Iberian white chorizo from El Rinconcillo, sipping a cold beer nibbling on patatas bravas at Badulaque in Alameda, or enjoy a tapa lunch on the outdoor terrace at Dos de Mago, sampling their espinacas con garbanzos and cod croquettes. Indulge in the extensive wine list at Michelin rated La Azotea accompanied by saquitos and burrata salad, finishing off your excursion or tapa tour at Créeme Helado with a scoop (or 2) of 75% Tanzania dark chocolate sorbet. Just another day out in Sevilla.
When we go out, we might have our main at one place, and perhaps stop elsewhere for dessert, what about stopping off at four to five different locations sampling the array of tapas?
That is just a typical dinner out for Sevillians. Bar hopping, nope they ‘do’ tapa-hopping. One tapa bar after another lines the streets, dainty Spanish tables to the more traditional long booths.
Tapa hopping is a typical night out in Seville, popping into different restaurants for a glass of wine and small plates.
Tapa-hopping is not only ‘okay’ to do, it is encouraged. Businesses are set-up to have patrons go in and out to the wee hours, people even milling on the side streets holding onto the small plates, music filtering out from the many restaurants.
What exactly are tapas, you may ask?
The definition of ‘tapas’ range depending on the region of Spain you are in. Places in Barcelona, Granada and Sevilla all have their unique spin on the way they present their tapas, and the kind of tapas they serve.
Primarily, the agreed upon way to look upon tapas is small dishes. Traditionally, tapas would be a small snack before a later dinner time. Nowadays, it is common to have an entire meal comprised of a range of tapas.
Rather famously, in places like Granada, some tapas are served for free if you order a drink at a bar.
In tapa restaurants, tapas are ordered like anything else on the menu, and many places offer larger portions suited for bigger groups.
From cured meats, olives and cheeses, to the cooked varieties of patatas bravas – fried potatoes in spicy sauce, to small items served on bread and held together with a toothpick.
Anything can be made into a tapa, including dessert. The Spanish not only dine a little differently in general, on average their usual lunch and dinner times are later than westerners. Traditionally, lunch is around 2-3pm, and dinner around 9.30pm on-wards.
How did this all come about?
The origins of tapas vary widely. To break it down, the word ‘tapa’ means ‘to cover’. In Spanish, the word tapa also means lid. Supposedly, bartenders would put a slice of bread or cheese over the drinks to prevent flies and dust landing in the drinks. I guess from there, patrons decided they wanted to indulge. With many bars choosing saltier snacks/tapas to entice patrons to buy more drinks.
However, tapas origins may go as far back as to King Alfonso X the Wise during his reign from 1252 to 1284. Recovering from an illness, he ate small portions of food to diminish the effects of the wine. Keep in mind back in those days it was common for royalty to mainly drink wine instead of water.
He then proclaimed that every household should serve a small portion of food with their drink to prevent drunkenness. Perhaps, the combination of both theories mixed with a few others best sums up how deeply embedded tapas are to the Spanish culture.
Throughout Spain, tapas are common; however, specifically in Andalucía, their tapas draw people for miles for the creativity, their competitiveness to who can offer the most complete tapa at a bar, and their overall style and presentation.
El Rinconcillo was founded in 1670, holding the title of the most ancient tapa bar in Seville. They offer a range of traditional tapas and extensive wines in the cozy establishment that still holds much of its traditional architecture. With ceramic tiles and Arabic brick walls, bulrush-made wooden chairs, wrought-iron lamps and stunning picture windows that resemble old Sevillian houses, it can feel like a trip back in time.
And the wine list. Well, it is like no other wine list I have seen. The only problem is choosing the wine you want out of the 30 plus choices you have. They offer both a full restaurant menu and a tapa menu, topped off with a delicious choice of desserts. Admittedly, one could easily stay here the entire night.
From Rinconcillo’s scrambled eggs, homemade coquina clams, Salmorejo, Grilled peppers with Spanish white tuna, and to top it off with Manchego cheese with angel-hair jam.
But there’s more.
Bar las Terasas.
Bar las Teresas nestled in a small walkway where you can watch people pass by sipping on a glass of Albariño wine, served with ibérico ham, Manchego cheese, and Boqueróns finished off with some traditional sangria.
A rustic tavern atmosphere with authentic range of tapas,
Bar Alfalfa offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and a range of drink options, with a delicious selection of Spanish wine. Why not try the marinated salmon, Alfredo Chicken, or roja bread served with creamy Pavolone cheese. For a more hearty plate, their pork cheek stew with crusty bread to soak up all those lovely flavours.
Barbiana on Albareda St is a fav for those looking for fresh fish options and seafood tapas. Not exactly on the cheaper scale, as the fish is caught daily on the coast of Cádiz.
Casablanca is a small bar renowned for its fabulous tapas and history. Homemade croquets with roasted meat, veal with finely chopped peppers and fries, and chipirones Fritos are some of the recommended options people rave about.
Bodega Santa Cruz ‘Las Columnas’.
A busy and affordable tapa bar offering popular dishes like Pringá, spinach cheese, paella, tuna with tomato sauce, chicken in garlic, tortillas, and shrimp fritters.
Even when very busy, most patrons are content sipping on their drinks out on the street in the warm Sevilla night, waiting for a table to become available, or just to vary up their dining experience before moving onto the next tapa bar.
And finally, Bar Casa Eme.
Solomillo al Whiskey at Casa Eme is a mouthwatering pork sirloin steak covered in whiskey and garlic sauce, and served with roasted potatoes. One of the top recommended dishes to taste while in Seville.
In the center of Sevilla a host of delights await. Alameda, Triana and Santa Cruz carries the honours of having some of the best tapa bars in Spain. From the most ‘delicious tapas’ from Santa Cruz, strolling over to Alfalfa neighborhood with a wide range of open-air bars, El Arenal offering more traditional options, fresh fish from Triana, and washed down with local wine, Jerez or cold lager beer.
And if you are not sure of the best times or places to go to, there are tapa tours that will guarantee a unique dining experience.
Where have you been in Seville? Have you been to one of these tapa restaurants? And what did you have there?
I would love to hear of your experiences, and what places you would recommend.