What are Tapas?
Tapas are delicious dishes of food that are served in various cities in Spain that can range from small and snack-like to large, and almost like a full meal! They vary from city to city – the tapas you order at a restaurant in Seville might be completely different from tapas you order in Marbella!
Tapas were originally created in order to stimulate conversation among people who were dining together – it was popular belief that if the diners were served small, appetizer type snacks with their beverages instead of just one big meal, they might have a more meaningful conversation instead of focusing solely on the plates in front of them. This practice is thought to lead to more friendships and great times with friends, and more satisfying social interactions.
Some tapas can be served cold, such as small sandwiches or olives with different varieties of cheese, while other tapas, such as the wide variety of fried and battered items (such as squid) are served hot. There is a vast variety of tapas sold in Spain every single day, so whether you like hot snacks or cold snacks, there’s bound to be something to please your taste buds.
The price you pay when you order tapas varies widely from the city and restaurant you are ordering them from, as does the portion size. You can order tapas at some restaurants that are either large enough to serve a crowd, and then you have some that are meant to be small snack-like items instead, and just enough to give you a taste of the delicious Spanish cuisine offered at the eatery. Some restaurants, on the other hand, will include tapas with your drink when you order one – extending quite the generous hospitality to their guests!
The History of Tapas
Tapas originated in Spain many years ago, and it is said that the very first tapas were simply bread and meat slices that were used to cover the drinks of the patrons in bars and inns. Since the word “tapas” comes from the Spanish word “tapar,” which means “to cover,” this idea makes plenty of sense. As time went on, tapas became more elaborate dishes of food, using the items that were on hand to create delicious appetizers and dishes for guests.
As new ingredients became available, tapas changed multiple times. When the New World was discovered, key staples such as tomatoes, sweet peppers, chili peppers, corn, and potatoes were added to the menu – items that are frequently used in many Spanish tapas today.
Popular Spanish Tapas
While visiting Spain, there are many tapas that you will need to try! Since everyone has a different palatte and will enjoy different things, it might be worth it to try a few varieties (perhaps even from different cities, so that you might have the opportunity to see how tapas vary from one city to another)! Some very popular tapas that are served in Spain include:
- Chopitos, which are battered and friend baby squid
- Empanadillas, which are either large or small turnovers that are stuffed with meats or vegetables.
- Patatas bravas, which are small, diced potato chunks, sometimes served with sauces or gravies
- Pimientos de Padrón, which are green peppers that are fried and combined with different spices
- Tortilla de patatas, which is often called a Spanish Omelette, is an omelette that often is served with onion and diced potatoes
Where to Find Tapas?
While tapas can be found in restaurants all over Spain, there are several highly ranked eateries that serve tapas in every city. A few restaurants that serve tapas that you might want to check out if you are staying nearby include Bar El Estrecho in Marbella, El Rinconcillo in Seville, Bar Ajo Blanco in Seville, Quimet & Quimet in Barcelona, and Al Sur de Granada in Granada.