#firstworldproblems is when you’re inundated with too many choices for Spanish dining thanks to the recent influx of new restaurants. Luckily for you, we’ve done the hard work to shortlist the best places worth spending your dough on.
It may be better known as the go-to restaurant for nose-to-tail dining (crispy pig's head, anyone?) but Dehesa also nods to chef-owner Jean-Philippe Patruno's Spanish roots. You'll find a good handful of all-time Spanish favourites – jamon croquetas, gambas ajillo, bravas potatoes to name a few – some modern, some faithful to tradition.
TRY Carabineros Arroz ($36). There's no faulting those sweet carabineros, but it's the lobster stock's intense, rich flavours that will linger in your memory.
This corner restaurant's achingly hip fittings are well-matched by chef Carlos Montobbio's modernist Spanish plates. They're tremendous fun: think crispy potato "gratin" towering in a pool of organic yolk and burnt onion sauce, pickled beetroot with horseradish ice cream and sangria sorbet on cone. Dinner can burn a pretty hole in your wallet, but lunch ($38 for four courses) offers an affordable opportunity to survey the menu.
TRY Esquina's Spanish Omelette ($6). It's as trippy as tapas get. The traditional Spanish omelette is blitzed till creamy, then griddled blini-style and served on a sourdough crisp.
The touristy-kitsch interiors and inexpensive prices may not inspire confidence, but food-wise, Tapas Club is right on a par with the big boys. There's a lot to love, with everything from patatas bravas to squid ink paella hitting all the right notes and generously portioned. Drinks are wallet-friendly too, with wines-by-the-glass from $9 and bottles hovering the $38-$50 range.
TRY Patatas Bravas (Patatas Bravas ($9.90). The spuds as crispy and fluffy as they ought to be, and you'll want to mop up every last bit of the tangy-and-piquant sauce.
Helmed by chef and owner Daniel Chavez, Ola Cocina Del Mar is a laid-back Spanish eatery that focuses on serving the freshest seasonal produce. An open kitchen concept, Ola’s philosophy is to source ingredients in a sustainable way while bringing simple and tasty dishes to life. Seafood takes centre-stage, sustainably sourced and very often, put through a baptism of fire in the Josper oven.
TRY Pulpo ($28), meaty and perfectly tender, kissed with smoky aroma. Instead of the usual potatoes, the Galician tentacle rests (chopped) on a bed of silky hummus.
Binomio is a bit of an open-secret. It's greatly beloved by the foodie community, yet it tends to fly under the radar unlike its younger, trendier counterparts. The tapas counter fronts the place to dish up classic bites, whereas the cavernous inner sanctum is a fancy fine-diner for Spanish gastronomy.
TRY Tuetano con tartar ($28). What's better than grilled bone marrow? Grilled bone marrow topped with tartare chopped from aged-beef, that's what. Probably not great for your cholesterol, but you only live once.
The Les Amis group has an impressive portfolio of hits, and their casual Spanish joint is no exception. Helmed by local chef Ng Han Wei, La Taperia makes no pretenses of ultra-authenticity, augmenting the menu of mostly timeless classics with some of Ng's contemporary creations.
TRY Chipirones Fritos en su Tinta ($16), or in layman terms – baby squid deep-fried in squid ink-infused batter. It's every bit as moreish and addictive as you might imagine, and ideally chased with lots of sangria.
Restaurant Gaig has high expectations to live up to. After all, it's the Singapore outpost of its similarly named, one Michelin-starred sister restaurant from Barcelona. Thankfully, the food largely delivers. Besides the usual suspects, the menu showcases signatures from the Barcelona restaurant, such as shrimp "all-i-pebre", Gaig's cannelloni, and suckling pig with strawberry and celery salad.
TRY Shrimp "All-i-Pebre" ($22.30), an intense Catalan stew of prawns cooked in a reduction of almonds, hazelnuts, garlic and paprika.
We'll be honest. La Pepa doesn't have the finesse of some other Spanish destinations on our list but the food is plenty soulful and the heartfelt service offers a certain cosiness that you don't get at the fancier places. The surprisingly well-stocked retail corner and Madrid-style happy hour (a complimentary tapa with every drink) only add to its charms.
TRY Cuajada con Miel ($12), a tangy, curdled dessert from the north with panna cotta-like creaminess, and topped with honey and berry compote.
Tapas re-imagined with Japanese ingredients and flavours, and paired with sake – that's the wild ride that Spaniard Pepe Moncayo proposes. It's an omakase-only concept (from $98 for four courses plus snacks, $58 additional for sake pairing) but here again, Bam! flouts convention by also offering a vegetarian omakase (from $78) and a dessert omakase ($48).
TRY Dishes changes regularly, but try for the shiso leaf tempura. A smear of tomato tartare is sandwiched between shiso leaves and deep-fried, combining a taste of the sun-kissed Mediterranean with a jolt of Japanese herbal sweetness.
Framed by floor-to-ceiling windows and colourfully decorated, Pim Pam has a breezy, holiday vibe we can't help revelling in. Chef Jordi Noguera's food is impeccable and with Pim Pam billed as a gastro-bodega with a modern bent to Catalan flavours, surprises abound at every turn. Another feather-in-the-cap: Pim Pam now boasts Southeast Asia's largest sherry menu and tasting flights start from $30 for four glasses.
TRY Patatas Bravas ($10). Constructed from thin slices of potato stacked millefeuille-stye and deep-fried, this deconstructed version is a heck of a flavour bomb.