Tapas is about sharing. Tapas is about adventure. Tapas is about drinking too much Txakoli and eating littles tins of weird fish. Although Spain – specifically, the country’s mountainous Basque Country – has a stranglehold on the world's best tapas and is well regarded for serving the finest punchy pintxos you can take down in a single bite, booking a flight to the sunlit region isn’t your only option if you’re in the mood for quality tapas.
From Michelin-starred menus at restaurants like Barrifina to the more wallet-friendly, laidback vibes at spots like Copita, London is a city that boasts an ever-growing tapas scene. Thanks, in no small part, to the city’s growing Spanish diaspora and the number of talented chefs looking to replicate a genuine taste of home in the Big Smoke's muggy streets. Importing quality produce can, however, be almost prohibitively expensive in this post-Brexit world we inhabit so don’t go expecting to eat as cheaply as you would in Spain or think you’re going to get a triple gin and tonic and a plate of excellent charcuterie for the price of a bus fare. This is still London, after all, and if you want quality, you’ve usually got to pay for it. That being said, there’s still some rather affable and affordable tapas knocking about.
And before you get up in arms about which restaurants didn't make the cut, it's worth clarifying that this guide isn’t just about Spanish restaurants in London. It’s about the joints that do tapas. Real tapas. That means excluding any restaurant that serves wieldy portions of paella or does, like, “British-style tapas” or “American-style tapas”. I’m really not about anyone trying to jump on a trend for the sake of marketability and I'll take a pass on any restaurant shilling small plates with a mock-Spanish accent that's more offensive than Manuel in Fawlty Towers. These lot are different though: these are the best tapas restaurants in London. Come here and you'll leave full of delicious picky bits.