla, chorizo in red wine, and calamari are the perennial favourites.

The somewhat cramped space may not be glitzy or polished, but in terms of value for money it’s one of the best tapas bars in the capital.


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Having an Iranian mother who is an excellent cook and having spent her childhood in Spain meant that Leila was spoilt for choice food-wise from a very young age. Now based in London, she is a regular contributor at I Ate My Way Through and also writes restaurant reviews for an online publication. She loves nothing more than hosting huge dinner parties at home where she tries out all the recipes she’s picked up whilst travelling the world. Her friends regularly get treated to culinary delights that originate in South Korea, Cambodia, Iceland, Iran, Spain, France and Latin America. When she’s not cooking or eating her way around London and the world she is likely to be enjoying her other passion: music, whether it’s listening to it, dancing to it, or writing about it.