What is spanish tapas? Frequently Asked Questions Guide

If there’s one thing the world knows about Spanish cuisine, it’s tapas. But do you really know what Spanish tapas is? Depending on which Spaniard you ask, you’ll probably get a different answer.

Some establishments serve tapas, which are practically complete dishes, while others serve small bites. Sometimes cold, sometimes hot. In some cities they are chargeable, in others they are free. The answer to the question “What is tapas?” is complicated to answer, but if you want to get the full picture, keep reading this post.

What is Spanish tapas?

The Real Academia Española de la lengua defines a tapa as “a small portion of food served as an accompaniment to a drink”. In many areas of Spain it used to be customary to offer something to eat when ordering a drink at the bar in order to encourage drink consumption.

Nowadays this custom has almost disappeared and only in some Regions, this tapa is still offered free of charge with a drink. The word tapa comes from the verb tapar, which means to cover, and has its origins in the custom of covering the wine glass with a slice of bread or a slice of ham to prevent insects or dust from getting into the drink.

What is a tapas bar?

In Spain, a tapas bar is an establishment that serves drinks and food in a less formal way than be served in restaurants. The best tapas bars tend to be very busy and most people are standing or sitting on high chairs. As a result, tapas bars are often so crowded that it is difficult to walk between patrons, so drinks and tapas are usually served right at the bar.

What are the most traditional Spanish tapas?

The most classic tapas dishes in Spain are often very simple. Some don’t even need to be cooked: think platters of olives or platters of sausage, freshly sliced ​​ham or assorted cheeses.

Other traditional Spanish tapas include potato omelet, ensaladilla rusa, fried squid with anchovies, anchovies in Vinegar or croquettes.

What types of tapas are there?

The types of tapas that you can find are very numerous, but around it To make it a little easier for you, we have divided them into the following categories:

Hot tapas

Hot tapas are dishes that must be cooked in advance and served hot. They are usually ordered à la carte, but some tapas bars will serve whatever is being cooked without asking. Well-known hot tapas are callos a la madrileña, gambas al pil pil, chorizo ​​a la sidra, croquetas or boquerones fritos (fried anchovies).

Cold tapas

Cold tapas, on the other hand, are usually prepared in advance to give them time to cool down. Some common cold tapas in tapas bars are boquerones en vinagre (anchovies in vinegar), ensaladilla rusa (Russian salad), huevos rellenos (stuffed eggs) or salmorejo cordobés (cordovan gazpacho).


Pintxos come from the Basque Country, where this word is often used in place of tapas. Many pintxos are served on a piece of crusty bread with a toothpick. Like tapas, pintxos can be hot or cold. In the restaurants of the Basque Country, pintxos are often found in a display case or displayed on the counter.


Another popular type of bread are Toastas, slices of toasted bread with all sorts of delicious toppings. They are particularly good for enjoying in a crowded bar with little space to set your plate without the need for cutlery.


Tables with various dishes, mostly with sausage, pies and cheese. They are an excellent way to taste some of the most delicious products in Spanish gastronomy, such as: B. the Pata Negra ham. They are also a perfect accompaniment to one or more glasses of wine.

Canned goods

In many countries, canned goods are a foodstuff that can be eaten eat when you don’t have time to cook or when you can’t put anything else in your mouth. In Spain this is not the case, there are hundreds of gourmet preserves made with all sorts of products from the sea and the garden. Some of the preserves that you will find in the best tapas bars are Cantabrian anchovies, cockles, razor clams, pickled mussels or Navarran artichokes. Even in Madrid and Barcelona there are tapas bars that only offer canned goods.

What drinks are served with the tapas?

Some people are surprised when they learn that the most common drink served with tapas in Spain is beer. The most common drink ordered is a caña, a very cold beer served in a small glass. The beer is served in small glasses so that it doesn’t have time to warm up, as spring and summer in Spain tend to be quite hot.

Tapas are usually served with a red wine , mostly a Tempranillo from La Rioja or Ribera del Duero, also to a lesser extent a white wine.

A type of wine that has come back into fashion in Spain in recent years is vermouth, a spicy one Wine with a sweet and sour taste that goes perfectly with canned fish, olives and chips.

Finally, sangria should be mentioned, although the Spaniards don’t really drink this drink with their tapas, but rather a Drink is usually prepared for celebrations such as birthdays and other celebrations.

By missionbarandtapas

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts