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A Spanish Tapas Guide

Spain is famous for its tapas - small plates of food that are shared with a large group. They can look and taste like anything, but most commonly they'll be easy-to-eat finger food. Ham, potatoes, and bread are usually involved.

In many Spanish tapas bars, you get a free tapa with each drink. This is more common in smaller towns, but there are few restaurants in Madrid that keep this tradition alive, like El Tigre.

Wondering what to order or where to go to get your tapa fix? This guide is a combination of the most common Spanish tapas and my favorite places to find them.

¡Buen provecho!

Popular Tapas

Patatas Bravas

Patatas bravas are probably the most famous tapa in Spain, and for good reason. Fried potatoes covered with a mild red sauce - what more could one possibly want?

In Spain, there's what is called The Bravas Rule. To test the quality of food at a restaurant, order the patatas bravas. If they are good, the rest of the food on the menu will be too. If not, it's time to move on to a new restaurant.

fried potatoes smothered in spicy tomato sauce

Tortilla de Espana

Sometimes called the Spanish omelet, tortilla de España is simple Spanish cooking at its finest. Tortillas are eggs, potatoes, and (sometimes) onions and it's absolutely delicious. There's a fierce debate as to whether the onion belongs there (#teamconcebolla) but either way, these are a must-try whenever you're in Spain.

spanish omelette with eggs and potatoes

Croquetas de Jamón

By far my favorite tapa, croquetas are the ultimate comfort food - soft and creamy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Fillings can range between chicken, spinach, cheese, or cod, but classic croquetas are served with ham.

deep fried nugget-shaped croquetas

Huevos Rotos

Huevos rotos or "broken eggs" are a classic dish with potatoes topped with ham, cheese, and fried eggs. When you get these, it's best to mix everything up so the runny yolk gets evenly spread over everything. It's absolute heaven!

a bowl of fried potatoes, eggs, and ham

Pimientos de Padrón

So simple yet so good. Eating out as a vegan in Spain can be difficult, but these are one of the few vegan options every tapas bar has- and vegan-friendly. Pimientos de padrón are small green peppers that are cooked until browned and usually covered in salt. Most of them are very mild, but every now and then you'll get a rare spicy one.

green pan fried peppers on a white plate


Calamari is deep-fried squid and an integral part of any self-respecting tapas guide. One of Madrid's delicacies is a bocadillo de calamari, which is essentially a calamari sandwich.

deep fried calamari cut into rings

Jamón Iberico

Usually served on a slice of bread, jamon - thinly sliced and cured ham - is maybe Spain's most famous tapa.

ham slices on bite sized bread

My Favorite Spanish Tapas Bars (in Madrid and Beyond)

  • El Tigre Sideria (Gran Vía, Madrid)

  • Terraza Los Huertos (Chinchón)

  • 100 Montaditos (literally everywhere in Spain)

  • Mercado Antón Martin (Antón Martin, Madrid)

  • El Viajero (La Latina, Madrid)

  • Bú Terraza (Toledo)

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