What are Spanish tapas ?

Tapas comes from the word “tapar” which means “to cover“. The word originates from the 18th century, when people used to cover their glasses with thin slices of bread to keep flies away from their drinks. Bars and pubs started offering “tapas” with ham, chorizo or cheese (all quite salty) which became very popular and increased alcohol sales ! Usually you were getting a free tapa with your drink although nowadays you only get a free tapa in some parts of South Spain. In the north of Spain, they are commonly called “pinchos” which means toothpick .

There are over 60 different kinds of traditional tapas. Today we will cover the most common ones.


One of our favorites ! Croquetas are usually made with left over food, such as ham and fish. The ingredients are bound with bechamel and deep fried. The most common ones are Cod, Ham, Pulpo, Chicken and Morcilla. Delicious…

Patatas Bravas

Patatas Bravas are hand-cut potatoes, fried and served with a spicy tomato sauce and often a scoop of aïoli.

Pimientos de Padron

I’m addicted to the Padrons ! These little green peppers, originally from the town of Padrón in Galicia, are fried in olive oil and sprinkled with coarse sea salt.


A staple of Spanish tapas : an omelette made with eggs, onions and potatoes. You can be as creative as you want with Tortilla : add peppers, mushrooms, blood sausage etc. Served at room temperature.


A great comfort food. These little meatballs served in a rich creamy tomato sauce is a very popular dish, kids love them !

Montaditos – Pinxos

Montaditos and Pinxos are traditionnaly from the North of Spain but they are now popular in the whole country. Served on a piece of bread they can be topped with whatever you like : anchovies, manchego cheese, jamon, smoked salmon etc.

Ensaladilla Rusa

Ensaladilla Rusa, which means “Russian Salad”, is a rich and creamy salad made from diced potatoes, tuna, onions, diced carrots and pickles mixed with mayonnaise and sometimes aïoli. It can be served as a dish or on top of bread.

Huevos Rotos

So simple and yet so good ! Huevos rotos are pretty straightforward : chips, jamon and fried eggs. It doesn’t get better.

Pata de Pulpo

Pulpo is a staple of Mediterranean cuisine. Don’t let its unusual aspect scare you off, pulpo actually tastes quite meaty ! When well prepared, pulpo should be soft, not chewy. It’s usually served with some roasted potatoes and topped with olive oil.

Gambas al ajillo

You can’t stay near the coast and not have gambas al ajillo, which means garlic shrimps. They are quickly fried in a pan with garlic and parsley and served in garlicy oil. 


It doesn’t really get more Mediterranean than a bowl of fresh olives. There are many different kinds of olives and they can be served with garlic, pickles, chilis etc. A must if you are enjoying a beer or some wine.

Jamon y Queso

You can’t go wrong with Jamon y Queso : some delicious Spanish ham and slices of Manchego cheese. Obviously the quality of the ham will greatly influence the price of this dish, which can range from around 6€ to over 25€ !

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