Best restaurants for tapas



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  • Bar Carerra

  • Tuna with gazpacho salad at Bar Jamn

  • Boqueria

  • Boqueria

  • Crispy sweetbreads at Degustation

  • Sea urchin panino, garlic shrimp and salt-cod nuggets at El Quinto Pino

  • Las Ramblas

  • Guinea hen with cranberries and English peas at Mercat

  • Shredded chorizo topped with fried quail eggs at Txikito

Bar Carerra

Bar Carrera
Food plays a significantly bigger role here than it does next door at Frederick Twomey's wine bar, Bar Veloce. The Basque menu lists tasty bites such as serrano-ham sandwiches on mini brioches and slices of pork belly with juniper-accented chickpea puree, priced at $7 apiece. In keeping with the theme, the wine list highlights obscure favorites from the Iberian Peninsula. The decor is Spanish-influenced too: mosaic tiles, cement bar and pans dangling from the ceiling. 175 Second Ave between 11th and 12th Sts (212-375-1555) * 146 W Houston St at MacDougal St (212-253-9500,

Bar Jamn
This tiny wine bar from Mario Batali and chef Andrew Nusser sits adjacent to Casa Mono, their Spanish eatery. Find a space along one of the communal tables before selecting from the impressive Spanish wine list and tapas menu. Supplement a dish of peppery tuna nuggets with a vivacious "gazpacho salad"—starring a blanched hollowed red onion filled with cucumber, tomato, sea beans and olive oil croutons—with hand-carved Iberian ham and aged Manchego cheese. 125 E 17th at Irving Pl (212-253-2773,

Casa Mono
Offal-loving partner Mario Batali and protge Andy Nusser (Babbo, Po) broke new ground by serving dishes that less adventurous tapas restaurants seem to shy away from: cock's combs with cpes, excellent fried sweetbreads in an almond-flour batter. Non-organ lovers should try the juicy skirt steak atop romesco sauce or the iconic fried duck egg on mound of sauted fingerling potatoes, all topped with shaved salt-cured tuna. 125 E 17th at Irving Pl (212-253-2773,  

Given that Boqueria is named for Barcelona's centuries-old food market, you might expect the menu to lean toward the classics. Not quite. Chef Seamus Mullen's bacalao (salt cod), a standard tapas ingredient, is served here as an airy and crisp beignet. The most successful sangria is an unorthodox beer-based version that mixes lager, pear puree, lemon juice and triple sec. The Flatiron location is small and the bar area packed; a better bet is the 16-seat communal table, where you can nibble shaved jamn under the glow of filament bulbs. Meanwhile, the Soho branch is a less manic scene, more than twice as big and nearly twice as inviting. 53 W 19th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-255-4160, * 171 Spring St between Thompson and West Broadway Sts. (212-343-4255,

Talented Wesley Genovart churns out impeccable contemporary Spanish dishes that can work diners into a state of euphoria. A velvety appetizer of a slow-poached egg with serrano ham, chorizo and superbly crisp cracker-encrusted asparagus is cloaked under a smoky-cheese foam. Genovart's palate-teasing dexterity with flavors and texture continue into a straight-from-the-Greenmarket dish of sugar-snap peas with a fiery wasabi vinaigrette, an inspired pairing. Add the professionalism of the staff and thoughtful wine list, and the result is a truly special night out. 239 E 5th St between Second and Third Aves (212-979-1012)

El Quinto Pino
New York's first true Madrileo tapas bar offers its Spanish nibbles in cramped quarters; the idea is to graze, drink and chat before heading elsewhere for dinner. An adventurous party of two, up for such challenging dishes as a miniature sea urchin "panino," could quite easily eat every single thing off of the short menu without feeling too gluttonous. Don't miss the beautifully plump garlic shrimp and the fine selection of Spanish wines by the glass. 401 W 24th St at Ninth Ave (212-206-6900,

La Nacional
It may look unremarkable from the street, but this completely unpretentious and absolutely authentic Spanish tapas restaurant is one of the best in the city. When a table frees up in the cozy, roughly hewn dining room, order the sangria and sample as many small plates as you can. The boquerones (anchovy fillets), calamari and shrimp are all delicious—and liberally doused in garlic—but the paella is sublime. The pan brims with chicken, shellfish and rice basking in a succulent stock that smacks of the ocean. 239 W 14th between Seventh and Eighth Aves (212-243-9308,

Las Ramblas
Soft incandescent lighting, exposed-brick walls, tall wood-slab two-tops and a flat, wall-mounted fountain would make Las Ramblas sexy and intimate in any neighborhood, but as luck would have it, this tapas bar alighted in the Village. Rustic traditional fare such as gambas Saint Martn (plumpy shrimp slathered in garlic, lemon and white wine) and setas al jerez con almendras (wild mushrooms with almonds in sherry) arrive sizzling in clay crocks with an intensity offlavor to match their heat. 170 W 4th St between Jones and Cornelia Sts (646-415-7924,

The chef behind this lively Catalonian spot logged cooking time in Spain, and it shows. Exemplary tapas include blistered Padrn peppers and fantastic patatas bravas—fried potatoes with a searing garlic-and-smoked-paprika aioli. The dimly lit dining room is the place to explore more involved dishes, like aged hanger steak with cippolini onions, sweet potato chips, and la peral cheese. Retire to the marble bar after dinner to try your hand at the porron, a wine decanter with a narrow spout that dispenses vino directly into the mouth. 45 Bond St between Bowery and Lafayette St (212-529-8600,

Chef Alexandra Raij celebrates the cuisine of Spain's Basque region at this spartan tapas spot. Though it lacks the bustle of Raij's previous projects (Tia Pol, El Quinto Pino), her sprawling menu still features some solid Iberian fare. Adventurous eats include breaded-and-fried tongue cutlets; squid cut into wispy strands with sweet onions; and fries with cod-roe mayonnaise. In the end though, expediency—most nights a small party can get in with little wait—may be the best reason for choosing Txikito over its often-packed forebears. 240 Ninth Ave between 24th and 25th Sts (212-242-4730,

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