Best restaurants for tapas in New York

Share a lusty spread of Spanish tapas at these bustling restaurants.


  • Photograph: Roxanna Marroquin

    Boqueria

  • Pulpo at Txikito

  • Las Ramblas

     

  • Photograph: Deniz Ozuyguy

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

  • Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

    Cauliflower and brussels sprouts with yogurt at Salinas

  • Degustation

  • Photograph: Talia Simhi

    Guinea hen with cranberries and English peas at Mercat

  • Photograph: Andrew Fladeboe

    Casa Mono

  • La Nacional

Photograph: Roxanna Marroquin

Boqueria

Tapas are a favorite fixation of New York restaurant-goers. The pleasure of sharing sizzling, garlicky Spanish bites, with plenty of Iberian wine, has made destinations of restaurants like Boqueria and Casa Mono. Whether you’re looking to graze on wispy slices of Serrano ham or to cobble together a feast of lemony anchovies, plump head-on shrimp and crisp patatas bravas served hot clay crocks, there’s a New York tapas restaurant for you. Here are ten of our favorite spots for a Spanish spread. Did we miss your favorite NYC tapas joint? Join the conversation in the comments.

Boqueria

  • Critics choice

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 jamón under the glow of filament bulbs.

  1. 53 W 19th St, (between Fifth and Sixth Aves)
More info

Txikito

  • Critics choice

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 garlic; 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.

  1. 240 Ninth Ave, (between 24th and 25th Sts)
More info

Las Ramblas

  • Critics choice

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 Martìn (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 of flavor to match their heat.

  1. 170 W 4th St, (between Cornelia and Jones Sts)
More info

El Quinto Pino

New York’s first true Madrileño tapas bar offers its Spanish nibbles in cramped quarters, with only a few barstools and ledges for plates; 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 wasabi-kissed sea urchin “panino,” could quite easily eat every single thing off of the short menu without feeling too gluttonous. Don’t miss the silky salt-cod nuggets in thick beignet batter, the beautifully plump garlic shrimp and the fine selection of Spanish wines by the glass.

  1. 401 W 24th St, (at Ninth Ave)
More info

Salinas

  • Price band: 4/4

This buzzy limestone grotto feels like a party most nights, with brightly hued cocktails and a menu that captures the boisterous spirit of authentic tapas-style dining. The small plates here are boldly flavored and actually portioned to share. There are deep bowls of crispy monkfish and sepia "frito," tossed with steamed clams, fresh fennel, pickled peppers, potato and spicy aioli. Miniature brussels sprouts and Greenmarket cauliflower, fried crisp on the edges, come drenched in citrusy yogurt, with smoked paprika and toasted pine nuts---a vivid confetti of hot, cold, nutty and smoky components. Get into the fiesta spirit of the place with a bright bottle of subtly effervescent Basque txakolina, from Arabako ($47).

  1. 136 Ninth Ave, (between 18th and 19th Sts), 10011
Book online

Degustation

  • Critics choice

This counter-only fine-dining operation from Jack and Grace Lamb (Jewel Bako) delivers inventive, seasonal small-plates cuisine. Talented chef Wesley Genovart churns out contemporary Spanish dishes such as a velvety slow-poached egg with serrano ham, chorizo and asparagus, cloaked under a smoky-cheese foam. Sugar-snap peas with a fiery wasabi vinaigrette is another inspired straight-from-the-Greenmarket pairing. Add the professionalism of the staff and thoughtful wine list, and the result is a truly special night out.

  1. 239 E 5th St, (between Second and Third Aves)
Book online

Mercat

The chef behind this lively Catalonian spot logged cooking time in Spain, and it shows. Exemplary tapas include blistered Padrón 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 ratatouille and horseradish sauce. 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.

  1. 45 Bond St, (between Bowery and Lafayette St)
More info

Casa Mono

Offal-loving partner Mario Batali and protégée Andy Nusser (Babbo, Po) broke new ground by serving dishes that less adventurous tapas restaurants seem to shy away from: cock’s combs with cèpes, and 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 sautéed fingerling potatoes, all topped with shaved salt-cured tuna. Dishes come straight from the open kitchen into the dining room, which is adorned with mosaic tile floors and lined with wine bottles.

  1. 52 Irving Pl, (at 17th St), 10003-34
Book online

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.

  1. 239 W 14th, (between Seventh and Eighth Aves)
Book online

Bar Jamón

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.

  1. 125 E 17th St, (at Irving Pl)
More info

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