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Spanish culture in London: Jorge de Juan
Andy Parsons

Paella, sangria and Cervantes: it’s the best of Spanish London

Written by
James Manning

Thirty-seven years ago I spent a summer harvesting melons in Murcia just to make some money to go and see theatre in London. I hitchhiked my way there, arriving at the Old Vic to see Derek Jacobi’s ‘Hamlet’ and dreaming of opening my own theatre nearby. Back then there were barely any Spanish restaurants here and Notting Hill was the closest thing to a Spanish area, with some shops, bars, and later the Spanish school Cañada Blanch.

Nowadays this city is full of young Spaniards dreaming of finding their future in an open, cosmopolitan capital: a city in which there are Spanish lawyers, architects and doctors, but also nannies, nurses and waiters learning English and absorbing the culture. There isn’t a typically Spanish area, like Stockwell is for our Portuguese neighbours, but many Spaniards live in Southwark. And nearby is my theatre: now open to everyone, just like this amazing city. Jorge de Juan

Did you know? Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes died on the same day – April 23 1616 – and Shakespeare almost certainly co-wrote a lost play (‘Cardenio’) based on Cervantes’s ‘Don Quixote’.

Jorge’s favourite Spanish places in London

Try the restaurant Mar I Terra in Southwark. The Valencian founder, Rafael, is still there and will tell you if it’s a good day for a paella.

Hispania is a wonderful restaurant and bar in the City. Try the takeaway ensaladilla.

The critically acclaimed chef José Pizarro has three gems in London: two in Bermondsey (José and Pizarro) and one in Broadgate (José Pizarro). I love his bacalao a la llauna.

Now the sun is coming (hopefully), La Terraza in Cabot Square is a good place to share a sangria with friends.

The Scan Project Room in Bethnal Green features new Spanish and Latin American art.

And you can find me at the brand new Cervantes Theatre in Union Street, London’s first venue dedicated to Spanish and Latin American theatre, dance and music.

The best of Spanish London, according to you

Furanxo in Dalston Lane: excellent wines and amazing hams and cheeses.’ Guada L via Facebook

‘La Bodega in Portobello: a truly Spanish gem. Don’t miss the G&T in balloon glasses.’ Cristina R via Facebook

Bradley’s Spanish Bar off Tottenham Court Road. It gets merry!’ Koko B via Facebook

‘Granier Bakery in Turnpike Lane for churros and cortado.’ David B via

‘El Centro Galego near Willesden Junction does the best tapas!’ Sara PL via Facebook

Here’s our pick of the best Spanish restaurants in London. Or discover the best of Japanese London.

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