Enjoy tapas like locals do
Can you think of a better image of Spain? Tapas, olive oil, jamón, red wine… These are just a couple of delicacies you’ll taste while you’re here.
Fortunately, we started to export our traditional gastronomical products abroad a few years ago. Now that tapas have become international you can find tapas restaurants almost everywhere. A few years ago I stumbled upon a tapas bar in Bangkok in one of my trips…
Call me a chauvinist but I am truly convinced that you need to come here in order to enjoy the real tapas experience.
Tapas etiquette and tips
No matter where you are, you should look for the following pattern in a tapas bar:
- It has to be full of locals.
- There should be a TV (or more) at top volume screening either the news or a football (soccer) game.
- Look for lots of paper napkins and food garbage on the floor (yes, I know it sounds gross but after a while you’ll end up throwing away your prawn head on the floor too).
Apart from that, my best advice is: start late. By late I mean no sooner than 13:00 (lunch) or 21:00 (dinner). It sounds crazy for the rest of the world but for us having dinner at 18:00 is as weird as it is for an American to do so at 22:00.
Order like a local and save money while savoring the best tapas!
If you order cleverly you can have a great meal spending very little money. Here are a few tricks that will allow you to save a lot of money while eating fabulous tapas in Spain:
- Avoid seafood! It’s, by far, the most expensive ingredient in tapas.
- If you are travelling in a group, order raciones (which is approximately a plate). Medias raciones (half-plate) are also fine if you want to try lots of stuff.
- Eat standing up by the barra (counter) as locals do. Bars charge significantly more to serve tapas on a table and even more in a terraza (tables outside).
- It sounds pretty obvious but sometimes we tend to order in an impulsive way. Don’t. Have a look first at the menu and check the prices first. The best jamón ibérico can cost a fortune!
And now, the most important thing: grab the bar tender’s attention soon otherwise you’ll never be served (remember bars will be packed if you start late as I told you). Now, how can you do that? A piece of cake:
- Do your best to order in Spanish, he’ll appreciate the effort.
- Smile a lot and treat him politely, as if he was your friend. We like close relationships.
- Use some slang. For instance, ask for banderillas with your drinks while you wait for the rest of your tapas. What’s a banderilla? It’s a bite sized food on a cocktail stick and it’s named after the barbed darts used during the bullfight.