It’s the perfect time of the year to indulge in some Mediterranean bites – and as it’s all about small portions, here we offer our exclusive selection of seven of the best restaurants for tapas in North London
The ever-popular Iberica chain of restaurants recently opened in Farringdon, itself an area that’s going through a great deal of regeneration with the impending Crossrail link coming to town. It’s a very welcoming place, with a spot on menu of casual Spanish dining created by chef Nacho Manzano. For someone who, generally, doesn’t have a sweet tooth, their exclusive offering of churros and hot chocolate made me feel like a kid again, with sugar and chocolate smeared across my happy, smiling face. This is what food should be all about.
89 Turnmill Street EC1M 5QU; ibericarestaurants.com
2 LA FAROLA
Recipient of a five-star review earlier in 2015 by yours truly, any visitor to La Farola will hopefully agree wholeheartedly with my verdict. Small in size, but ideally located on the corner of Upper Street and Theberton Street, this place has atmosphere in spades and for just a few minutes you can almost imagine being away in the Spanish sun. The menu is vast with lots to pick out – I couldn’t get enough of the crispy belly, the Jamon Iberico is equally as popular with visitors, but just go with a very empty stomach and tuck into as much as you can.
101 Upper Street N1 1QN; 020 7359 7707; lafarolacafe.co.uk
3 BRAVAS TAPAS
A great location on St Katherine Dock, the proximity to water adds to a feeling of being transported away from London (until the rain comes). The menu at Bravas Tapas is great, with a good choice of meat, vegetarian and seafood dishes on offer. My pick from each? The Moorish spiced lamb chops, pa’amb tomaquet (toasted baguette with tomato and olive oil), and the rather grand sounding oyster fritura, sherry, wild spinach, toasted almonds and caviar.
St Katharine Docks E1W 1AT; 020 7481 1464; bravastapas.co.uk
One of the first restaurants I ever went to when I started to work in North London was Moro on Exmouth Market, and quite frankly very few restaurants have come close to matching it in the 13 years since. It’s why the excitement was palpable when they opened a tapas and mezze bar right next door – and now there’s always a tough decision to make between Moro and Morito. Like La Farola, space is tight, but that makes it even more special, especially if you sit with your partner at the bar whilst tucking into the fabulous food.
32 Exmouth Market EC1R 4QE; 020 7278 7007; morito.co.uk
Another first, I remember meeting Camino head honcho Richard Bigg (or Mr Bigg if you please) when he opened the first of his Spanish restaurants in King’s Cross in May 2007. It was inspired by his regular trips to Spain, so expect a diverse menu at Camino, which is creative and seasonal using the finest local or Spanish produce. It’s not just the food that won me over here – they spend a lot of time and love in creating their drinks menu, from fresh fruit sangria to their award-winning wine list. It’s a great location for all manner of occasions and still is one of the best places in King’s Cross, despite the many restaurants and bars that have cropped up around it over the last eight years.
3 Varnishers Yard, The Regent’s Quarter N1 9FD; 020 7841 7330; camino.uk.com
6 TAPAS REVOLUTION
Another one of the newbies on this list, Tapas Revolution was born from the passion of founder Omar Allibhoy. His book is a go-to for anyone trying to do tapas in the home, but for the lazier ones among us (and I include myself in that) his restaurant on Bethnal Green Road certainly satisfies the hunger. There’s some unique-feeling dishes, like the fish and potato stew, alongside more substantial offerings like the half roast chicken, plus their excellent paella. There’s a lot happening in this part of town and Omar is leading the way.
58 Bethnal Green Road E1 8JW; 020 7729 3330; tapasrevolution.com
7 EYRE BROTHERS
This Shoreditch institution is clearly not just about tapas, but it makes the list because what they do serve up is fabulous. Only served in the bar and lounge only kind of adds to the special feeling of eating tapas here from a menu that’s divided up into cold, bread, fried and hot selections. The Iberico pork cheeks are to die for, and my fish-loving guest picked out the deep fried baby cuttlefish as her favourite. Brotherly love indeed.
70 Leonard Street EC2A 4QX; 020 7613 5346; eyrebrothers.co.uk