You don't have to go far (or to Spain) if you want some excellent tapas, paella, Jamon croquetas, grilled octopus and gazpacho. #firstworldproblems is when you’re inundated with too many choices for Spanish dining thanks to the recent influx of new restaurants in recent years. Luckily for you, we’ve done the hard work to shortlist the best places worth spending your dough on.
Its location at the idyllic Alkaff Mansion is enough reason to drop by UNA. But to convince you even further, the handsome restaurant rewards those who make the journey up with traditional bites like Paella de Marisco ($52/$72), bomba rice baked with seafood and chicken. Beyond the usual, UNA also serves unique Basque-inspired dishes.
TRY Txuleta ($180/kg), a grilled prime rib-eye that’s usually sourced from an older cow which lends a more intense beefy flavour.
The colourful Spanish cuisine has been taken to the seaside with Sabio by the Sea. As its name suggests, a calming waterfront view comes as part of your meal. Choose from a wide selection of hot and cold tapas ($8-$21) and a variety of meats and seafood prepared on the Josper Grill.
TRY Nothing matches the soothing sea breeze quite like the Paella de Pescado ($29/$49) filled with fresh ingredients from the ocean like squid, seabass, mussels, clams, and shrimp.
Over the years, Don Quijote has shifted from the quiet Lorong Kilat to the hip Dempsey neighbourhood. While its location has changed, the same authentic flavours can still be found. Go easy on the tapas – over 30 warm dishes are listed on the menu – and save space for its paella. It might take some 25-45 minutes worth of preparation, but it's well worth the wait.
TRY Those who plan their trip down early may reward themselves with Asado de Cochinillo Espanol ($89/$169/$329), a roasted Spanish-style suckling pig that requires two-day advance notice.
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 $10 and bottles hovering the $40-$80 range.
TRY Patatas Bravas ($13). 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 Grilled octopus ($28), meaty and perfectly tender, kissed with smoky aroma, served with crispy lentils and dried chilli sauce.
Inspired by the beaches of Barcelona, FOC Sentosa is the sister outlet to the popular restaurant on HongKong Street but with a more laid-back vibe. The two-storey beach house is split into two wings, one with a focus on food and the other on drinks. Laze by the side of its private pool, cocktail in hand, and take in the sunset before heading in to enjoy a feast of grilled seafood and paella.
TRY King crab cannelloni. The classic Italian dish gets a Mediterranean twist where zucchini ribbons replace pasta to encase sweet slivers of Alaskan king crab. Also try the cod fish and spinach caldoso rice, a variation of the traditional paella cooked over a low fire on a cast iron pan. Instead of attaining a crispy base with the rice, this dish has a creamy, almost risotto-like texture that soaks up the flavours of the cod tripe.
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 caracoles ($27). What's better than grilled bone marrow? Grilled bone marrow topped with escargot, 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 Wei Han, 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, Gaig's cannelloni, and suckling pig with coconut, ginger and apple.
TRY Fideua negre ($32.20), a dish similar to paella, where squid ink and seafood comes cooked with noodles instead of the rice.