Tricia de Courcy Ling

José Pizarro (formerly co-founder and head chef of Brindisa) has done a fine job here of creating a very genuine, slightly rustic local Spanish bar. The decor is plain brick, timbers and tiles; seating is mostly on stools, with barrels to stand glasses on; and there’s a no-bookings, doors-wide-open attitude, albeit while being firmly planted in trendified Bermondsey. This, his TV appearances and books have cemented his position as the most prominent Spanish chef in Britain, but what stands out here is his expert attention to sourcing and getting the basics right, ahead of culinary adventurism. You won’t find any great innovations, but you will be treated to perfect, fantastically fresh renderings of the kind of classic traditional tapas that are too often let down by routine reheated preparation, such as crisp-outside, creamy-within croquetas, deep-flavoured tortilla and saltily bittersweet padrón peppers. Prawns came perfectly flash-fried in powerful but never overpowering garlic and chilli, and the renowned Ibérico ham and other meats are from Maldonado, one of Spain’s most esteemed artisan producers. Wines cover a desirable fine-quality range, all available by the (well-priced) glass. The admirably unflustered staff are experts in space management, but we wonder how long a place so regularly packed can stay in such a small setting.


Venue name: José
Address: 104 Bermondsey Street
Opening hours: Tapas served noon-10.30pm Mon-Sat; noon-5.30pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Borough tube or London Bridge tube/rail
Price: Tapas £3-£9

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:8
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:2
4 people listening
1 of 1 found helpful

Great atmosphere, simple but delicious tapas menu. A real feeling of the best tapas experience you might have in Spain!.

1 of 1 found helpful

Loved it. Busy at 1.30pm on a Saturday afternoon, but they soon found space for our party of four and the crowd made for a good atmosphere. Food was excellent - really authentic, very tasty, swiftly delivered. Favourites were the croquetas (spinach on the day we visited), squid from the specials board, tortilla and baby chicken. Definitely worth the wait for a stool or somewhere to perch.

1 of 1 found helpful

The tapas at Jose is amazing, but its very much a bar/cafe and not a restaurant. I've only been twice because there is always such a queue and the lack of space means that its not very comfortable having a glass of wine whilst waiting for a table. Although the informal seating and busy vibe is part of the appeal, having more seats and/or space around the bar would make it a more enjoyable place to eat . Its not like they wouldn't be able to fill a few extra tables!!


What does Tapas mean to you or to anyone? Small plates of food served with a drink? It’s not just the food. Obviously the food is good. For me, it’s the food and everything else that goes with. If you have been to Spain, You will tend to notice, how the Spaniard just sit around with vin and cervecas and their tapas, chatting away with no worries of everything that’s happening around them. I always been a great lover of cultures who sits down and spends time to enjoy the food and the company they are with. It saddens me something that we do not have this culture in London. Even in Asia, even how very over productive they are, time is essential for making money. They still take time to have their lunches. A proper lunch at most time with friends or even just on their own. I want to introduce, one of my favourite tapas places in London. The food is good, but what I like about it is, it feels I just stepped into a tapas place in Spain. No reservation says Jose. Yeap, Jose’s tapas bar. This little tapas place in Bermondsey brings me back to times good times in Spain. Wine barrels as table tops, simple tapas dishes, and all good Spanish wine by the glass. I went to Jose yesterday, had a few tapas and drinks over long chats on a summer’s day (in London). It was perfect. Simple Spanish food and culture. A good way to experience Spain in London. I highly recommend Jose for exactly what I said. SIMPLE SPANISH CULTURE!!!


went on a quiet bank holiday night, so actually got to sit down, with 3 other people. food was absolutely SPOT ON, from the amazing olives and tempranillo, to our favourites - the pork belly fillet, mackerel escabeche and prawns with peppers. we ordered about 10 dishes in total, and were well fed, though not overly stuffed :) which is easy to do with the quality of food here, but the kitchen was closed! very friendly service, one of the most pleasant meals, and at around 35pph with wine + service, was very very well worth it. i hope it's always good as this, because i plan to go back, A LOT.


Best tapas in town if you can get in (and that's a big if!). I've eaten here several times since it opened and as I work nearby, it's not a big deal to stroll up at lunchtime or just after work, but if I had taken the trouble to travel across London to try it out, I'd be very disappointed not to get in. I cannot fault any of the dishes and enjoy the buzz of the venue and friendliness of the staff. Like the touch of free sparkling water too. Tried the sister restaurant, Pizarro out for the first time today and I much prefer Jose.


Been eating and drinking in here since it first opened, and have no fault with the food, drink and general service. Today, however was an eye-opener - had an irate, reactionary customer run after me - after I brushed passed him (impossible not to in a space so small) thinking I'd taken his wallet from his back pocket (when he'd put it elsewhere) No defence from the staff, whatsoever. Stuff like this leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. So, to end - great food, great drink, but be careful not to brush past anyone, lest you be treated like a criminal.


They simply can't cope, waiters don't write down the order so you get dishes you didn't order and you don't get dishes you did and they add them to the the bill anyway. The bill was a work of fiction. Certainly not cheap and seriously uncomfortable. If your idea of fun is eating and drinking in the equivalent of a railway carriage then you will enjoy but it's not for me.


Loved it! a wee bit pricey but in terms of quality you really get what you pay for! Place was busy so it was standing room and there was an art to getting and holding onto your space but the the food and Manzanilla were well worth it and the atmos was great.


Brilliant, was there last night, great food and atmosphere! It's a little cramped, and most people were standing, but it adds to the casual, relaxed feel. Food was wonderful, friendly staff and great interior.

0 of 1 found helpful

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0 of 1 found helpful

Too busy, food wasn't great and the manager was a bit lost...