Hearty paellas, fresh grilled seafood, punchy slices of chorizo, salty Padron peppers, cheesy croquettes: who doesn’t love Spanish cuisine? Not to mention the drinks – sangria, excellent wine, cava and beers aplenty. From low-key tapas bars to Michelin-starred fine dining, the capital is home to an abundance of great Spanish restaurants which bring a taste of the Med to London shores. Read on for our favourites.
Best Spanish Restaurants in London
This glitzy Mayfair spot is a project from restaurateur twins Arian and Alberto Zandi – the names behind Zuaya and the recently opened Riviera. El Norte is their Spanish restaurant, offering fine dining amid suitably lavish surroundings: think low lighting, polished dark wood and framed tapestries. Tapas is given a high-end twist with dishes like prawn tartare with truffle and caviar, steak tartare brioche, and grilled octopus with chimichurri, alongside some familiar favourites including ham croquettes and Padron peppers. Pair with sangria or pick from the impressive cocktail menu, which features twists on classics such as a Pistachio Mojito.
19-20 Dover St, London W1S 4LU, el-norte.co.uk
Basque chef Nieves Barragán Mohacho is at the helm of Sabor, a restaurant in Mayfair separated into three distinct areas, each offering slightly different twists of Spanish cuisine. On the ground floor you’ll find The Counter, where chefs sizzle up fresh fish and regional Spanish plates at an open kitchen – think stuffed piquillo pepper with braised oxtail and cuttlefish pappardelle. Journey up to the first floor to El Asador, where you can enjoy specialities from the Galicia and Castile regions. Alternatively, keep it casual with some tapas and drinks at the bar: tortillas and croquettes, alongside an extensive list of wine and Spanish gin.
35-37 Heddon St, London W1B 4BR, saborrestaurants.co.uk
Nothing beats paella by the sea in Spain – but if you’re craving some on UK shores, Quique Dacosta’s restaurant won’t disappoint. The acclaimed chef has spent over 30 years at the helm of Valencia’s culinary scene, and in 2019 he brought this wisdom to London, opening Arros QD in Fitzrovia. At the heart of the restaurant is a six metre wood fire stove surrounded by counter seating, where diners can watch the chefs in action before enjoying the fruits of their labour. Paellas are made using the traditional Valencian method, meaning they have a crisp base, with a variety of seafood, meat and vegetarian varieties. Alongside this, there are grilled dishes including beef cheeks with red wine reduction, scallops with baby onions, and a show-stopping whole turbot designed for sharing.
64 Eastcastle St, London W1W 8NQ, arrosqd.com
Croquettes are a staple of tapas menus – and now there’s a whole restaurant dedicated to them. An intimate, buzzy spot in Soho from the team behind Tapas Brindisa, it serves a variety of croquettes and bar snacks alongside cocktails and wine. The menu, written on a blackboard, changes daily – but it could include croquettes filled with king prawns, piquillo pepper and manchego, or baby leeks and tomatoes. Alongside this, there’s small plates of cheese and mushroom toasties, Guinness and chorizo popcorn, salt cod and chickpeas and more. Pair with a Spanish-inspired cocktail, such as the Basque & Stormy, blended with spiced rum, Basque cider, and apple and cardamom shrub.
21 Beak St, Carnaby, London W1F 9RR, kroketa.co.uk
No list of Spanish restaurants would be complete without a mention of Jose Pizarro, who brings to London years of experience in perfecting the craft of tapas. He has a number of eateries around the city, including the eponymous Pizarro on Bermondsey Street, which has been around for years and remains one of the best tapas spots in town. Kick off with some jamón ibérico and pan con tomate ahead of larger sharing plates of cod with pil pil sauce, ox cheek cannelloni, and a standout suckling lamb with yoghurt aioli. A cosy spot which works well for date night.
194 Bermondsey St, London SE1 3TQ, josepizarro.com
The cool younger sibling of Barrafina with outposts in both King’s Cross and London Bridge, Parrillian is taken from the Spanish word ‘parrilla’, which translates as grill. This sits at the heart of the menu, which focuses on cooking over fire: meat, fish and vegetables – some of which guests cook themselves at their own mini parrillas. Sizzle up chicken pintxo, gambas rojas, seafood and beef sirloin, paired with some paella-style rice and small plates of tomato salad and Padron peppers. A predominantly Spanish drinks list includes a range of wines, sherries and cava alongside a selection of G&Ts. Both venues have a terrace too, so in the warmer months you can pretend you’re in Madrid.
Coal Drops Yard, Stable St, London N1C 4AB and 4 Dirty Ln, London SE1 9PA, parrillian.co.uk
The best tapas bars are the ones with that unmatched Spanish energy: relaxed, yet lively at the same time. That’s exactly what you get at El Pirata, a chic spot found on a quiet Mayfair street. Don’t be put off by its glitzy postcode: El Pirata has a friendly feel, with a warm and welcoming team – many of whom have been there for years. It’s all about traditional Spanish tapas cooked really well; expect all the classics including prawns pil pil, chorizo, patatas bravas and tortillas, alongside a list of more than 140 wines which showcase the various different regions of Spain.
5-6 Down St, London W1J 7AQ, elpirata.co.uk