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Tapas

Fast food - the Spanish way.

TravelCurious Tip

If you’re hungry, upgrade from half a dish - a media ración - to a whole one.

¡Vamos a tapear!

There are a number of legends as to the origins of tapas. Tapa means ‘cover,’ and one theory suggests that the idea came about when innkeepers served morsels of cheese or meat with which patrons could cover their glasses, in order to keep the fruit flies away from their sherry - the salty food meanwhile encouraging alcohol sales. Another places the origin in small snacks and glasses of wine consumed by farm workers to keep their stamina up throughout the working day.

However it began, tapas is now a mainstay of Spanish cuisine and an important part of its social fabric. Dinner in Spain is usually served between 9pm and 11pm, leaving a long time between work and the evening meal, so in the evening, ir de tapas is the thing to do. Conversation works better without one plate of food absorbing your attention: tapas is a sociable affair, encouraging sharing and talking - and moving between different bars.

Food with friends

Most small bars will have around a dozen tapas to choose from, packing serious flavour into small portions - chilli, garlic, paprika, saffron and cumin are all common seasonings, and olive oil and salt tend to feature heavily. It’s rare to find a tapas bar without olives, cheese and anchovies available; hot dishes frequently include slow-cooked chorizo, fried squid and patatas bravas. The food is best enjoyed with a glass of wine, beer or mosto (grape juice) on the side.

The Catalan capital has tapas round every corner, ranging from cheap and cheerful to the more high-end contemporary affair. Renowned bars include El Cañota, a Galician seafood specialist, and the tiny and incredibly popular Quimet i Quimet. In the South of Spain, it is common to receive tapas free with your drink - this is rarer up in Catalonia, but can be found if you look hard enough. Cal Chusco and Gata Mala are among the best in this department. There are dozens of delicious spots to discover in Barcelona.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Barcelona
Sagrada Familia
Gaudí's towering architectural achievement, and the most iconic building in Barcelona.
Casa Milà
This magnificent house with its undulating façade was Gaudí's last civil project.
Casa Batlló
Yet another Gaudí treasure, Casa Batlló is a masterpiece of colour and light.
Plaça de Catalunya
The historic central point of Barcelona.
Cascada Monumental
Huge fountain in the Parc de la Ciutadella
Parc de la Ciutadella
Scenic city park housing the Catalan Parliament

Related Tours

Private Tapas Tour: A Taste of Barcelona
If you are passionate about food and if sampling the best of local cuisine is your top priority when you are on vacation, then this tour is how you should spend your time. Let yourself loose in Barcelona’s best tapas restaurants as you authentically experience Spain’s most love and varied cuisine. 

  • Visit a carefully selected variety of Barcelona's top tapas restaurants
  • Savour an assortment of Spain's finest dishes, delicacies and flavours. 
  • Eat where the locals eat and drink, while experiencing authentic Spanish cuisine. 
  • Learn about Catalonian tradition and history of the diverse food from each region. 
Tapas refer to a variety of appetisers or snacks. Served cold (for example olives and cheese) or warm (for example battered, baby squid), tapas have evolved into an elaborate gastronomic event, with most regions in Spain showcasing the best of local ingredients with their own unique flavours and styles of cuisine – anything from exotically flavoured, spicy Moorish stews of the south, to fresh grilled seafood from the coastal areas of Spain. No trip to Spain would be authentic without days filled with tapas samplings. 
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