Silky croquetas with a gratifyingly crunchy exterior, juicy little slices of fiery chorizo, moreish pieces of nutty iberico pork, crunchy, salty pan con tomate: Spanish food has no shortage of crowd-pleasing, appetite-satiating, flavour-packed dishes.
While it might fly slightly under the radar when compared to its louder, pizza-and-pasta-packed cousin, Spanish restaurants quietly rumble along in London, turning out some of the city’s best food. While our insatiable appetite for tapas may have been spurred on by the original Tapas Brindisa counter that opened in just 2004, the British diner has hardly looked back since, and if the M&S picky bits section is anything to go off, the country has got a strong case of Spanish Fever.
You’ve got your Michelin starred joints like Barrafina and Sabor, where some of the city’s finest food is being served up to diners sitting squashed up together at a dinky little counter. You can head to outposts from famous Spanish chefs, like Shoreditch’s BiBo, that sees Andalusian legend Dani Garcia bring his famed cooking to East London. There are neighbourhood restaurants and glamorous venues with sweeping views of the city. Turns out, to get Spanish food in London, all you need is a craving for a croqueta and a dream (or, you know, this list and a quick scope of City Mapper).
The 11 best Spanish restaurants in London
Having earned a Michelin star in 2014, the original Barrafina on Dean Street has achieved the incredible feat of holding onto its star for over more than years, although all the Barrafina outposts are well worth a visit. It’s a testament to the restaurant’s cooking, and its influence on the London dining scene as a whole, remaining the spot to visit for Spanish, tapas-focused cooking. Whether you’re ordering from the established menu or the blackboard of daily specials (and we recommend at least nabbing a few dishes from the latter), Barrafina will impress, and the walk-ins only, counter-style, elbow-to-elbow dining creates a convivial atmosphere that might just have you befriending your neighbour.
35-37 Heddon Street, W1B 4BR
View on Instagram
Barrafina first won its Michelin star while Nieves Barragán was executive head chef in 2013. She left the restaurant group in early 2017 to open her own restaurant. Sabor opened its doors in October 2017 and had already nabbed a Michelin star by 2018. This is a testament to Barragán’s defining approach to Spanish cooking, which has shaped what it means to eat the cuisine in London. The walk-in space downstairs serves up a predominantly tapas-focused menu, while the upstairs, bookable El Asador space focuses on slightly larger plates of specialties from the Galicia and Castile regions.
Named after the Spanish word parrilla, which means grill, Parrillan has gained something of a cult following for – you guessed it – their incredible, flame-licked Spanish dishes. From the same owners as Barrafina, expect a selection of tapas alongside meat, vegetables and fish that all come to the table suitably blackened. If you fancy yourself a bit of a DIY griller, the outside tables at the Borough Yards location let you grill-your-own at your own mini parrilla. Wash it all down with their impressive, lengthy selection of Spanish-focused wines.
José Tapas Bar
104 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3UB
View on Instagram
In many bars in Spain, happy hour is a time when you’ll cram into a tiny bar barely big enough to stand two abreast and sip on wine or beer or your tipple of choice while complimentary plates of tapas, meat and cheese are brought your standing area of choice (or table, if you’re lucky). José, in London Bridge, is probably the closest you’ll get to that in London (although here you have to pay for the food too). Offering walk-in spaces only, it’s the kind of place where hungry and thirsty diners will spill out onto the street on a clear evening and you might just make a new friend or two. Food comes by the way of a daily changing blackboard, and wine comes from a lengthy list that spotlights Spanish bottles.
194 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ
Fancy taking your meal somewhere you can sit down? Never fear – just down the road from José is Pizarro (yes, the two together make the full name of the chef/owner). Named after his grandfather’s own tapas bar in Talaván, the restaurant serves up a substantial menu of tapas and larger dishes, but opting for anything pork related would be a safe bet. José Pizarro has a longstanding relationship with Cinco Jotas, one of Spain’s leading producers of jamon, alongside other products like iberico presa, so you can rest assured that you’re getting the best on your plate.
61 Newington Green, N16 9PX
View on Instagram
Once known as Trangallan, the restaurant was forced to close during Covid and readapt, and thus Tranga Market was born. With a slightly more laid back approach, but the same incredible food, it now functions as a shop/eatery hybrid, something that almost adds to the feeling that you’ve sought out somewhere special. Menus are seasonal, shifting depending on the best produce that month – or even week – but centred around this idea of high-quality, simple-yet-impressive Spanish food and ingredients. Sitting just off Newington Green, the restaurant has some fairly impressive neighbours, but more than holds its own in this culinary stronghold.
The offspring of much-loved, and slightly more North African-leaning Moro, Morito now occupies two spaces in prime restaurant real estate, one on Exmouth Market and the other on Hackney Road. The original, on Exmouth Market, is ever-so-slightly more Spanish, while the Hackney Road spot has hints of North African and Middle Eastern influences. Regardless, both serve incredible food, with a menu that features classics like pan con tomate and croquetas, alongside more inventive dishes like spiced lamb with aubergine, pomegranate and pine nuts and grilled courgettes with chermoula.
You know that a restaurant is probably going to be good when it’s opened by one of the leading purveyors of groceries from that particular country. See: Brindisa Kitchens. Launched by the team behind Brindisa, one of the leading importers and online stores for all kinds of Spanish goods ranging from iberico pork and chorizo to manchego cheese and marcona almonds. Expanding from their bricks and mortar shop in Borough Market, the first Tapas Brindisa opened on a corner space attached to the shop in 2004, and became the city’s first classic, no-reservations tapas bar.
59 Broadway Market, E8 4PG
View on Instagram
Broadway Market isn’t exactly light on the good restaurants front, but El Ganso is a pretty decent front runner. It’s exactly the kind of neighbourhood joint you’d want near your house – serving up extremely reliable food in a no-frills set up where you may or may not be treated to a flamenco dancer while you scoff down your food. In the summertime, when the doors all open up and jolly diners spill out onto the street, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been whisked out of the city and into the back streets of some European city. The chorizo a la sidra is a must-order.
45 Curtain Road, EC2A 3PT
One of the most famous international chefs from the Andalusian region, what makes BiBo so great is that it's a restaurant concept from a Spanish chef who's already made it big in Spain. So, rather than Spanish dining through a London lens, it’s a restaurant that already knows what it is and what it needs to offer. Kick things off with a jug of sangria (or two), and prepare to tackle the sizable menu. You could theoretically stick to the impressive tapas and meat and seafood place, but you’d be remiss to miss the Paella, particularly the whole lobster iteration which sees the crustacean spread atop a thin, crispy layer of richly-flavoured rice.
10th Floor, 10 Argyle Street, WC1H 8EG
It is easy for a hotel restaurant to simply ride off the coattails of its proximity to people who are quite literally paying to be in the building, never bothering to develop into something more interesting that might serve as a destination in its own right. Not Decimo, though. No – this extremely cool, very sexy restaurant occupies the top floor of The Standard Hotel in Kings Cross, with sweeping views of the grand St Pancras Station and London beyond. Soundtracked by great music (often from live DJs and bands), the restaurant just so happens to churn out some incredible food that sits on the cusp between Spanish and Mexican cuisine.