The worst thing about eating out is being faced with the decision all diners dread- choosing one dish and one dish only.
What on earth are you meant to do if you’re craving some prawns, but also fancy something beefy or perhaps, something with rice based too?
It’s on occasions like these, I’ve never been more grateful for tapas, because it’s a dining experience literally designed to satisfy all of your cravings in one sitting. And seeing as though us Mancunians love food, there’s plenty of tapas places in and around town to fill the spot!
Bar San Juan
Probably the best tapas joint in the whole of the UK (big statement I know!), San Juan is one of Chorlton’s best hidden gems – although by now most people know and love it enough that it’s pretty much always packed out. The fact that it’s tiny doesn’t help but once you manage to get yourself in there you can tuck into the most authentic (and delicious) tapas dishes imaginable. They regularly have stunning specials on offer as well as some fantastic Spanish wines. Hard to beat really!
Bar San Juan, 56 Beech Rd, Manchester M21 9EG
This brilliant Canarian restaurant just off King Street is the perfect destination if you’re looking for a massive selection of traditional Spanish dishes, perfectly placed alongside some more obscure items from the Canary Islands. Their tapas selection is very impressive with some excellent fresh fish options, daily pinxtos and many brilliant classics. A personal favourite of mine are the Higalitos de Pollo – Chicken livers that have been cooked in wine and are truly, truly divine.
La Bandera, 2 Ridgefield, Manchester M2 6EQ
El Gato Negro
It’s safe to say, anyone would expect a top-class meal from an award-winning Spanish restaurant and of course, El Gato Negro on King Street is no different. Owner Simon Shaw has created an impressive menu that is beaming with traditional Spanish flavours, mouth-watering textures and variety – catering to both meat-eaters and vegetarians. If winning Best Local Spanish Restaurant in the country on Gordon Ramsay’s The F Word, isn’t proof enough that El Gato Negro is the dogs’ bollocks, I don’t know what is…
El Gato Negro, 52 King St, Manchester M2 4LY
Tapeo and Wine
There’s something about independent restaurants that makes it all that more authentic, wouldn’t you agree? This is certainly the case for Tapeo and Wine, the gorgeous Spanish restaurant on Deansgate. What I like about the menu is that it’s separated into three categories: Fish, Vegetables and Meat – so there’s no messing about when it comes to ordering time. Naturally, it accommodates meat-eaters and vegetarians alike, and has everything on the menu you’d expect from a restaurant in the heart of Spain itself. You’ll not be disappointed – or hungry, for that matter!
Tapeo & Wine, 209 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3NW
When it comes to variety, Lunya in the Barton Arcade are not messing around. They have, without a doubt, the biggest menu I have EVER seen, and it even includes an entire section just for vegans! Choose from their vast selection of Spanish and Catalonian treats including fresh meats, salads and seafood from their very impressive in-store deli. Or, warm your bellies with something hot from the kitchen. Trust me, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Lunya, Barton Arcade, Deansgate, Manchester M3 2BB
Levanter & Baratxuri
Levanter is a stunningly authentic Spanish tapas bar located in Ramsbottom that serves delicious small plates of fresh, flavoursome food. Describing themselves as a ‘True Tapas Bar, Not a Restaurant’, I think you can feel reassured knowing that when they do tapas, they do it bloody well. Their sister restaurant, Baratxuri, is a Basque- style ‘Pinxto’ bar. Taken from the Spanish word, ‘Pincho’, Pinxto literally means ‘thorn’ or ‘spike’, so you can expect all of the dishes to be served in this way. Basically, it’s an interesting adaptation of traditional tapas; why don’t you give it a spin and see what you think?
Levanter, 10 Square St, Ramsbottom, Bury BL0 9AT
Porta Tapas Bar
Porta is a charming Tapas and Wine bar located on Greenwood St in Altrincham that endeavours to create a relaxed and informal experience. Taking inspiration from small independent bars in Barcelona and Madrid, you can expect to enjoy a meal that is authentically Spanish; and what more could you want from tapas, after all? With a menu filled with delicious fresh meats and all the classics, you’ll always leave with a satisfied appetite.
Porta Tapas Bar, 50 Greenwood St, Altrincham WA14 1RZ
The winner of Diners’ Choice 2018, Iberica in Spinningfields truly is in a league of its own. The setting and décor alone is breath-taking, but just wait until you dig into their divine tapas menu, which is sure to tease your taste buds! Their ‘Classic’ tapas menu has everything you’d expect, including Chorizo cooked in cider, Calamari with aioli and Croquetas with Serrano ham. On their ‘Iberica’ tapas menu, you can expect to see some classic dishes with a twist, including Chorizo Lollipops, Vermouth mussels and a stunning Twice Cooked Lamb.
Ibérica, 14-15, The Avenue Spinningfields, Spinningfields Square, Hardman St, Manchester M3 3HF
Flok in Northern Quarter is definitely the place for you if you fancy some tapas action. Their ‘small plates’ start at just £3 a plate, and include many favourites such as Tiger Prawns, Mediterranean Stew, Charred Kale Salad and Pig Cheeks. However, they also have a ‘bread’ and ‘Meat & Cheese’ section on the menu which is made up of tapas-sized nibbles. Tapas for less than £15? Yeah, that’ll do!
Flok, 5 Stevenson Square, Manchester M1 1DN
Probably the only place on this list where the drinking certainly comes before the tapas, Sandinista is a proper party gaff but one where you can soak up all of the booze with some rather excellent tapas dishes. They have a lovely big open kitchen here so when you’re tucking into one of their guest ales or sipping a strong cocktail, it’s very hard not to be enticed to eat by the myriad of smells that emanate from the kitchen top. They also offer FREE tapas on Friday evenings with every drink – perfect for post-work shenanigans.
Sandinista, 2 Old Bank St, City Centre, Manchester M2 7PF
I must admit to not having the chance to eat at Tast yet, mainly because it has only been open about 5 minutes and I’ve just not had much empty spaces in my diary. The word on the street though is that this place is fantastic, a Catalonian restaurant offering ‘Tastets’, small bites that are larger than a starter and smaller than a main. Until I get my hands on them you’ll have to make do with Tim’s recent review: Review: Can Tast master their King Street venue?
Tast Catala, 20-22 King St, Manchester, M2 6AG
The first thing I saw when I looked at the menu at Pinchjo’s was Goats Cheese served with a spiced beetroot salad- instantly sold. What can I say about Pinchjo’s? It has a laid-back vibe, great booze and a banging menu full of all our favourite tapas-tastes; but with a mouth-watering modern twist. Serving all of the best seafood, meat and veggie dishes, you simply cannot go wrong if you choose to quench your tapas-thirst at this swanky joint. Oh, and don’t forget about their crazy-cheap special offer which runs all day Wednesday and Thursday’s 5pm-7pm. All dishes £4.50? Where do I sign?!
Pinchjo’s, 192 Burton Rd, Manchester M20 1LH